SU Voice Alumni Blog

Nazir Harb Michel, ‘08

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on May 1, 2019 at 3:05 PM PDT

Nazir Harb Michel, ’08, has a deep sense of mission to the Muslim community, East-West relations and to his deep love of language. He credits Seattle University, especially the Honors program and Sullivan Scholars community, with transforming him into “someone with the courage and wherewithal to seek higher peaks and always work to improve himself.”  

As a student, Nazir rekindled the Muslim Student Association (MSA) just two years after 9/11 wanting to build community. He set out to create a safe space for students to be themselves and part of that included their relationships with Islam and Muslim identity. He also wanted his community to celebrate their strengths, skills and passions beyond this identity. “We were scientists, engineers, philosophers, linguists, dancers, musicians, artists, and goofballs too,” he recalls of his peers and community members. The sense of connection and community Nazir helped to rebuild and create resulted in MSA being recognized with the Ignatian Spirit Award in 2007.

After graduating with degrees in International Studies and Sociology, he went on to earn two masters degrees—one from Princeton University and one from Georgetown University. He then earned his PhD in Arab Studies and Political Interactional Sociolinguistics from Georgetown University, where he also served as Muslim Life Program Coordinator. 

As a post-doctoral research fellow, Nazir worked on Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative, a multi-year research project dedicated to educating the public about Islamophobia.  He guided research on the Danger & Dialogue: American Catholic Public Opinion and Portrayals of Islam published in September 2016. Unfortunately, the report largely finds that most American Catholics hold troubling beliefs about Muslims and Islam. Unable to name similarities between Catholicism and Islam, only 14% of America Catholics have a favorable impression of Muslims. In addition, those who consume content from Catholic media have more unfavorable views of the Muslim community and of Islam. These findings have led the Bridge Initiative to produce factual content for Catholic media and help publishers to distinguish reliable sources from those with Islamophobic agendas.

After the birth of his second daughter, Nazir and his family returned to Seattle where he currently resides. He is the senior associate domain expert for the Middle East and North Africa at Dataminr, a company that turns global data into real-time alerts for tech, corporate and PR clients. He says of his current role, “it is in many ways the culmination of all my years of study and a place to bring to bear the constellation of values that I have been traveling by since my time at Seattle University.”

Nazir is speaking on “Being Muslim in America” on May 4 for Seattle U Alumni Association partner, the Ignatian Spirituality Center. Nazir hopes to create understanding about Muslim communities, open a channel for dialogue and communicate hope. “While I cannot represent all Muslims, I hope to be a sincere ambassador by sharing my stories. If we can build common ground and start to see eye to eye, we can begin to look past stereotypes and politics,” says Nazir. 

 

This Ignitian Life
Being Muslim in America

May 4, 2019
Social: 9 a.m.
Program: 9:30 a.m.-12 p.m.
St. Joseph Parish Center

Learn more and register.

Groundbreaking: The Center for Science and Innovation

Posted by Matteo Busalacchi, Marketing Assistant, Seattle University Alumni Association on May 1, 2019 at 1:05 PM PDT

Arial shot of the future Center for Science and Innovation at Seattle University.

After years of planning, President Stephen Sundborg, S.J. and the Center for Science and Innovation Task Force will host a ground-breaking ceremony on Thursday, May 30 to commemorate the important milestone of the start of construction. All Seattle U alumni are invited to the celebration, which will feature a community lunch where you can enjoy music, food, a photo booth and a VR tour of the new building.

Designed to be the new visual centerpiece of Seattle University, the Center for Science and Innovation (CSI) will be the cornerstone of the future of STEM on campus. The project aims to bring cross-disciplinary collaboration to students and faculty in a building designed to enhance learning, cultivate creativity and enrich understanding for the world’s next generation of leaders.

Construction for the new building will be completed in 2021 and will be accompanied by renovations to the two other College of Science and Engineering buildings. Once complete, the CSI will have 111,000 square feet of new space and will house labs, maker spaces, classrooms, offices and open-use areas.

