SU Voice Alumni BlogSU Voice Alumni Blog

Impact a Life. Become a Mentor.

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on January 6, 2021 at 2:01 PM PST

A profile photo of David Cumptson sitting in front of hanging plantsIn celebration of National #MentoringMonth, we sat down with David Cumpston (they/them), ’19, a current AmeriCorps Success Coordinator at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School. As part of the Seattle University Youth Initiative (SUYI), Cumpston supports student employees through the extended learning mentorship after-school program provided to students at Bailey Gatzert. Launched in 2011, the Seattle University Youth Initiative unites the University and the wider Seattle community to develop successful youth, thriving communities and an engaged neighborhood. The Youth Initiative strives to strengthen education and support systems for 1,000 neighborhood youth and their families while enhancing the University by providing service, learning and research experience for students, faculty, and staff. SUYI student employees partner with local programs, schools and educators in the wider Seattle community to provide programming that encourages critical thinking and supports the pursuit of college and career paths. SU student employees provide families and youth with academic support, enrichment activities and mentoring.  

According to a study commissioned by MENTOR, there are significant positive outcomes for youth that interact with a mentor, including an increased likelihood of aspirations to attend and enroll in college, participation in sports, taking on leadership roles and regularly volunteering in their communities. Cumpston was transformed by their time working with youth as a student, so when the opportunity to continue working as a mentor in a different capacity arose, they jumped at the opportunity. “When I was working directly with scholars at Bailey Gatzert, I enjoyed seeing their growth. In this role, I get to see the growth of Seattle U students while simultaneously witnessing the growth of youth we work with,” said Cumpston. 

Cumpston has focused on personal growth, creating a safe space, professional development and challenging student employees to reach their full potential. “It has been nice to see how SU students have built relationships with others on their teams, how their confidence has grown, how they have chosen to take the lead on projects and how they are building relationships with youth at Bailey Gatzert.” 

Cumpston has their own mentors who influenced their current path. 90% of young adults with a mentor eventually become interested in becoming a mentor. “Jaycee Coleman and former AmeriCorps members Melissa Bacon, ’19, and Ruth Yohannes, ’19, inspired me to take this position. I loved watching them work with staff and scholars at Bailey Gatzert and seeing how much joy it brought to them and the community.”  

Despite the pandemic, the mission of a mentor continues through technology and intentional engagement. SU student employees have continued their mentorship remotely and Cumpston has kept up with their student employees virtually. “I have been intentional with time and have leveraged our support system to continue the same personalized level of respect and understanding that we used to have in person,” said Cumpston. This experience has made them realize where their passion lies, working in collaboration and working with others for the greater good. “I have loved the relationships that I have built with SU student employees and team leads who have helped do a lot of outreach. Seeing how they took on leadership roles was incredible.” 

If you’re still on the fence about mentoring a student, Cumpston’s advice is to just do it. They admitted to being nervous and unsure about the position, but realized throughout the process that it was a worthwhile investment and their position in this role was “meant to be.”  

Become a mentor for fellow alumni or current students by joining Redhawk Landing. Seattle University’s mentoring and networking platform opens doors for students and alumni alike, connecting them to a powerful online resource where Seattle University's community members can build purposeful connections and mentoring relationships. 

Embracing Change and Building a Pipeline of Support for Seattle U Graduates

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on January 6, 2021 at 2:01 PM PST

A profile photo of Alan Yu standing on a brick staircaseLike many first-time college students, Alan Yu, ’17, started on the track towards one major before realizing his passion was elsewhere. After taking classes at another university, he decided that he wanted to change his initial plan of studying bioengineering to computer science. “I realized I was absolutely miserable, and I wasn’t pursuing my passion,” said Yu.

But, as it sometimes works out, changing between two competitive fields of study is not an easy process. After a lot of reflection, soul searching and connecting with viewers on his Twitch channel, Yu decided to transfer to Seattle University to start his new major.

Despite having to complete an additional year of classes, Yu feels his experiences at SU truly prepared him for his current role at Microsoft. “I took many humanities courses (UCOR) like philosophy, ethics, social justice and women studies. My UCOR courses really helped me shine by becoming a strong communicator, by building the skills to empathize with people from diverse backgrounds, and by understanding what is important by prioritizing people over processes,” he said.

