2021-2022 Kohlmeier Mikulencak Scholarship Recipient

Those who know Tyler see him as a perfect candidate for the Kohlmeier Mikulencak Scholarship. Tyler is well-read, enjoys participating in academic discourse, and is willing to seek answers to tough questions to contribute to a better community and society for all individuals.  

During his time at Western, Tyler has earned several honors and continues to take part in inspirational activities outside of his formal education. He became involved in community activism in fall 2020 when the Bellingham community experienced Nazi-inspired vandalism as a negative response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Tyler Durbin scholarship awardee smiling broadly.
Tyler Durbin $2000 winner

Joining the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force’s “Show Up For Love Rally,” Tyler gave a speech about the intersectionality of the struggles against antisemitism, racism, and other forms of discrimination and oppression. Later, in winter 2021, when his hometown of Boise, Idaho suffered similar vandal attacks at their Anne Frank Memorial, Tyler supported the community by joining the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights to create an educational brochure entitled “When You Hear It, When You See It: Community Responses to Racism and Antisemitism.”

Tyler was asked to write an Op-Ed piece for an online Jewish college student publication, “New Voices Magazine.” In They Are Here, They Are Everywhere: White Supremacy from My Pacific Northwest Homes to the CapitolJanuary 2021, Tyler drew together the similarities between the Bellingham and Boise incidents.

A Western senior, Tyler will graduate in spring 2022 with a degree from the Law Diversity Justice Program (Fairhaven College) and minors in Holocaust and Genocide Studies and History.

LINK to video – Tyler Durbin’s scholarship application essay (Zoom Platform)

Luci Roman looking fit in a black sweater and plaid skirt.

Those who know Luci say they are bright, curious, and an outstanding student. Just as importantly, Luci cares about justice and the world.   

Making a real difference in the lives of others became important to Luci once they began to pay close attention to the harassment and outright discrimination their classmates of color were enduring throughout their years in high school. Because Luci felt a call to make a difference for their classmates, in their last year of high school they began to work as a Racial Equity Advocate with the Washington State NAACP Youth Council.  

Luci positioned their self in this role to learn more about the issues present-day students experience in large and diverse public-school systems. Soon, this knowledge led to leadership positions within the community at outreach events, discussion panels, workshops, and intersectional conferences. Eventually, Luci set their intentions on further educating district policymakers and those responsible for funding decisions. It appeared that those leaders were too unaware of flagrant racial discrepancies and discrimination within the Seattle Public School system and the long-term effect this has on the students. Luci, along with their cohort that year, provided positive motivation to school district decision-makers to fund building renovation, too long overlooked, in one of Seattle’s more ethnically diverse and low-income areas.  

Luci will earn a Political Science degree from Western in 2022 and plans to use their knowledge and voice to combat worldwide systemic inequalities.

Mwangi Payton $1000

Mwangi Payton looking fit in Kenyan native garb.

Those who know Mwangi are impressed by his intellectual and thoughtful approach to his work. The first thing noted about Mwangi is his love for the culture and history of all people. Mwangi brings respect and maturity to his interactions with people and has greatly influenced students and the university.

Already speaking three languages by the end of his high school freshman year, Mwangi pledged to continue language development by learning the native language of the land – dxʷləšucid. He was born in the Puget Sound region, the land of the sduhubš (Snohomish). He also committed to learning the mother tongue of his Central Kenyan foremothers, Gìkûyû. Because he is concerned about the growing concentration of endangered languages, Mwangi has made it a lifetime goal to study indigenous languages, then continue to share this knowledge with those who come after him.

In other efforts to address the effects of colonialism on first-nation cultures, Mwangi is studying how items like indigenous jewelry and clothing are affected by history and culture. He works with designers to rebuild traditional native clothing (African) and create options for people to not only recreate cultural pride but also eventually make a living from their projects. In this endeavor, Mwangi taps into his own inner strength while discovering ways to help people help themselves.

 Mwangi plans to graduate in 2023 with a double major in Linguistics and Computer Science.