Funding for the project, Seattle University’s largest ever, comes mostly from private donors and includes industry partners like Amazon, Microsoft and the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. Recently announced, both Amazon and Microsoft have contributed $3 million and the Murdock Charitable Trust gifted $1.75 million, with all citing the importance of providing a space for our future STEM leaders to prepare for responsible and ethical leadership.

As part of their partnership, Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services, will join students for a fireside chat moderated by Roshanak Roshandel, PhD, associate professor and chair of the computer science department and an Amazon Scholar. Students will have the opportunity to exchange views on the future of computer science access to education and career opportunities in computer science, artificial intelligence and related fields.

“The Center for Science and Innovation is the boldest project that we’ve ever done,” says President Stephen Sundborg, S.J. “It represents the way our education is moving, which is to complement the humanities with our science programs.”

We hope you will join us for the groundbreaking ceremony.

Center for Science and Innovation Groundbreaking Ceremony
May 30, 2019
Program and groundbreaking: 11:30 a.m.
Lunch: 12:15 p.m.
Seattle University – Lower Mall

Registration is free.

Visit the CSI web page to take a virtual tour of the building and learn about this transformational addition to Seattle University.

SUstainability: It’s Core to our Jesuit Identity

Posted by Yolanda Cieters Sustainability Manager, Seattle University CEJS on April 4, 2019 at 10:04 AM PDT

This week marks the beginning of Earth Month, a celebration that holds great significance for our campus community. As Father Steve remarked in his campus-wide announcement on April 1, 2019, “as a university committed to building a more just and humane world, we are well aware of the existential threat climate change poses to all peoples, especially those living on the margins of society.”

Seattle University is committed to more comprehensively addressing climate change, advancing sustainability and educating students as thoughtful caretakers of our natural and social environment. We take our cue from Pope Francis who, in his encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si', challenges humankind to take responsibility for the planet and be mindful of those who are suffering most from the ecological crisis before us. In February 2019, the Society of Jesus released its four global “apostolic preferences” with the third being “Care for our Common Home” or a focus on environmental justice and sustainability. 

Deepening Sustainability across Seattle University
The commitment to sustainability at Seattle University began with ecological preservation in the 1960’s. Practices have since expanded to include sustainable landscaping, strategic energy and water conservation, waste management, transportation programs, as well as advancing sustainability in teaching, learning, research and scholarship. When Seattle University joined the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment (ACUPCC; 2007) and adopted a Climate Action Plan (2010), Seattle U pledged to further deepen and strengthen its commitment to environmental justice.

In 1989, our campus was designated a Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife and since 1998, SU has been a pesticide-free campus. In 2018, SU received the Tree Campus USA designation after developing a tree care program that aims to ensure a safe, attractive and sustainable campus urban forest.

The 2018 Sustainable Campus Index published by AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) ranked Seattle University's sustainability curriculum and related academic offerings third in the country. 80 faculty members have conducted sustainability research, 62% of students are engaged in community service and 400+ sustainability-related courses are offered. Thanks to student-led action, Seattle University became a single-use plastic water bottle-free campus in 2010 and obtained the title of Fair Trade designated campus in 2015.

In September 2018, Seattle U made the headlines when the Board of Trustees voted to divest the university’s $230 million endowment from fossil fuels within the next five years, becoming the first university in Washington State and the first Jesuit university in the world to do so.

In 2016, Seattle U began participating in AASHE’s rigorous benchmarking STARS program and out of the gate achieved a gold rating, which improved in 2018. STARS counts more than 900 participants in 30 countries and is the most widely recognized framework worldwide for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. With a GOLD STARS rating under our belt, in 2018 Seattle U made its debut in the top 10 of the Sierra Club’s “Cool School Rankings,” and was named one of only 26 universities to The Princeton Review Green College Honor Roll. In early 2019, SU received the EnviroStars “Champion” designation for its demonstrated success in the areas of energy and water conservation, pollution prevention, use of safer products, sustainable transportation, and recycling and composting. 