Much like his educational journey, his professional path started out in one direction and took a turn toward another. When Yu arrived at Seattle U, he knew he needed to get an internship in order to gain experience in computer science “I applied to 100 companies over five months and only got 7 interviews. I ended up taking an internship at Weyerhaeuser as a software developer. After my internship, I realized that as much as I liked problem solving and coding was fun, what I really valued was working with people and building a product vision.”

In his next round of internship applications, Yu applied to 50 companies and got 20 interviews. One of those companies was Microsoft. He interviewed and ended up impressing the hiring manager with his product management (PM) skills. After completing his PM internship, he fell in love with the role. “As a PM you get to ask questions while keeping customers and partners at the forefront: What are we building? Why are we building this product? Then, you get to work with a diverse team of experts to make it happen. I feel really lucky to somehow get this position at Microsoft, so I try to give back as much as I can,” said Yu.

Yu gives back and stays engaged with Seattle U in many different ways. He regularly speaks about his journey through failure to senior computer science classes over the last 3 years and collaborates with SeattleU faculty and staff. “As a recent graduate, I can still relate to early career struggles, and I think it’s important to share perspective on what is actually important when starting out in a career. It’s easy to focus on getting a good GPA or comparing yourself to other students, when really it’s about your personal growth and learning to collaborate and communicate with others.”

As a natural connector and speaker, Yu is excited about starting a Microsoft Seattle U alumni community to help other people stay connected and provide a platform for others at Microsoft to partner with Seattle U. “My goal is to create a supportive community of people who want to give back to students. Whether it is a capstone project idea, a faculty member looking for a guest speaker or lecturer, or someone that wants to donate time or money, I want them to have a community to collaborate with so that we can make a stronger impact together.”

Yu is currently the chair for the Korean Diversity Board, a board member for the Asian Employee Resource Group across Microsoft, serves on the planning committee for the new employee orientation, participates in the Microsoft intern program, and works as a PM teacher with the Microsoft LEAP Engineering Apprenticeship program to help build a pipeline of non-traditional, veteran or minority groups to gain the skills to be prepared to work at Microsoft. “I know how to start a group from nothing and build a foundation for a community. I have been building or been a part of communities my whole life, and I want to use this opportunity to bring our community together.”

Students are looking for a real perspective. They need mentors and coaches in the community who want to help but don’t know how. If you ever wonder how to get started with helping local schools, Alan suggests “Reach out to your department. You will be surprised how many people are looking for guest speakers,” said Yu.  Whether mentoring students or speaking at events, your time and expertise ensures current students are inspired, equipped and connected.

Volunteer your time to guest lecture or serve on the computer science advisory board or join one of our 23 alumni communities today!

Shop Small Guide of SU Alumni Owned Businesses

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on December 4, 2020 at 3:12 PM PST

Here is a list of local businesses owned by Seattle U Alums curated by the GOLD Council to help you shop small:

Peddler Brewing

Peddler Brewing Company is a family-owned microbrewery in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, owned by Seattle U Alum Haley Keller with her husband Dave. The taproom includes a large outdoor beer garden that remains open for customers to enjoy a beer at one of the 20 covered picnic tables. Peddler has a variety of beers available in cans including winter seasonals Snow Beer'd Winter Ale and Hygge Spiced Tripel as well as year-round favorites Horchata Cream Ale and Hanalei Haze IPA.  www.peddlerbrewing.com.

A photo of outdoor dining at Peddler Brewing Company

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Hello Robin

Cookies + Ice Cream + Sandwich. Add in the fact that it is owned by a Seattle University alum - and we are in love. Looking for a fun holiday pick me up? Check out Hello Robin for any of your sweet tooth needs. They are on Postmates & Grubhub too! https://www.hellorobincookies.com/ 

A photo of someone holding a cup of cookies from Hello Robin

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Dragon Bicycles

Looking for rider designed, rider owned biking gear. Dragon Bicycles has everything you need to get your biking setup completed from essentials to professional gear. Proudly owned by a Seattle U alum. https://dragonbicycles.com/ 

a photo of a person riding a bicycle

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Chocolati

One gift that always goes over well? Chocolate. Chocolati offers a TON of chocolate gift options. And it’s owned by another Seattle U alum - supporting your fellow alumni never tasted this good. https://chocolati.com/

a photo of chocolate truffles

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Rooftop Brewing Company

Looking for a place to hang out? Rooftop Brewing Company has a ton of outdoor seating available and a new online store to enjoy your favorite brews with distance. Our alumni have a certain love for brews. https://rooftopbrewco.com/ 

