SU Voice Alumni Blog

Welcome to GOLD, Class of 2021!

Posted by Seattle University Alumni Association on June 10, 2021 at 10:06 AM PDT

Image of John Fullmer, GOLD President, smilingCongratulations on your graduation, Class of 2021, and welcome to GOLD! 

My name is John Fulmer and I serve as the president of the Seattle U GOLD (Graduates of the Last Decade) Council, which is a group of alumni volunteers organized to support your transition from the classroom to the workforce and your next 10 years. We aim to provide you with opportunities to stay connected with alumni and the university through community gatherings, service opportunities and professional development. As you transition into this next chapter of your life, remember that you are now part of the supportive and diverse community that is Seattle U GOLD.

While the last year or so of your college experience was far from traditional, it provided you with unique skills that only those in your position could have. You now have the ability to successfully learn and collaborate in a virtual setting, and you have likely obtained improved time management and prioritization, all of which will suit you well as you transition into the workplace. These next few years of your life after graduation will be filled with challenge, excitement and growth. Wherever you find yourself, you will employ the skills you developed at Seattle U to drive change and create a more just and humane world.

I stayed in the Seattle area and started my professional career at Boeing before quickly returning to Seattle U for a part-time graduate degree. After graduate school, I moved to Amazon, where I am currently working. While I felt lucky to live and work in a community that meant so much to me, I missed the service and engagement opportunities that I loved as a student at Seattle U. This is when I found Seattle U GOLD and got hooked on our incredible alumni community! And I hope you will join us, too. To stay updated on all of our GOLD events and initiatives and to get involved, follow us on the GOLD Facebook and GOLD Instagram pages. We would love to see you engage with us. 

As you finish up your last finals and receive your diploma, I would like to invite you to join our new career and networking platform Redhawk Landing. Redhawk Landing connects alumni with students and other alumni for short- and long-term mentorship. Network within the community or meet alumni in your city or industry. The Seattle University Alumni Association is also hosting a free LinkedIn webinar for the Classes of 2020 and 2021 on June 29. Register now!

On behalf of the entire Seattle U GOLD Council, congratulations on your achievement and welcome to life as a Redhawk alum!





John Fulmer, ’15, ‘18

GOLD Council President

Business Intelligence Engineer, Amazon

Celebrating and Supporting Black Excellence: The Black Student Union Scholarship Endowment

Posted by Seattle University Alumni Association on April 1, 2021 at 2:04 PM PDT

Image of BSU members gathered togetherLast September, Black Student Union (BSU) president Adilia Watson, ’21, introduced alumni to the BSU Scholarship Endowment—the first student-led, Black-serving scholarship at Seattle University. Since then, BSU has raised a remarkable $113,000 towards their initial goal of $200,000. This includes more than $19,000 donated during Seattle U Gives on February 25, 2021. We sat down with Watson, BSU leader Tatianah Summers, ’21, and advisors Colina Bruce, ‘15, and LaKesha Kimbrough to hear how participation in Seattle U Gives has impacted the scholarship and how alumni can continue to support and uplift fundraising efforts.

Finding Success During Seattle U Gives

Seattle U Gives 2021 took place on Thursday February 25, 2021. In an emphatic, Black-led showing of support, amplification and allyship, the Seattle U community raised over $19,000 for the BSU Scholarship Endowment.

How did Seattle U Gives impact your fundraising efforts?

Summers: “It was an awesome opportunity for BSU to be a part of and it coincided really well with Black History Month. It’s encouraging that the university supported us in that way. I feel like our platform was being uplifted throughout the Seattle U Gives extravaganza.”

Bruce: “The experience, the support, the intentionality that went into amplifying the message and the goal of the scholarship—it elevated the opportunities to give and diversified the giving pool to people who may not have been familiar with the effort in the past.”

What did it mean to be included in Seattle U’s giving day?

Summers: “In all honesty, it does come down to money a lot of the time. I think that’s something that Black students struggle with in particular—the ability to access higher education and to be in that conversation. The fact that we were invited to be in Seattle U Gives was incredible because it solidified that yes, BSU is doing great work, and here is support for us to get that funding. That holds a lot of weight. We were grateful to be included and we’re excited for more opportunities like this.”

Kimbrough: “The word that comes to mind for me is validation. Validation is huge in reaffirming, in saying “I see you.” As folks making big decisions in the university, saying “We see you.” As trustees who voted in favor of the endowment, saying “We see you. You matter.” And those are significant messages that we all need to hear. I’m thankful that these students who have been doing such amazing, amazing work to bring this to fruition have that validation—through securing the endowment and through Seattle U Gives this year. That was huge to me, and almost made me teary-eyed for the students. There’s so much in being validated, in being told “we see you and you matter.”

Looking Forward to the Future

Beyond Seattle U Gives, the Black Student Union has put time, passion and energy to make the scholarship as wide-reaching as possible, including social media campaigns and hosted events like the 3rd Annual BSU Showcase and the BSU Virtual Auction. The scholarship is now endowed. However, BSU still needs more than $85,000 to meet their initial goal of $200,000 and to ensure more Black students will benefit when distribution begins in fall 2021. Learn more about what’s planned for their upcoming fundraising efforts, and how you can get involved.

