SU Voice Alumni Blog

SU Advantage Networking Night: Being a Leader in a Purposeful Organization

Posted by Miranda Benson, '17 on November 3, 2016 at 11:11 AM PDT

Cheryl Sesnon, MNPL '03

With a fiscally insolvent budget, struggling student enrollment, and only 18 months to turn it around, it seemed that nonprofit Common Meals, which provided meals to homeless shelters, was at its end. But when Cheryl Sesnon, MNPL’03, took on the role of Director, she transformed Common Meals into the wildly successful FareStart, a culinary training program that helps homeless individuals become cooks, caterers and restaurateurs.  Cheryl’s long track record of leading nonprofits from fiscal insolvency to success will be her guide as she hosts the November SU Advantage | Networking Night: Being a Leader in a Purposeful Organization.

You may have heard Cheryl’s name before—perhaps that’s because she received the Alumni Award for Community Service earlier this year. Or maybe it’s because Cheryl was recognized by U.S. Senator Patty Murray with the prestigious Golden Tennis Shoe Award, an honor given to citizens whose high community engagement has positively impacted those around them. Perhaps you’ve heard of Cheryl as the Executive Director for local nonprofit Jubilee Women’s Center, where many local groups (including the Women of SU Alumnae Chapter) volunteer. And of course, you may know Cheryl as one of your old classmates or former professors—after graduating from the Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership program in 2003, Cheryl returned to campus from 2005 to 2011 as an adjunct professor and guest lecturer.

Cheryl received the Seattle University Alumni Award for Community Service in April.

Though Cheryl has certainly worn many hats in the Seattle community, most of her work is related to nonprofit organizations. Of the many she’s served, Cheryl notes that one thing has drawn her to all these different groups: “I have a tendency to go into organizations that are struggling.” Her transformation of Common Meals into FareStart is perhaps the best example of this, but she has also helped revitalize the United Way Homeless Initiative, the Washington Women’s Foundation, Washington CASH, and Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos. The latter organization is something Cheryl is particularly passionate about: Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos trains and empowers leaders of orphanages in Central America. Cheryl assists the organization by leading seminars and lectures for the orphanage directors, sometimes even travelling to Central America to do so.

Right now, Cheryl’s work at Jubilee Women’s Center allows her to use her own experiences to better others. Jubilee helps transform women living in poverty into successful professionals by providing affordable community housing and real-life skill classes, as well as meals, clothing, and other items that they would normally be unable to afford. Cheryl says she connects with the program because she, too, has had difficult time and low self-esteem—but thanks to strong motivation and those who helped her, she has found success and joy. She helps women at Jubilee find that same happiness.

This experience and passion for helping others will drive Cheryl’s SU Advantage presentation. The topic—leading purposeful organizations—is certainly not exclusive to nonprofits. While Cheryl believes it’s important to work for an organization you believe in, she hopes to show that any organization can be impactful with a strong mission and dedication to serving others.

Interested in learning more about how to lead with purpose? Tickets are on sale now—join us:

SU Advantage | Networking Night: Being a Leader in a Purposeful Organization
Hosted by Cheryl Sesnon, MNPL ’03
Thursday, November 17, 2016
6 - 8 p.m. | Sorrento Hotel

Following Cheryl’s presentation, attendees will participate in rounds of structured networking. This is a great opportunity to grow your skills as a leader and build your network.

Tickets available at

Daring Forward: How Seattle U is Changing Its Ways to Welcome Diversity

Posted by Miranda Benson, '17 on November 3, 2016 at 11:11 AM PDT

Seattle University Chief Diversity Officer Natasha Martin


Whether you attended Seattle University in the 1960s or the 2010s, you probably had many discussions during your time here about diversity. While the 125th anniversary of SU celebrates our diverse past, it also looks to create a more diverse Seattle U in the future. Leading the movement towards a more inclusive university is Chief Diversity Officer Natasha Martin and the Task Force on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence.

