SU Hosts Annual Costco Scholars Program

Event raises more than $3 million and has benefited 544 graduates, including 179 now at SU.
By Casey Corr
Cost Scholarship Breakfast (lg)
Dr. Chris Holder, Seattle University graduate and Costco scholar, speaks at the 11th Annual Costco Scholarship Fund Breakfast.Photo Credit: Chris Joesph Taylor

Seattle University hosted the 11th Annual Costco Scholarship Fund Breakfast, which this year raised more than $3 million, bringing the overall total since its founding to more than $21 million benefiting students at Seattle University and the University of Washington.

“I continue to be amazed at how the Costco Scholars program is making the difference in the lives of so many students,” said Stephen Sundborg, S.J., president of Seattle University.

The annual breakfast, which alternates each year between the SU and the UW, presently supports 279 students at the two universities. The programs seeks to improve access to education for underrepresented minorities and change lives.

In his remarks Sundborg, noted that it’s equally impressive that to look at the quality of the students who received scholarships – 85 percent of the recipients graduated, compared to a graduation rates of 75 percent for all other students at SU and UW.

Since the scholars program began in 2000, donors have helped provide a college degree to 544 students. Sinegal created the program with Jeff Brotman, Costco’s chairman and a University of Washington Regent.

To highlight the direct benefits from the scholarships, Sundborg, Sinegal and Brotman sat on stage with two of the original Costco Scholars, Dr. Chris Holder, a naturopathic physician and Seattle University graduate, and Chalia Stallings-Ala’ilima, a Washington State assistant attorney general and University of Washington graduate.

Holder and Stallings-Ala’ilima gave moving accounts of how the scholarships had changed their lives. Before entering the program, they said they both had wondered how they would afford a college education. Stallings-Ala’ilima delighted the crowd with a story of how she got the letter telling her she had been selected. At first she thought the news was really an inducement to buy magazine subscriptions so she put aside the letter. But when her mother came home and realized the significance of what had happened, her mother dropped to the floor with joy.

Sundborg praised Sinegal and Brotman and supporters of the program for what they had accomplished.

“The impact of the scholarship fund begins with every student who receives this support. But it by no means ends there,” he said. “This fund has made the University of Washington and Seattle University more diverse and strong institutions.”

Sinegal remarked that the scholarships have given students a chance to attend college and thrive and go onto careers as capable professional leaders, helping to create a more diverse, vibrant and effective workforce. “The impact of these Costco Scholars is being felt here in the Northwest, to be sure, but also across the country and throughout the world.”

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