What is next step in fundraising for the scholarship?

Summers: “We have around $113,000. So we’re doing pretty well, considering we just started fundraising about a year ago. But we do to push this farther, so that we can reach more students and be a resource for more students. Our donation website is still open. That will never close, and that will always be an option.”

Watson: “We’re having another fundraiser in the spring, and part of our marketing in the fall will hopefully use in-person aspects. Our goal is to be able to give out sizeable donations to a number of students, so we have to keep fundraising. The scholarship will continue to grow.”

Bruce: “It’s significant that this is a student-led effort. Now that the scholarship is endowed, it will continue in perpetuity. (…) The first distribution will come in the fall, which opens the door for it to be accessed by incoming freshman. That also provides an opportunity for it to be used for outreach and recruitment for more students of Color and more students that may face financial barriers.”

How can alumni get involved in fundraising efforts?

Summers: “It seems like alumni are really excited about this and really interested in being a part of this. (…) It doesn’t have to be money. It can be mentorship or partnership with students. Getting the funding to go to SU is the first step, but feeling comfortable here is a really important piece of it, too—and something that SU needs to work on.”

Watson: “Alumni, especially Black alumni, can push this more with their networks. Even if an alum doesn’t have the money themselves, maybe they have an employer who does. It’s as simple as reaching out and asking the question—asking people who inherently have more money in their pockets to help their community.”

Bruce: “There are a lot of alums, especially those of African descent, who can look back at their own experience as a student and relate to what’s going on now. I think there’s a lot of pride and support that can come from this. Not only monetary, but from sharing with their networks, amplifying and using their own stories and voices as well to express the importance and significance of this scholarship.”

Seeking Sustainability at SU

Posted by Seattle University Alumni Association on April 1, 2021 at 2:04 PM PDT

Photo of Michelle Clements and Yolanda Cieters

Michelle Clements (left) and Yolanda Cieters (right)

As we begin Earth Month 2021, our alumni community is diving deeper into climate action. We spoke with Yolanda Cieters, sustainability manager in the Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability (CEJS), and Michelle Clements, ‘15, vice president of Human Resources—two individuals committed to making Seattle U sustainable. As members of the President’s Committee for Sustainability, Cieters and Clements are helping to drive award-winning change university-wide, creating a more socially, fiscally and environmentally just Seattle U.

Finding Inspiration at Seattle University

As an avid runner, hiker, and an outdoor enthusiast, Michelle Clements has always had a passion for the role nature plays in inspiring, rejuvenating, and healing the human spirit and for preserving natural spaces. She began the Albers Leadership Executive MBA program while working as the senior vice president for human resources at REI, and it was at Seattle U that she found new ways to engage with and expand on her passion for environmental justice.

“What’s different about SU’s Executive MBA program is the focus on leadership,” says Clements. “You are not just getting your MBA, there is an intense emphasis on your personal leadership, which is then woven into everything we do, preparing us to use our vision and skills to make a profound impact in our companies and communities. In this program, we looked at a deep definition of social justice, at the center of Seattle University’s mission. Each cohort is responsible for delivering a social justice project with sustainability components which extend beyond our time with the program—our objective in this program is to develop a community-based project focused on social justice and built to last. This requires a deep engagement with the community we were serving to ensure the project will be sustained over time.

I think about sustainability in terms of socially-responsible practices. By engaging in programs such as charitable fundraising, creating safe & healthy workplace conditions, encouraging volunteerism, and addressing the way in which resources are used and redeployed we can be better positioned to address climate change and mitigate its disproportionate impacts. If we empower people and engage our communities, we can carry this work forward to make real change happen.”

Clements has worked to carry this responsibility into her role as vice president of human resources at Seattle U. She had served on the President’s Committee for Sustainability (PCS) for the past four years, where she has collaborated with the PCS team to effect socially and environmentally conscious change at Seattle U. This has included implementing sustainable waste management, procuring grants for electric car charging stations and more.

“Our opportunity with the PCS is to jumpstart progress across campus, by engaging our full campus community in identifying important actions we can take toward real and sustained progress.”

Celebrating Earth Month 2021

April is Earth Month—Seattle U’s month-long celebration of climate action taking place in the weeks leading up to the internationally-recognized Earth Day (April 22nd). Alums looking to start their sustainability journey—and those looking to augment their expertise—have a wide variety of opportunities to look forward to.

Yolanda Cieters is helping to make this year’s Earth Month a success. “Earth Month is a reminder to folks how important it is to participate in action and initiatives that really focus on that urgent need for environmental justice, climate solutions and sustainability,” says Cieters.

“The one word that comes to mind when I think sustainability is wellbeing. It’s about achieving and attaining wellbeing of people and of our planet. It’s about working towards ensuring that we have social, environmental and economic wellbeing. That we can meet the needs of today, while being mindful of the next generation.”