Natasha is no stranger to topics of diversity. As she explains it, “My life experiences as a black female lawyer turned law professor and someone who deeply cares about these issues informs my work.” Natasha is an associate professor of law here at SU and her professional background lies in employment discrimination law. She’s served twice on the Washington State Gender and Justice Commission and on the Advisory Board for the Lutie Lytle Black Female Law Professors Writing Workshop. Her breadth of experience was one of the reason she was named co-chair (along with Dr. Alvin Sturdivant, Associate Vice President for Student Development) of the Task Force on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence. This task force was asked to find out how Seattle U could become more diverse and inclusive, particularly towards women, people of color and other marginalized groups. But how you incorporate diversity into the everyday campus life of a university with over 7,000 students is a challenge—which is where the Campus Climate Survey comes in.

Known around campus as “the big important survey,” the Campus Climate Survey measured just that. It observed the current state of how students, faculty and staff felt about the campus environment, paying particular attention to which groups were and were not welcome. And the timing of the survey was no accident—for the past few years, students at colleges and universities around the country have been increasingly asking for their voices to be heard and considered in major university decisions. “The events on college campuses (as well as our own) are calls for us as institutions of higher learning to think critically about the fullness of the experiences of all of those that are connected to our institution,” Natasha explains. “There is no more important time for SU to engage and address issues of diversity and inclusion head-on.”

Over 2,600 students, faculty and staff took “the big important survey” in winter of 2016, and in the spirit of transparency, its 300-plus pages of results are available to the public (you can read them here).  But what do you do with over 300 pages of hard data?

You turn to experts like Natasha and the Task Force on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence to analyze it. And after months of work, they boiled the survey results down to this: “Seattle University campus climate findings are consistent with those found in higher education institutions across the country… [But] a slightly higher percentage of respondents (28%) indicated that they personally had experienced inclusionary, intimidating, offensive and/or hostile conduct.”

In short, Seattle U students, faculty and staff feel pretty comfortable on our campus—but with 28% of respondents having experienced exclusionary conduct, we still have work to do. Natasha summed up her take: “In many respects, there were no big surprises in the findings, which were consistent with qualitative experiences captured through [the task force’s] work. [But] it seems that we are being challenged to think about what it means to be in community.”

Natasha believes the view of alumni are key to this work. “Your relationship with us doesn’t end upon completing your education… I want to engage alumni because not only does your ‘rearview mirror’ experience provide helpful insight, but your partnership and collaboration will greatly assist us in making Seattle University a truly welcoming environment for all and build sustaining relationships for years to come.”

Armed with the Climate Survey results and a clear picture of who the community includes, Natasha and the task force next needed to ask: how can we become a better community? How can we become more diverse, more tolerant and more welcoming to each other? The task force’s final report proposes an answer with a clear way to measure results. It’s a roadmap for Seattle U in the coming years and at the end is a new goal: for SU to become a place where diversity is taught, welcomed and so ingrained in what we do that it becomes second nature.

The final report’s recommendations are already in motion: Natasha’s appointment to the role of chief diversity officer was a key suggestion of the task force. Natasha is the first to hold this role, but she has high hopes for it: “The point [of my role] is to have point-leadership to focus on capacity-building and organizational infrastructure in order to embed inclusive excellence in all aspects of the SU experience.” And Father Stephen Sundborg, university president, will do whatever it takes to bring her vision to life. “I am committed to making sure she has the resources and the strong support of university leadership needed for this important work,” he told the university community in an email this spring.

Father Steve’s first step? Bringing Natasha onto the Mission Examen committee. The Mission Examen is a thorough review of the university’s mission, particularly in relation to our Jesuit identity, which is being conducted this year in tandem with our 125th anniversary. The examen will look at benchmarks (like the Campus Climate Survey results as well as our community engagement and service) and will create goals for the university’s future. It takes the Jesuit idea of reflection and self-assessment and applies it to the university as a whole.

