UW Presidential Scholars Nomination/Opportunity

Philip A. Ballinger, Ph.D., Special Adviser for the Presidential Scholars Initiative, Emeritus Associate Vice Provost for Enrollment, University of Washington,
Nov 22, 2022

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A message from Dr. Phillip Ballinger re: UW Presidential Scholars Nomination/Opportunity:

Dear Colleague,

Some of our young people in Washington amaze us by their commitment and work to serve others and their communities. Sometimes these students do not show up on high school 'radars' that traditionally focus on the highest competitive academics, athletic achievement, or relative social popularity. And yet, some of our most promising young people are quietly doing astonishing things to help others and their communities. We want to identify and recognize these vital future community builders and leaders in Washington!

Four years ago, former Alaska Airlines CEO Bill Ayer and his wife Pamela endowed an initiative and scholarship at the University of Washington to support finding these often-unheralded young people and keep them in Washington State. I am now looking across Washington for students who already demonstrate striking, self-initiated, and persistent engagement and leadership within their communities to address needs they have encountered or experienced. This program -- with its associated major four-year scholarship -- is called 'the Presidential Scholars Initiative' at the University of Washington. In short, we would bring these students to the UW on a near full-tuition scholarship as well as mentor them in developing their leadership potential.

I am identifying these students 'organically' by communicating with leaders around the state -- mayors of our towns and cities, directors of not-for-profit organizations, superintendents and principals of school districts and schools, religious leaders, and service-oriented organizations (Rotary Clubs, etc.). We do not use an application process to select the Scholars -- in fact, future Presidential Scholars will have no clue that we know about them and their marvelous work and accomplishments in their communities. This recognition and scholarship will come to them as a total surprise and through public recognition. We will tell their stories and emphasize the values they exemplify -- values that are of great importance to our society and to the University.

So far, our Presidential Scholars have come from the following communities: Bellevue, Connell, East Wenatchee, Ephrata, Fife, Goldendale, Kenmore, Kent, Kirkland, Lake Stevens, Medical Lake, Mount Vernon, North Bend, Oak Harbor, Olympia, Quilcene, Redmond, Seattle, Selah, Spokane, Tacoma, Toppenish, Tukwila, Vancouver, Wapato, and Yakima.

Here's some information about the Presidential Scholars Initiative and some of its students.

What can you do to support this initiative and its students? First, help identify such students. You can find information-sharing links here:

To share the name of an outstanding student with us, please use this link.

To share the name and any supportive documents with us (optional), please use this link (requires a Google sign-in).

Typically, recommended students are high school seniors, residents of Washington, and applicants for admission to the University of Washington.  Information about students should be shared as soon as possible but not later than January 15th.

Second, please share my message to you with those in your community who may have an interest in this initiative.

I invite you to e-mail me, or to meet with me via Zoom or by phone to discuss the Presidential Scholars Initiative and students in your community. Let's identify, celebrate, and develop these astonishing community-focused young people in our midst.

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