Distinguished Honors Alumni

The Distinguished Honors Alumni Awards

Our Distinguished Honors Alumni inspire students to excel in their chosen fields as they embody broader lifelong community values. Public impact, service leadership, citizenship, and drive to make a difference are all contributions to society rooted in interdisciplinary thinking and practices, celebrated by this award.

Make a nomination

Know someone who has made a difference in the world and want to share their story with the Honors community? All alumni from UW Honors, including both Departmental and Interdisciplinary tracks, are eligible for this award.

Contact Honors Alumni Relations Specialist, Carey Christie at forcarey@uw.edu with subject: NOMINATE ALUMNI with questions or complete this brief form to guide your nomination.

About our Distinguished Honors Alumni


Sue Sherbrooke smiling with sunglasses on her head

In recognition of her tremendous care for society and positive  impact on the lives of women and children throughout her long career both at the YWCA and her own volunteerism, we are proud to name Sue Sherbrooke as our 2020 University of Washington Distinguished Honors Alumna. As our region’s YWCA CEO, Sue and her team managed a successful capital campaign that doubled the capacity of the YWCA, adding more than 900 units of affordable housing and increasing access to other vital services. Sue will receive her award during Honors’ Celebration of Distinction on June 12.


2019 – KAT CHOW

Kat Chow headshot
Credit: Allison Shelley/NPR

Having graduated in 2012 with Departmental Honors in Communication and a minor in Diversity, Kat Chow is Honors’ youngest Distinguished Alumna to date. She has worked as an NPR reporter for the show “Code Switch”, in which she engages in critical analysis and discussion of issues surrounding race, culture, and identity.

At the time of winning this award, Chow was on book leave from NPR, deep in the process of writing a memoir focused on her experience with grief and identity following the death of her mother at a young age.



Gerald Baldasty smiles looking out of a Gerberding Hall window onto Red Square

Dr. Gerald “Jerry” Baldasty has spent the best part of 50 years contributing to the University of Washington, where he earned his bachelor’s degree with Honors in communications in 1972 and his Ph.D. in 1978. He has taught in the Department of Communications ever since, earning the UW Distinguished Teaching Award in 2000 for his inspirational curriculum and passion for inquiry. Baldasy has published numerous books and articles on the history of journalism and is recognized for his excellence in that field. He is also a fierce advocate and architect of transformative, holistic undergraduate education at the University of Washington, where he progressed through increasing levels of administrative responsibility, finally serving as provost and executive vice provost from 2015-2018.

A few words about Dr. Baldasty’s impact:

“I think many of us expect nothing but academia from higher education, but Dr. Baldasty’s ideas about what college should and can actually be validate the wealth of experiences you find outside of class and bring life into balance with academics. The people I’ve met at UW are at least as important as the curricular contents of my studies. Dr Baldasty’s emphasis on holistic learning has been a very powerful mindset for me these past four years, and will continue to lend valuable perspective to the decisions I make throughout my life.”

– Kendall Horan, English w/College Honors, class of 2018



Photo of Noah Purcell

As Washington state solicitor general, Purcell recently argued Washington’s challenge to the controversial Trump administration travel and immigration ban, winning both in District Court and the 9th Circuit, and earning a temporary restraining order of the ban. He did this with the backing of several major tech companies based in Washington state, collaborating effectively with the private sector in defense of constitutional rights, specifically the right to religious freedom.



Photo of Justice Bobbe J. Bridge

In the course of her distinguished career (including eight years on the Washington State Supreme Court), Justice Bridge was deeply impacted by something that needed fixing further up the line from where she was sitting. During her three years as Chief Juvenile Court Judge, she encountered troubled youth who were clearly trapped in cycles of systemic failure: foster kids with mental health issues; children removed from abusive families; and homeless youth, a large percentage of whom were children of color.