What’s up everybody, it’s dǰ pišpiš. Since the emergence of coronavirus in Washington State, University of Washington had been scrambling to figure out how to best support students in what ended up being a prolonged transition through remote learning. These challenges will be no different as students and faculty continue this transition into 2021. But during the much-needed Winter Break, at a time when departments and units were gearing up for Winter Quarter 2021, Student Life is preparing to accept the next cohort of the Husky 100.
Will this cohort include students who put 3D printers to work and made respirators for frontline hospital workers? Or will the cohort include Black activists who brought forth the 7 Demands for UW administration yet again? Many applicants will define COVID-19 as something that has influenced their Husky Experience. Would you talk about what you learned overcoming personal hardships? Or would you tell a story about how you’re helping your community move towards a resilient future (as opposed to “back to normal”)?
The 2021 Husky 100 can reflect all of these—and a lot more too. While the 2020 cohort reflected extraordinary stories of service, community-building, and innovation, the 2021 cohort will likely set a high bar for what it means to make the most out of the opportunities the pandemic brought. No two stories are alike, and that’s especially true for folks who have struggled (or thrived) in any capacity.
There is no greater mystery than the one you see before you. That is, “why should I apply?” While COVID has nixed a lot of the usual Husky 100 benefits, two of them remain resilient: a focused alumni network, and the application process. The latter is something every applicant could especially benefit from, regardless of whether you make the pack. Personally, the application was a chance for me to reflect on my personal, academic, and community connections as well as how they relate to my learning and social impact. It has also given me a pretty good idea of what applying to graduate school looks like. Generally speaking, you stand a good chance of completing similar applications if you manage to produce materials for the Husky 100.
With that said, I have strong hopes that things will be different about the Husky 100 this year. Every Husky Experience is different (even for my two friends who are identical twins). For first generation and/or BIPOC students, and students who had a nontraditional pathway through higher education, the application can be especially difficult. There are folks in the Husky 100 who share those same identities as I do, and have went through the application to share their stories. I hope Student Life makes a specific effort this year to create application resources for first generation, BIPOC, and transfer students. I hope staff and faculty are willing to look beyond their usual all-stars and nominate students whose experiences of struggles and resilience deserve to be uplifted.
The COVID pandemic makes diverse, authentic reckonings with discomfort and personal challenges more imperative than ever. Because of this, I hope applicants treat the Husky 100 as an opportunity to tell their truths rather than to go on an ego trip. There’s nothing more disingenuous than someone flaunting their academic CV in a 1200-word essay (and that’s coming from my own observations). You can stick a Ford F150 in a brigade to support a Black Lives Matter protest and still be a racist outside of the movement. You can post pictures of your alleged repair efforts for small businesses and still be an elitist outside of social media (caution: strong language). These are pretty extreme scenarios, but I think we all agree that our honesty and truths are invaluable for moving forward towards a resilient future.
I can’t wait to see what inspiration and stories the Class of 2021 brings to the campus community. If you’re planning to apply this year, know that the Husky 100 is not dead. It will open sometime later this month, January 2021—traditionally, the Husky 100 had opened annually prior to Winter Break. All in all, I wish 2021 Husky 100 applicants the very best moving forward. And good luck to everyone else who is involved in getting this year’s cohort off the ground during COVID. That’s it. See you.