A photo of a rooftop eating space

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Cupcake Royale

Contact free ordering, and seasonal flavors galore. What sets the holiday spirit better than a seasonal cupcake? Add in supporting another Seattle U alum and this is our new dessert favorite. https://www.cupcakeroyale.com/

a photo of specialty cupcakes

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Naan-N-Curry

Tired of holiday cooking? Naan-N-Curry offers a delicious, easy solution. Seattle U alum owned and operated Naan-N-Curry brings authentic and fresh Pakistani and Indian flavors to its customers. Order today and try their take on the most traditional dishes! http://www.naanncurry.com/ 

A photo of spiced chicken

 

Women of SU Endowed Scholarship Reaches Initial Funding Goal

Posted by Women of SU on December 3, 2020 at 9:12 AM PST

A group of five women sitting behind a check-in table at a Women of SU Fundraising eventThe Women of SU alumnae group is delighted to share that we recently surpassed our initial goal of $50,000 funding for the Women of SU Endowed Scholarship. This endowment will be awarded to its first student in fall 2021 and will exist in perpetuity for the benefit of undergraduate students. 

The idea of creating a dedicated scholarship for students in STEM first came to Women of SU board  members over four years ago in discussions about how to support current and future students who demonstrate financial need.  Underrepresented populations are systematically tracked away from STEM fields, limiting their training and career options. Yet, many of the fastest growing industries require some skills rooted in a STEM education.   

To help alleviate the cost of higher education and increase diversity and access for all deserving students, the Women of SU joined the university’s Campaign for the Uncommon Good to raise funding for the new endowment.  

The Women of SU Endowed Scholarship will provide funding to junior and senior undergraduate students who are enrolled full-time in a STEM-related major or program. Special consideration will be given to underrepresented students majoring in STEM fields. The goal is to ease the financial burden students take on while attending Seattle U and allow them to focus on their studies. As more students have access to Seattle U’s rigorous and mission-driven education, STEM industries will benefit from more diverse, Jesuit-educated innovators and changemakers. 

Currently, Seattle U is the only university in the country whose engineering and computer science departments are chaired by women, with over 40 percent of faculty and students in the College of Science and Engineering identifying as women. These numbers are encouraging and show an increase of gender diversity, but we hope this scholarship will provide opportunity for more women and underrepresented students.    

There were 85 gifts of all sizes that helped our group reach its initial funding goal. The Women of SU is proud of and grateful for the grassroots effort from the Seattle U community.  Participating in the Seattle U Gives campaign with donor matching in 2019 and 2020 helped boost donor and dollar numbers. Additionally, fundraising events at the Sunset Club and at Mercer Estates tasting room helped bring the endowment to fruition.  

Meeting our endowment goal is just the beginning. The Women of SU plan to continue to build the fund and are excited to be participating in the 2021 Seattle U Gives campaign with the goal of awarding more scholarships in the future.  

We are dedicated to connecting women in the spirit of Jesuit tradition by promoting leadership and empowerment, encouraging service and philanthropy and providing opportunities for personal and professional growth. The establishment of the Women of SU Endowed Scholarship reflects this mission. We want to thank  our donors for making this endowed scholarship possible. Help us support more students by donating here (select Designation - Other and enter WofSU Scholarship in comments) and during the upcoming 2021 Seattle U Gives campaign February 25.   

A Holiday Message from President Stephen Sundborg. S.J.

Posted by President Stephen Sundborg. S.J. on December 2, 2020 at 3:12 PM PST

Dear Alumni, 
 
This year as I write my Christmas message to you, I am aware that this is the last year I will be doing so as president of Seattle U. Two dozen years is a very long time to be president! I believe that it is time for a new era at Seattle U after 21 Jesuit presidents and I am thrilled with the choice of Eduardo Peñalver to lead our university in accord with our mission in a new day and in a new world. You can be confident as alumni that he will foster what was most important in your education and experience at Seattle U when you were students and what you have advocated and supported as alumni. I love to say that no one knows better than our alumni whether Seattle U is achieving its mission, because the fulfillment of that mission is only proven in the quality and service of your lives. 
 
