Philip Lee

Philip Lee, a senior in the Bioengineering program, helped developed the "Husky Seed Fund" that funds UW students who brings innovative ideas to the UW campus and student's extracurricular experience.

One of the greatest parts of being a college student is the endless discovery of new and creative ideas being created and discussed around campus. 

This search for new ideas on campus is being lead by the Husky Seed Fund, a group focused on funding student ideas that are impactful, inclusive, and practical. 

“We want to create a program that funds student projects that can make an impact on the UW community as a whole,” said Philip Lee, a member of the the Husky Experience Student Advisory Council (HESAC).

The fund was started by HESAC, a group formed by the UW provost as a part of the Husky Experience initiative. The initiative helped form things like the Husky 100 and University 101, new projects that have contributed to the overall well-being of the UW student body and student experience.

“Really what we’re looking at is improving the student experience from when students come to campus, even before they come to campus. It’s about your strong academics, the other skills that go around that and the experiences you can have both inside and outside the classroom to set you up for real lifetime success,” said Marisa Nickle, the senior director for strategy and academic initiatives in the Office of the Provost.

HESAC was formed in the winter of 2015 to help advise the provost on these projects, but it was soon discovered that the group’s abilities were not being used to their full potential. The council realized that instead of having the team work under the provost, it made more sense for the students to be leading the discussion. 

“Why don’t we have students lead projects and see what they think are good ideas?”, Nickle said. 

From this point the team was given complete freedom to begin working on the Husky Seed Fund. They built the entire process from scratch, including the application, criteria for what makes a winning project, and a communication platform to get the word out. 

Those who applied were asked to submit basic personal information as well as a general budget proposal and a letter of intent. From this point, two finalists were selected from the 20 applications submitted and awarded their funds (anywhere up to $5000).

One winning idea was the Vulnerability Collective, which aims to collect around 100 different stories of vulnerability from UW faculty and students and publish it in book form to distribute around campus. The second winner came up with the Undergraduate Research Journal, which simplifies the academic journal process by consolidating undergraduate research from various fields and makes it accessible to all students in a single journal.

These two ideas were just the beginning of what HESAC hopes to be a project that lives on for years to come. 

“This is an opportunity to still make an impact on the community by creating programs … that can ultimately blossom into something even more impactful,” Lee said.

Next year’s HESAC (which is currently accepting applications for new council members) will be working on the same project, but the council will be wearing two hats, one of checking up on past winners and one of selecting the newest awardees. 

“What we are looking for is some new blood, some people who can bring new ideas,”  said Yichuan He, a current HESAC board member.

Overall, both this board and the Husky Seed Fund emphasize the importance of student collaboration. The fund is created by students, for students, and that makes it a unique opportunity for any Husky out there with a bright idea. 

If you think you have an impactful, inclusive, and practical idea that would better the UW student community, apply for the Husky Seed Fund here


Reach reporter Hannah Myrick at Twitter: @hanmyrick

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