Husky 100

December 8, 2016

Regina Harper’s journey to become a Husky 100

Regina Husky 100

Regina Harper

Tacoma, WA
BA Criminal Justice ’17

On March 23, 2013, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness and, despite a year of occupational and physical therapy, my doctors concluded that I would not be able to return to my position as a health care professional. I strived to improve my health, but due to my physical limitations, the career that I loved and worked so hard for was placed beyond my reach. While lying in bed one night, I had the realization that I must form a new goal and that goal was to return to college in hopes of embarking on a career that would be suitable for life with my condition. The IJ’s mission statement writes that our students are united in our “belief in possibility and unshakable optimism,” and I truly believe that if anyone can enact change, it’s a Husky.

Going back to school

I chose to attend the UW because of its affordability, location, racially and culturally diverse students and faculty, and its excellent reputation. My first inclination was to get my bachelor’s degree so that I could move into an administration role in the healthcare profession. However, my goals changed after I completed two quarters successfully and started to take the time to actually self-reflect and think about what kind of career would make me happy.

I had to ask myself the question of how I could continue to help people outside the health care profession. As I spent time figuring out my identity while taking core electives, I was able to really embrace my worth and realize how I could give back to my community.

After extensive soul searching, I realized that I always enjoyed working with children, particularly juveniles, who had lost their way. I have always wanted to help children who needed a second chance in life. If I can be the voice for a juvenile who has been victimized, incarcerated, homeless, or defeated, then working in the criminal justice program will have been profoundly worthwhile. So, I applied and was accepted into the Criminal Justice program.

Later, in my junior year, I found an internship opportunity at the Pierce County Remann Hall Juvenile Courts, where I was able to assist probation officers with monitoring juveniles. At this time, I also took on the responsibility of being the sole caretaker of my mother. I was blessed by this opportunity because it has strengthened our relationship as well as allowed me to give back to the woman who provided me with the resources I needed to pursue my dreams.

Applying for the Husky 100 award

In my junior year, I saw an email about the Husky 100 award, but I ignored it thinking that I was too busy with work and had little chance of winning. It was my friend and mentor who encouraged me to apply for this particular award, specifically as I would be a senior soon and the award ensured assistance with creating a LinkedIn profile and also offered resume building workshops. Weeks later, I received a letter from the Husky 100 team stating that I had been nominated and encouraging me to complete the online application and essay process. Throughout the application process, I attended several writing workshops here on campus where they gave me helpful feedback on my application essay.

Sometime in March after submitting my essay, I received a “Congratulations!” email from then-interim provost Gerald Baldasty. I still remember the exact place where I was standing when reading my award letter.

I was so surprised and incredibly humbled that my academic and community outreach efforts were being appreciated and acknowledged with such a prestigious award. Throughout my lifetime, my efforts have often been met with discouragement and resistance, and to finally have support and acknowledgement was truly an emotional moment for me. To stand next to such high-achieving peers enforced my own feelings of deep appreciation for the UW campus that so publicly values the accomplishments of its students.

Since becoming a Husky 100

Since the Husky 100 announcement, I have experienced a lot. I am currently the recruiter and marketing officer for the Criminal Justice League. This summer I was blessed with the opportunity to attend a study abroad trip to the Netherlands where I had the chance to experience the different intersections of the criminal justice system by exploring historical and current approaches to crime and delinquency in the Netherlands.

Upon returning, I was also fortunate to be part of a Spring BreakAway camp program here at Tacoma’s Rescue Mission, which allowed eight UW students to live in a local homeless shelter for a week. This was a very emotional experience for me. By the third day, I was overwhelmed with emotions and ready to go home. I was previously clueless to what homeless individuals endure on a day-to-day basis. Through these experiences, as well as a myriad of others that I have experienced throughout my time as a Husky 100, I have gained a greater awareness of what it means to truly embrace the many cultures, ethnicities and classes represented here on campus.

Gratitude & My Future

This award has opened many doors here at UW, and I’m sure will continue to help me as I continue my education and build my network. Without this award, I would not have been able to meet many of my fellow winners who have inspired me so much with their continued efforts both on and off campus. I would not have been able to meet and be inspired by our chancellor or the many members of our staff, faculty, and professors who serve as excellent role models for UW students. I am proud to be named one of the first Husky 100 recipients and will constantly strive to create a “world of good” by passionately advocating for greater inclusivity in my community.

My goals, in terms of this award, include recruiting new Husky 100 cohort applicants as future campus ambassadors and striving to fulfill UW’s tenets of inclusivity and unshakeable optimism. Currently I’m working on my admissions essays to graduate schools here in Washington state to further my education with a master’s degree in Social Welfare. Applying to graduate school is a complex and daunting process. However, I believe that the IJ Tacoma has furnished me with the tools I need in order to thrive at whichever school I choose to attend.