This will be an unusual Christmas after a most unusual year especially because of the pandemic. I was thinking that perhaps the most relevant aspect of the birth of Christ at Bethlehem for this year is the statement, “There was no room for them in the inn.” Christ was born out-of-doors. This makes me think of grandparents meeting with grandchildren only out-of-doors or a son or daughter greeting an elderly parent in a care home through a window from outside or friends of mine who gathered for Thanksgiving with their Canadian daughter and her family in a tent straddling the border. Perhaps how Christ was born can speak in a new way to us this year and can convince us that he is present with us in love and mercy in all that we are experiencing in these non-normal times. My wish for you our alumni is that you will know his presence in your lives this Christmas. 
 
Though there are few on campus we have lit our Christmas tree and the trees by the Chapel of St. Ignatius. They flank the wonderful new Jim and Janet Sinegal Center for Science and Innovation, which is so impressively taking shape and is a beacon of hope for the education of new generations of students who will one day join you as alumni living the mission. They are our hope and so are you.   
 
Most importantly, in my last year as president, I want to thank you for your loyalty to Seattle U and your support of it and its educational mission. For you, our alumni, we are calling this year “Our Moment for Mission: The President’s Challenge.”  I thank you for living our mission and for supporting it. 
 
A Blessed Christmas, 

Stephen Sundborg. S.J. 

An Alumna Uses Her Education To Implement Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Practices Across 50 Libraries in King County

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on December 2, 2020 at 2:12 PM PST

A headshot of Dominica MyersDominica Myers, ’16, discusses her new role, what has shaped her personal experiences and professional trajectory and how her Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership (MNPL) from Seattle University has been instrumental in her career.

Your previous and current positions seem to center equity. Why did you choose to pursue these positions and how have you continued to learn and grow from them?

I don’t think my past positions necessarily centered equity. At least not to begin with. Centering equity is what I brought to the position because of who I am and what I stand for. As I made centering equity a priority in my job, the work and the position evolved in terms of leadership and visibility, especially after I graduated from the MNPL program. The equity work was desperately needed and I had a vision for it. I’ve been fortunate to have worked under and learned so much from some of the most dynamic and influential leaders in our region. Lynn Strickland, executive director at Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC), Maria Chavez Wilcox, CEO of YWCA Seattle/King/Snohomish County, and Aidan Lang and Christina Scheppelmann, general directors at Seattle Opera. Each of them allowed me to grow my leadership and really stretch myself in my role in their organizations. In my current role with KCLS, I am in a position where centering equity across a large system is literally my job. It’s exciting!

At Seattle U, social justice is central to our mission. Can you talk about your experiences with social justice as it relates to your professional career and service or some other aspect of your work? 

I guess where it started was when I was 16 years old and I had the opportunity to volunteer in the baby room at my neighborhood Childhaven branch. I did that for two years until I was old enough at 18 to be a substitute teacher throughout my undergrad years and for a little while beyond. I worked with kids and families who had experienced horrible traumas and knew it was important work. I just saw it as the right thing to do and I loved it because I loved the kids. Since then, I’ve worked or volunteered in many roles over the years that might be considered ‘social justice work,’ but it never quite feels like I’m doing enough. The amount of injustice in the world can be overwhelming sometimes. Over time, I’ve learned how important it is to understand, address and dismantle the root causes of trauma and oppression, not just offer individual services. It’s where my heart is these days and I feel like I have a lot to discern. And a lot to do.

Tell us about your role as the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the King County Library System.

The director of diversity, equity and inclusion position, as well as the DEI department, are brand new to the library system and I’ve received quite a warm welcome from staff. There are 50 libraries in 36 cities across King County, and over 1,000 employees. The scope covers a lot of diverse territory, communities and people. My role is to ensure that KCLS has shared language, understanding and practices in support of KCLS’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion consistent across all library system departments and locations. I’m only about a month and a half into the job, so I guess ask me again how it’s going in six months or a year.

How has your Seattle U education helped guide you in your professional journey or informed how you approach your work?

