Kamiak grad Shawnna Cabanday named to Husky 100
Last updated 5/15/2019 at Noon
Between its three campuses, the University of Washington has more than 54,000 students enrolled in coursework.
Just through that number alone, it’s easy to see why being named to the university’s Husky 100 list is a big deal.
Each year, the University of Washington recognizes 100 students both undergrads and graduate students between its three campuses (Seattle, Bothell, and Tacoma) “who are making the most of their time at the UW.”
In its fourth year, being chosen for the Husky 100 was competitive, with more than 1,800 nominations and more than 600 applications. Ten UW Bothell students are among the 2019 Husky 100.
One of the 100 students is Shawnna Marcelino Cabanday, an electrical engineering major at UW Bothell who graduated from Kamiak High School in 2016.
Husky 100 students are acclaimed for “connecting the dots” between classroom learning and experience. They engage in community-based projects, internships and study-abroad opportunities. They are recognized for their innovation, commitment to inclusivity, capacity for leadership, and academics.
“I was initially taken aback, but feel extremely honored,” Cabanday said when she learned she was selected.
While at Kamiak, Cabanday was a varsity golfer and a member of the National Honor Society, Key Club, and Red Cross Club.
Cabanday was one of more than 7,000 people to be nominated. She said professors nominate students for the list, and nominees must submit a resume and letters of endorsement, as well as their choice of a video, essay, or portfolio.
In Cabanday’s case, she wrote an essay about how she started her electrical engineering coursework as one of the few women in her class, and the only Filipino female in her major, but later took a course with Rania Hussein the first female, Middle-Eastern electrical engineering professor at UW Bothell. Hussein is now in the electrical and computer engineering department at UW Seattle.
That shift from her first course to Hussein’s class helped evolve her Husky 100 experience, Cabanday said.
“My initial year at UWB was difficult. I distanced myself from my professors and other students because of my fear of uncertainty,” Cabanday told The Beacon. “Later, I took another course from a professor (Hussein) who is now my mentor. She empowered me to focus on my differences and most powerful attributes in the classroom.”
Cabanday’s growth took off from there, she said.
“I developed meaningful relationships with my professors and classmates, continued actively participating in class, and created video tutorials and live presentations to help my peers,” she wrote in her essay application. “My self-acceptance and reinspired passion to pursue my major allowed me to embrace the very difference that set me apart: the difference of being a woman in engineering.”
Cabanday said she chose to pursue engineering in large part because of her father, Noel Cabanday Sr., who died April 20.
“He was a mechanical engineer,” she said. “My father raised me to achieve beyond what I thought was possible, and his legacy of success continues to motivate me.”
Cabanday took Running Start courses at Everett Community College, where she did research at the college’s Ocean Research College Academy (ORCA).
“I wanted to do something hands-on with science that challenged me,” she said.
Eventually, she turned to electrical engineering.
After her father’s passing, Cabanday has used the Husky 100 award to look back on her life.
“Reflecting on the award and my father’s passing, I am reminded of what little time we have on Earth to accomplish what we want in this lifetime. Like my father always reminded me, ‘The world is your oyster: you have the ability and opportunity to achieve anything you want in this lifetime.’”
During the summer of 2018, Cabanday was also accepted into the competitive Tokyo Tech Summer research program in Japan. She was one of 34 out of an international pool of 141 students.
While there, Cabanday had feelings similar to those she felt during her first electrical engineering class.
“Many times, I felt vulnerable, helpless, and like I had lost a sense of my identity. This research abroad experience was, yet again, a true test of character for me,” Cabanday wrote. “Although throughout the program, I felt unconfident because of my foreignness; I reflected on my experience in the classroom with Dr. Hussein’s advice and approached challenges similarly.”
During the 10-week program, Cabanday helped develop a lighting-control system operated by a wireless sensor network. While wearing the sensor, a simple flick of the wrist would allow a user to turn it on or off, or change the color of the lights in a meeting room in under one second.
“I worked relentlessly and went well above my expectations by presenting to a 17-person executive research team and 34 other world-renowned international students,” she said.
After returning to Washington from Japan, she aimed to help empower others, especially those in underrepresented communities.
She is a public relations officer for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics’ student chapter, a mentor for underprivileged middle school girls of color, and a volunteer who has helped raise more than $350,000 in scholarships for UW Bothell students in need. She is also a study abroad ambassador, research and teaching assistant, registered student on UW’s annual dean’s list, and a Boeing scholarship recipient.
Now 20, Cabanday will begin her industry career at Intel Corporation in San Jose, California, working for the Programmable Solutions Group.
Moving forward, her goal in life is simple, yet lofty.
“I want to forever dedicate the rest of my story to kindling a fire in others where people live, not in pressure of their differences, but in light of their true nature in a world where we all can thrive.”