As a high school senior and Gates Scholarship recipient applying to college, Seattle University was Colina Barlow’s reach school. “I liked Seattle University because it was close enough that I could still go home on the weekend and coming from a small high school I liked that it had small class sizes.” When Colina’s reach school not only accepted her, but awarded her a large scholarship so that she could attend, she was ecstatic.
As an undergraduate student at Seattle University, Colina developed close relationships with professors and had the opportunity to gain work experience at local nonprofits and give back to the students of Bailey Gatzert Elementary School as a service learning volunteer.
“You’ll hear over and over again about Seattle University’s focus on building the whole person. If I had been at a different institution I would not be the person I am today,” Colina shared.
After her graduation from Seattle University in 2007, Colina began her career in the nonprofit sector, first working at the Union Gospel Mission, then going on to work at the College Success Foundation as a college prep advisor.
After a few years, Colina decided she wanted to be more intentional about her impact in the community and decided to return to Seattle University for graduate school.
“I attribute much of my success to my time at Seattle University and the emphasis on care for the community really stuck with me. I often told the students I advised that not every institution is for every student and every student is not for every institution. Seattle University was the right institution for me which is why I decided to come back for my graduate education.”
Colina graduated this past summer with a Masters in Nonprofit Leadership and joined Seattle University as the Family Engagement Manager for the Center for Community Engagement.
“When looking for my next position, it was important for me to stay on track with college access work for underrepresented students. As a first generation student with my Masters degree, I take the responsibility of ensuring students know what resources are available to them seriously.”
In her new role, Colina works with schools in the Seattle University Youth Initiative focusing on the cradle to college pipeline ensuring all students have a chance for success. Her office provides family development programming, including Communication Tactics, helping to facilitate conversations between pre-teens and parents.
The impact of her Seattle University education has stayed with Colina and she hopes fellow alumni can say the same. “Don’t forget about the value Seattle University had on your life. Is there a way you can give that impact back? Find a way.”
The Center for Community Engagement offers alumni the opportunities to volunteer and get involved on their website.