November 9, 2020

Three students from the School of Social Work were awarded scholarships from the UW’s Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies, which supports the study and research of labor and related issues. 

Luis Sanchez Arias (MSW, ‘21) was awarded the Silme Domingo & Gene Viernes Scholarship in Labor Studies, which honors the Seattle leaders who fought for union democracy on behalf of Filipino cannery workers.  Sanchez Arias wants to focus his graduate studies on social justice as well as building support and community accessibility within the healthcare system. 

After a serious childhood injury, Sanchez Arias moved from El Salvador to the United States by himself at the age of 14 to receive better medical care but his experience revealed flaws within the U.S. healthcare system, particularly a lack of accessibility for those who were not native English speakers. This experience inspired his desire to become a social worker and support others in his community who struggle to gain access. As an immigrant and a child of farmworkers, Sanchez Arias is passionate about advocating for the rights of farmworkers and undocumented individuals whose labor often goes unrecognized as they face ongoing discrimination.

Social work graduate student Maria Soto (MSW, ‘21) received the Gundlach Scholarship in Labor Studies which honors ILWU secretary and labor activist Jean Gundlach, her brother and former UW Professor Ralph Gundlach, a victim of communist witch-hunts in the 1950, and their siblings Wilford and Betty.

Soto comes from a family of six that immigrated to Washington state more than 15 years ago to work in the agricultural fields of the Yakima Valley. Growing up, Soto witnessed first-hand the discrimination, lack of support, and hazardous working conditions that farmworkers face on a regular basis. As a first-generation undocumented student, she hopes to use her social work degree to help reform occupational safety policies for farmworkers in the Yakima Valley.

Doctoral candidate Yuanjin Zhou (PhD, '21) received the Martha H. Duggan Fellowship in Caring Labor created in honor of the woman whose caring support enabled the lifework of her husband and key Bridges Center founding supporter Robert Duggan.

As a first generation immigrant from China, Zhou’s experiences and observations around institutionalized care for elders have informed her research on a transnational level. She hopes to develop interventions and inform policies to empower dementia caregivers in how they manage their own health and wellbeing as well as those for whom they provide caregiver support. Her research examines the bio-psycho-social factors that impact how different individuals experience aging, disability and caregiving.

The Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies supports students and faculty at the University of Washington through education and research, cultivating connections with local labor communities, and informing policymakers about issues confronting today’s workers. Longshoreman Harry Bridges was an influential labor leader who made the International Longshore and Warehouse Union into a progressive pillar of trade unionism.

Related Links

2020–2021 Labor Studies Scholarships and Prizes — Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies