Bonderman Travel Fellowship

2017 Fellows selected

“Hard—a little like being broken open—but 100% worth it.

-Anonymous Bonderman Fellow

For more than twenty years UW alumnus David Bonderman has annually supported UW students via travel fellowships that ask them explore, be open to the unexpected, and come to know the world in new and unexpected ways. We are pleased to announce that the University of Washington Bonderman Fellowship will expand its impact with a new $10 million endowment from David Bonderman.

Thanks to this generous endowment, UW is able to both increase the number of fellowships (up by four this year to 18 total) and boost financial support by fifteen percent (up from $20,000 to $23,000 per award). Not only will more people benefit more deeply from the experience in the near future—the endowment also ensures that this leading-edge alumni experience will continue in perpetuity.

The Bonderman Fellowship fosters individual transformation via wandering and wondering for eight months of solo travel to two regions of the world, expanding fellows’ understanding of themselves and the complex world we live in. These fellowships continue to be a great honor as they are a rare opportunity for growth that still requires individual sacrifice and recognition of personal responsibility on the part of each fellow.

During a conversation with UW President Ana Mari Cauce at a 20th anniversary event, Bonderman explained the purpose behind the fellowships. When asked: “How do you advise those of us who want to make a difference in the world to do so?” Bonderman replied: “The United States is admired throughout the world for its culture; the best way you can go about bringing change is by being you. There is no better ambassador for the U.S. than you.”

Collectively, the 2017 Bonderman Fellows will travel to South Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Morocco, Brazil, Chile, and Peru, Ecuador, Argentina India, Nepal, Myanmar, Japan, Bhutan, Mongolia, Russia, Norway, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Montenegro, Croatia, Israel, Turkey, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Colombia, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Samoa, Malaysia, Egypt, Madagascar, Rwanda, India, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Costa Rica, Laos, Guatemala, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Jordan, New Zealand, Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Liberia, Nigeria, Trinidad & Tobago, the Philippines, Tahiti and more.

Their travel interests are fascinatingly varied, including:

  • Different cultural approaches to death and mortality
  • The immediate effects of climate change
  • Impacts of U.S. foreign policy
  • Refugees fleeing religious persecution and civil strife
  • Modern religious practices
  • Explorations of gender identity
  • The African Diaspora and transatlantic slave trade
  • How music is reflected in the cultures, religions, politics, and laws, traditional practices, cultural norms, and mindsets surrounding mental health,
  • International community of female comedians

….and much, much more.  

Since 1995, 254 UW students—151 undergraduate and 103 graduate and professional students—have been named Bonderman Fellows, including the 2017 fellows. The application process includes an essay and an interview with a selection committee composed of University of Washington faculty and staff, as well as former Bonderman Fellows. While traveling, students may not pursue academic study, projects or research. UW graduate students, professional students, and undergraduate students are eligible to apply.

Undergrad Profiles

Chloe Akahori
International Studies (General)
Hometown: Honolulu, HI and Mercer Island, WA

For the past four years, Chloe studied the world through the lens of policy mistakes, injustices, conflicts, wars, and human suffering. Through traveling to Costa Rica, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Indonesia Chloe hopes to experience the other side humanity’s story: a story about survival, love, wonder, and community. Although she seeks to explore the impacts of U.S. foreign policy and powerful “Western” ideas, Chloe aims to deconstruct, question, and challenge these powerful narratives by deeply engaging with alternative lifestyles and ideologies.

Rachel Boccamazzo
Biochemistry; Biology (Molecular, Cellular & Develop), Departmental Honors
Hometown: Seattle, WA

Rachel is excited to step away from the familiar world of science to investigate the less tangible. She will use this journey to explore different cultural approaches to death and mortality, the immediate effects of climate change, and the role of scientific research in a global context. A lover of biology and conservation, she will also explore the natural spaces and abundant biodiversity of her destination countries: Thailand, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Japan, Ecuador, and Guatemala. Rachel’s previous experience with solo travel in the U.S. has been extraordinarily formative, sometimes difficult, and amazingly rewarding. She is eager to find out how this journey will shape her outlook and her future.  

