Bonderman Travel Fellowship

2018 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. The University of Washington Bonderman Fellowship will expand its impact with a $10 million endowment from David Bonderman.

Thanks to this generous endowment, UW is able to both increase the number of fellowships and boost financial support by fifteen percent (up from $20,000 in 2016 to $23,000 per award this year). 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 2018 Bonderman Fellows plan to travel to Morocco, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Bhutan, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, India, Chile, Indonesia, Samoa, China, South Korea, Kenya, Madagascar,  Egypt, Mongolia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Papua New Guinea, East Timor, Colombia, Brazil, Taiwan, Japan, Nepal, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Turkey, South Africa, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Benin, Myanmar, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, and more.

Their travel interests are fascinatingly varied, including:

  • Different approaches to science education and connections to the natural world
  • The work of peacemaking
  • Worldwide impacts of U.S. foreign policy and globalization
  • How land conversion impacts communities
  • Modern religious practices
  • Explorations of gender identity
  • Humanity’s varied relationship with water
  • The ways in which art can be an agent of social change and a tool for sharing experiences
  • How people across cultures express, understand, and interpret gratitude and vulnerability

….and much, much more.

Since 1995, 254 UW students—159 undergraduate and 111 graduate and professional students—have been named Bonderman Fellows, including the 2018 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

Frieda Luoma-Cohan
Environmental Studies, Departmental Honors, Marine Biology (Minor),
Hometown: Mt Vernon, WA

Frieda has been deeply influenced by her experiences in outdoor schools and field classes, as well as other instances of non-traditional experiential learning and she is thrilled to be given the opportunity to explore the world in an immersive education setting. As she travels, she hopes to explore the very different ways in which science education is presented in each community she visits, how this learning process inspires a connection with the natural world, and how communities foster a sense of place in education. She is excited to be stretched out of her comfort zone, and to absorb, learn, be humbled, and share. She plans to visit Morocco, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Bhutan, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.

Melissa Guzman
Law, Societies, & Justice and Psychology
Hometown: Othello, WA

While at the UW Melissa has discovered her love for traveling and learning about other cultures. She first set her eye on the Bonderman Fellowship her sophomore year, and is beyond excited to have been selected as a recipient. While traveling, she plans to explore the cultural variation of gratitude. Her hope is to learn about how people across cultures express, understand, and interpret gratitude; and that through her experiences she can expand her own capacity for gratitude. She is eager to explore the world and challenge her beliefs about herself and grow to be more independent and adventurous throughout her journey. Melissa’s travel will include Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, India, Chile, Indonesia, and Samoa.

Annie Lewis
English; History; Spanish (Minor); Jewish Studies (Minor); College Honors
Hometown: Stanwood, WA

Annie has explored storytelling and narrative formation through her various coursework and through her employment at CLUE and UAA Advising. As an aspiring educator, she hopes to use her travels to explore diverse expressions of vulnerability, observe universal and culture-specific stigmas around displaying weakness, and gain greater multicultural awareness. Upon returning to the United States, her goal is to create new types of culturally-sensitive academic support programs that better assist underrepresented, underserved, and marginalized groups. To explore how higher education can be more equitable and intentional about supporting social justice, Annie will travel to China, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, India, South Africa, Tanzania, and Morocco.

Noah Johnson
Mechanical Engineering, Interdisciplinary Honors
Hometown: Fox Island, WA

Noah will travel to explore humanity’s varied relationship with water and to discover weaknesses in his understanding of the world. He wishes to earnestly listen to people about the ways in which water impacts their lives, and how landscape change, political decisions, and natural rhythms affect their experience. With sincere consideration of the politics and ethics of travel, Noah will visit Madagascar, Kenya, Egypt, Bangladesh, China, and Mongolia. He hopes to embrace uncertainty, comprehend his privilege, and examine how he might merge a technical background with experiential knowledge of water to inspire a more just world.

Rafae Nauman
Neurobiology, Interdisciplinary Honors
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV

Each of the countries on Rafae’s itinerary either has a majority-Muslim population, distinct and unique natural spaces, or a combination of the two. In his travels, he hopes to learn about how Muslims live in different parts of the world to shed the idea that those of the faith are all similar. Aside from an interest in religious demographics, he has always loved the outdoors, and he particularly enjoys experiencing the vastly different, yet still Earthly environments, like the desert landscape of his home, Las Vegas, and the lush Pacific Northwest. He plans on immersing himself in many more unique cultural and natural spaces when traveling Indonesia, China, Nepal, Jordan, Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Morocco, Namibia, and Madagascar.

Grace Novacek
Biology, Diversity (Minor), Interdisciplinary Honors
Hometown: Downers Grove, IL

Grace is looking to explore the intersection of art, culture, and public space outside of a United States context by visiting Colombia, Chile, Brazil, South Africa, China, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea. As Grace transitions from academia, she wants to learn the ways in which art can be an agent of social change and a tool for sharing experiences. Grace hopes to use her travels as an opportunity to challenge herself to become a more informed global citizen. Ultimately, Grace is excited to learn and engage more deeply with herself and with others around her.