Cieters has worked to create wellbeing across the globe—from her work with the Regional Integration Center of Brussels to Seattle’s World Affairs Council, Pacific Village Institute and Longhouse Media. She was drawn to Seattle U’s intersection of mission and education—its values of justice, diversity and care for the common good coupled with its commitment to educating future leaders.

“To achieve sustainability, we have to treat the social, environmental and economic climate as a tightly interconnected system, and all of these areas affect each other,” says Cieters. “As an institution, it’s important that we consider all of these areas simultaneously, and that we ensure that all the decisions we make will lead to positive, just and equitable impacts.”

At Seattle U, Cieters has been a campus leader in multilateral sustainability—including on the PCS, where she has been a key figure in progressing the committee’s goals. She was awarded the 2018 Seattle University Lee Thurber Outstanding Staff Award for distinguished service. “Yolanda is a true champion, committed to engaging others to take action and achieve results,” says Clements. “She received the award in 2018, yet, continues to bring her deep dedication and commitment to this work every year. She’s one of our top champions for sustained environmental responsibility on SUs campus.”

During Earth Month 2021, participants can look forward to Earth Talks—a virtual extravaganza of short, 5-minute presentations by SU faculty, students, staff, and community partners. The event is keynoted by Jamie Margolin, co-founder of the international youth climate justice movement Zero Hour, and Donna Moodie, executive director of the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict and executive vice president of community development at Community Roots Housing.

Alumni are also encouraged to attend the latest Reading Redhawks, a book club-style session on Climate Justice in the Biden Administration. Join the Environmental Studies Program for this panel discussion featuring professors Tanya Hayes, PhD, Heidi Liere, PhD and John Armstrong, PhD.


Further Your Eco Impact

Alumni looking to further their sustainability commitment have a myriad of initiatives, programs and groups to explore at Seattle U.

Alumni with interest or expertise in climate change and social justice can volunteer as mentors for current students, supporting the next generation of ethical leaders and changemakers. “This generation of students is deeply committed to addressing climate change—to really taking the action,” says Clements. “Seattle U is about involving our students in the critically important work of environmental justice—the hope is that students can use what they’re learning here and take action in our local, national and global communities.”

Clements is a current Sustaining Supporter—Seattle U’s first paperless giving society—for which she gifts a portion of her monthly salary towards advancing SU’s mission. Alumni who are able to give monetarily can make a monthly contribution to CEJS to further the department’s initiatives.

Alumni can also join the Alumni Sustainability Coalition to educate, engage and empower the SU community. “The commitment is there across our alumni community to really make sure we infuse sustainability across what we do,” says Cieters. “Together, we will continue to develop that commitment. I’m very hopeful about that.”

“Today, we have a committee with a passion to making an impact,” says Clements. “Five years from now, I’d like to see a large group of champions across our campus engaged in making a meaningful and sustained impact. A community effort, rather than a small committee, looking to make a meaningful and sustained impact in our local community and beyond.”


Art Book, Creative Writing and Community

Posted by Brian Gonzales, ’00 on April 1, 2021 at 12:04 PM PDT

Below are the introduction and epilogue for Brian’s stories. Read all of his stories, see his photos and art and find your shared Seattle University experiences.  

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Brian, you wrote a book? 

Yes, an art book. 

What started out as a social experiment on Facebook to help raise awareness for Seattle University’s Uncommon Good campaign, quickly became an outlet for personal discovery and a platform to rekindle all sorts of amazing relationships with fellow alumni, professors, friends, family and mentors.  

What you are about to read is a collection of short stories about my personal experience at Seattle University during the late ‘90s and beyond. As I was writing each story, I began to notice the narrative became less about me and more about the people, events and surroundings that shaped my college experience. Thus these stories are less about me and more about us. 

We all share experiences similar to the ones you are about to read. We all got nervous on Freshman Orientation day. We all struggled with money at some point and might even take pride in what we consider to be the most inventive way to cook Top Ramen. Many of you have had friends come and go and at some point you will drive 5 hours away just to see them one more time, even in the peak of winter with 14 inches of snow on the ground, because you miss them and eagerly wish to reunite despite all logic concerning road conditions. If you have not experienced it yet… trust me, you will. We can all relate to this. This is OUR story. 

My name is Brian Gonzales. I am a Seattle University alumnus from the class of 2000, a Portland Alumni Leader, and SU Social Ambassador and proud to help out in the way that I can. This is my way of giving back. 

Enjoy this book. 


I must warn you: I AM AN ARTIST. 

Sometimes I get a little carried away in my grammar and over dramatization of what would otherwise be a normal event. I am also compelled to make and share drawings, photographs and other visual highlights sometimes to the point of exhaustion. 

Prepare your liver for a swell of:

  • Following my brother towards Nirvana
  • Afro, Orientation, and the Art Nudes | AKA: How Visual Arts Major found Me and a tribute to Father Roger Gillis, SJ
  • The golden voice of Jeremiah and how he fed my starving soul at the Chieftain
  • May the force be with us all
  • KSUB radio and the ubiquitous basement vibes
  • His Spanish name is “Kiko”
  • Zoom out. Navigate. Experience. Connect. Innovate. Give back. Thanks.
  • Empowered by our Mission and life beyond diploma 

Yours truly, 




Brian Gonzales
Seattle University
Class of 2000
Major: Visual Arts
Minor: Spanish 

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Empowered by our mission and life beyond diploma

These days I find myself asking a lot of questions to Google or Siri. 

“Hey Google what is the weather like today?” 

Within a moment's pause a friendly voice replies with factual data gathered from the interwebs.

“Today in Gresham it will be mostly sunny with a forecasted high of 70 and a low of 42. Right now it’s 42° and sunny.”

How many of you know the mission statement of Seattle University verbatim? As alumni, I bet we all inherently understand the main concept. I always knew it had something to do with developing students to be well rounded (hence all the core classes we had to finish whether we liked it or not) and something to do with social justice. I knew I was close, but I also knew it was more specific than that. So let’s ask: 

“Hey Google what is the mission of Seattle University?” 

“Seattle University is dedicated to educating the whole person, to professional formation, and to empowering leaders for a just and humane world.”

It's been over 2 decades since I graduated from Seattle University in the year 2000. On a daily basis I try to live my life with positive energy, being kind to people, making ethically correct choices, expressing appreciation for others and their contributions to our society as a whole and helping others when I can. I enjoy hobbies ranging from cooking and writing to home remodeling and computer programming. I am a firm believer in community, shopping local, volunteering for a good cause, continuous education, and I try to amplify the voice of those more quiet than I am. I have a fulfilling career and aside from the occasional feeling of “imposter syndrome” I am confident in my professional skill set.  

I am not saying this to boast. I am saying this to relate. I bet You, fellow alumni, also have a broad interest in the world around you. Your hobbies might align with mine but they probably extend well beyond in unique and wonderful ways. I bet you have a high capacity for critical thinking. I bet you have a natural process of ethical reasoning. I bet you have appreciation for the arts.  I bet you also strive for making a positive impact in your community and would choose to volunteer for a good cause if you could carve out the time in your busy schedule. As difficult as it may be at times, I bet you amplify the marginalized voices that are otherwise difficult to hear.  

What we are experiencing is the continual fulfillment of the Seattle University mission. No need to ask Google; we live it on the daily. 

Thank you for reading this art book and sharing in the experience. Let’s keep sharing stories and building community connections online and in person whenever possible. Join your local regional Alumni Chapter and stay involved. Let us all be empowered by the mission and help spread the good word. 

Brian Gonzales




Brian Gonzales, ’00, is a multidisciplinary artist specializing in technology, marketing and creative services. He started the digital creative agency called PAIRODIME (originally Pair O’ Dimes Productions) while attending Seattle University in 1999 and it continues to help companies and brands locally and around the globe as a partner in modern marketing solutions. Brian lives with his wife Alyssa and their 2 children, Elias and Ariela in Gresham, Oregon. Brian loves to spend time with family and friends, cook, do various art projects, read, and watch movies. When not at home, you might find him traveling in his Minnie Winnie Winnebago, snowboarding, skateboarding, biking and pretty much doing anything that sounds like fun.

New cross-departmental collaboration connects alumni with prospective students

Posted by Seattle University Alumni Association on March 31, 2021 at 5:03 PM PDT

Photo of James Miller, Seattle University Associate Vice President and Dean of AdmissionsAlumni Engagement and Admissions are partnering in a new effort to connect prospective Seattle University students across the U.S. and around the world with our extraordinary alumni. Set to launch next month, the Alumni Admissions Interview Program is designed to build affinity with Seattle University among prospective students and inform the admissions process. Recently we sat down (virtually) with James Miller, Associate Vice President and Dean of Admissions, to chat about this new cross-departmental collaboration, how it works and how you can get involved. 


First, James, I must ask—how are admissions coming along for the 2021-2022 academic year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?

We’re pleased with how the admissions cycle has progressed thus far. Applications for first-year student admission are up eight percent compared with last year at this time. We’ve seen strong increases in our most important regions: Washington State, Oregon and especially Hawaii, where Oahu and the neighbor islands show double-digit increases in applications. In addition, we’ve been investing in growing the Seattle U brand in Colorado, Texas, Illinois and Minnesota. Each of these markets continue to show large increases in applicants year over year.

We’re pleased that applications for admission from minoritized students have also increased as a percentage of our applicant pool. We were concerned going into this year because these students have been disproportionally impacted by the pandemic in terms of access to college counseling, access to technology and access to their school buildings in general. So, we’re really excited to see these students persisting through the process at a higher rate than they have in the past.


Are you able to predict what the size of the freshman class will be at this point? 

No and I think that it’s something of interest right now because there's been a lot in the media about college admissions over the last six to eight months. Much of what will occur in terms of freshman and transfer enrollment is dependent upon how things look in the fall with respect to our ability to be back on campus. This will impact the students’ decisions as to whether they want to enroll this year. We’ve done everything we needed to do to set ourselves up for success.