Sara DeRosier
Hometown: Duluth, MN

Sara considers listening to the stories of others to be one of her sacred duties as a nurse, and in her travels she plans to seek out the stories of refugees fleeing religious persecution and civil strife as well as the stories of those who take them in. Whether she’s pulling herself up the side of a mountain or working 12-hour shifts in the hospital, Sara is a born adventurer who looks forward to the challenge of traveling alone in Nepal, India, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Turkey. She hopes that in learning about daily life around the world she will return with an increased ability to spread compassion and empathy in her path.

Saige Hawthorne
Drama; Sociology
Hometown: Vancouver, WA

Saige plans to use her time travelling to not only examine what social justice looks like abroad, but to also experience a life outside of the people and comforts she has been surrounded by since childhood. Whether that be observing race relations in South Africa and Brazil or looking at what it means be a feminist in more religiously conservative places such as Egypt, she is thrilled at the opportunity to challenge her beliefs and gain a greater, more personal, understanding of the world. Her travels will also include Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Peru, Argentina, Ghana, Egypt, and Jordan.

Hailee Herbst
Biology (Molecular, Cellular & Develop), Interdisciplinary Honors
Hometown: Spokane Valley, WA

Hailee plans to travel to Nepal, Bhutan, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, New Zealand, Peru, Chile, and Argentina. Throughout all of these countries, she hopes to explore the ways religion is intertwined into each country’s way of living. Hailee will spend time visiting ancient religious monuments and ruins while also exploring modern religious practices in new and foreign places. She’s also excited to examine various national parks and wildlife reserves in each country, hoping to see how nature has been preserved and incorporated into the foundation of a nation. She wants to see how beautiful spaces can be preserved while simultaneously enjoyed by humans. Hailee is excited to have time to journal, reflect, and expand her worldview throughout her travels.

Havana McElvaine
Sociology, College Honors
Hometown: Denver, CO

Havana’s experience as a student athlete has shown her the overwhelming strength of collaboration and that, regardless of past experience, it is possible to achieve something meaningful within a diverse group. As she transitions away from athletics, she hopes to further explore these principles of unity in new ways, challenging herself to find community and teamwork in different contexts. Her solo journey will trace places impacted by the African Diaspora and transatlantic slave trade, with the goal of seeking deeper understanding of her own identity, blackness, history, and privilege. Her travels will include visits to Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Chile, Brazil, Liberia, Nigeria, India and Sri Lanka.

Brendan McGovern
History; Music (Jazz Studies), Departmental Honors
Hometown: Seattle, WA

Music has always been an integral part of Brendan’s life. Whether playing saxophone, clarinet, or flute in solitary meditation, or actively interacting with different musical communities, Brendan will use music as a guide during his Bonderman Fellowship. He seeks to understand its role in different societies, and how this is reflected in the cultures, religions, politics, and laws of each place he visits. Ultimately, he hopes that his journey will show him how music can promote positive social change and inspire people. Brendan’s travels will take him to Cuba, Trinidad & Tobago, Brazil, Argentina, Ghana, South Africa, and Indonesia.

Rachel Rinehart
Public Health, Departmental Honors
Hometown: Coralville, Iowa

Rachel will be traveling to Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos to experience attitudes and interactions with mental health in different regions of the world. She hopes to better understand traditional practices, cultural norms, and mindsets surrounding mental health to drive her work in health care and evolve her personal outlook on consciousness. With local transportation and rural communities at the forefront of her agenda, Rachel is excited to break away from her comfort zone and immerse herself as much as possible into each new culture.

Tressa Thomas
English, College Honors
Hometown: Santa Rosa, CA

As a female comedian, Tressa has spent her college career exploring the intersections of feminism and comedy. She looks to the Bonderman Fellowship as a chance to connect with an international community of female comedians as well as explore her identity as an American woman. She will be traveling to Argentina, Ecuador, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, The Philippines, and Tahiti.

