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Alumni Success Stories: In conversation with Central graduate and University of Washington transfer President’s Medalist, Tiffany-Ashton Gatsby

A lot of our fellow students are graduating this quarter. But quite often, we doubt ourselves and our capabilities and worry about where life will lead us. Here we sit down to speak with one of our alumni, a University of Washington transfer student who’s doing splendidly in their field to help Central students understand that, at the end of the day, everything can be okay, if you are willing to put in enough work.

Tiffany-Ashton Gatsby is a Seattle-based artist, activist, and anthropologist. They are researching healing through social practice art in the queer-disabled community, utilizing public installation works to combat marginalization and promote visibility. Gatsby’s current and past projects include work on accessible wayfinding, working against academic ableism, promoting inclusion for LGBTQIA2S+ students, and consulting on ADA projects, including graphics design and built environments.

What is the position you hold right now?

“I am a PhD student in Sociocultural Anthropology at the University of Washington, where I am also pursuing a Graduate Certificate in Disability Studies. I work as a Teaching Assistant, mostly for Disability Studies courses. I also co-chair two organizations at UW; one is a Husky Seed Fund winner, Pathways for All Huskies (PAH), which focuses on artistic solutions to accessible wayfinding on campus, and QueerCrip Research Collective (QCRC), an interdisciplinary graduate student research cluster – you can find more information on these and my other activism efforts here.”

How would you say being a student from Seattle Central contributed to your current position?

“The class sizes at SCC for prerequisites like English 101 & 102 allowed me to get to know my professors in a way that wouldn’t have been possible at a large university like UW. I was able to explore which major spoke to me, and I ended up making a decision pretty early on that set me on a career path that led directly to where I am today. This is due in large part to the advice of the many wonderful and dedicated instructors at SCC that give their time and dedication to their students. Students at SCC have the opportunity to start organizations, volunteer, and work in various roles with a low bureaucratic threshold to entry, setting me up for future success at UW.”

If you could advise the students graduating this quarter, what would you tell them? 

“Graduating from SCC is an accomplishment everyone can be proud of. It is either the end of an exciting educational journey or one step in an exciting educational adventure. Personally, I am a big believer in planning. I knew before I got my GED and enrolled in SCC that I wanted to go to grad school, so I was planning my SCC curriculum around transferring to a 4-year program, knowing the goal was grad school. Having a plan can serve you well and save you time and money. However, one of the main reasons I chose to make a plan was because I enrolled at Seattle Central when I was forty, believing it’s never too late to change your mind. I’ve changed my mind many times along the way, but still kept my one goal intact – I want a PhD. In fact, I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was a toddler—I just didn’t know I wasn’t going to be an MD! Things change; give yourself some grace.”

Reflecting on your college experience, what are the most valuable lessons you learned inside & outside of the classroom?

“The faculty at SCC are people you can count on for the duration of your academic career, and the quality of education available at SCC prepared me for rigorous study. In fact, a few courses I took at SCC actually had more of a hand in preparing me for graduate school than I would’ve realized. Don’t take the Facetime you have with your instructors for granted! That time is like gold, so use it wisely and soak up all their nuggets of information.”

As graduates step into the next chapter of their lives, Tiffany-Ashton Gatsby’s narrative serves as a beacon of encouragement. Regardless of where one begins their journey, with perseverance, support, and a willingness to embrace change, every obstacle can be transformed into an opportunity for growth and achievement. So, to all graduating students, remember: your potential knows no bounds, and with determination and resilience, the future holds endless possibilities.


Vrindha, an international student from India, is fueled by her fervent love for diverse art forms such as dance, drama, music and theatre. Eager to immerse herself in new experiences and broaden her horizons, she sees her involvement with the Collegian as a gateway to both sharing her passions and delving into new realms of knowledge.

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