Earth & Environmental Sciences – Outstanding Senior 2020

Hilary Zuniga.

Hilary Zuniga

Bothell, Washington


  • Bachelor of Science in Earth and Environmental Sciences; major in Environmental and Ecosystems Science.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy

Clubs, Organizations, Leadership, and Service

  • Gamma Alpha Omega Sorority – Academics Chair, Social Chair, Historian, National Representative
  • WSU Philosophy Club – Founder and President
  • College of Arts & Sciences Student Ambassador
  • Developing Sustainable Communities Club – President
  • Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation – member
  • McNair Scholar
  • Palouse Clearwater Institute
  • WSU Women’s Center
  • Palouse Food Bank
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Palouse Conservation District
  • Boy Scouts of America
  • Multicultural recruitment conferences (CASHE, SHAPING)
  • Alternatives to Violence on the Palouse

Internships and Employment

  • Academic Enrichment Center – office assistant
  • College of Arts & Sciences – Student Ambassador
  • School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs – philosophy teaching assistant
  • School of the Environment – teaching assistant
  • Native American Pre-Health Program – Mentor
  • UnidosUS Non-Profit – Fellow
  • School of Hospitality & Business Management – Administrative Assistant
  • Fluent, a Zipcar company – marketing representative

Undergraduate Research

  • Honors Thesis: Environmental and Economic Local Perspectives of Third World Interventions from an Ecuadorian Population, Dr. Michael Goldsby, mentor. Research objective was to study a population in rural Ecuador by interviewing local people about their perspective of the development work going on in their community by non-governmental organizations.
  • Effects of Social Cues on the termination of migration in a facultative migrant, the Pine Siskin, Heather Watts, mentor. Research objective was to determine if there are social cues involved in the ending of the migration patterns of Pine Siskin birds

Education Abroad

  • London, SOAS University: Course in Global Challenges to Food Security
  • Intag Valley, Ecuador: Gathered data while conducting 15 solo interviews in more than five pueblos for McNair Scholar thesis
  • Ecuador: Study Abroad service learning, traveled to 6+ locations for a course, Discover Ecuador: School of the Environment, and collaborated with local people in the completion of five biodigesters to aid in clean farming, accessibility to energy, and fertilizer.

Awards and Recognition

  • 2020 College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Senior in Earth and Environmental Sciences
  • Honors Thesis – Passed with Excellence
  • Honors College Thesis Grant
  • WSU President’s Leadership Award
  • McNair Scholar
  • Pi Sigma Alpha, Political Science Honor Society
  • United Greek Association Scholar of the Year Award
  • WSU College of Arts and Sciences Gonfalon Bearer
  • Multiple academic scholarships

Faculty Comments

“Hilary has been an outstanding student in the School of the Environment. Her strong environmental science and philosophy background, paired with two minors focused on ethics and sustainability, provides a firm base for addressing some of the world’s biggest challenges.

“Hilary routinely demonstrated her ability to balance a rigorous academic load, work, requirements of the McNair Scholars Program and the Honors College, teaching assistantships, active in clubs, student ambassador duties and other extensive organization and community service work. She has been a powerful advocate and leader for minority women in science and shows a strong commitment to her local, regional and global communities, providing leadership to her peers.” –Dr. Kent Keller, director, School of the Environment

Personal Statement

Being a Coug has changed my life for the better. Coming into college as a first-generation immigrant and someone who dealt with a lot of personal challenges due to mental health scared me. I was not the strongest student in high school, and all these different variables on top of those that naturally come with being a college student alone stirred together to make me doubt myself. Never did I imagine that this school and its amazing faculty would build upon who I am fundamentally and who I could see myself to be. Because of faculty that believed in me, like Dr. Kara Whitman, Dr. Michael Goldsby, Arlene Parkay, Dr. Raymond Herrera, and those from Multicultural Student Services, as well as the close relationships I have made here, I am honored to be a strong student that can accept this accomplishment and a Latina that will continue her studies to graduate school and make a difference in the world and in the field of international development.

Honored Faculty and Mentors

  • Kara Whitman, instructor, School of the Environment
  • Michael Goldsby, associate professor, School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs
  • Samantha Noll, assistant professor, School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs
  • Diane Scott, advisor, School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs
  • Raymond Herrera, director, McNair Scholars Program
  • Arlene Parkay, assistant director of Recruitment & Retention, College of Arts and Sciences
  • All of Multicultural Student Services

Future Plans

Hilary will take some time to prepare for graduate school, with hopes of acquiring full funding and participating in an internship with Mighty Earth before finding a job in her field. Her long-term goal is to work for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and eventually become a director at the United Nations and to start her own non-profit  organization.