The master’s in Nonprofit Leadership (MNPL) program has been instrumental in my professional career growth. The comprehensive nature of the program really helped me to discover areas of strength that I otherwise may have never recognized or may have never become so influential in my work. At the same time, I deepened my knowledge in areas of the nonprofit world that I was already experienced and familiar with. As an example, I would imagine that some people might assume that as a woman of color and DEI director, the most important piece of my education for my role must have been the social justice class. But it wasn’t.  Social justice was knowledge I brought with me to the program and have continued to acquire over a lifetime. The combination of three classes made all the difference for me professionally: Evaluation, Strategic Planning, and Organizational Change. Those are the three most imperative elements to the work I am charged with accomplishing at KCLS. The foundation, of course, is diversity, equity, and inclusion, but the work is accomplished through the tools of evaluation and strategic planning toward an outcome of transformational organizational change. I would never have been able to connect these dots without the skills, tools and concepts I learned through the MNPL program.

Do you have any advice or resources for other alumni looking to help advance equity and inclusion in their organizations?

There are people and organizations who have already been doing the work for some time, particularly folx and organizations from communities of color. Follow their lead. Listen and learn. Do so with genuine humility and mindfulness. I wish I had a lightening in a bottle answer to this, but the reality is that the work is work, and organizational change happens over time with consistency, intentionality and courage.

Seattle U Keeps Jason Oliver, ’00, Connected to Home

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on December 2, 2020 at 2:12 PM PST

Seattle University is a place of love where I received the same thing my family gave to me—a foundation built on love and support and a compass to guide me through life. - Jason Oliver, ‘00

A headshot of Jason OliverFormer Seattle U student athlete Jason Oliver’s journey began with a search for a new place to bring his game. Landing a spot on the Redhawks’ 1997 NAIA National Championship-winning men’s soccer team is an experience that remains vivid in his mind 23 years later. Intercollegiate athletics and the support of Seattle U’s dedicated and caring coaches provided Oliver a solid foundation, built upon leadership, perseverance and connection and the confidence to use his voice to serve the local community. It also instilled in him a compass that has guided him through a successful career and ultimately led him back to Seattle U where he now serves the university as an active volunteer and donor.

A talented high school soccer player, Oliver walked-on to Indiana University’s top-ranked NCAA DI soccer program as a freshman—and was cut from the final team roster. His hard work impressed the coaches, however, and they helped him connect with coaches at other universities. An interest in exploring the Pacific Northwest, his birthplace, and a strong desire to find a more diverse and inclusive environment than the one he’d experienced as a young black man growing-up in the Midwest motivated Oliver to self-fund a trip to Washington to visit three colleges, one of which was Seattle U.

“I met with Coach Fewing and spent time getting to know some of the players and Seattle U immediately felt like home,” he says. “There was another experience, too, that set Seattle U apart in my mind. I sat in on a class, and afterwards as I was leaving, the professor handed me his business card and said, ‘If you need anything, we’re here for you. Call me.’  That really impressed me, especially coming from a big school where I was literally a number. I knew Seattle U was the place for me.”

Playing soccer for the Redhawks, a team Oliver found to be “competitive, if not more competitive than Indiana,” and where he felt accepted is one of his best student memories. Being a starting player, however, had to be earned.

“That first year was about working hard, preparing and knowing I’d have my chance to contribute,” he explains. That chance came during the NAIA National Championship game. Oliver went in for the final 30 minutes of overtime and got the assist for the game-winning goal! “That experience was a was game-changer for me in terms of understanding the importance of team and unselfish sacrifice,” he recalls.

His soccer interest expanded beyond the playing field when Oliver discovered that few children in the diverse Central Area community surrounding Seattle U were involved in youth soccer. Working with Coach Fewing, he came-up with a plan to launch the Seattle University Youth Soccer Program. This endeavor landed Oliver in the local executive offices of companies including Bank of America, Nike and Pepsi. The soccer program needed sponsorship to purchase water bottles and other equipment and it was Oliver’s job to secure corporate support. Oliver and Fewing recruited the Seattle U men’s team as instructors and Seattle University Youth Soccer became a strong developmental program, registering more than 300 youth by its second year of operation.

“Building the youth soccer program enabled me to use my voice to bridge a gap between Seattle U and the local community,” Oliver says, “and that was a real growth experience. I saw the positive impact that businesses can have on a community, and it inspired me to change my major from pre-med to business. Further, I learned the value of building relationships and connecting people with possibility, and that’s what typifies my career today.”

