Alumni Blog

Exploring Women's Empowerment As Part of the #MeToo Movement

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on April 30, 2018 at 4:04 PM PDT

The Women of SU Alumni Chapter is known by many alumnae for their popular Connection Café series. The series covers topics ranging from professional development to issues of concern for Seattle University’s community of women.

The group’s next Connection Café on May 10 is focused on women’s empowerment and the #MeToo movement, featuring a storyslam format. We spoke to Keisha Jackson, ‘14, the Women of SU’s education chair, to learn more about this timely topic.

Keisha, also a commissioner with the Seattle Women’s Commission, saw the Women of SU platform as an opportunity for partnership. The Seattle Women’s Commission had expressed a desire to host an event in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, taking place in April.

“The Women of SU event seemed like the perfect combination, to be able to utilize the networks of the City of Seattle and to reach a broader audience with our Women of SU programming.” Because the Connection Café takes place near the end of the academic year, the Women of SU are also inviting senior women to attend. “The seniors will be there and this topic is very relevant to them and all women given the political and social climate,” Keisha said, adding that women are invited to bring their children to this event if the topic is one want they want to explore with their children.

The event will kick off with the evening’s confirmed speakers, including Jaqueline Garcia, the founder of Mujer Al Volante and Circulo De Mama Seattle, Heidi Happonen, a PR industry leader, Sarah Toce, principal owner and Editor-in-Chief of The Seattle Lesbian, Katrina M. Sanford, PsyD, Co-chair of the Seattle LGBTQ Commission, LaTanya Horace, founder of The Silent Task Force, and Seattle University senior, Haleema Bharoocha, '18, Director of the Gender Justice Center at Seattle U.

"I am honored and humbled to offer my insight and experience toward this worthwhile event,” event speaker Sarah Toce shared, adding, "When I ruminate over the kind of world I want to one day leave my daughter, that propels me to work harder building bridges in order to connect communities. Sharing our stories as women is not always an easy task, but it's a mandatory one should we desire to see change in our lifetime. I am proud to be in the company of such esteemed women - and I look forward to seeing everyone."

Haleema Bharoocha shared that she is excited for the opportunity to speak at this event and hopes to see a strong turnout from a diverse audience, including those who don’t normally get involved, saying that, “Stories are a form of information sharing that my ancestors used to pass down important information and convey feelings. Even more, stories make people feel something. They call people to action. Sharing my story is incredibly important since Muslim women of color are so often left out of the conversation. I hope that by sharing my story, I inspire others to share theirs. Bringing marginalized perspectives to the mainstream conversation and let others who cannot speak know that they are not alone.”

Following the confirmed speakers, the evening will transition into an open mic. “Women will have 5-7 minutes to share a personal story or a story of the work they do. The story can be in whatever format women feel called to express themselves in. It’s freeform,” Keisha said, adding that everyone is welcome, even if they wish to listen and not share their stories. “If you choose to show up, no one is going to insist you speak on your life experience. You can just listen and experience the stories being told.”
You can reserve your spot at the Women’s Empowerment Connection Café below.

Seattle Women’s Empowerment Story Slam: #TimesUp
Presented in partnership with the City of Seattle Women’s Commission
Thursday, May 10, 2018
6:30– 8:30 p.m.
Seattle University Student Center 160, LeRoux Room
Get Tickets

From Sullivan Scholar to Alumni Award Recipient

Posted by Seattle University Alumni Association on April 5, 2018 at 2:04 PM PDT

Hopefully by now you’ve heard about this year’s Alumni Award recipients include Shasti Conrad, ’07, our Outstanding Recent Alumna Award winner.  Shasti Conrad, ’07, is a rising star who leads with compassion and honesty. Recognized as a dynamic change maker, Shasti’s work is guided by diversity and inclusion.  

Outstanding Recent Alumna Award: Shasti Conrad, '07

A sociology and international studies major while at Seattle University, Shasti cites both the Sullivan Scholars and Honors programs as the highlight of her years at Seattle U.

Following graduation, she became a field organizer for Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, and with support from another Sullivan Scholar, Alyson Palmer ‘06, Shasti joined President Obama’s first class of White House interns. She parlayed that internship to a full-time role in the West Wing with longtime Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to the president, eventually overseeing a policy portfolio that included youth violence in the United States.

“Recognizing, creating and valuing meaningful communities has proven a valuable lesson, one I learned during my time at Seattle U,” Shasti says. “I brought that with me to the White House and take it with me wherever I go.”

Following the 2012 presidential campaign, Shasti went to Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School to earn her master’s in public affair and co-chaired the Students and Alumni of Color network. She also oversaw an annual conference on race relations. As a Princeton Graduate Fellow, she seized an opportunity to work with The Malala Fund, eventually travelling with Malala Yousafzai and her family to the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony, an experience she calls “transformative.”

Upon her graduation in 2015, Shasti joined a creative social impact agency focused on social justice campaigns, including Art for Amnesty, the Environmental Defense Fund and the United Nations.

Returning home to Washington, Shasti joined the national advance team for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. Following the 2016 election, she answered a call from friends and colleagues to run for office herself, a longshot bid for Washington State’s 37th Legislative District Senate seat. A late entry to the race and the youngest, she surprised many by joining the top three vote getters. Seattle U alumna Rebecca Saldana, ’99, won the seat. Local leaders and media took note of this “national leader now home to serve the community she loves.”

Since then, Shasti has kept busy with community efforts, such as her elected position as State Committeewoman to the Washington State Democratic Party for the 37th Legislative District. She is also supporting the work of another Nobel Laureate, Kailash Satyarthi, as the U.S. campaign manager for the 100 Million Campaign, which aims to be the largest youth mobilization in history to end child labor and trafficking.

Committed to Seattle University, Shasti has been a mentor to other Sullivan Scholars, students and alumni, served as alumni representative for the India Initiative and partnered with Professor Jodi O’Brien, PhD, on a diversity and inclusion project for the University of Memphis.

“Shasti is dedicated to helping other people and correcting the systems that disenfranchise,” says DJ Weidner, ’07, a fellow Sullivan Scholar. “She is an advocate, leader and a perfect example of a person dedicated to others, fighting for a just and humane world.”

Shasti’s ability to bring people together doesn’t stop with her career. Shasti is spearheading the Sullivan Scholar’s reunion taking place on May 5 during Reunion Weekend.  All Sullivan Scholars old and new are invited back to campus to share their favorite memories of the program, connect with their classmates and current students and discover how the program has continued to grow. You can learn more about the Sullivan Scholar Reunion here.

We hope you’ll also join us to celebrate Shasti at the Alumni Awards on May 4 at the Seattle Four Seasons Hotel.