The Barbara Greenberg Distinguished Scholarship was established to celebrate the life of Barbara Greenberg, who graduated from the University of Washington in 2011 as the first Bachelor of Arts in Disability Studies. Barbara had cystic fibrosis and a learning disability. Her learning disability made it difficult for her to learn a foreign language, a graduation requirement. This led her to enroll in the UW American Sign Language Program and introduced her to the burgeoning Disability Studies major.

Barbara’s college experience was interrupted by a lung transplant in 2007. She passed away in June of 2020 at the age of 34 due to complications with cystic fibrosis. Perhaps because of the challenges she faced, Barbara was all about helping others. At her passing, friends wanted to honor her life with an endowment to the University of Washington program that fit her so well, and the Barbara Greenberg Endowed Scholarship for Disability Studies was born.


This scholarship provides monetary support to undergraduate students who are pursuing specialized coursework in Disability Studies. Scholarship funds can be used to offset the cost of attending the UW, including tuition, fees, books, and living expenses.

Number, Amount, and Length of Awards

It is the donor’s intent that the scholarship should provide robust awards to one or two students.The award amount for 2024-25 is $15,000. Awards are for the academic year and funds will be distributed quarterly.


It is the preference of the donors that applicants be University of Washington undergraduate students in the undergraduate Disability Studies Minor and the Individualized Studies Major in Disability Studies; however, the scholarship is available to all undergraduate students pursuing specialized coursework in Disability Studies.

Selection Criteria

Scholarship recipients are primarily selected based on academic merit, and secondarily based on financial need.

Academic merit is defined through typical metrics such as grade point average and faculty recommendations. However, the committee also considers academic preparedness to engage with Disability Studies content, involvement in the campus disability community through advocacy/activism or scholarship, and engagement in scholarship or activism that advances Disability Studies as a scholarly field.

Financial need is determined by the Office of Student Financial Aid. For financial need to be considered, students must have a completed FAFSA on file for the current year.

We strongly encourage applications from disabled students.

Deadline for Application

Applications are due Monday, April 22nd, 2024, before 11:59 pm.

Application Process

Students should submit the following application materials using the online form linked below: 

  1. College-level transcripts.
  2. A personal statement detailing:
  • How the student meets the selection criteria.
  • If the student is enrolled in the Disability Studies Program, how the student conceptualizes their undergraduate major or minor contributing to their future roles.  
  • How the student connects to the field of Disability Studies—either through self-identification, family connection, or other means.
  1. Two letters of reference:
  • One letter should be from a faculty member with whom the student has had direct academic contact. This letter should focus on academic potential detailing classroom experience or other activities that illustrate academic aptitude.
  • The second letter may be from someone who knows the student and can discuss leadership, community engagement and service, and personal integrity.
  • Note: Letters may be emailed directly to the committee chair: Mark Harniss (
  1. Depending on the number of applicants, finalists may also be asked to participate in a personal interview with the Barbara Greenberg Endowed Scholarship selection committee.
  2. For financial need to be considered, students must have a completed FAFSA on file for the current year.


If a student is selected, they will have a maximum of three weeks to decide whether to accept the award. The Disability Studies Program reserves the right to offer the scholarship to other applicants should the first offer be declined. The Program may also decide to offer no scholarships in a particular year if none of the applicants meet the eligibility criteria.

About the UW Disability Studies Program

Disability Studies focuses on the social, cultural, political, and historical meanings of disability. Disability Studies is not medicine, special education, or professions oriented towards prevention or treatment of disabilities, but it informs those disciplines. Disability is understood to arise from the interaction between a person’s health condition, impairment, or difference, and the multitude of influencing factors in their environment.  Many people also identify as a person with a disability, being disabled, having impairments or health conditions, being chronically ill, C/crip, or by a specific medical diagnosis or cultural group such as A/autistic, blind, D/deaf or linguistic minority. The intersections between disability and other identity categories such as gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity are addressed in Disability Studies teaching, scholarship, and activism. The voices and roles of disabled people themselves are emphasized in defining problems and evaluating solutions.

Students in the undergraduate Disability Studies Minor and the Individualized Studies Major in Disability Studies examine disability rights and culture through courses in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. Disability Studies is a multi-disciplinary field that investigates, critiques, and enhances Western society’s understandings of disability. The Minor and Major introduces students to a critical framework for recognizing how people with disabilities have experienced disadvantages and exclusion because of personal and societal responses to impairment, and for exploring how disability activists and scholars have re-conceptualized disability from a more empowering social-political and human rights perspective as an element of human diversity and a source of community.


You can support the Barbara Greenberg Endowed Scholarship for Disability Studies through gifts made online at or by check to:

UW Foundation
4333 Brooklyn Ave. N.E. Box 359505
Seattle, Washington 98195-9505