Natasha is looking forward to her work on the Mission Examen committee and continuing to build the chief diversity officer role. She’s particularly hopeful that alumni will lead the charge in becoming a more welcoming and diverse community. “It’s hard, complex work, for sure, but ‘daring forward’ is the motto for this year,” she explains. “My hope is that together we can lay the groundwork to add new texture to the future of our institution that aims to ensure that diversity and inclusion are what it means to be academically excellent and significantly transformative in our approach to educating the whole person—for a just and humane world.”


Interested in getting involved with SU’s movement towards diversity? Natasha welcomes alums who are interested in speaking and working with her. You can contact her at



Alumni Spotlight: E.L. Hunter, '08

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on November 3, 2016 at 11:11 AM PDT

E.L. Hunter, '08

It was Seattle University’s emphasis on social justice and small class sizes that drew E.L. Hunter, ’08, to the Emerald City from California.

Because of Seattle University’s small class sizes, Hunter was able to develop personal relationships with his professors, some continuing to this day. “The faculty really encouraged social justice work. It was a common thread throughout my time at Seattle University. It was something everyone took very seriously and that social justice focus strengthened my interest in it.”

During his time at Seattle U, Hunter was a member of the Triangle Club, was employed by the Lifelong AIDS Alliance as part of their MPowerment Project. As part of MPowerment Project, Hunter worked closely with the LGBTQ community to provide trainings around safe sex and wrote articles and comic strips on health and LGBTQ communities for the Seattle Gay Newspaper.

After graduating from Seattle University, Hunter went to work at the Downtown Emergency Services Center for two years before deciding to continue his education and get his masters at the nation’s largest Catholic university, DePaul University in Chicago.

While getting a masters in Women and Gender Studies, Hunter maintained his passion for social justice and volunteerism as a youth justice organizer for the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance and through involvement with the Transformative Justice Law Project. As a youth justice organizer, Hunter helped schools form Gay Straight Alliance clubs and conducted education training for faculty and staff around LGBTQ youth specific issues.

Hunter’s volunteer work with the Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois is especially meaningful to him. The Transformative Justice Law Project is a small grassroots organization that provides free legal aid to low income LGBTQ people, specifically members of the trans community.  Hunter has been a volunteer there for the last five years focusing his efforts on their Name Change Mobilization Project. The project assists gender nonconforming individuals and trans people changing their names legally in Illinois. Volunteers help navigate the paperwork and legal system, while providing a support network for trans people facing intolerance and trans phobia.

According to Hunter, “Most of the volunteers are also trans people. That makes a huge difference when you walk into a courtroom, a scary space, and you see people who look like you. It eases the tension and builds a sense of trust when you have people who have the same shared lived experience as you. It takes away that anxiety and stress.”

Hunter is now preparing to make a career change, incorporating social justice and care for the whole person into his professional life. For five years Hunter worked at DePaul University in Service Learning and Student Development. A year ago, Hunter decided to pursue a career as a Physicians Assistant so that he can better serve the medical needs of the LGBTQ community. “For me as a white trans person, I have privilege around race, class and education. I am interested in using those privileges to affect the needs of my community, specifically by providing primary care to trans people. Medical care is one area that many trans people face a lot of discrimination, lack of sensitivity and lack of knowledge, which can result in negative health outcomes.”

Changing careers and entering the medical field will be a lot of hard work, but the impact Hunter will have for the LGBTQ community makes all of that worth it for Hunter.

For those alumni looking to volunteer their time to help the LGBTQ community, Hunter says, “Transgender issues are a hot topic right now. If folks who are not trans want to provide their support, they can do so by joining those organizations that already exist and are doing impactful work.” Many cities have small organizations making a difference and are looking for interested volunteers who want to get involved.  One local organization is the Gender Justice League.

Celebrating 50 Years of Seattle U Soccer

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on November 3, 2016 at 10:11 AM PDT

On September 30, many in Seattle were celebrating the last few days of sunshine before a wet and windy fall would set in. On Seattle University’s campus, a different celebration was taking place. Joe Zavaglia, ’71, and his teammates from Seattle University’s first soccer team returned to campus to celebrate their legacy of Seattle U soccer, now in its 50th year.