When he graduated in 2000 with a BA in Business Management, Oliver’s goal was to see how he could build relationships between businesses and the community. He realized this goal through a career in Human Resources. AT&T hired Oliver straight out of college, and he has remained with the company for 20 years, progressing from recruiter to his current role as Vice President of Human Resources, Business Partner for Consumer. The company has moved him from Redmond, WA to Minnesota, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Dallas, where Oliver currently resides with his wife, Andrea, and their sons, Carter (8) and Cole (7).

“AT&T is a place where I’ve been able to grow and have multiple careers within one company, and it’s afforded me a lot of opportunities outside it’s walls” he says. “Through it all, I’ve used my voice to connect people to possibilities.”

Despite being more than 2000 miles from Seattle, Oliver remains connected to Seattle U in multiple ways. He joined the Board of Regents in 2017 at the nomination of Regent Joe Zavaglia, who founded Seattle U’s men’s soccer program and who is a friend and mentor. “A longtime ago I told Joe I’m always going to stay connected to Seattle U,” Oliver says, “so he reached out and nominated me to join the Board of Regents.”

The following year, Oliver was invited onto the Board of Trustees by President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., where he currently serves on the Student Development and Athletic Intercollegiate subcommittees. His responsibilities include providing guidance and support for established program objectives with an eye to the student experience. He was involved in Seattle U’s recent selection of a new President and contributes to decisions impacting the university’s financial wellbeing.

Oliver also stays connected through giving. He supports the men’s soccer program, and recently helped to fund the first scholarship established by Seattle University’s Black Student Union, an organization Oliver was involved with as a student, serving as president for a year.

“While contemplating ways that I can serve the university, I had an opportunity to connect with the president of the Black Student Union and to learn about their scholarship fundraising campaign,” he says. “I wanted to contribute and offered to do so by matching the dollars they were able to raise in a specific period of time. I feel blessed to be a part of this first scholarship campaign and look forward to being more involved with this student organization.”

What inspires Oliver’s involvement with his alma mater? “Two things,” he says. “Of all the places I’ve lived in my life, Seattle is where I’ve felt most at home. So, I yearn to stay connected and that connection is important to me. Second, it’s the beauty of this Jesuit Catholic university that welcomes Baptists like me and people of all religious affiliations. That’s unique.”

Oliver’s active involvement through volunteerism and giving helps Seattle U move toward reaching the Our Moment for Mission: The President’s Challenge goal of engaging 10,000 alumni. His efforts will help to ensure that current and future students have the same purpose-driven education and student development opportunities that he did.

Join Oliver in supporting The President’s Challenge by making a gift to the soccer program or the Black Student Union Scholarship (choose Designation – Other and write “BSU Scholarship” in comments).

Service, Activism and Love: An SU Alumni Story

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on November 4, 2020 at 12:11 PM PST

A wedding photo of Jeanie and Tom RobinsonJeanie (Mallette) Robinson, ’70, ’93, ’05 and Tom Robinson, ’69 met in the student union building, now Hunthausen Hall, in 1968 to discuss finances for the SPURS organization. “As president of SPURS, I requested funding for a club event from Tom, the treasurer of the student body. He approved the request with one of his own: “How about a hot date with the treasurer?” 

This funny anecdote was the start of their relationship. Eighteen months later Tom proposed to Jeanie by pulling her out of a library study session with an engagement ring in his pocket. They ended up getting married exactly two years to the day after their initial meeting. 

It’s not surprising that one of their favorite memories of their time at Seattle University was finding each other. Tom and Jeanie chose to attend Seattle University for different reasons. Jeanie’s main motivation was a desire to move out of the small town of Shelby, Montana and explore the big city. Tom graduated from Seattle Preparatory School in 1964 and spent the following year as a Jesuit Volunteer. “After that, Seattle U with the Jesuits was my first and only choice,” he said. 

While at Seattle U, both Jeanie and Tom spent a majority of their extracurricular time in companion service groups and student government. Jeanie was involved in the SPURS, a women’s service organization, and later became president of the Women Students (AWS). Tom was an active member of Alpha Phi Omega, a service-orientated fraternity, and the treasurer of the student body “My experience at SU with the formal education and involvement in student activities gave me the inspiration and confidence to start some businesses that continue to prosper today,” added Tom. Beyond classes and activities, Jeanie remembers the turmoil of the late 60s. One event especially shaped her senior year experience.

