By Elisabeth Schnebele
Alumni Weekend at the University of Washington Bothell celebrates the best parts of college: friendship and memorable experiences.
“It’s all the stuff we loved in college like hanging out and having fun,” said Curtis Takahashi, long-time member of UW Bothell’s Alumni Council. “I have to say, it’s one of my favorite times of the year. But especially this year, it’s an opportunity to spend time with people you haven’t been able to see in a long time.”
The weekend which starts on May 20 will also feature an abundance of food, drinks, entertainment — and an important cause. All the funds raised at the annual 5K event support current UW Bothell students in their academic endeavors.
“It’s great knowing that this event not only gives back to us alums but also invests in current students,” Takahashi said. “It goes full circle.”
Helping students cross the finish line
For 17 years, the UW Bothell Husky 5K has provided scholarship support to help students cross the finish line by keeping them on track to graduate. “The 5k is presented by AT&T,” said Jessica Newkirk, associate director for alumni engagement and lead organizer of the event. “The other primary sponsors include HealthPoint, Washington State Employees Credit Union and Coca-Cola. Thanks to all of our generous sponsors, we have been able to offer discounted registrations to local community members including students from North Shore District.”
For those who have long forsaken a workout routine, fear not. The 5k is about the time spent as community — not the time it takes to cross the finish line. And spending time as a community is what Huskies do best, said Newkirk. This was evident in 2020 and 2021 when the 5K went virtual, and alumni across 24 states came together to raise more than $25,000 for UW Bothell’s COVID-19 Emergency Student Fund. The money donated helped many students stay in school during the pandemic.
“During the past two virtual years, we were heartened to see our UW Bothell community step up and participate in the event — we even had a runner from Hawaii,” Takahashi said. “All of our out-of-state runners will have an option to virtually participate again this year.”
The race, which will take place on Saturday, May 21 at 9 a.m., has alumni participating in Oregon, California, Texas and New Jersey — and one alumnus is even running for the cause in a different country. “It’s a great way to bring people together, and it’s heartening to see just how far the Husky bond extends,” Newkirk said.
In the real world, the race on the UW Bothell campus will have more than 700 participants ranging from ages two to 76 years old. “You’re not too young, and you’re not too old,” Newkirk said. “Everyone is invited to participate in the fun.”
Run for a reason
The 2022 funds raised will benefit UW Bothell’s Alumni Endowed Scholarship, which offers financial assistance to undergraduate, graduate and certificate-seeking students. One student who has received funds is a first-generation student in a family of six.
“What always prevented my siblings from attending college was bad luck and financial burdens. However, I vowed to myself that I would not let that be an obstacle for me,” the recipient wrote in a note to donors. “I worked hard in the hopes of getting scholarships to aid my academic endeavors. Scholarships provided by generous people like yourselves. Without them, my university journey would have been impossible.”
The scholarships do not just benefit individual students. They also advance UW Bothell’s goal to help diversify the STEM workforce pipeline.
As the scholarship recipient also explained, “It is programs like these that partner with people like you that help bridge the representation gaps in these fields by not letting money be an obstacle. I am not only a woman — I am a Latina woman — who is going into STEM. Two of the groups that are most likely to switch out from it.
“Knowing that there are people like you who not only believe and support my dreams but who actively give me opportunities to pursue them truly gives me hope and perseverance.”
Celebrate with community
The other headline event during Alumni Weekend is the Bothell Block Party & BrewFest, which is also the most popular springtime event in downtown Bothell. It will also be taking place on Saturday, May 21 after the Husky 5k at 3 p.m.
Catering to avid foodies, craft beer connoisseurs and music lovers, the event brings together breweries, ciders, gourmet food trucks and live music from some of the Northwest’s most popular bands.
“This year’s Bothell Block Party & Brewfest is going to be lit,” Takahashi said. “One my favorite bands, The Black Tones, is returning to this year’s lineup. Plus, it’s a great way to check out a whole bunch of breweries, cideries and wineries — not to mention some bussin’ food trucks.”
UW Bothell has partnered with the Bothell Kenmore Chamber to host this event since 2015. This year, the University is also collaborating with the City of Bothell and Begin at Bothell by encouraging attendees to support local businesses. “This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase all that Bothell has to offer,” Newkirk said, “including restaurants, shops, hotels and more.”
But wait, there’s more!
Alumni Weekend is a highlight on the University calendar each year, but the alumni engagement team also hosts a variety of other events throughout the year.
“To keep up with our alumni community, we host alumni nights at the Mariner’s and Seattle Storm’s games. Or, if sports aren’t their thing, alumni can come along for a road trip to Leavenworth,” Newkirk said. “We also have Husky wine mixers, football tailgates and regional events in Arizona, California, New York and Oregon.
“I am so excited to celebrate all of our awesome alumni,” she said. “They have gone on to do such incredible things, it’s truly inspiring.”
Alumni who want to get event updates and stay in the know can check out the alumni events webpage or connect through Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.