According to Joe, seeing the program celebrate 50 years is humbling and beyond emotion. “When you look at how hard it was to get the program started and how little we had at the beginning, we’ve come so far. We would practice in the rain and when we came in to the gym to shower we didn’t have any towels or soap like the other teams had.  We always felt like the underdogs. And we worked hard to prove ourselves and that we were to be respected as athletes.”

Since its inception, Seattle University’s men’s soccer team has gone on to win two national championships, more than any other athletics program on campus.

“I want to thank the alumni community and the students who would come out to games and be great fans for us,” Joe shared.

To celebrate 50 years of Seattle University soccer, soccer alumni and staff came together to plan a day of festivities,  including a brunch for the original team members, a social, a pre-game dinner with current players, a victorious game against Utah Valley and a post-event gathering. Many alumni returned to campus to cheer on the Redhawks in their anniversary game. A highlight was seeing dozens of former players of all generations recognized on the field at halftime.

The fanfare didn’t end on campus. The Seattle University’s men soccer team was recognized on the field during halftime at a recent Seattle Sounders game.  During the recognition, the current team captain leaned over to Joe and asked, “Fifty years ago did you ever think you would be celebrated on this field for starting the Seattle University soccer program?” 

While the team has come far over these past fifty years, Joe hopes they will go farther.  Joe’s first priority for the future of the team is around personal growth. “A lot of people look at national championships, but the most important thing for me and other soccer alumni is that we continue to develop our players to be well respected and honorable men after they leave SU. It’s about developing men who makes a difference in the world.”  According to Joe, the soccer team is like a family and the alumni are actively involved in helping the current players and looking after one another.

Joe’s second hope for the team is that Seattle University is recognized as the premier team in the country, followed by the desire to win more championships. Joe hopes the alumni community know how highly regarded our men and women’s soccer programs currently are. “We may not be the Gonzaga of basketball,” Joe said, “but we are the Seattle U of soccer.”

Check out more pictures from the celebration on our Facebook page and be sure to cheer on our soccer team in the WAC Tournament.

Ignatian Silent Retreat: "The Gentleness of Spacious Silence, the Freedom for Embodied Love"

Posted by Magis: Alumni Living the Mission on October 6, 2016 at 12:10 PM PDT


Friday, November 4 - Sunday, November 6, 2016
Archbishop Brunett Retreat Center at the Palisades (Federal Way)

Looking for a quiet weekend retreat? The Ignatian Silent Retreat is a three-day experience which provides prayer, reflection, individual spiritual direction, and community. Jesuit-educated alumni join faculty and staff of Seattle University for the weekend. Be sure to sign up for this retreat opportunity! The cost of the retreat is $125, which includes a $25 non-refundable deposit (to be applied towards the balance of your retreat cost). The weekend includes rooming, meals, and materials.  Register online at  There are only 10 alumni spots, so register now and don’t miss out!!  Please contact Eddie Salazar ( with questions.

Sponsored by the Center for Jesuit Education and Seattle University Alumni Association. 


SU Spirits: Stories of Seattle University's Ghosts

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on October 6, 2016 at 11:10 AM PDT

Fall is the time of year when the days grow shorter, the leaves turn gold and orange and people break out their favorite ghost stories in preparation for Halloween. This October we wanted to join the spine-tingling fun by sharing our own ghost stories and we look no further than our campus for inspiration. We asked faculty, staff, students and Jesuits to share this experiences with the spooky side of Seattle U.  

Our first story comes to us from Bellarmine Hall, a location that has seen many residents come and go and according to one current student, maybe some have chosen to stay behind.

During her sophomore year, Dalena Le and her roommates were preparing for bed, when something unexpected happened. All three were in the room going through their evening routine. Dalena was at the sink next to the doorway washing her face when suddenly the heavy door to the room opened as if someone were coming inside.

 “When the door shut, I alerted my roommates about what happened. We sort of stilled, looking at each other.”

“Was someone there?” they asked.

The answer was, “No.”