The Vietnam War was waging overseas when National Guard troops shot and killed four student protestors at Kent State University in May of 1970. That event sparked anti-war protest movements across college campuses. “As leaders in student government, we voted to include SU in the protests, starting a march from the library steps, onto I-5 and eventually ending at the Federal Courthouse,” Jeanie recalled. This event was a part of a national week of student-led strikes and is seen as one of the largest protest movements in Washington state. 

Jeanie and Tom talked about how the current unrest in our world parallels the earlier time: “Now more than ever, Seattle U’s mission to help create a just and humane society is vital, not only for the people of the earth but for the earth itself. Seattle U’s concern for the environment is our concern also. The mission of the university is the reason we contribute to Seattle U and continue to be involved."
 
Tom and Jeanie's love of Seattle U hasn't wavered over the last 50 years either. They serve as volunteers for a Campaign for the Uncommon Good (or Jesuit Mission and Student Development Task Force) and have attended numerous Seattle U events, lectures and galas throughout the years. They have supported the university financially and are currently President’s Club and Legacy Society members. 

Jeanie and Tom are excited and proud to support Seattle U’s future. They are both eagerly anticipating attending the virtual 50+ Class reunion on November 14 to reconnect with their SPURS and Alpha Phi Omega friends and help us reach our Our Moment for Mission: The President’s Challenge goal of engaging with 10,000 alumni within the life of the university. Find out how you can get involved with the President’s Challenge and ensure that future students will continue to move forward with purpose and impact our world for the better. 

Paying it forward, changing the world

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on November 4, 2020 at 12:11 PM PST

A profile of Brenda Christensen, ’81Growing up in rural Minnesota, Brenda Christensen, ’81 was eager for adventure. As a high school senior, her prayers were answered in the form of a scholarship from the Girl Scouts to spend the summer in Italy—an experience that sparked her imagination and ingenuity, and paved the way for her time and impact at Seattle U.  
 
Christensen graduated from the Albers School of Business & Economics in 1981 and made her first gift, $20 to support the SU Fund, just three years later. As the years progressed, so did her relationship with the university. “I attended events, volunteered, and stayed in touch with staff and faculty who shared updates and opportunities,” says Christensen. “We had conversations about how I wanted to make an impact, and they made it easy to find connections between my values and the difference I could make.”   
 
Eventually, Christensen helped found the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center, and later—inspired by her Girl Scouts experience—established an endowment to help Albers students access international experiences. “I had so many life-changing opportunities thanks to the support of others, and I wanted to pay that forward.” Recently, Christensen joined Seattle U’s Board of Trustees and was even recognized as 2019’s Alumna of the Year.  
 
She continues to play an active role in the life of the university, supporting initiatives all across campus and even establishing a bequest to extend her impact beyond her lifetime. What motivates Christensen’s continued generosity? “Listen to the ideas that come out of Seattle U,” she says. “They’re bold and fearless, yet real-world ready. Our lives could be so different if more people could access this critical education and take what they learned out into the world.”  
 
While Christensen is now a major donor, she continues to stress the importance of small gifts and first-time donations from alumni. Christensen tells all of the students that she’s helped, “when you get your first big job, make a gift back to the university. Every gift—of any size—matters, and together we can keep the cycle going by inspiring the next generation of students.” 
 
Engaged alums like Christensen make a powerful impact, ensuring every student receives a transformative education that prepares them to lead us toward a more just and humane world. As part of Our Moment for Mission: The President’s Challenge, we’re calling on every alum to do what they can. By giving of your time, talent or treasure, you can help build equitable access to Seattle U and empower today’s students to impact our world for the better. 
 
Now more than ever before, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to present unprecedented challenges, Seattle U students need our help to thrive. Learn more about areas to make a difference here.

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Infographic Accessibility: 

Cura personalis — 206k raised during SU Gives supported student programs, including in Athletics and the Office of Multicultural Affairs, 656k from the SU Fund strengthened the student experience and upheld SU’s standard of excellence

Access to Education — 158 student scholarship funds supported by SU donors, 154k raised for the Annual Scholarship Fund

Covid-19 Response — 493 students have received grants from the Emergency Needs Fund to date, 100 new Chromebooks purchased for students to access distance learning