Why is it important for alumni to be part of the admissions process?  

Alumni are some of the most effective advocates in the Seattle U community. Simply by representing their positive Seattle University experience in their place of business, their neighborhood, their faith community and among family and friends, they are doing enormously helpful work that university admissions could never do. Alumni who are advocates for Seattle U and spread good words about the institution in their communities can make a huge difference in our student enrollment.


How does the Alumni Admissions Interview Program work and what is its intent? 

To start, we have a form on the admissions website for interested alumni to fill out, which will add them to our interviewer database. Then in May, Admissions will host a training for the interviewers. We’ll take a look inside the admissions process, how it works and cover basic Seattle U information of interest to prospective students. We’ll also talk about the characteristics of a good interview and what we need the interviewers to focus on. We’ll provide training materials for the interviewers’ referral, too.

Once the interviewers have been trained, we’ll begin connecting them with prospective students who have requested an interview opportunity and will do our best to match the interviewer with a student who shares a commonality. This may be a geographical similarity, an academic interest or another area of affinity like identity. The interviewer will contact the prospective student and they’ll determine a convenient time for a 20–30 minute interview.


At what point in the application process will this interview take place? 

We’re going to start off by offering interviews to pre-applicants—students in their junior year of high school—through those who are in the process of applying. Once we’ve matched a student and an interviewer, we’ll introduce the two via email. From there it’s upon the interviewer to reach out and confirm a time to meet with the student via Zoom, by phone or in-person at a mutually agreeable time. 


What type of information are you hoping the interviewer will gather from the prospective student that is helpful to admissions? 

The important thing is we’re not asking interviewers to be admissions representatives on our behalf. What we want them to do first and foremost is to represent the university from their own perspective and their own experiences. They don’t need to speak in-depth about a program they didn’t study in. We really want them to share with the student the value of their Seattle U experience and its impact post-graduation, as well as what’s been great about being a member of the Seattle U alumni community.

The information we’re looking to gather from prospective students is their level of interest in Seattle U. Do they have a sense of us? Do they understand who we are? We don’t want the interviewers to get into sensitive academic conversations, but sometimes a student will say, “Hey, I had a hard time my sophomore year and my grades really dipped, but I’ve recovered and I’m back on track academically.” This is really helpful context. Sometimes we’ll see a big dip in grades on a transcript that the student hasn’t really explained. But if they explain this in the interview, suddenly it’s like, “Oh, okay, totally understood,” as opposed to having to follow up.

We also want to get a sense of what questions the student has. Would they like to connect with a financial aid officer or with an admissions counselor who can answer specific questions about a program? The interviewer plays a role in helping us learn what the student needs, too.

It’s worth saying that our average enrolling student applies to at least 10 other schools. The real challenge for busy high school students is finding the time to get to know a college well. The alumni interviews will enable students to have a meaningful experience that they may not have the time to seek out on their own and they will help us gain context about students that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to gather.


It sounds like another opportunity to practice "cura personalis, that care for the whole person" that is so much a part of who we are at Seattle U. The individual attention will make students feel welcomed and wanted. 

That's 100 percent right. At the end of the day, we really want to feature in our admissions process the same level of personalization and personal care that we know our enrolled students experience. The challenge is there are 8,600 applicants this year and it’s just not possible for admissions counselors to make highly individualized contact with every single one of them. But the alumni admissions interview creates another opportunity for that individualized contact. It’s a value add for sure. 


What happens after the interview? 

After an interview takes place, we ask the interviewer to provide a report. This is just the interviewer’s notes from the conversation and if there’s something the student needs as a next step. They may also state if they would recommend the student for admission. Of course, the hope is that the student and the alumni interviewer will stay in touch throughout the admissions process and start to build a relationship. If the student decides to come to Seattle U that relationship may pay off in other ways. 


Why are international alumni reviewers particularly important? 

Seattle U has made deep inroads recently in starting to build an international recruitment strategy. Our biggest limitation in the global community is that it’s both time and resource intensive to interact directly with students from around the world. International interviewers can help us build better affinity between prospective students around the world and be great mentors for what it’s like to make the cultural transition to the U.S. and Seattle, specifically.


What kind of a time commitment does this program require of alumni interviewers? 

There is the initial training and beyond that, the commitment is very periodic. The busiest times will be in the spring and summer when high school juniors are starting to ramp-up their college searches, so probably May through July. It will likely get busy again around the early application deadline in mid-November through the close of the notification period in March. Our main ask is that interviewers who register with the program try to interview at least one student. They can always let us know if there’s a maximum number of interviews they can do or if they will be unavailable for certain periods of time and we’ll honor that. 


If alumni are unable to participate in the Alumni Interview Program, what else can they do? 

We always welcome alumni referrals. If an alum knows of a student who would flourish at Seattle University, we invite them to make a referral using this link. Admissions will follow up with the student and ensure that they get all the information they need to consider joining the Redhawk community.


Is there anything else that you’d like our alumni to know about the program? 

