Each year, the College of Arts & Sciences honors four graduating students — one from each of its four divisions — as Dean’s Medalists, based on academic performance and faculty recommendations. See why this year’s four recipients, who together represent eight Arts & Sciences majors, are being celebrated as “truly remarkable.”
It was during a UW study abroad program in New Zealand, including visits to museums there, that Racquel West began to question how Indigenous groups are presented in museums and by whom. That question significantly shaped her experience at the UW. For her history honors thesis, she focused on the Suquamish Museum, a tribal museum, looking at the history of the museum and how it has affected the reservation. She continued to volunteer at the Suquamish Museum even after taking on a nearly full-time job as collections outreach coordinator in the Bill Holm Center at the Burke Museum, where she has continued to work since graduating.
Concurrent with her museum work, West — a two-time recipient of the Chester Fritz Scholarship — excelled in her UW courses. “Racquel is simply the best undergraduate I have taught since I became a college professor ten years ago,” says Joshua Reid, associate professor of history and American Indian studies, who led the New Zealand program that set West on her path. Megan Ybarra, associate professor of geography, was so impressed by West that she encouraged her to apply for the McNair Scholars Program (West was accepted), supervised her as a research assistant, and invited her to participate in PhD-level seminars. Since 2018, West also has been Editor-in-Chief of Plenum Journal of Undergraduate Geography.