These honors highlight the many ways Seattle University is working to care for our common home, but as President Sundborg rightly stated, “we know we must do more.”

Earth Month at Seattle University
During Earth Month 2019, Seattle U has several initiatives and events aimed at engaging our campus community in a reflection on how SU can further the university’s path towards a more just and sustainable world.

Alumni, note the following opportunities during Earth Month:

  • Students, faculty, staff and alumni are invited to submit their “SUstainability Idea” in this online survey. The contributions will help guide the university’s new Sustainability Action Plan, which the President’s Committee for Sustainability (PCS) will soon start work on.
  • Thursday, April 25: Interfaith Earth Day Speaking Event
  • Thursday, April 25: Earth Day Video Contest Showcase and Documentary Screening "United by Water" 
  • Monday, April 29: Achieving Carbon Neutrality: Microsoft, Seattle Sounders FC and Seattle University

Learn more about these and other Earth Month events and Seattle U SUstainability.

Spiritual Practice and Working on the Margins with Greg Boyle, S.J.

Posted by The Seattle Uni on April 4, 2019 at 9:04 AM PDT

We conclude this year’s Catholic Heritage Lectures with Greg Boyle, S.J., on Thursday, May 9 at 7 p.m. Fr. Greg is the founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, California, the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation, and re-entry program in the world. He comes to Seattle U to share riveting stories of what three decades of working with gang members in Los Angeles has taught him about faith, compassion and the enduring power of kinship.

In the face of unfavorable law enforcement tactics and criminal justice policies that encouraged suppression and mass incarceration, Fr. Greg sought a different approach to ending gang violence. He, alongside parish and community members, adopted what was a radical approach at the time: treating gang members as human beings.

In 1988, they started what would eventually become Homeboy Industries, an organization that employs and trains former gang members in a range of social enterprises to assist them in the transition back to a life without gang violence. At Homeboy Industries, thousands of young men and women seeking a better life walk through the door every year and are provided with critical services, resources and most importantly, hope.

Father Greg is the author of the 2010 New York Times-bestseller Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion. His 2017 book is the Los Angeles Times-bestseller Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship.

Fr. Greg has received the California Peace Prize and has been inducted into the California Hall of Fame. In 2014, the White House named Father Boyle a Champion of Change. He received the University of Notre Dame’s 2017 Laetare Medal, the oldest honor given to American Catholics.

Tickets are going quickly for Fr. Boyle’s visit. Register now to save your seat.

Catholic Heritage Lectures
Spiritual Practice and Working on the Margins

Thursday, May 9 | 7 p.m.
Pigott Auditorium, Seattle University
Registration is required.

Fr. Boyle is also speaking at Our Lady of Guadalupe parish on Wednesday, May 8 at 7 p.m. Tickets are available here.

Transformative Technologies

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on April 2, 2019 at 10:04 AM PDT

Introduce your high school student to Seattle U and give them a taste of life as a college student. Seattle University’s Summer Programs is inviting competitive high school juniors and seniors with an interest in computer science and technology to apply for Transformative Technologies: Using AI for Social Good. This pre-college immersion is an opportunity to learn about machine learning, data analytics and artificial intelligence and how technology can be used ethically to promote human well-being. Outside of the classroom, students will have the experience of applying what they learn during visits led by their faculty to local technology industry leaders. The program earns students three college credits and provides a unique chance to preview Seattle U life, including living in Seattle University’s campus dorms in the heart of Capitol Hill.

Additionally, students will participate in a Leadership Boot Camp where they will work with a certified education planner on activities designed to promote self-awareness and skills that will support them in the college application/admission process, including personal essay design for the Common App and college interviewing.