I’d just like to add that we're excited to be partnering with our alumni and about the potential for this program.  
Seattle U alumni are vital to the academic, spiritual and emotional health of our community. As part of Our Moment for Mission: The President’s Challenge, you can participate in the Alumni Admissions Review Program by registering here. Or, join us in one of many other volunteer roles, strengthening the university—and ensuring the wellbeing and advancement of our students, faculty and staff—for years to come. 
Sign up to be an Alumni Interviewer

Register for May 17 training (2:30-3:30 p.m. PDT)

Register for May 18 training (5:30-6:30 p.m. PDT)

Tamales at the Heart of Community

Posted by Seattle University Alumni Association on March 31, 2021 at 5:03 PM PDT

Graphic for Frelard Tamales SU VoiceOsbaldo Hernandez, ’12, came to Seattle University as an undocumented student majoring in Public Administration. His education was put in jeopardy, however, when his Visa was denied in fall quarter of 2011, barring him entry to the United States for 10 years. Upon hearing this, President Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J., requested that professors be accommodating of Hernandez’s now online education and arranged for the law school to provide him with pro bono services. Within a week, the decision was reversed, and Hernandez returned—Green Card in hand. 
Today, Hernandez is still in Seattle, and has been busy running Frelard Tamales, an authentic Mexican tamale restaurant that he and his husband, Dennis Ramey, opened in 2018. They use Hernandez’s multi-generational family recipe from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, with his mom making tamales and his dad working at the restaurant. 
In all his work, his Jesuit education remains close at heart. “I’ve always taken the teachings of a just and humane world and being a holistic human being. Since I left Seattle U, my education has always shifted me into taking any kind of opportunity where I was serving others.” For Hernandez, Frelard Tamales has been a key way to do so. “We have a little sign on the window that can be easily seen that says if a customer needs a meal, they can just ask for one.” With the onset of COVID-19 last year, Frelard Tamales began giving hundreds of free meals to nurses at the local Swedish hospitals and others impacted by COVID, and to this day, that policy remains in place. 
Beyond sharing free meals, Frelard Tamales has helped support the livelihood of other small businesses. In the wake of Pike Place Market’s closure, Hernandez realized that many local farmers who usually sold flowers no longer had a place to do so. Frelard Tamales partnered with a local florist and began offering a bouquet of flowers for $15 to its customers—and the flowers are free if the order is going to a first responder or health care worker. Now that flower season has returned, so have the bouquets. “We just started a week ago. That was our first week with Thai Thao Farms. In the summer we add Woodinville Valley Farms, so we have the same partners as last year,” said Hernandez. 
In addition to flowers, Hernandez and Ramey have supported 24 women and minority-owned businesses during the pandemic. They curate items from these businesses and create gift packs for customers to buy. They’ve been popular add-ons to tamale orders and have offered these businesses much needed income in difficult times. 
To Hernandez and Ramey, it is all about giving back to a community that built them up years ago from their humble beginnings. “When we started our business, we would literally meet people in a church parking lot in Ballard and exchange cash for food—it looked like it was a drug deal. People trusted us and it grew from that little parking lot to a shop in Green Lake,” said Hernandez.  
Their motto, “Kindness. Community. Cultura.” is at the heart of what Frelard Tamales stands for and how Hernandez and Ramey live their lives. Consider supporting this Redhawk-owned local business dedicated to service and a just and humane world. While you are there, enjoy what Seattle Magazine called, “The Most Satisfying Tamale in Seattle.”  
You can find Frelard Tamales and dozens more alumni-owned businesses on our new Alumni Business Directory. If you’d like your business added to the directory, email Stephanie Jamieson

Alumni Doing Fun Things: Robin Lustig, '18

Posted by GOLD (Graduates of the Last Decade) Council on March 11, 2021 at 4:03 PM PST

Robin Lustig on the left and image of an I Love Lychee cocktail on the right

We reached out to Robin Lustig, ’18, to learn about her Seattle U experience and how she started her @CheerswithRobs Instagram page where she shares exciting cocktail recipes. When asked what her favorite cocktail recipe is, Robin shared, "One of my recent recipes is what I call the 'I Love Lychee.'"




I Love Lychee

  1. Muddle 6 raspberries in your cocktail shaker
  2. Add the following ingredients:
    1 1/2 oz. Vodka
    1 1/2 oz. Lychee liqueur
    egg whites from one egg
  3. Dry shake (no ice) to emulsify the egg whites with the rest of the ingredients
  4. Add ice
  5. Reshake
  6. Garnish with raspberries

"This was my take on a classic Lychee Martini. I added the raspberries for a fruitier flavor profile and the egg whites to give it that awesome foamy top layer."

Question: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your SU experience.

Answer: My name is Robin, a class of 2018 alum and Humanities for Leadership graduate of the Matteo Ricci College. At SU, I was involved in the Student Alumni Ambassadors, had the opportunity to participate in a French immersion program, took classes I loved and worked with professors who inspired me. My mom is an SU grad as well, so I was honored to follow in her footsteps.

