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A drive to inform, a focus on inclusion and a philosophy of compassion are hallmarks of Aditi Nambiar’s leadership style.

A passion for writing compelled Aditi Nambiar to apply for the position of editor-in-chief of The Husky Herald even before she set foot on the University of Washington Bothell campus. 

She had just been admitted to the University during her senior year at North Creek High School when she learned of on-campus jobs during a virtual orientation session. Looking through the possibilities, she saw the opening at the student newspaper and decided to pursue it — not really with the idea that she would be chosen but to see where the process would take her. 

“It was a way for me to get involved with the paper, to make a connection,” Nambiar said. 

To her surprise, she got the job and has been in the role ever since. For her leadership, she also this year received the 2024 Student Civic Leadership Award sponsored by the Washington Campus Coalition for the Public Good, a group of higher education institutions committed to advancing their public purpose, educating students for work and for civic leadership, and cultivating vital and sustainable communities. 

The award was bestowed by UW Bothell Chancellor Kristin G. Esterberg. 

A hub for all voices

Students chosen for the award demonstrate civic engagement and leadership as well as the ability to unite peers along critical issues. As editor-in-chief, Nambiar, a junior majoring in both Media & Communication Studies and in Psychology, has elevated the student paper as a vital form of communication post-pandemic. 

Through numerous creative events and activities, she has worked to make the newspaper a means for exploring community and campus needs and a hub for bringing students, staff and faculty together to improve the environment for all UW Bothell Huskies. 

Over her three years, she said she has also strived to be increasingly inclusive, reaching out to clubs and organizations representing a variety of identities and perspectives. 

“We have more than 80 clubs on campus, and they represent a rainbow of experiences,” Nambiar said. “I’ve wanted to showcase them to help students learn about ways they can get involved, whether it’s around their culture or their major or something they’re interested in that’s unrelated to either. 

“We’ve also run stories about how to start a club,” she added, “in case there’s an avocation that would increase students’ feeling of belonging but doesn’t yet exist.” 

Supporting student success

Nambiar also started dedicating newspaper space to various services across campus and online to increase awareness of programs that support student success and well-being. 

“One of my stories when I started was writing about the Violence Prevention & Advocacy Program,” she said, “and since then, we’ve written about Campus Safety, the Counseling Center, the Health & Wellness Resource Center, the Husky Pantry and Outdoor Wellness.” 

Based on her personal experiences, Nambiar has featured the Writing & Communication Center, too. When applying to UW Bothell (her first choice for college, she said), Nambiar contacted the WaCC for guidance. Staff there helped her develop her essay and gave her valuable feedback that resulted in a successful application. 

“Promoting the WaCC was a full-circle moment for me,” she said. “I wanted others to know about and benefit from its many services that helped me be a stronger communicator.” 

Nambiar continues to learn more about the power of and need for effective communications. Whether she’s developing stories, mentoring student contributors to the newspaper or connecting with people across campus, she said she leads with the philosophy that listening to other individual’s needs, strengths and interests results in stronger collective outcomes. 

Promoting the Writing & Communication Center was a full-circle moment for me. I wanted others to know about and benefit from its many services that helped me be a stronger communicator.

Aditi Nambiar, editor-in-chief, The Husky Herald

Leading community with compassion

“I believe in leading with compassion first and foremost,” Nambiar said. “I take the time to understand my team members’ ideas and concerns, and to incorporate them to develop innovative content. 

“I strive to foster a space where our student contributors and peers alike can openly communicate and share their thoughts,” she said.” 

Through community-engaged learning projects in collaboration with faculty, tabling events and other creative means of outreach, her leadership has led to an increase in the number of contributors to the newspaper. 

She has also led efforts to bring students into conversation with elected leaders in the Associated Students of UW Bothell by profiling officers and directors in every issue. 

And, with the support of her supervisor Pauline Tolentino, assistant director for Student Engagement & Activities, Nambiar collaborated with other student media teams to develop Storytime with Student Media. The event is designed to promote folklore and cultural tales from around the world and to facilitate a welcoming space for students to listen and share together. 

According to Dr. David Goldstein, adviser for The Husky Herald and a teaching professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, “Aditi tirelessly advocates for minoritized students, enhancing their sense of belonging at UW Bothell, and steadfastly pursues the social justice mission of Student Engagement & Activities.” 

Reflecting on results 

As she prepares to step away from her role as editor-in-chief at the end of spring quarter, Nambiar said she has learned first and foremost that being a good leader is much more than holding a specific title. Since her earliest days at the newspaper, she discovered that being sensitive to all needs, remaining open to all perspectives and staying committed to delivering for the entire community are hallmarks of a strong and effective leader. 

Nambiar cited the importance of adapting to various social and cultural contexts with dignity and respect and managing cultural nuances with care. “I’ve learned a lot about navigating spaces and experiences that aren’t my own, and how to tell others’ stories in the best possible way that honors them,” she said. 

Starting at UW Bothell when the campus was returning to in-person instruction in September 2021, Nambiar said she had to adjust to constant changes in the environment even as she grappled with complex world events that highlighted issues of social injustice. Researching and covering these stories as a student journalist also motivated her to create an inclusive space for her peers — and she envisions doing the same in her local community after she graduates in 2025. 

In the meantime, she will use her final year at UW Bothell further developing her leadership skills as a member of the UW’s chapter of the National Society for Leadership and Success as well as through a national Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellowship, an honor she received based on a recommendation from Chancellor Esterberg. 

Still more to learn 

Nambiar will no longer be directly involved with The Husky Herald, but she does plan to continue honing her media and storytelling skills. Having learned so much about the importance of individual and collective identities while at the newspaper, she decided to add a double minor — in Science, Technology & Society and in Visual & Media Arts — to her double major. 

Whether she next decides to pursue a career in journalism, marketing, entertainment or another media-related field remains unclear. Regardless, she said, “I want to further understand how media culture is shaped and to understand better how I can seek and amplify important stories from marginalized voices. 

“Who knew that the process of applying for a job I didn’t expect to get would lead me here and to getting this award? I am so grateful to my family, my team, Pauline and Dr. Goldstein.” 

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