SU Voice Alumni Blog

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.

Alumni Benefit: Online Prayer Community

Posted by Caitlin Joyce ,'12, '18 on August 31, 2016 at 4:08 PM PDT

Prayer is an act of love; words are not needed. Even if sickness distracts from thoughts, all that is needed is the will to love. - Saint Teresa of Avila.

As a Jesuit university, we are dedicated to supporting the spiritual needs of all of our alumni and fostering a sense of community, which is why we are excited to announce the launch of our new online prayer community.

The online prayer community offers Seattle University alumni, students, faculty and staff of all faith traditions the opportunity to come together in prayer and offer spiritual support to our Seattle University community.

Alumni have the option to join the prayer community and receive weekly emails of those in need of prayers or to submit a prayer request asking the Seattle U community for their prayers. Prayer requests may be included in the weekly email, on the prayer community website or in the prayer journal in the Chapel of St. Ignatius. 

Our first email will go out Friday, September 2. You are invited to submit your prayer requests and join the prayer community at any time.

Spiritual support is now just a click away.


Alumni Awards 2017: Nominations Now Open

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on August 31, 2016 at 4:08 PM PDT

A NASA scientist, a Medal of Honor recipient, a Grammy winning artist and a visionary in higher education. What do all of these have in common? Each has won a Seattle University Alumni Award, one of the university’s highest honors.

Every year, the Seattle University Alumni Association hosts the Alumni Awards, honoring six outstanding members of the Seattle University community who embody our Jesuit values by demonstrating leadership and service to others. This year’s Alumni Awards won’t be just celebrate our six winners, but 125 years of Seattle University.

You can help us make the 32nd Annual Alumni Awards truly memorable! As alumni of Seattle University you are in the perfect position to know which community members are deserving of recognition. Help us identify our 2017 honorees by nominating a deserving individual for an alumni award today.

Winners are awarded in the following six categories:

Alumna/us of the Year - For outstanding leadership and service to the community and Seattle University.
University Service - For outstanding service to the University (alumni and non-alumni are eligible).
Community Service - For exceptional service to the community through volunteer or professional activities.
Professional Achievement - For outstanding achievement in the professional arena.
Distinguished Faculty - Presented to a Seattle University faculty member who has made a special contribution to students and the university.

Outstanding Recent Alumna/us - Presented to an alumna or alumnus who graduated in last ten years for outstanding leadership and service.

Not sure who to nominate? Read the bios of previous winners and get an idea of who you might want to nominate.

Visit the Alumni Awards page to learn more and nominate a deserving individual before October 21, 2016.

Thank you for your help to celebrate Seattle University excellence.

A Pilgrimage: Following the footsteps of St. Ignatius

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on August 31, 2016 at 4:08 PM PDT

The story of St. Ignatius of Loyola is well known to Seattle University alumni. He began his life as one of 13 children and was infatuated with the ideals of courtly love, knights and honorable quests. After being injured in battle, he experienced a conversion while reading “The Life of Christ,” which contained heroic stories of the saints, during his recovery. At this time St. Ignatius reflected on the experiences of God in his life, which he would apply to develop components of the “Spiritual Exercises.”  From his discernment he founded the Society of Jesus, better known as the Jesuits. (

For some, simply learning about the “Spiritual Exercises” and reading about the life of St. Ignatius is not enough—they feel called to be pilgrims and follow in the footsteps of Ignatius himself.

In June, and every other year for the past twenty years, Pat O’Leary, S.J. and joined by Natch Ohno, S.J. [ten years later] have led a pilgrimage retreat to Spain. The retreat was formed out of Fr. Pat’s desire to be a spiritual pilgrim and travel in Ignatius’ footsteps. “This is not a vacation.” Fr. Natch made sure to clarify when we talked about the retreat. “It is a pilgrimage; you are not a tourist.” He went on to describe the daily mass and reflections each pilgrim participates in.

The 40 pilgrims began their retreat at a convent in Loyola, then moved on to San Sabastian, Xavier, Montserrat, Manresa and finally Barcelona.  “As you participate in the retreat you start to have the same experiences as St. Ignatius,” Fr. Natch said, sharing that as a presenter he is able to see the effect the journey has on the pilgrims. “There’s a sense of grace as they go through the rhythm and they begin to imagine this is where Ignatius was. It’s important that they are able to see Ignatius growing up and not as a finished product. You see the transformation people are going through – you see the beauty taking place.”

