Class of 2021 Honors Huskies

Exceptional scholarship in an exceptionally hard year.

June 14, 2021

Class of 2021 Honors Huskies

There are many roads to distinction as a UW undergrad. Students might earn a spot in GPA-based honors societies (like PhiBetaKappa) or designations like Suma Cum Laude, President’s Medals, Rhodes Scholars, and more. Hundreds of undergrads participate in unique research and community projects, serve in student government, lead organizations. There are competitive and collaborative awards and unique forms of recognition that transcend an awards format.

So, what does it mean for a Husky to graduate “with Honors?” What’s the significance of the purple or purple-braided cord amidst the other regalia of graduation?

For one thing, it means they have committed to a learning philosophy and community that’s extended throughout most (or perhaps all) of their time at UW. They’ve pursued a breadth and depth of learning that extended beyond the classroom and beyond standard degree requirements.

Within major departments, many Huskies (like Maha Alhomoud) form tight bonds with professors and scholars who share their Departmental Honors focus, facing challenges and taking risks that are distinct and special to each branch of knowledge.

Oftentimes, though not always, these same students have been fulfilling their general education requirements through interdisciplinary seminars and experiential learning modules. Interdisciplinary Honors students (like Arwa Mokdad) who also complete special requirements in their major(s) earn College Honors distinction.

Why does it matter?

There are many arguments for why it’s important to understand a diverse range of perspectives and to weave lessons and questions from many backgrounds into a constantly-evolving world view. Thousands of articles, papers and books make the case, including this recent post by the Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times bestseller Range, by David Epstein.

Recent Honors grads have their own opinions on why it matters to dive into meaning across disciplines while in college. Siobhan Wells, graduating this spring with College Honors in political science, reflected on why Honors most mattered to her:

The Honors Program pushes you to rethink many of the societal systems we have accepted over the years including prison systems, immigration, welfare, democracy, and much more. Without these experiences, I would be trapped in the field of STEM with no real knowledge of the greater implications of much of my work.

The value of graduating with Honors is as personal as each student’s journey through college. During the recent Interdisciplinary Honors graduation ceremony, speakers called out the importance of community purpose and passion for learning. You can see many of those speeches on the graduation landing page.

Everyone who graduated with some form of Honors was invited to build a Grad Profile and you can find update contact info, favorite memories and more by perusing those entries. We invite everyone to browse the gallery of combined Interdisciplinary/Departmental/College Honors Grad Profiles. And we once again congratulate every Honors Husky on showing up throughout this extra challenging year.