Our next story takes us up the hill to another residence hall with a well-known reputation for creepy occurrences. Campion Hall is located on the south side of campus and is 12 stories high. It houses 650 residents and maybe a few more that aren’t on the books.

Last year Margaret Girardin was a freshman living on the 7th floor of Campion Hall.  “My room always had some strange stuff going on. The magnetic closet doors would open, weird sounds, items falling off shelves, including the ceramic cross my friend had made me, which fell and broke. My roommate and I would often get strange feelings.  One night I came back late just as my roommate was about to call and tell me she couldn’t be alone in the room anymore. With all this, it was always a joke with us and our friends that our room was haunted.”

The activity came to a head one evening. “We closed our laptops and went to bed. Later that night I was woken by the shaking of my bed.  I immediately thought that there had been an earthquake. I went to  check my phone and realized I couldn’t move. It felt like I was being pushed by two fingers on each shoulder. I was terrified and I tried to yell out. I heard a voice, which I’d assumed to be my roommates, saying, ‘It’s okay,’ and was able to move. I rolled over and pulled a pillow over my head and went back to sleep, assuming I was just having an incredibly vivid dream and was calling out in my sleep and woke her up.”

The next morning Margaret woke up to find her roommate’s bed empty. It turns out her roommate had been overcome with a strange feeling  during the night and felt unable to stay in the room. At three o’clock in the morning she grabbed her keys and drove home to her parents’ house 30 minutes away.

Margaret isn’t the only one to have experiences in Campion Hall. Campus legend claims a girl died in the building and makes her presence known through mysterious handprints on windows and even by appearing to some of those residents who occupy her former room.

A person doesn’t always need to see something supernatural to get the sense that someone or something paranormal is paying them a visit. One staff member reported receiving over 50 missed calls on her office phone around midnight every night for a few weeks straight.

Who was calling? Someone in the 1103 East Madison building, a former funeral home. Librarians in Lemieux Library claim to smell cigarette smoke around the desk of a former librarian who passed away on campus and was a chain smoker. A few of us in the Alumni Association office have felt a cold breeze followed by footsteps coming up behind us only to turn around and discover we are alone in our cubicles.

Whether you believe in the paranormal or attribute these stories to overactive imaginations, one thing is for sure—fall is the perfect time to turn off the lights and tell some spooky ghost stories.

The Roach Family: Celebrating Three Generations of a Seattle U Education

Posted by Caitlin Joyce on October 6, 2016 at 10:10 AM PDT

This year we celebrate the 125th anniversary of Seattle University, but it’s not just 125 years of Seattle University we are celebrating, it is the alumni who have helped shape us over the past 125 years. For some SU families, Seattle University is more than just their alma mater. It is a family tradition. We call these families Seattle University legacy families.

Each fall we invite legacy families to celebrate their current students with a pinning ceremony. One such legacy family is the Roach family. Granddaughter Sinead Thornhill is this year’s legacy student speaker and a Seattle University freshman.  Sinead is the last of the 3rd generation of her grandmother, Patricia Sullivan Roach’s descendants to attend Seattle University. Patricia Sullivan, ’46, was the first of a 25 member strong Seattle University family legacy. Patricia and her husband Jack had 9 children, all of whom attended Seattle University, including Katie Thornhill, ’85, Sinead’s mother. Four spouses and 11 grandchildren continued the family legacy.

With so many Chieftains, now Redhawks, in the family, Seattle University was Sinead’s first choice of university, just as it was for her mother Katie. “My siblings went to Seattle U and I liked what I saw. It was the only school I had my eye on.” As a student, Katie was a member of the Irish Student Union and participated in Mission and Ministry retreats.

How does Katie feel now that her daughter is carrying on the family tradition of an SU education? She’s thrilled. “It’s pretty spectacular. Sinead is a smart girl and she’s excited to attend Seattle U.  I’m excited to see what she does with her Seattle U education. We are all proud to be a part of Seattle U.”