This trip is open to all alumni and friends of Seattle University and attracts a variety of people, but especially those who have participated in the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (SEEL) program. SEEL Puget Sound co-sponsors this pilgrimage.

We spoke to Lisa Dennison, Executive Director of SEEL and 2012 Pastoral Leadership alumna, who co-led this year’s pilgrimage. “Two places are seared into my memory from the pilgrimage. The first is Loyola where St. Ignatius was born, convalesced and began his spiritual transformation. When visiting the conversion chapel, I began to understand things in a brand new way. There is a palpable energy there that is spiritually fulfilling and enriching.” Lisa continued, “The second place was Montserrat, an hour outside of Barcelona. It’s where St. Ignatius held a vigil all night and gave up his sword and the trappings of his former life at the foot of the Black Madonna. For those of us captivated by St. Ignatius *and the gift of the Spiritual Exercises, it is very powerful.”

Lisa said that the pilgrimage gave her greater appreciation for the challenges, difficulties and joys St. Ignatius experienced along his spiritual path. She was able to more fully understand the human aspect of his journey and how it connects so profoundly in a relevant way to us.

Another pilgrim, Jennifer Tilghman-Havens, said, “Being in the places that were so transformative in Ignatius' life—the Loyola home where he healed from his war wound, the chapel of the Black Madonna, the cave in Manresa—allowed me to understand more fully the person whose spiritual tradition has so deeply formed and shaped our university and me personally.  It was a gift to have the opportunity to reflect and pray in the places where Ignatius prayed, and to be accompanied by Fr. Pat O'Leary who is the closest living version of St. Ignatius himself.  I came to new understandings about how much Ignatius's insights were countercultural for his time—and continue to be so, even today.”

Let us leave you with some food for thought. When Lisa Dennison visited Montserrat, where St. Ignatius laid down his sword, she contemplated all that signified, “He was laying down his entire identity, everything he fought for and everything he thought he was going to become, to embrace the unknown and God’s plan for him.”

 If you were going to lay down your own symbolic “sword” and identity to embrace the unknown what would that look like for you?

Alumni Attitude Survey

Posted by Seattle University Alumni Association on August 4, 2016 at 2:08 PM PDT

The Alumni Attitude Survey closes on Friday, August 5. As alumni of Seattle University, you should have already received emails asking for your participation with a link to take the survey. If you haven’t completed the survey, you can still make your voice heard by:

• Finding the Alumni Attitude Survey in your email and following your customized link to complete the survey.
• Can’t find your survey email? You can take the survey here.

The Alumni Attitude Survey gives you the opportunity to share your voice and positively impact the alumni experience.
It is sent out every two years. Input from the 2014 attitude survey influenced the offerings provided by your Alumni Association including:

• Hiring a new Assistant Director focused on building our alumni chapters program with regional, affinity and industry chapters.
• Improving the student experience and building pride in Seattle U.
• Developing more engaging communications and digital content, including an improved SU Voice alumni newsletter and revamped alumni website.

Thank you for your support of Seattle University and your feedback.

Reporting from the Republican National Convention: Nicole Gaddie, ’14

Posted by Izzy Gardon on August 4, 2016 at 11:08 AM PDT

Nicole Gaddie, ’14, the former Seattle University student body president and captain of the women’s golf team still practices her swing from time to time, but recently she’s spent more time working behind the scenes at one the most important political events in recent memory: the Republican National Convention (RNC).

Nicole, who received her degree in journalism, is putting her Seattle University education into action as part of the prestigious NBC Universal Page Program. In 2014, roughly 16,000 individuals applied for the program and only 212 were invited to participate – as Gawker points out, this makes the program far more selective than the undergraduate admissions process at Harvard University. 

Prestige aside, the program gives access and experience that many journalism and media buffs would relish. Every three months Nicole rotates to a new NBC property and division, giving her a taste of the varying operations of the $30 billion company. For those familiar with the show 30 Rock, which received 16 Emmy Awards, Nicole’s experience is hardly anything like that of Kenneth’s, a fictitious NBC page.  Nicole gives far fewer tours (if any) and has spent more time closer to Donald Trump and Mike Pence than she has Tina Fey.  

