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News in Brief

Justice Bobbe Bridge Wins Honors 2016 Distinguished Alumna Award

Mar 8, 2016

UW Alumna Justice Bobbe Bridge (B.A. with College Honors in political science) sets a high bar for those who would follow in her honorable footsteps.

Honors Director Vicky Lawson with 2016 Distinguished Alumna Bobbe Bridge
Honors Program Director Vicky Lawson and 2016 Distinguished Alumna Justice Bobbe Bridge, March 8, 2016.

Driven to solve complex societal challenges in partnership with individuals and agencies from many sectors, Justice Bridge's devotion is such that she spends her "retirement" urgently addressing systemic failures affecting highly vulnerable populations. 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 repeatedly encountered troubled youth who were clearly trapped in cycles of systemic failure: foster kids with mental health issues; children removed from abusive homes; and homeless youth, a large percentage of whom were children of color.

"Honor" is sometimes defined as "a great privilege or recognition" but is just as often used to indicate "truthfulness or integrity." Exemplifying multiple meanings of the term, in 2007 (after retiring her seat as Washington State Supreme Court Justice) the Honorable Justice Bridge devoted herself to creating and leading the Center for Children and Youth Justice (CCYJ), whose mission is: "Advancing justice for and enhancing the lives of children and youth through juvenile justice, child welfare and related systems reform." Justice Bridge and the staff of CCYJ work to recognize, fund, and facilitate efforts that make lives better for children who society has, to some degree, failed to consider, much less serve.

Out of those better childhoods come empowered adults, whose potential contributions to society are boundless. But that is not the only or even the best reason to intervene. "We are individuals, but we are all members of a family, residents of a community, citizens of a state and country, occupants of the world," Justice Bridge answered, when asked about her passion for service. She continued: "We are connected to one another and obligated through that connection to assist each other as we are able."

Justice Bridge, who chairs the UW Honors Advisory Board, sees how our interdisciplinary program can catalyze the impact that every student might have on real world problems — where scholars and practitioners from multiple fields must collaborate. She grounds her own accomplishments in interdisciplinary thinking: "My experience with the multi-disciplinary studies in the UW Honors Program—the opportunity to be creative, to think 'outside the box,' to be challenged to solve problems rather than merely recognize them, to experience new ways of approaching an issue, to risk—was a significant early influence for me."

In recognition of her service leadership, drive to make a difference, and continuing public impact, the UW Honors Program proudly names the Honorable Justice Bobbe Bridge our 2016 Distinguished Honors Alumna.