Despite having 24 family members attend SU, Sinead didn’t feel any family pressure to carry on the family tradition, but she admits there were a lot of people rooting for her to choose Seattle U. What made Seattle U her first choice? “Seattle University is in the heart of the city. There’s going to be a lot going on and I know I can expand my mind here in ways I couldn’t at other universities because of the Jesuit pillars the education is rooted in. I know I can give my heart to others and explore.”

Though only being on campus a short time, Sinead has fully embraced life at SU. “It has not been a hard transition at all because I felt so welcome here. Despite my comfort, I hope I continue to step out of my comfort zone,” Sinead said. She was recruited for the rowing team, joined Hui O Nani and is planning to get involved in campus ministry and intermural sports. “I’m looking forward to carving my own part of the family story at Seattle U.”

You can hear Sinead talk about what her family legacy means to her on October 21 at the Legacy Family Pinning Ceremony. If you have a current Seattle U legacy student, RSVP now to participate in the pinning ceremony when you are here for Family Weekend.

Redhawk-Run Breweries

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on October 6, 2016 at 12:10 AM PDT

It’s no secret that Seattle loves its breweries and microbrews, but did you know that a number of those breweries are owned and operated by Seattle U alumni? We sat down with three Seattle breweries run by Redhawks to find out what sets them apart from the competition.

Rooftop Brewing Company
1220 W Nickerson St.
Seattle, WA

Craig Christian and his wife, Jessica Cohen, are graduates of the Seattle University School of Law and co-owners of the Rooftop Brewing Company. While an avid home brewer for years, Craig never expected to be a brewery owner. “I was in law school with plans to go into environmental law or work for a non-profit,” Craig shared. A desire to stay in Seattle and go into business for himself was the spark that would become Rooftop Brewing Company.

“The Seattle brewing community is amazing and incredible – it’s a group that is fun to be around and great to be a part of. Owning and running a business is something I never knew I’d enjoy and be good at, but driving the creative process and watching it take shape has been great,” Craig shared, “We make a great beer and have a great variety available at all times of the year for people to enjoy.”

Rooftop Brewing Company got its start in 2012, but this year marks their first anniversary in their current space. You’ll often find Craig behind the bar serving beer, while Jessica, a full-time lawyer, helps with the business end of things. 

When asked what sets Rooftop Brewing Company apart, Craig said, “We have the greatest rooftop deck in all of Seattle – a lot of people really enjoy sitting outside. In all seasons people can be outside dry and warm and enjoying the view.” Jessica says it’s the beer that sets them apart, “Craig and his team brew a really good product.”

Both Craig and Jessica hope to partner more with Seattle University and continue to host events for alumni groups. They hosted an SU Bridge Young Alumni Happy Hour last year.


Peddler Brewing Company
1514 NW Leary Way
Seattle, WA

Haley Woods Keller was a math teacher with a desire to open her own customer service business. She had thoughts of opening a bookstore, but her then boyfriend’s (now husband) 10-year passion for brewing led them to open Peddler Brewing Company.

Peddler Brewing Company is a bicycle-themed bar. “We have a very big bike community following and we want to bridge the gap between all the different types of cyclists—those who are commuters, the weekend warriors, those who ride for fun. We want to build a larger bicycle community in the area.” Peddler aims to be a place that is comfortable to ride your bike to complete with indoor bike parking. The brewery hosts a number of events including a pun slam, trivia nights and outdoor movies.

Haley’s Jesuit education plays a major role in her business. “Working to create a more just and humane world were part of my goals for Peddler. I want a successful company that is connected to the community and to give back every way we can. That really brings me joy on the job,” Haley said. Peddler partners with a number of non-profits in an effort to give back to the community. “Through this process I’ve been introduced to a number of new non-profits and I’ve gotten more involved, which is really cool,” Haley shared.

 “My liberal arts education at Seattle University required that I take a number of classes outside of my area of study. I never thought I’d be using the accounting and finance classes I took and now I use those skills all the time.”

Haley didn’t only attend Seattle U, she also participated in Magis’ Contemplative Leaders in Action program. The people that she met through that program were a big support as she opened the brewery and many of them went on to be her co-workers at Peddler.