Nicole’s recent rotation with the Decision Desk – NBC’s political analysis and research operation – led her to the RNC. From making sure famous anchors were prepared with the right materials before they went on air, to pulling delegates from the convention floor, Nicole could be seen just about everywhere at the RNC. 

“I did whatever needed to get done,” says Nicole, “I monitored the program to see who was speaking – and watched to see if any speakers were added or removed. I monitored social media, pulled senators and delegates from the floor and made sure scripts got to everyone who needed them – including Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie and Chuck Todd – before they went on air.”

Nicole, who can’t discuss her own political views as an NBC page, says that the convention “was an inspiring moment –– no matter your political ideology.” She adds, “It was inspiring to see the Republican Party go through this democratic process – this process that America is built on. It gives you the sense that despite the controversy connected to this upcoming general election, democracy does work.”  

She adds, “When you go to a giant political event, no matter your politics, it gives you a sense of hope for our country...watching this democratic process – watching delegates cast their vote for president – it’s a moving experience.”  

Covering the news isn’t over for Nicole, even though the RNC is. In the next few months she will complete the NBC Universal Page Program. Upon completion of the program, Nicole will interview for a fulltime job with various NBC divisions –– including the Decision Desk. Stay tuned, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton aren’t the only ones who are looking for a promotion come November.

Come Travel with Us: Seattle University Alumni Tours

Posted by Miranda Benson on August 3, 2016 at 4:08 PM PDT

The wind at your back, towering mountains to your left and right, and the mythic Machu Picchu lies before you. It’s not a vision brought on by the summer heat—it’s just a scene from our Peru: Ancient Land of Mysteries alumni tour. Our Peru tour is just one of the many upcoming trips that dare you to explore—with the Seattle U community by your side.

The Peru tour is unlike any other: iconic Machu Picchu is surely a highlight, but there are also little known gems to explore, like the Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca and the Ollantayambo Ruins. Cuzco, the former capitol of the Inca Empire, lets visitors see how the ancient and modern worlds come together in the markets and historical sites. And with an optional extension of the tour, you can explore one of earth’s greatest treasures: the Peruvian Amazon. Learn more about this once in a lifetime trip by attending our Peru presentation at Seattle U on August 23—register here.

But if you’d prefer hilltop feasts and serenades on canals, the Reflections of Italy Tour may be the one for you. Visit all of Italy’s icons—the Colosseum, Murano Island, Michelangelo’s David—and go beyond the attractions by visiting seven of Italy’s best cities over ten days. If this sounds like your dream vacation, learn more by watching the pre-recorded webinar or reading the trip brochure.

Would you like something a little more relaxing? Then our premium cruise on the Rivers of Wine tour is more your style. Enjoy the best views and wine in the Pacific Northwest while sailing along the Columbia and Snake rivers. Exclusive wine tours and tastings are the centerpiece of the tour, but they won’t stop you from adventuring—journey along the route of the Lewis & Clark expedition, enjoy daily excursions, visit historical vineyards, and experience plenty of culinary escapades. With endless wine and unbeatable views, each day on this tour is a new opportunity.

You can learn more about the Rivers of Wine tour, and all of our tours, on our website

What's your encore? Join JV EnCorps with SU Alumni & Friends

Posted by Brooke Rufo Hill on August 3, 2016 at 4:08 PM PDT

Seattle University and Jesuit Volunteer EnCorps (JV EnCorps) are joining together to offer SU alumni and friends a unique opportunity to serve the greater good of our local communities through service with others. Grounded in Jesuit values, this new program supports members’ spiritual growth in an open and affirming community. This particular group will be unique in that all members will be SU alumni & friends, plus the monthly community meetings will be held on campus.  It is a way to grow in service and spirituality with a group who have shared a love and commitment to Seattle University and now seek to deepen their impact through service within the surrounding community.