Jack Russillo
Journalism; International Studies
Hometown: Eastsound, WA

For Jack’s fellowship, he will be traveling through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and Indonesia to gain a more holistic sense of the world. Along his way, Jack will explore the dramatic landscapes, unique cultures, and traditional practices of the places—from crowded cities to alpine forests to archipelagos—he passes through. As a young international writer, Jack hopes to experience different perspectives throughout his travels, for he believes that no story can be accurately told from a single point of view and that we often have the most to learn from those that are not asked for their opinion.

Emma Spickard
Public Health, College Honors
Hometown: Bainbridge Island, WA

Emma loves being a student: her destinations were chosen because at one point her curiosity was ignited for a location, culture, or experience in a place she could only imagine visiting someday. She is grateful that “someday” has arrived and she can learn from the global community as a Bonderman Fellow. Her first destinations include Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, and Bolivia to learn about race and the complex formation of nation-identities. She will also travel to Nepal, India, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam to learn about the role of religion in everyday life.

Grad/Professional Profiles

Chelsea Affleck
Health Administration
Hometown: Santa Rosa, CA

One of the questions Chelsea asks on a global scale is: how do communities construct notions of health and healing? Chelsea is critical of biomedicine’s authority and concepts of normalcy and she aims to grow our collective understandings of whole person health and integrative medicine. As a Bonderman Fellow, Chelsea is eager to increase her exposure to diverse wellness traditions and their social entanglements in the human experience and built environment. While traveling through Vietnam, Laos, India, Turkey, Kenya, South Africa and beyond, Chelsea makes a mindful choice to surrender to the unknown. Chelsea sees this fellowship is an invitation to expand her frame of reference, cultivate self-awareness, and to grow her capacity for compassion through exploring that which connects us all.

Barry Badeau
Chemical Engineering
Hometown: Evansville, WI

Barry looks forward to this unique opportunity to connect with the global community. By experiencing firsthand the wide variety of cultures and lifestyles around the globe, he hopes to broaden his perspectives, learn about the world and himself, and lead a more intentional life. Along the way, he hopes to better understand American privilege and the impacts of U.S. policy to become a better global citizen and a more effective advocate for justice. He will also train in regional wrestling folkstyles to connect with local communities and to broaden his understanding of the sport. Barry’s travel itinerary includes Vietnam, China, Mongolia, Nepal, India, Senegal, Burkina Faso, and Benin.

Kirby Callaway
Public Administration

Through her Bonderman travels, Kirby will explore communities that have in the past or are currently experiencing land conversion, specifically those that have a wealth of forests and other natural resources. She is interested in observing how land conversion impacts communities, and how people balance economic development with natural resource conservation. Kirby aims to build personal connections in the places she travels to supplement her professional and academic understanding of many of these countries. She hopes to use creative forms of expression such as writing and photography to not only build connections with others, but to reflect on how her travels shift her values and interests internally. Kirby’s itinerary includes Colombia, Brazil, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Indonesia, Thailand, and Cambodia.

Mason Chiang
Pharmacy; Global Health
Hometown: New York, NY

Mason will be traveling to Peru, Argentina, Chile, Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka. He looks forward to engaging with local communities to explore the human condition and to focus on the things that connect us rather than divide us. Mason seeks to further his sense of self identity through the personal and cultural challenges that will inevitably arise. He is eager to see how his role as a global citizen and medical professional, who is committed to positive social change, will evolve as a result of this Fellowship.

Patrick James Kapche
Business Administration; Global Business
Hometown: Evanston, IL

Patrick will be traveling in the western region of South America from Chile, to Peru, and to Ecuador. After crossing the Pacific Ocean, Patrick will visit Vietnam, Cambodia, and finally India. Patrick plans to engage with the local populations throughout his trip to better understand the different economic challenges of the developing world. He will observe the similarities and differences in local economies and markets, as well as applied local solutions. Patrick hopes to learn from those whom he encounters along his journey, and to better understand globalization’s impact on less industrialized parts of the world.

Colleen Kimsey
Health Services, Maternal and Child Health
Hometown: Vancouver, WA

As a Quaker and an American in a particularly tumultuous period in our history, Colleen is interested in peace in all it’s messiness. What sacrifices are required for peace? What does having made peace feel like over the course of decades, or maintained for a lifetime? The opportunity to travel to post conflict countries to learn about the work of peacemaking is the honor of a lifetime which they are excited to make the most of. Their travel itinerary incluldes Trinidad, Colombia, Iceland, Lebanon, South Africa, Bonia, Sri Lanka, and Japan

Azad Mohammed
Geospatial Technologies
Hometown: Boise, ID

Maps were Azad’s way of understanding and knowing the unfamiliar world around him, outside of his hometown in Boise, Idaho and his place of birth in Kurdistan. He has always been intrigued by them in any format, either on screen or on paper; the power they can hold is central to his motivation to obtain a master’s in geospatial technologies. Realizing he is part of this global world and that he somehow fits somewhere, he has always been adamant to take that next step outside of his comfort zone. His countries of choice reflect that statement: Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan.