Preserving, building and leading community

Alyssa King grew up in Seattle’s Central District where she developed a strong sense of community — one that expanded to encompass relationships at the University of Washington Bothell and beyond. With growing skills, she’s looking forward to serving as a community leader.

Alyssa King

“My community has contributed to and invested in my life, and I want to do the same for the next generation,” she said.

At Garfield High School, King was president of the Black Student Union (BSU). She repeated that role with the UW Bothell BSU, inspired by other members and founder Dominick Juarez.

Leadership experiences

“That really helped elevate me in terms of my leadership and knowing what I want to do on this campus,” said King.

King learned how the BSU helped push to create the Student Diversity Center, which opened in spring 2017. She was one of the center’s first student assistants and said she personally benefited from the support of Miguel Macias when he started that summer as director.

Already recognized as one of the Husky 100, King is on track to graduate in fall 2019 with majors in Law, Economics & Public Policy and in Global Studies and with a minor in Human Rights.

In her remaining time on campus, King said she plans to finish strong academically, focusing her outside-of-class activities on the BSU. “That’s where my heart is. Part of me is there now.”

Global scholarship

After graduating, King plans to take a year to travel, exploring different cultures and seeing connections between different countries. “I love being a global scholar and a global citizen.”

King said a study abroad trip to Ghana in summer 2017 was meaningful for her as an African America woman. She learned about the Ghanaian concept of Sankofa, a term meaning to go back and retrieve, with implications of retaining ancestral history.

That was King’s first trip to Africa, she said, “and it really spoke to me on a personal level.”

The trip also was an opportunity to see how American culture dominates globally and to reflect on the power dynamics of the global south versus the global north, King said.

Building community

Another valuable campus opportunity was the chance to hone rhetoric and speaking skills as a member of the Debate Society, which is directed by Denise Vaughan, a lecturer in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences (IAS).

“I advise any student to get involved in it — even if they not sure about their abilities,” King said. “It’s a great community and great at building your confidence and skill set as well.”

King also worked for the Campus Events Board as its social issues and awareness programmer. In that role and as BSU president, she and her fellow officers and co-workers brought political activist Angela Davis to campus for a public speech. King also moderated a public speech by Patrisse Cullors, who co-founded the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Looking back, King is grateful for the support she received from Wayne Au, the campus diversity officer as well as BSU advisers Aina Braxton, who was assistant director of the Digital Future Lab; Mathew Cooley, a program manager for the Department of Recreation & Wellness; and Susan Harewood, IAS associate professor.

King plans to apply to law school in 2020 and then sees herself returning to the Central District as a civil rights lawyer, fighting racial profiling, discrimination and gentrification. She also dreams of someday having her own nonprofit youth community center focused on the homeless community.

“I’m all about doing what is best for my people to help us grow as one and enact the power of reclamation.”

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