“One of the things I enjoy the most is tackling the challenges that come up and how each day I get to do something different. I love that I get to choose the people I work with,” Haley said.

We asked her if she has a favorite among her brews. “Tangerine Hefeweizen is one that I just love – it’s one of the few recipes that was my idea. It’s so good and refreshing and great all year round.”

Haley made sure to give a shout out to their outdoor event space that can currently hold up to 400 people and is in the process of being winterized so it can be enjoyed year round. So the next time you find yourself peddling your bike, stop by Peddler Brewery for a cold one.


Naked City Brewery & Tap House
8564 Greenwood Ave N
Seattle, WA

What do you call a poet, teacher and creative writer? The co-owner of Naked City Brewery and Tap House. Bryan Miller was a Sullivan Scholar and a Creative Writing major at Seattle University. After graduation he moved to New York City where he was a writer and teacher for over a decade.  His role of writer translated well to the marketing field and eventually he became a business consultant. Helping clients grow their brands inspired Bryan to want to grow his own.

He connected with two friends back in Seattle who were in the process of opening a brewery and asked if he could join the “brewery party.” Not only did he apply his skills as a business consultant to help Naked City Brewery and Tap House grow its brand, but he helped his buddies physically build the space as well.

Naked City is mostly a restaurant space holding up to 250 people. “There was definitely a big learning curve to running a restaurant, but it’s great,” Bryan said. “It’s like running an emergency room with nothing at stake.”

According to Bryan, what makes Naked City unique is that it was modeled after the Public House. “The public house is an institution that goes way back all the way to the New England colonies. They had two public buildings—the church and the public house,” Bryan shared. Naked City has embraced its role as community meeting place and aims to be a place of culture and conversation.

They partner with KUOW and Humanities of WA to host “Think and Drink,” cultural programming, Opera on Tap, a wide variety of charity events and more. Naked City has twenty house beers on tap and 20 rotating guest beers. “There’s always something fresh and new to try.”

On October 22, Naked City is celebrating its 8th anniversary with an all-day celebration. Bryan invites the alumni community to join the festivities.

Seattle University alumni have contributed to the vibrant brewing scene with some stand out establishments, but you don’t need to take our word for it. Go out and try them for yourselves. 

Celebrating 125 Years of Seattle University

Posted by Seattle University Alumni Association on September 1, 2016 at 11:09 AM PDT

In 1891, two Jesuits, Fathers  Victor Garrand and Adrian Sweere, founded what is now Seattle University. This year, we will have a year-long celebration of Seattle U’s 125th anniversary, starting with the Mass of the Holy Spirit, in September. Throughout the year, we will be honoring the history of Seattle University, while looking ahead to our aspirations and plans for the next 25 years.

The university has flourished in the 25 years since its centennial celebration. Our academic programs have expanded and the university continues to grow in esteem; commitment to our mission has deepened; our campus has changed dramatically; and our student body has grown not only in numbers, but in quality and diversity.

Our alumni have made us who we are and are indispensable to the future we envision for Seattle U. The 125th is a perfect time to deepen your engagement with the institution you have helped us build.

All your favorite signature events are back with an added bit of 125th flare. We are excited to welcome you, your family and your friends to cheer, celebrate and serve during Homecoming Weekend, February 2-5.

The excitement of the 125th anniversary culminates in our biggest celebration of the year, Grand Reunion Weekend May 5-7, 2017. All alumni are invited for a weekend full of fun. We’ll kick off the weekend with the 32nd Annual Alumni Awards on Friday night and continue the celebration throughout the weekend with tours, college and school receptions, mass, brunch, athletics and most importantly, reunions. The classes of 2012-16, 2007, 1997, 1992, 1987, 1977 and 1967 and prior will be hosting reunion gatherings. If you want to help plan your class’ reunion gathering, email us at

If you are in the area, you’ve already seen our 125th brand on the Broadway street car.