And of course, the program would not be complete without the fun, cultural experience of summertime in Seattle!  We will explore Pike Place Market, Capitol Hill, the Space Needle and Seattle Center, the Museum of Pop Culture and more!

For more information and to register, visit our website or email Eva Lasprogata Sedgwick, Director of Summer Programs.

 

Albers School of Business 25 Years of Study Tours Celebration

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on March 6, 2019 at 1:03 PM PST

Twenty-five years ago, the Albers School of Business and Economics began to offer international study tours. To honor this milestone, we have chosen to celebrate where one of the original and long-running study tours took place: Sansepolcro, Italy! We have created a 4-day program that includes highlights of the original Italy Study Tour where there will plenty of opportunities to dine, taste and play while connecting with fellow alumni and guests. We are delighted that Dean Joe Phillips and Professor Bill Weis will be joining us in Italy to celebrate!

A statue in Italy

Over the years, Albers Study Tours have traveled to destinations such as Asia, Central America, China, Europe, and South Asia. In 1994 Sansepolcro, Italy became the first destination for an Albers Business School Study Tour when three Seattle University professors - Chauncey Burke, Dave Tinius, and Bill Weis - created and held a symposium in Sansepolcro to honor the “father of accounting” Luca Pacioli and recognize the 500th anniversary of his publication of a treatise on double-entry bookkeeping.

Professor Burke brought 25 Seattle University business students to join the two-week symposium in Sansepolcro and from there the Albers Italy Study Tour was born. The Italy Study Tour took place every year after 1994 for seventeen years and averaged over 30-40 participants each year. In honor of our visits, the town commissioned and resurrected a statue of Luca Pacioli! 

We invite all alumni and guests to join us for four days in Tuscany to celebrate international learning and the impact study tours have on the educational experience. We will be visiting Sansepolcro during the annual Palio Festival, where the village is transformed into a magical Renaissance experience. Something not to be missed! Celebrate with us under the September Tuscan sun while dining on some of the best food and wine in the area and experience the hospitality of the wonderful walled-village of Sansepolcro. 

For more information and registration, visit the Albers Study Tour website or contact Hartley McGrath at mcgrahar@seattleu.edu. 

Visit the study tour webpage

High Profile Speakers Headline the Crosscut Festival

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on March 5, 2019 at 2:03 PM PST

Join the Crosscut Festival at Seattle University!

Seattle University is proud to host and sponsor the Crosscut Festival May 3-4 and we hope to see plenty of Seattle U alumni in attendance—we have a special discount for you.

The Crosscut Festival is a public affairs ideas summit of thought-provoking conversation and innovative thinking, tackling the most important issues of our time with acclaimed journalists, current and former elected officials, best selling authors, and newsmakers of all types descending on Seattle U’s campus.

A slew of headliners will appear on five stages throughout campus, including Seattle rapper and icon Macklemore, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin, Obama Administration Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, distinguished Seattle U alumna Hollis Hong Wear, ’09, and the best collection of writers, journalists, and academic minds around. Check out the entire lineup and program.

Karen Lynn Maher, ’00, attended Crosscut in 2018 and had this to say, “Attending last year's Crosscut Festival was amazing. I arrived being curious and left with deep gratitude for the opportunity to participate in and observe conversations about important and complicated challenges that we face every day. I believe the solutions will unfold when we take the time to come together, listen to one another and truly search for right actions. I can't wait to attend again this year.”

Register now and enjoy a 20% discount when you use the promo code: Alumni. (The code is case sensitive, so make sure you capitalize.) Student tickets are only $20, so if you have a young Redhawk in your family, encourage them to register, too! Questions? Reach out to the Seattle University Alumni Association at alumni@seattleu.edu.

We’ll see you on campus the first weekend in May.  

