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Dean’s Excellence Fund

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Small Gifts. Big Difference.

Fund fuels student passions

The Dean’s Excellence Fund translates small gifts into big differences. Created by many donations over several years, the fund supports students who show passion for education and a desire to help others, all in the face of out-of-the-ordinary challenges.

Each year, CAHNRS academic departments nominate students for the award and the Dean chooses two recipients: one undergraduate and one graduate student.

Breaking down barriers

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the lab holding a light blue paper square.Growing up in northwest Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Shima Bibi watched her fellow girls drop out of school, while boys stayed in class.

“That did not seem right,” Bibi said. “I was determined to make a difference.”

Encouraged by her teachers and family, she stayed in school, led her classes in grades, and ultimately became an international scholar.

In 2017, Bibi was the first recipient of the Dean’s Excellence Scholarship, which powered her vital discoveries in digestive health at the School of Food Science. Graduating last fall, she continues to pursue science in Pakistan, where she plans to make a difference for girls just like her.

Making his father proud

William Navarro sitting on a rock while playing a guitar.“I learned to value the smallest of things,” says William Navarro, current undergraduate recipient of the Dean’s Excellence Scholarship. The junior in Animal Sciences and aspiring veterinarian grew up working in the apple orchards, farms, and feedlots of central Washington.

“Working for a feed yard sparked my interest in animal wellness,” Navarro said. “But I never thought I would leave town, let alone continue my education.”

When William was 11, his father, Guillermo, died.

“It was probably the toughest hardship I have ever endured,” he said. “That’s why I try to be the best I can in life. I want to do well in school, so my father can look down on me and say he’s proud.”

Training future ag teachers

Excellence funding sent students Mariah Julson, Megan Blyzka, Reni Lucido, and Shania Simons to Wyoming last spring for the National Association of Agricultural Educators conference.

There they learned how to find a mentor, manage their finances, supervise livestock projects, or run a lab and a mechanic’s shop—indispensable skills as they begin their careers.

“Thanks to the funding, we were able to attend the entire conference and the students were really able to gain the full experience,” said advisor Candis Carraway. “This was a great way to help them transition from being students to being agricultural educators.”

Candis Carraway, Mariah Julson, Megan Blyzka, Reni Lucido, and Shania Simons in front of a museum diorama of two elks fighting.

2017 By the Numbers

Infographic showing donations came from 26 US states and British Columbia, Canada.

Infographic showing 449 donors to CAHNRS

Infographic showing the smallest donation of $10 and the largest donation of $2500.

Interested in fueling passion? Contact Britta Nitcy at or 509-335-6479 to contribute to the Dean’s Excellence Fund.