Edmonds-Woodway High School student Owen Lee and educator Nick Wellington have been selected for the 2021 cohort of the Bezos Scholars program.
The Bezos Family Foundation launched the Scholars program in 2005 to provide young people a platform to design solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing their communities.
Lee is passionate about climate justice and mutual aid, and hopes to use this opportunity as a Bezos Scholar to fight some of the root causes of food insecurity in his community. “I’m most excited to meet people who are passionate and engaged in their communities and can teach and inspire me,” he said.
Lee is chair of the Edmonds Youth Commission, volunteers at Edmonds Food Bank and Seattle Aquarium, and interned with the Holocaust Center for Humanity. In 2018, he traveled to South Africa with the Seattle Children’s Chorus to perform at the Ihlombe Choral Festival, a series of concerts and gatherings performed by numerous choirs from the U.S. and Africa. Lee is also a member of his school’s jazz choir and in 2020, sang at the Jazz Education Network’s Festival in New Orleans.
Having always treasured the natural world, Lee loves his home in the Pacific Northwest, which is a perfect blend of his dad’s upbringing in Hawaii and his mom’s, in the woods of Pennsylvania.
According to the Bezos Scholars Program announcement, scholars are selected based on commitment to their education, demonstrated leadership abilities, willingness to embrace challenges, and the desire to create positive change in their communities.
Lee will be supported by his educator, scholar Nick Wellington, a teacher at Edmonds-Woodway High School High School.
Wellington was born and raised in Edmonds and works at his alma mater. He is proud of receiving his National Board Certification in Social Studies while training for multiple group fitness certifications. He is driven by the same principles that instruct his teaching practice. He wants to elevate and amplify projects that promote equity, access and justice.
“I am so excited to network and collaborate with an inspiring group of young leaders from around the world; more than anything it will be a humbling and grounding experience,” Wellington said.
The Scholars program usually begins with an all-expenses paid trip to the Aspen Ideas Festival. The week is filled with leadership training, panel discussions, and exclusive conversations with many of the world’s most acclaimed scientists, journalists, artists, and global thought leaders. This experience sets the stage for the challenge ahead: launching sustainable projects, known as Local Ideas Festivals (LIFs), to transform their communities.
Due to ongoing pandemic safety concerns, the Scholar trip to Aspen slated for late June 2021 was cancelled. The program is still excited to host engaging virtual programming during the time they would have been in Aspen, and the 2021 cohort will participate in the virtual Aspen Ideas Festival slated for June 27-30.
The topics and themes of LIFs are as diverse as the Scholars themselves and are designed to align Scholars’ passions with an existing community need. Many address inequities in education, advocating for the rights of minorities and underrepresented communities, and the need to create space for civil discourse. Since the program’s inception, more than 50,000 attendees have participated in these change projects.