Each June we welcome our newest batch of alumni to the Seattle University Alumni Association at commencement, where they walk across the stage and get their diplomas - an important tradition. However, our favorite tradition takes place the day before graduation when we celebrate with graduates and their families at the President’s Commencement Brunch.
This year we have asked alumni, Doug Buser, ‘10, and Valerie Trask,’11 MBA, to act as our young alumni emcees to help us welcome the class of 2017 with words of wisdom. We sat down with Doug and Valerie in preparation for the big day to learn a little bit more about the people behind the podium at Commencement Brunch.
Valerie Trask is a 2011 graduate of Seattle University’s MBA program. She chose Seattle U because of its reputation for building strong networks. “I wanted to be intentional about meeting smart and thoughtful Seattleites,” Valerie said.
Her time at SU did more than grow her professional contacts. The core classes in her master’s program gave her the skills to be confident in any business conversation and helped prepare her for her path as an entrepreneur.
After getting her undergraduate degree at the University of Washington in 2005, Valerie worked in public relations, learning how to “make it happen” and be scrappy. In that role she met a number of entrepreneurs and grew curious about the larger business world. “At the end of my MBA, when colleagues moved up the corporate ladder, I jumped feet first into the startup world founding a company called Punchkeeper, while doing consulting on the side.”
From there, Valerie went on to be a consultant at Microsoft, but it was not long before she was lured back to the world of start-ups. Valerie became the co-founder and chief operating officer for Sansaire, a company that makes a device for a cooking food with the sous vide method. That company broke funding records for their category in Kickstarter and went on to sell in 70+ countries at stores like Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table.
“After several years, I realized that what energized me most was the human aspects of business–partnerships, management, learning and development. So I started a coaching practice called Masters of Moxie, while doing learning and engagement work at Expedia.”
We asked Valerie what advice she had for the graduating class and she responded by saying, “This is the easiest and best time to take risks and make bold moves. Learn as much as you can. Expose yourself to a diverse group of people. Don’t be afraid to admit when it’s time for a change.”
Doug Buser is a 2010 graduate of Seattle University’s Communication Studies program. He chose Seattle U for its location and the opportunity to play on the school’s first Division I baseball team in over 30 years.
“The best part of attending Seattle U was the additional benefits, things like my professors, teammates, coaches, classmates, and the athletic department staff -- which all helped me develop into the person I am today. The academic environment at Seattle U pushed me to be intellectually curious about the world around me. Combine that with being a student-athlete, trying to perform at a high-level on and off the field. When I took my first job out of college, I relied a lot on the lessons I learned both in the classroom and on the field.”
Doug’s first career after college was in crisis management PR. The role was high stress, solving complex problems on a short timeline. Now, Doug works for a Seattle-based sports technology startup, Volt Athletics. While the challenges he faces are different, it’s equally exciting and rewarding. “In crisis management, the incident you are responding to has a certain, and usually short, timeline which requires all of your focus. In a startup, the timeline is different but you’re constantly trying to improve.”
Despite being busy launching his career, Doug has managed to stay connected to Seattle University in a number of ways. “Some of my best friendships were made at Seattle U, and now I attend SU sporting events and alumni gatherings with that same group of friends.” When we asked Doug why he felt it was important to stay connected he responded with, “As SU alumni, this is our community. We can shape it into whatever we want it to be. Plus, it is fun to learn what my fellow alumni are doing to change the region and beyond. We've got a really creative and exciting community. Why wouldn't I want to stay connected with it?”
Doug also had some advice for the class of 2017. Telling our most recent graduates, “Bet on yourself. You're the only one that knows what you want to do, and if you take time to learn what that is -- go get it! It won't be easy, but if you believe in yourself, whatever you end up achieving will be worth it.”
We can’t wait to celebrate with these two young alumni emcees and the class of 2017 at Commencement Brunch and we hope you’ll be there too.
The President’s Commencement Brunch
Saturday, June 10, 2017 | 10:00 a.m.
Seattle Sheraton Hotel
If you are a graduating student, you can get tickets for Commencement Brunch here.
Not a graduate but still want to attend? We are looking for alumni table hosts to help us welcome our newest alumni. Email Katelyn Mendoza (firstname.lastname@example.org) to learn more about volunteer opportunities at Commencement Brunch.