Question: What inspired you to start making drinks and create your @CheerswithRobs Instagram page?

Answer: I was inspired to start my CheerswithRobs page because some of my favorite moments in college were with people I loved, sharing a drink. I would meet my friends before class to get a coffee and talk about the reading. I'd gather my classmates after a tough exam for a celebratory beer. On the first snow day of the year I would grab a friend, get hot chocolates and drink them in the quad. When I was accepted into law school, my best friend and I celebrated with cocktails at Cafe Presse. These were my favorite little moments and I wanted to capture and share them and start to create my own.

Question: What’s your favorite drink to make?

Answer: My favorite cocktail to make has to be an Aviation. It was the first "fancy" cocktail I ever made after trying it for the first time at the (now closed) Seven Beef when I was taking my little sister on a tour of SU campus. Other than that, my favorite general type of drink to make is probably layered cocktails. They are surprisingly easy, the payoff is gorgeous and the flavor combinations are endless.

Question: What’s your favorite restaurant or bar near campus?

Answer: I have two staple close-to-campus favorites. For your coffee fix, there is nothing like Cherry Street Coffee. I spent many hours there with my friends, study groups and mentors for coffee meetings. Great staff, awesome menu, good coffee (lots of outlets!). For your after class/work fix, take a quick walk to Barrio Mexican Kitchen and Bar. This place is the perfect spot to celebrate the weekend, get a great cocktail and make some memories. They have an amazing happy hour and their Blood Orange Margarita hits the spot every time! If margaritas aren't your style, try their truly life-changing sangria.

Thank you for sharing with us, Robin!

Calling Future Alumni Leaders

Posted by GOLD (Graduates of the Last Decade) Council on March 11, 2021 at 5:03 AM PST

Have you considered getting more involved as a Seattle U alum? Do you want to be part of a small group working to grow and enhance the alumni experience? If you answered yes to these questions, you should apply to join the Seattle U GOLD Council! 

The Seattle U GOLD Council is a group of 8 recent alumni that meets for 2 hours once per month to discuss what’s happening at the university, share the alumni voice with university staff and organize ways to further engage the alumni community. We’re looking to add 12 members to the council to include in total 2 representatives from each of the last 10 graduating years. The goal of the GOLD Council is to be a diverse group of recent Seattle U alumni with varying backgrounds and interests that come together to keep alumni informed, engaged, and connected with Seattle U and the programs they enjoyed while they were students.

Redhawks in Legislature

Posted by Seattle University Alumni Association on March 3, 2021 at 9:03 PM PST

A profile photo of Debra Entenman, '03

Representative Debra Entenman, '03, 47th Legislative District

Learn how Debra Entenman, ’03, is working to build pathways for learning by allowing community and technical schools to issue high school diplomas, creating grants for community colleges to help students facing emergency financial situation and thinking creatively around supporting all constituents pursuing educational pathways.

Read Debra Entenman's Story




A profile photo of Dave Paul, '90

Representative Dave Paul, '90, 10th Legislative District

Discover how Dave Paul, ’90, is addressing major issues of housing, racial justice and closing the wealth gap by serving on the transportation, college and workforce development and education committees all while serving on the Alumni Board of Governors at Seattle U.

Read Dave Paul's Story




A profile photo of Joe Nguyen, '06

Senator Joe Nguyen, '06, 34th Legislative District

Explore how Joe Nguyen, ’06, is leveraging technology and his role in the legislature to amplify the voices of a diverse cross-section of constituents and community leaders while focusing on empowering marginalized communities.

Read Joe Nguyen's Story



A profile photo of Rebecca Saldaña, ’99

Senator Rebecca Saldaña, ’99, 37th Legislative District

Read about how Rebecca Saldaña, ’99, has adjusted to remote work and how her assignments on the Human Services, Reentry and Rehabilitation, Labor, Commerce and Tribal Affairs and transportation committees help to confront and address injustices.

Read Rebecca Salaña's Story

Alumna and CON Faculty Member Renée Rassilyer-Bomers, ’03, ’05, ‘16 is Driving Force Behind Swedish Community Vaccination Clinic at Seattle University

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on March 3, 2021 at 5:03 PM PST

Photo of Seattle Archbishop Paul D. Etienne and Renée Rassilyer-Bomers, ’03, ’05, ‘16Renée Rassilyer-Bomers entered Seattle University through the Matteo Ricci College where she completed her senior year of high school while simultaneously earning college credit. And she’s never left. A triple alumna and Naef Scholar, she earned bachelor’s degrees in nursing and humanities, then dove straight into the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program. In 2005 she joined the Seattle U College of Nursing (CON) faculty, while concurrently navigating a professional trajectory into leadership at Swedish Hospital. In 2016 she completed the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at Seattle U.

Now the Chief Quality Officer in Swedish’s Clinical Excellence Division, Dr. Rassilyer-Bomers played an integral role in establishing the Swedish Community COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at Seattle University. She and her team of care providers took on the urgent challenge to site, organize, coordinate and staff a clinic capable of administering 2,500 COVID-19 vaccines a day—a feat they accomplished within just two weeks. Their successful model has received national attention. 