 

 

Red Talks: Uncommon Voices on Topics That Matter

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on January 10, 2019 at 2:01 PM PST

In December 2018, Seattle University kicked off the first installment of its inclusive excellence speaker series Red Talks which features intersectional voices on a range of topics. The Red Talks series is led by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in partnership with the Office of the Provost. The first talk was entitled “Who Makes the Rules? Often, They Are #SoWhiteMale. What Does That Mean and Why Should We Care?” showcasing School of Law professor Brooke Coleman, JD. Read more about what she had to say.

Natasha Martin, VP of Diversity and Inclusion

 

We sat down with Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Natasha Martin to learn more about this exciting new speaker series.

Red Talks, inspired by the popular TED Talks series, offers a signature opportunity to explore and grow together. “When I think about who we are as a university, we are a community filled with talented thought leaders and innovators and we are in the heart of one of the most vibrant, creative cities in the world.  I wanted to find a way for SU to contribute to engagement around diversity, equity and inclusion and really lean into it in a different way. As a university, producing knowledge and facilitating academic excellence is what we do here in our efforts to educate leaders for a just and humane world. We have incredible faculty, staff, students and alumni. These are folks who are having a real impact on the world – we want to elevate the conversations we are having on campus in a way that leverages all of our treasures and helps us to become better known for our robust talent and expertise.”

While you can invite TEDx conferences to a college campus, Natasha wanted this to be a series that Seattle U can own, grow, and further advance as significant partners with the broader Seattle community and beyond. The aim is that this series includes a range of individuals and perspectives, perhaps not often heard from or engaged with, a platform for impactful “uncommon voices” as the tag line references. Each installment of Red Talks is professionally produced and will be posted online. You can learn more about the series and find the video here once it is made available.  

The theme for this year’s series is Women Voices at the Intersection. Of this year’s series, Natasha noted, “It’s important to think about who is telling the stories and whose voices are missing. At a time when women’s voices are being diminished, dismissed and distorted in a way that doesn’t give full agency to women, I want to offer a forum to explore a range of women’s voices and leadership. That was really important to me.” Natasha went on to add that, “To me, this effort is very much tied to who we are as a Jesuit Catholic university. We are modeling inclusive dialogue and how using one’s authentic voice in a complex world stretches all of us to think differently about what it means to be an engaged citizen of society in service to the greater good.”

Natasha would like alumni to get engaged with Red Talks, both by attending the events and by partnering on the program and presentations. If you are interested in engaging with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion on Red Talks, send your ideas to alumni@seattleu.edu.

Check here for the most recent updates on topics and upcoming Red Talk sessions, as well as access to videos of past segments of the series.

Taking Care of Employees Is Good Business

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on January 10, 2019 at 2:01 PM PST

Jatinder Jassal, MBA '18Jatinder Jassal, MBA '18

 

Jatinder was drawn to Seattle University’s MBA program because of its emphasis on giving back, ethics and service to the community. Before he entered the MBA program, Jatinder was already a business leader. After graduating from Washington State University with a degree in biology in 2009, Jatinder encountered a tough economy and decided to help out his dad at the family’s business. His father owned a Little Caesars franchise, but the stress was taking its toll on his health. By 2009, Jatinder took over the franchise and grew the business from one store to four.

What was Jatinder’s secret to success? Taking good care of his employees. “To be successful in business you need to keep your stakeholders happy and you need a strong team to do that.” To Jatinder, a strong team means retaining good employees. He took the time to understand their pain points and needs. Many of his employees lived paycheck to paycheck. Jatinder decided he could help them plan for their future by giving his employees a 401k plan and providing the first contribution and matching subsequent contributions at 4%.  

In 2015, Jatinder came to a crossroads—he had to decide if he would open more restaurants or do something different with his career. Jatinder decided it was time to continue his education and pursue his MBA at Seattle U, graduating with his degree last summer.  “The most important lesson I learned in the MBA program was Blue Ocean Strategy.”  Blue Ocean Strategy is the idea that you don’t compete head to head with the big competitors, you go where the competition is not.