JV EnCorps, a  program of JVC Northwest, facilitates transformative opportunities for intentional service, community and spiritual formation for older adults committed to social and ecological justice. During their ten months of part-time volunteer service, participants ages 50 and older meet together regularly in a community for personal and spiritual growth, to share about their volunteer experiences and explore the values of simple living and social & ecological justice. The upcoming program year begins in September 2016 with an opening retreat followed by monthly community meetings.  For more information or to apply visit: or contact Helen Pitts, JV EnCorps Seattle Program Coordinator: or 206-305-8911

This month, Seattle University alumna and JV EnCorps volunteer Nancy Walton-House, '64, reflects on the role of Jesuit education and Ignatian Spirituality in her life, and her recent experience volunteering with the Jesuit Volunteer EnCorps.  In Nancy’s own words…

Growing up the Jesuits were and still are a very important part of my life.  I graduated in 1964 from SU with a B.A. in Sociology, earned an M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology, completed post-graduate work and was awarded professional certification in organization development.  I worked in the education, human services and healthcare industries as an individual, organizational and community development consultant.  Since I retired from full-time work and took a much-needed rest, I continue to work part-time as a consultant-facilitator in the fields of positive aging and social justice.  I currently volunteer as the leader of an Ignatian Spirituality Group in my parish, lead an Aging Well Learning Community and facilitate Wisdom Cafes for the King County Library System, and am a member of SU’s Leadership Council for the College of Arts and Sciences.  I will continue to give my time, talent and treasure as long as I can because it is good for others and for me too.

I love Jesuit education and Ignatian Spirituality and my strong sense of purpose, meaning, commitment to serve others and gratitude is a direct result of these two things. I appreciate the great opportunities we have in this region to continue learning and growing spiritually at any stage of life.  Last year I enjoyed participating in and completing the Jesuit Volunteer EnCorps (JVE) Program in Seattle.  Our community met monthly to pray together, learn more about Ignatian Spirituality, explore volunteer opportunities and hear about members’ service placements.  I also participated in an inter-generational Jesuit Volunteer Corps Book Club focused on the values of simple living, community, social and environmental justice and spirituality.  I was inspired, challenged, encouraged and supported by the great people I met and made some new friends.  Participating in this program is one of the best things I’ve done for myself in later life.  Now I look forward to co-facilitating the JV EnCorps Seattle U Alumni & Friends group beginning September 2016.  I hope you will join us!!

Dean Jodi Kelly Retirement A Message from Fr. Stephen Sundborg

Posted by Seattle University Alumni Office on August 3, 2016 at 4:08 PM PDT

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

I am writing to share that Dean Jodi Kelly has retired from the university. I have also appointed her to the emeriti faculty for her many years of distinguished service.

Dean Kelly is well respected within our community and region. Her passion for teaching and commitment to Jesuit education is unsurpassed. I am grateful for the devotion and dedication she brought to Matteo Ricci College, Seattle University and our mission.

In 1984, Dean Kelly began her time at Seattle University as Assistant Dean in Matteo Ricci College. She was promoted to Associate Dean in 1996 and served two stints as acting dean and two as interim dean before being appointed dean of Matteo Ricci on January 2, 2012. She was recognized as Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year in 2011 and inducted into Alpha Sigma Nu in 2015.

During her tenure, Dean Kelly founded the Poverty Education Center, oversaw the rollout of the leadership degree and the addition of a Humanities minor and a Specialization in Elementary Education and forged a partnership with the Jesuit Virtual Learning Academy to open the college to the world of online learning and prospective students.

I leave you with some words of reflection from Dean Kelly:

I discovered the truth in the adage—Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life. I leave with gratitude for the opportunity to have served the students and alumni of Matteo Ricci College for 40 years and I deeply appreciate the colleagues who supported me in that work.


Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J.

Celebrate Summer at the Young Alumni Summer Party

Posted by Caitlin Joyce on August 3, 2016 at 4:08 PM PDT

Enjoy a night on the town! Hosted by the SU Bridge Young Alumni Chapter and held at the popular Capitol Hill event space, Sole Repair, the Young Alumni Summer Party is the place to be on August 18.

The event is catered by the chefs at Quinns, offering attendees the chance to sample delicious local bites, including the fan favorite, spiced caramel bacon popcorn. Sole Repair’s bar also boasts colorful Seattle U inspired cocktails with names like “the Redhawk” and “Red on the Rocks.”

This year’s party falls on the same night as a pre-season Seahawks game – but that doesn’t mean attendees have to miss out. The game will be streamed in the venue’s loft space, giving alumni the chance to not only bond over their SU pride, but their love for the Hawks.

If all that is not enough to entice, party goers  are also entered to win a number of fabulous prizes, like Redhawk basketball season tickets and local restaurant gift cards to be awarded that night.

Get your tickets now for the hottest young alumni event of the season. Did we mention your first drink is on us?

Young Alumni Summer Party
Thursday, August 18
6-10 p.m.
Sole Repair
RSVP now