By Douglas Esser
University of Washington Bothell graduate Cruz Garibay, who grew up in an immigrant family in Yakima and was the 2015 UW Homecoming King, won a 2018 Fulbright grant to Brazil.
The fifth UW Bothell recipient of a U.S. student Fulbright award, Garibay will work as an English teaching assistant at a public university teacher’s college in the South America country where the official language is Portuguese.
The Fulbright crowns achievements Garibay attained on the way to graduating in 2016 with a double major: in health studies, and in law, economics and public policy, with a minor in human rights.
“All of his hard work paid off,” said Natalia Dyba, director of global initiatives and one of the mentors Garibay credits.
“I’m excited and grateful for people who helped me along. Everything I’ve achieved is through the connections at UW Bothell,” said Garibay.
“The reason why I drive to achieve more every day is having a person like my dad who single handedly paved the way for his 10 children and wife,” said Garibay, the youngest in the family.
Garibay came to the United States from Mexico as a 5-year-old and started school unable to speak English. An older sister who applied to college and Davis High School advisers in Yakima helped Garibay choose UW Bothell.
While a student, among several jobs, Garibay worked as a housing resident adviser and a peer academic adviser. Garibay also worked with Health Educators Reaching Out to begin planning health services for students and participated in a Latinx community assessment project. He also earned a UW Bothell alumni scholarship and a scholarship as the first UW homecoming royalty from UW Bothell.
Along with Kelsey Bolinger (society, ethics and human behavior; media and communication studies ’16), Garibay created a cohort of Fulbright applicants. Fulbrights pay students and scholars to study, teach or conduct research abroad. The prestigious U.S. government program aspires to increase mutual understanding among peoples.
Garibay plans to leave for Brazil in February for his nine-month teaching assignment. Already practicing with Portuguese-speaking friends, he expects the similarities with Spanish will help.
Since graduating from UW Bothell, Garibay has been working at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center as a recruiting coordinator, scheduling interviews. He also works weekends at Harborview Medical Center as a research assistant for trauma studies related to gunshot wounds and internal bleeding.
Garibay wants to emulate the work ethic, dedication and professionalism of mentor Dyba who challenges students to achieve “in a way they may not see for themselves or see as unattainable.”
He also credits mentors K.C. Bui, the resident director who kept him “grounded” as a resident adviser, and Victoria Breckwich Vasquez, an assistant professor in the School of Nursing & Health Studies, who served as “someone from the Latin culture who encouraged me to achieve.”
“I want to be that person,” Garibay said, “an example for other folks like myself to say, ‘Look, this is what you can achieve.’”