Hundreds of graduates pack the building. An excited hum fills the air as families and friends embrace. This is a celebration – but it’s not graduation, it’s Commencement Brunch.
Each year the Seattle University Alumni Association welcomes its newest members at this celebratory event that draws over 800 students and family members. Commencement Brunch takes a more fun and less formal approach to graduation and is hosted by two outstanding young alumni emcees. The emcees share their own experiences of adjusting to life after college and try to help quell some of the pre-commencement nerves.
This year our emcees are Danielle Mar, ’10, ’12, and Damian Peterson, ’09. Danielle is a double alumna with a Masters in Professional Accounting and Damian Peterson is a drama graduate with a career in development.
We sat down with Danielle and Damian to talk about how their time at Seattle University shaped them and why they are excited to welcome the Class of 2016 to the alumni community.
Danielle Mar, ‘10, ‘12
Danielle was involved in undergraduate life during her time at Seattle U. She worked for Housing and Residence Life as a Resident Assistant, cheered on the Redhawks as a member of the Dance and then Cheer team, and counseled new freshman in the Albers School of Business and Economics as a New Student Mentor.
“As a New Student Mentor, I helped guide freshman through their first year at Seattle U as well as helped plan social and networking events for them. “I remembered how overwhelming my first few months at Seattle U were, so I just really wanted to help my mentees figure out what they wanted out of the experience and then help put them on the best path toward that goal.”
So much of her undergraduate studies were memorable for Danielle. Chief among her favorite memories was working as a resident assistant her senior year. “It was definitely challenging being a resident assistant for other students my own age. While you’d like everyone to think of you as their big sister, they tend instead to think of you as their mother. But in the end I made a lot of great memories and life-long friends.”
During her junior year at Seattle University, Danielle was inspired by the Seattle University Youth Initiative (SUYI) and started volunteering with children in Maple Valley. She started her volunteer work as a music and dance teacher and has, eight years later, expanded the program from dance lessons once a week during the summer to weekly lessons year round and three productions a year. “I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household that could afford music, dance, and voice lessons and so I think the arts are really valuable. I work with a lot of children who wouldn’t otherwise have access to this training if not for our program.” She also works as a camp counselor at Lakeside Bible Camp each summer.
Danielle is now a CPA and works as a Business Assurance Senior at Moss Adams LLP. But despite her busy schedule, she’s found ways to stay connected to Seattle University. She has returned to attend the “Freshman to Professional Networking Event” for freshman business students, served as an expert at the Seattle University Alumni Association’s Insider’s Guide to Getting Ahead, and given presentations on the basics of personal finances for RA trainings.
“I loved the years I spent at SU and am a strong proponent of Seattle University, the education I received, and the school’s values. I learned a lot, both inside and outside the classroom, and wouldn’t be as successful as I am without those lessons!”
Damian Peterson, ‘09
As a drama student at Seattle University, Damian feels his classes and the works they studied helped him to grow as a person, embodying Seattle University’s mission of formation and educating the whole person.
“I was lucky enough to be in a drama program. I was surrounded by talented peers and challenged by invested professors, I was able to act in a myriad of plays, often times with working professionals, all the while working in the Lee Center for the Arts in every facet of production.”
Damian is currently the Bill and Mimi Gates Advancement Intern at the University of Washington. His role gives him the opportunity to get hands on experience with fundraising professionals.
Damian attributes his experience at Seattle University and its emphasis on discernment and self-reflection with helping him discover this new career path.
“SU shapes it’s alumni in a very unique way. The seeds sown during school don’t always bloom in the way you expect. For me, my yearning to make an impact in higher education and get reengaged with Seattle University came after both a career in acting and time spent reflecting on what new direction I wanted to travel. Those years spent exploring, trying and even failing are integral to cultivating fertile soil. SU encourages you to take the road less travelled, which will inevitably lead you where you need to go.”
Damian has stayed connected to his alma mater as an active member of Seattle University’s Young Alumni Chapter, serving on its board. Through its events and programming Damian has been able to connect with staff, faculty, students and alumni from all backgrounds.
“SU should be seen by alumni as a support system. It needs you and you need it. SU can be a big resource. Use it. Alumni chapters like the SU Bridge, Women of SU or the Filipino Alumni Chapter are perfect examples of ways to get involved and also gain valuable experience,” Damian said.
Both of our emcees are excited to be the face of the alumni community welcoming the next generation of Redhawks.
“I want to let the Class of 2016 know that in the end it’s all worth it,” Danielle said. She plans to inject humor about life after college and the struggles young graduates face into her role as emcee.
Damian shared that, Commencement is an exciting time and he looks forward to celebrating it with oue graduating students.“ These kids are going to be chock-full of hope, anxiety, freedom and the unknown. I am excited for them.”
Commencement Brunch Video
Share your words of welcome for the Class of 2016 in a brief video message and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org to be included in our Commencement Brunch video welcome. See last year’s video to get some ideas.
Commencement Brunch Volunteers
Want to help Danielle and Damian welcome the Class of 2016 to the SU Alumni Association? We are looking for Commencement Brunch volunteers to sit at tables and serve as a friendly face welcoming our graduates and their families. Email email@example.com to learn more and volunteer.
8:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 11, 2016
Seattle Sheraton Hotel