Alumni Feature

Amy Janas

IAS Intersections

An early grad rediscovers IAS

Amy JanasFounded as a Liberal Studies program, UW Bothell held its first classes at Canyon Park Business Center in 1990.  The campus offered something new – an innovative, liberal arts education that was keenly focused on the practical needs of students and concerns of the region and world.

The Liberal Studies program is now the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences (IAS).  As we approach our 30th birthday as a school and campus in 2020, we are mindful of the important role our early graduates played – and continue to play – in our school history. They were trendsetters who helped to shape this campus, creating a legacy which has impacted more than 6,500 alumni.  Like the “founding faculty and staff” who started UW Bothell, these graduates are IAS’s “founding alumni.”

Alum Amy Janas is a great example.  Like many early IAS graduates, she was a working student already building her career when she first arrived on campus. After graduating in 1998, she shifted her full attention to work, and eventually, raising a family.  In 2016, her sister, also a UW Bothell alum, invited Janas to come back for an event, sparking her reconnection. In a short time, Janas has become an ardent champion of IAS and a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board.

Janas recalled her decision to enroll at UW’s “North Branch” campus in 1996. A transfer student working for Nintendo, she chose UW Bothell for its evening class schedule and interdisciplinary curriculum. “What I especially liked about Liberal Studies was the variety of disciplines. Environmental science and technology really drew me in. I enjoyed entering into this electric, dynamic learning environment. It was like going through the wardrobe door,” she says, referencing C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

“One thing that really stands out to me as I think back was the experience of interdisciplinary learning. It was exciting - the connections, the confluence - everything I was learning was examined from multiple perspectives.” While Janas was a student, the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, was being adopted by the United Nations. She recalls how thrilling it was to study, write, and engage with this contemporary global issue.   

Janas attributes her Liberal Studies training to her success as a marketing manager. “I’m able to take information and turn it around in a user-friendly way. That is something that came from being in this program and environment.” An interdisciplinary mindset has also influenced her children’s education. Janas played a key role in helping her children’s school develop curriculum and approaches that integrate social-emotional and project-based learning.

Returning to UW Bothell as an IAS Advisory Board member, Janas was compelled by “students like me who are working and don’t have the luxury of being a full-time student. At the time that I was a student, I had the benefit of a great employer and a tuition reimbursement program for support. Dollars shouldn’t be a barrier to accomplishing a goal, finishing a program, or buying a book.  I want to help students have a good educational experience without having their schooling interrupted.”

Janas channels her support into scholarships and developing program funds through the IAS Advisory Board. As a former high school exchange student, she’s especially excited by the prospect of eliminating financial barriers to student participation in experiential learning programs such as the Washington D.C. Human Rights Seminar and the Global Scholars Program.  “I was so inspired by the work that the students were doing,” she says, after meeting with several of them in board meetings and on campus.

Last December, IAS launched the Early Grads campaign to reconnect with early alumni and celebrate their legacy. Early Grads (1991-2003) are alumni who earned their degrees at the Canyon Park campus and the first three graduating classes at UW Bothell’s current site.  Janas is serving on an alumni task force that is helping shape the outreach strategy.

Asked about her vision for the campaign, Janas responds, “What I hope is that there are a whole bunch of students like me who just need to find a way back, see what’s happening, be excited, and get involved.  It’s quite a legacy, and it’s very strong. I proudly throw that ‘B’ at the end of UW.”

Original UW Bothell Campus
The original Canyon Park Location