Grad/Professional Profiles

Azaria Evans
Social Work
Hometown: Steilacoom, WA

The furthest place outside of the U.S. that Azaria has travelled is Vancouver, B.C. She has never lived away from family and friends and is looking forward to the challenges and personal growth that this trip will encourage. By stepping outside of her comfort zone she hopes to gain a better understanding of the way the world works so that she can be a better human being as well as a better Social Worker. she will travel to Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Madagascar, India, Thailand, and Vietnam and looks forward to practicing yoga where it originated and seeing different wildlife.

Erin Fitzgerald
Social Work
Hometown: Issaquah, WA

Erin is a compassionate listener, story collector and cheerful adventurer. Erin will discover cultures through learning about familial norms, social customs, developing economies, faith, history, wildlife and cuisine! Erin is fascinated by the resiliency of the human heart and how we are all connected. She will ask the questions; What makes you happy? What experiences have helped you grow? What motivates you? She will gain a bigger understanding of the world and herself through talking with locals in Morocco, Egypt, Madagascar, Rwanda, Tanzania, India, Thailand and Indonesia. She is filled with gratitude for this life-changing opportunity. Next stop, Morocco!

Natalie Gasca
Hometown: Fallbrook, CA

Natalie is looking forward to connecting with people through participatory dance, cuisine, and spiritual practices. In particular, she would like to experience how different cultures and identities have influenced community traditions. Her travels will foster her curiosity and strengthen her intuition as she communicates with others and learns from different lifestyles. She will be exploring places such as Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Samoa, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, and India.

Theresa Henry
Hometown: Acworth, Georgia

Theresa’s Bonderman travels will allow her to wander and engage with people in Singapore, Indonesia, South Africa, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Morocco, Brazil, and Colombia. In addition to exploring ethnic, economic, and geographical diversity, she wants to experience the multidimensionality among underrepresented groups that are often portrayed as a single story. At heart, she’s excited to face travel’s unexpected situations that will challenge her to be resourceful, creative, and ultimately learn more about herself.

Sara Marquis
Public Health
Hometown: Yakima, WA

Sara plans to immerse herself in the awe and messiness of a world beyond the familiarity of her current cultural bubble. She is eager to be pushed out of her comfort zone because history has taught her that uncertainty and discomfort often provide opportunities for growth. Sara hopes that diving into a deeper spectrum of human existence will provide context and purpose in her life and spur her to become a more engaged global citizen. Her travels will take her through Russia, Croatia, Israel, Turkey, India, Thailand, Cambodia, China and Japan.

John Trochta
Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
Hometown: Suring, WI

John is inspired by how and where he has found human connection in the communities he has lived, from rural Wisconsin to urban Washington. He is eager to explore the potential of connection in the global community by immersing in vastly different cultures and ways of life. With plans to visit Bhutan, Mongolia, Russia, Norway, Sri Lanka, South Africa, and Montenegro, he seeks to develop an intimate understanding of human nature, focusing on how we are similar rather than different.

Casey Murray
Social Work
Hometown: Oakland, CA

Casey is excited about the opportunity to explore gender identity around the world. Their itinerary includes countries that legally recognize third genders, or that have more pluralistic views of gender, as well as countries that pathologize and/or criminalize non-binary genders. Casey is fascinated by the juxtaposition of being in these spaces and hopes to learn more about the societal implications surrounding gender identity. Casey is also interested in the influences that cultural values have on happiness, and is eager to be in places where technology and social media aren’t as prevalent. In forming genuine connections and engaging in the spiritual practices and natural beauty of their destinations, they hope to return with a greater understanding of what it means to be human. Casey will travel to India, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Japan, Morocco, Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Ecuador.

Veronica VanZeipel
Hometown: Hailey, ID

My goals for independent travel center around personal growth, self-reflection, human connection, and gaining knowledge of the world outside of my own perspective. As an elementary school teacher I love connecting and building relationships with people. I want to explore diverse corners of the world to build connections with people from multiple cultures and all walks of life. My itinerary includes such countries as South Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Morocco, Brazil, Chile, and Peru.

The eighteenth 2017 Bonderman Travel Fellow has chosen not to be identified at this time.