The United States federal budget is approximately $3.1 trillion. As a staff assistant to the Senate Budget Committee, Seattle University alumnus Eric Chalmers, ’14, helps make that budget a reality. As if that weren’t enough, Eric also helps create a stronger Seattle U community in the nation’s capitol.
Eric, a political science and history graduate, applies his degree and expertise to the interworking of the Senate. Eric helps run the committee’s day-to-day operations, setting up hearings and executing the logistics of the committee, working with Republican and Democratic staff to make sure every Senator has the tools and resources to do their job effectively. The job –– which he secured shortly after graduation –– quite literally helps to keep our country running.
If you turn on C-SPAN on a given day, you might see Eric sitting directly behind committee members during hearings. He sits right behind well-known figures like Bernie Sanders, Lindsey Graham, Rob Portman, Patty Murray, among others. Eric has an impressive job and deals with impressive people.
Eric is impressive himself, though. The Sullivan Scholar from Tempe, Arizona was the former president of the Student Government at SU (SGSU) where he improved student government’s image. His accomplishments include launching the #FixItSGSU campaign, helping to secure an extra staff person in the Office of Disability Services, and receiving widespread media attention for a letter to Pope Francis asking for greater “inclusion and affirmation” for the LGBT community in the Catholic Church.
He shares, “I miss SGSU. I use skills from that role every single day.” But Eric’s skills aren’t the only ones having an impact on the Capitol. “It is amazing to see the generations of alumni we have in D.C. –– we have a good presence here,” Eric says. Always thinking forward and always thinking about potential, Eric asks, “ . . . so how do we harness that for Seattle U?”
Eric and his fellow D.C. based alumni frequently talk with Beth Kreitl, the Executive Director of Career Services at Seattle U, to establish “a pipeline for Seattle U students and graduates.” “We want to be the boots on the ground here,” Eric says. He furthers, “Getting a job in D.C. requires recommendations and people putting in a good word for you.” Eric and others who are part of the Washington D.C. Seattle U Alumni Chapter are putting in hard work to make life easier for future Seattle U alumni who want to work in D.C.
With the Class of 2015 being just a little over a week away from commencement, Eric hopes to see a greater Seattle U presence at the Capitol, but he hopes graduates realize how difficult getting there –– or anywhere –– can be. Eric shares, “I wish I would have known how difficult this transition can be,” referring to the journey from student to alumnus. He shares with upcoming graduates, “When we all head toward graduation we have our plans, we have our ideas. But, at the same time, when we walk across the stage, reality hits quickly.” Eric is well grounded and doesn’t shy away from giving realistic advice.
Eric is still a dreamer though. Eric recently proposed to alumnae Rylee Noble, ’13, during on Christmas Eve in Seattle. She said yes. He proposed at a bench at Cal Anderson Park –– the same bench they’d met at three summers prior as Orientation Advisors. Her family was there to surprise her, along with a pop up tent decorated with fabric, lace, lights and rose petals. It turns out that Eric is quite the romantic Redhawk.
Many good things are on the horizon for the Class of 2015. That horizon might not include moving to D.C., a job with the Senate or an engagement, but Eric’s experiences give a glimpse into what’s next for the 1,800 newest members of the Seattle University Alumni Association. What an exciting journey it will be!
(Image by of J. Scott Applewhite - The Associated Press / Eric Chalmers delivers President Barack Obama's $4 trillion budget to the Senate Budget Committee)