Alumni Blog

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.

National Poetry Month

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on April 5, 2018 at 2:04 PM PDT

Fr. Steve Hands Crossed


Each summer we showcase Seattle University President Stephen Sundborg, S.J.’ s reading list and it’s always a big hit. As a university president, it should come as no surprise that Fr. Steve is an avid reader, but did you know he is also a poetry aficionado? In honor of National Poetry Month, we spoke to Fr. Steve about his passion for poetry and got the inside scoop on his favorite poems and those poets he thinks you should discover.


Q: Fr. Steve, what are your five favorite books of poetry?

A: Collected Poems by Philip Larkin

  • The Stream and the Sapphire by Denise Levertov
  • Still Life in Milford by Thomas Lynch
  • Collected Poems 1945 – 1990 by R. S. Thomas
  • The Grace of Necessity by Samuel Green

Q: What is your favorite poem?

A: “A Night in Ireland” by Anne Porter in Living Things

Q: What makes that your favorite poem?

A: It is a condensed story of great depth, beautifully expressing experience, dream, youth, and faith.  It has a wonder quatrain:

“He said You’ve come too soon

Go back into the towns

Live there as love’s apprentice

And God will give you his kingdom”

I can’t beat that for expressing the very purpose of my life in a simple, profound way!

Q: What is it that you enjoy about reading poetry?

A: Reading poetry for fifteen minutes each day is for me like prayer.  Poetry takes me below the surface, quotidian, experience of life into its more interior, intimate, holy depths.  I think of poetry as going beneath the soil of life to the tender roots of what is emerging in my life, the more nuanced, personal sources of life.  This is a holy place in which to dwell.  In my experience, there is nothing like poetry, when consistently read, for allowing access to this sacred depth.  Reading poetry every day teaches a person how to read poetry; it explains itself when faithfully practiced.

Q: Who is a poet you think is under the radar that you’d like other people to know about?

A: Mary Stewart Hammond, especially her Entering History.  I discovered her poetry from a display of multiple copies of this book in a New York City bookstore, bought it out of curiosity, and found a treasure.  I would read anything she wrote.