From the thousands of undergraduate students at the University of Washington, three are selected each year for the prestigious President’s Medalist Award.
Global Health Minor student Nuria Alina Chandra was named a medalist for 2019–20, along with Sam Colgan and Natasha Lavides. All three recipients are passionate about their chosen areas of study, and were selected by a committee for their high GPAs, rigor of classes and number of Honors courses.
In addition to their medals, each recipient received a message from University President Ana Mari Cauce and a special celebratory gift. Read on for more about freshman medalist Nuria Alina Chandra, who embodies the Husky Spirit.
Meet Nuria Alina Chandra
Major: Biochemistry (current); computer science (intended)
Minor: Global health
Hometown: Olympia, WA
When a chemistry professor introduced Nuria Alina Chandra to the Python programming language, she was immediately hooked — and inspired to take more computer science courses.
Soon the biochemistry major, who had originally envisioned a career in medicine, realized that computer science better reflected her interests and strengths.
“Computer science combines my love of math and quantitative problem-solving in powerful ways that can reshape systems and improve people’s lives,” says Chandra, who grew up in Olympia and is minoring in global health. Being around fellow students and professors who care about their chosen field helped Chandra feel supported in her decision to switch majors.
Outside the classroom, Chandra is sharpening her skills as both a researcher and a writer. At the Seattle Children’s Pediatric Pain and Sleep Innovations Lab, under the mentorship of UW Medicine anesthesiologist Jennifer Rabbitts and with the support of the Mary Gates Research Scholarship, she is investigating how acute pain becomes chronic pain. She also writes for The Daily and edits for Voyage UW, a student-run travel magazine.
Although Chandra is still exploring possible career paths, she wants to combine her creativity and computational thinking to fix issues stemming from structural inequalities.
“I’m still very interested in medicine and health-care inequality,” says Chandra. “I hope to have a career that allows me to use the methods that I love to help solve problems that I care about.”
To learn more about the other medalists, see the full, original story on the Undergraduate Academic Affairs website.
Note: All photos featured in this story were taken following appropriate safety protocols.