Called to Battle COVID-19 

When the COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Seattle in December 2020, Rassilyer-Bomers helped roll out on-site vaccination clinics for employees on the five Swedish hospital campuses. By early January, as the state of Washington looked toward vaccinating community members, they realized there weren’t many entities in the community that had the infrastructure ready to go right away and that in many areas of the state, hospitals were the best-equipped places to vaccinate high-risk groups quickly.

“Many organizations, like local pharmacies or the neighborhood clinic, lacked the infrastructure to deliver vaccinations in large mass, as well as to manage accompanying complications,” Rassilyer-Bomers explains, “like keeping the Pfizer vaccine hyper-frozen, handling required consent forms and immunization records and monitoring each vaccine recipient for 15 minutes in case of anaphylactic reactions.” 
That’s when Governor Inslee and the Department of Health called for hospitals to step in and help vaccinate 500 community members a day, in addition to their own employees. With five campuses, this meant 2,500 additional daily vaccinations for Swedish. 
“We couldn’t bring an additional 2,500 people onto our hospital campuses because of the exposure risk,” says Rassilyer-Bomers. “We don’t have enough parking and we’ve got COVID-19 patients. Right away I texted Dr. Kristen Swanson, dean of Seattle U’s College of Nursing, and said I need help. I need space to provide 2,500 COVID-19 vaccinations a day.” 

Within a few hours Dean Swanson had received permission from President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., and other administrators to offer space on the university campus. Rassilyer-Bomers met with her team over a weekend to plan their strategy for organizing a high-volume vaccination clinic at Campion Hall on short turnaround. They created a “playbook” modeled after Swedish’s in-hospital employee vaccination clinics and adapted for Seattle U.  
“We began putting teams of Seattle U and Swedish employees and volunteers together and worked with some great outside vendors,” she says. “Within a week we had 40 computers with Wi-Fi access, secure online systems for registering volunteers and patients and lots of vaccination stations set up in the space. We were ready for a walk-thru and simulation on day 10 and the clinic opened on day 12. While we vaccinated the community at the Seattle U clinic, Swedish continued vaccinating our employees and community providers on our hospital campuses.”

Swedish administered nearly 87,000 vaccinations at its clinics in response to the state’s call, with approximately 48,000 given at the Seattle U site. Nearly one-fifth of the Swedish volunteers were affiliated with the university.  

The Playbook

Word spread about the “playbook” Swedish created, which is now distributed nationwide as a model for other COVID-19 vaccination clinics.

“Representatives from other hospitals, local government and businesses are using our playbook,” Rassilyer-Bomers says. “Administrators from Microsoft, Amazon and Starbucks visited the Seattle U clinic to check out our design and are now working with other hospitals to open clinics. Officials from the Public Health Department and Snohomish County also visited. Places utilizing the playbook provide us feedback on what is and isn’t working and their recommendations. We continue to adapt the book based on this feedback. This is an iterative process, much like any other endeavor in science and medicine. Currently, we’re on version five.” 
“The Swedish Community COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at Seattle University exemplifies the power of community partnership between academia and industry in moving the mountains we need to move to be a better society,” she adds. “I hope to see this kind of partnership replicated in a multitude of areas.” 
Swedish is now working with the City of Seattle to open a mass vaccination site at Lumen Field Event Center, capable of servicing 154,000 people a week. The design of that site is based on the Seattle U model. 

An Ongoing Connection to Seattle U 

For years Rassilyer-Bomers taught undergraduate nursing courses five mornings a week in the CON while working night shift positions at Swedish. 

“I love teaching,” she reflects. “I think it’s just the ability to support somebody’s learning and to see their joy. I used to teach Health Assessment, the first undergraduate nursing course when everything is new to the students and they’re eager beavers having dreamt about becoming a nurse. Now I teach the Senior Practicum each summer, right before the students launch into their careers. At the start of the practicum, nobody thinks they’ll ever be capable or competent enough, they don’t have enough clinical experience to do the job. By the end of that quarter, they see how all the dots connect and they fly! It’s incredibly rewarding to see this kind of student growth over four years.”

Currently, Rassilyer-Bomers is a part-time member of the CON faculty. She works to find clinical placements for nursing students in addition to teaching the Senior Practicum. 
What keeps her at Seattle U? “The people,” she says. “The reason I continue working at Seattle U—and at Swedish—is of course the mission, vision and values, which I see as quite parallel. But it’s the people I work with, who have the passion to do right by caring for others, that compel me to stay. I work with really good people.” 

The Swedish Community COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at Seattle U concluded its operations on Feb. 26 and is working with community partners to build upon these efforts across the state.

Seattle U alumni are a vital to the academic, spiritual and emotional health of our community. As part of Our Moment for Mission: The President’s Challenge, you can join us in one of many volunteer roles, strengthening the university—and ensuring the wellbeing and advancement of our students, faculty and staff—for years to come.