Lessons like these inspired Jatinder to launch a new business venture called Motosel Engine Care. “Instead of being a small company trying to compete with the big players, we partnered together with the other small players in the industry so that we all get a larger piece of the pie than we would get on our own.”

Jatinder said it is because of his strong and reliable employees at his Little Caesars locations that he was able to get his MBA and launch this new venture. “With strong employees, you are able to step away and trust that they are keeping things running. If you want to get somewhere fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, you bring others. I think success is the team you bring with you.”

Jatinder recently joined the board of Seattle University’s Business Owners Alliance, a group that provides support, community and networking opportunities for alumni businesses. He is hosting the group’s first event at one of his franchise locations on January 22. He says it is an opportunity for business owners to build their network and let others know about their company. Connect with the Business Owner's Alliance.

When we asked Jatinder what the future has in store for him, he said he is looking to pass the family business on to his sister and focus on new opportunities to grow his experience. “My background is in small business. I’ve always worn many different hats while working in various capacities of B2C and B2B ventures. However, it’s important for me to be able to leverage my experiences and implement these skill sets for an even bigger challenge. Part of the reason for going back to school was to go beyond the status quo, position myself to work for a larger organization, and focus on larger projects.”

Seven Tips to Manage Your Career in the New Year

Posted by Career Coach Paula Fitzgerald Boos on January 8, 2019 at 4:01 PM PST

The new year is a great time to take stock and reflect on where you are professionally, what you have done well in the past year, and how you want to grow or change in the coming year. It is a time to assess and make some proactive plans. To do a thorough audit, I encourage you to consider how you are doing in the three domains that intersect to ensure career success and satisfaction:

  • Follow your curiosity (values and growth)
  • Do what you love and what you are good at (strengths and contributions)
  • Stay connected to the people who you like/respect and who like you (ratios and relationships)

 

Following are seven tips to consider as you intentionally move into 2019.

  1. Get clear on what you want to be moving "toward" and why. This may include asking for a promotion, raise, or a new role in your current organization, or pursuing a change to a new company or track. Begin with the "why" by getting clear on your values and decision drivers and then defining your options. Learn how.
  2. Identify and name your growth choices for 2019. This may be adding skills through a new project or promotion in your current company, pursuing education or certification, identifying new behaviors to adapt or influence differently, or making a choice to exit and move to a new company and role.
  3. Make the time to create and/or refresh your list of favorite accomplishments and professional outcomes or contributions. Make sure to tune in to what made them your favorites. What were the skills you were using and your strengths that shine? Knowing what you are good at and love to do is essential. It is also important to know the metrics of success and be able to include vivid stories that include both the data and the engaging narrative. Identify your strengths.
  4. Update your marketing collateral and content with your most recent accomplishments. This is the perfect time to update your resume and polish your LinkedIn profile. Thoughtful Personal Branding is even more important in our digital world. Learn how to build your personal brand online.
  5. Consider your ratios—self, personal, team—for optimal problem solving and creativity. Individuals need to experience 3 to 1 positive to negative emotions. For healthy primary relationships we need 7-10 positive to 1 negative interaction, and for healthy team functioning, we need 3-5 positive to 1 negative.
  6. Research continues to confirm the value of focusing on wellness as the most powerful way to avoid sickness--physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. Committing to incorporate regular self-care behaviors like exercise, gratitude, meditation/prayer/mindfulness, journaling, laughing, and any others that enhance well-being will make the biggest difference in your year.
  7. Update your Relationship Map to identify your key players/partners and make your plan to connect proactively with them. Ensure you are actively cultivating mentors and that you have your version of your personal and professional board of directors. Include those who inspire you and challenge you and most importantly offer you important feedback. Map your plan for consistently engaging with and nourishing your professional network.

Just do it! You know what it is that you most need to do for your professional development and growth. Change can be hard. Forming new habits takes energy—and growth is essential for all of us! Commit to yourself and find an accountability partner who will support you through your change.