Starting today, you’ll see 125th branding in communications, around campus and in the community. We will be sharing stories of our alumni who have gone on to be leaders in their fields and communities. The 125th Commemorative Alumni Directory, which drops in January, will feature alumni profiles and a timeline of notable moments in Seattle U history, and the Seattle University Alumni Magazine will feature the lasting impact of Seattle University and a look at how we dare forth into a greater future for our university, students and alumni.

As we celebrate 125 years of Seattle University’s influence, reflect on the impact Seattle University has had on your life and how you can join us for the next 25 years to increase the difference we make in Seattle and the world.

We look forward to celebrating with you.



Alumni Spotlight Brayden Olson, ’08 | Bringing Video Games to the Classroom

Posted by Miranda Benson, '16 on August 31, 2016 at 4:08 PM PDT

Case studies are definitely not the most exciting part of getting a degree. For most students, case studies are simply not as effective as intended. Brayden Olson, ’08, wanted to change that—so he founded Recurrence, Inc., a company that brings case studies to life in the form of interactive video games.


Brayden, who majored in Business Management as an undergraduate student, saw firsthand how institutions try to differentiate teaching styles, but often come up short. “Like many students, I felt the disconnect between what I was learning in the classroom and the demands of a 21st Century job,” he explains. “I never felt this was a limitation of the professors or the institution, but a failure of the tools we are empowering them with. This inspired me to think what more we could do to bring experiential learning into the classroom.”


For Brayden, the answer to this problem was video games. With long-term goals of revolution higher education by creating engaging, game-based content, Recurrence, Inc. has started out by making an online game for business students. The game puts students in the roles of executives facing big issues—like labor strikes or layoffs—and gives them the knowledge and power to make the decision. Just like reality, there are consequences for each decision and stakeholders to worry about at all turns. “The students are leaning to think critically while in the virtual shoes of actual leaders in their profession. What could be better than that?”


The institutions that have adopted the game surely agree. Since going commercial in January 2016, Recurrence’s game has been purchased by dozens of schools, including the University of Washington, Stanford University, Penn State University and many others. Brayden and his team have already begun developing a version of the game for academic institutions in India and are in talks to do the same in China. And the response to the game has been overwhelmingly positive—96% of students felt more engaged and said they better understood the material because of the gaming experience.


While Brayden is thrilled by Recurrence’s success, he admits that being an entrepreneur is far more difficult than it seems. “Many entrepreneurs…measure themselves against impossible ideals: you should work 16 hours, sleep 4, wear the same clothes every day, success will come instantly after the equivalent of a 3-minute movie montage, [and] if it doesn’t, you’re on the wrong track and a failure. There are times when I still [hold myself to these ideals].” Brayden keeps himself grounded and focused by thinking of some of the biggest names in business, like Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Bill Gates, all of whom struggled immensely and didn’t find success until at least their thirties.


To better keep himself away from these high standards, Brayden stays busy outside of Recurrence. He has ownership in numerous businesses, including as a partner at Real Estate Game Works, which is developing a “new gamified continuing education platform” for real estate agents.


Brayden also has a deep commitment to civic engagement. He is on the Board of Washington’s 48th Legislative District and received the signatory pen from Governor Inslee for his work on the Washington J.O.B.S. Act of 2014. He hopes that his involvement rubs off on others: “During the next chapter of my life, I am hoping to see dozens of millennial leaders with servant hearts step into roles of leadership throughout all levels of local government.”


Through all his success, Brayden has remained very conscious of who helped him along the way—including the Seattle U community. “Seattle University helped connect me to my first mentor, who was instrumental in my opportunity to become an entrepreneur.” Brayden says he also owes a lot to Dr. Leo Simpson, Professor Emeritus of the Albers Management Program: “He was highly supportive to me both during and after my education at Seattle University.”


With so many recent advancements in technology, like the launch of augmented reality game Pokémon Go and the creation of virtual reality headset Oculus Rift, Brayden is grateful to be a technology entrepreneur these days. “As someone who grew up in a family of educators and was a beta tester on one of the first 3D virtual worlds, I could not be more thrilled to get to be part of this industry at such a pivotal time!”


You can learn more about Brayden and Recurrence, Inc., on the company website.