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Dean's Medalists Shine Despite Difficult Year

Story by
Nancy Joseph
Combined image of the four 2021 dean's medalists

2021 Arts & Sciences Dean's Medalists (from left) Lindsey Muszkiewicz, Irika Sinha, Audi Brown, and Jarrett Johnson. 

 

The path to the Arts & Sciences Dean’s Medal looks different for every student. This year’s four medalists — graduating seniors representing excellence in the College’s four divisions — are no exception. One medalist came to the UW after running successful businesses; another is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. There’s a disability rights advocate and a scientist who has participated in research in four faculty laboratories. Despite their varied paths, what these medalists have in common is the enthusiastic support of their professors. Medalists are selected based on academic performance and faculty recommendations.

 

Lindsey Muszkiewicz head shot

Lindsey Muszkiewicz, Dean's Medalist in the Humanities

Lindsey Muszkiewicz

Dean’s Medalist in the Humanities
Majors: Comparative History of Ideas; Disability Studies

Lindsey Muszkiewicz knows the power of stories and the importance of representation in the media. “As a queer disabled woman, I grew up never seeing anyone who looked like me in pop culture, and the absence of diverse characters has continued into adulthood,” says Muszkiewicz, who has worked at the UW’s DO-IT Center and interned at the UW’s Student Disability Commission.

Muszkiewicz also interned at The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where she pitched disabled, queer, and BIPOC talent as potential guests. “I’ve spent my time preparing for a career in telling stories like mine that are still untold,” she says. Read full story.

 

Irika Sinha head shot

Irika Sinha, Dean's Medalist in the Natural Sciences

Irika Sinha

Dean’s Medalist in the Natural Sciences
Majors: Chemistry, Biochemistry

Irika Sinha began her UW education by joining a research lab before her freshman year. She has since has worked in four research labs, gaining experience ranging from the study of solar cells to engineering T-cells for the potential treatment of cancer. All the while, she excelled in demanding course sequences in chemistry, biochemistry, calculus, and physics, earning 3.9-4.0 grades in almost every course.

Sinha also made time for other pursuits, including the UW Climbing Team, The Daily, and tutoring fellow students. “Irika is one of a kind,” says Alan Weiner, professor emeritus of biochemistry. “… She never seems to duck a new challenge, and grows with each of them.” Read full story.

 

Audi Brown head shot

Audi Brown, Dean's Medalist in the Social Sciences

Audi Brown

Dean’s Medalist in the Social Sciences
Major: Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

Audi Brown has planned celebrity weddings and created a foundation dedicated to the generational healing of the Black community. She also is a doula who provides childbirth support and guidance. After years of building her career, Brown decided it was time to do something for herself—while understanding the responsibility of being a model for her community.

After earning an associate degree at Bellevue College, she transferred to the UW, excelling in both undergraduate courses and graduate seminars. “Her contributions to class as a thinker were spot on and generous,” says Bettina Judd, assistant professor of gender, women & sexuality studies. Read full story.

 

Jarrett Johnson headshot

Jarrett Johnson, Dean's Medalist in the Arts

Jarrett Johnson

Dean’s Medalist in the Arts
Major: Drama (Performance)

“One of the most present students I’ve ever had in the classroom.” That’s how Odai Johnson, professor of drama, describes Jarrett Johnson. Johnson spent nearly a decade serving in United States Air Force and earned his associate degree at Seattle Central College before transferring to the UW, juggling the demands of school and a new baby.   

Graduating into a theater scene devastated by the pandemic, Johnson remains steadfast in his decision to pursue acting. As he explained in a Seattle Times story, “I understand how difficult it’s going to be to continue to act, but I welcome the challenge. [My wife and I] were both deployed. If we can make it through that, we can make it through anything.” Read full story.