SU Voice Alumni Blog

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.

Seattle U Leads Essence Russ down a 13 Year Career Path

Posted by Essence Russ, '07 on March 3, 2021 at 5:03 PM PST

A photo of Essence Russ standing in front of a podium at an SU GalaWe recently had the opportunity to sit down with Essence Russ, ’07, to discuss Seattle U’s impact on her career and why she chooses to stay connected. She is featured in the Our Moment for Mission social media series and a part of the leadership team for the SU Eastside Seattle Alumni Chapter

Russ chose to attend Seattle U as a way to write her own story in a nearby city. With a desire to pursue Communication Studies fueled by her high school experience hosting morning announcements and assemblies, Essence deepened her knowledge of the field throughout her time at Seattle U by hosting a radio show on KSUB and working at Fisher Radio. 



How do you think that Seattle U influenced your career path?  

The Jesuit values that Seattle University instills in its students are critical in the development of a decent human and young adult. Learning what it looks like to become a servant leader has never left me. I secured my first fulltime position as a result of an internship that I was doing for a Poverty in America course during my last quarter at Seattle University. This position started my career path in the nonprofit sector and showed me that there was another avenue besides corporate America, to me a more rewarding path where I could have a direct impact on those suffering the most in my community. That experience opened the door to the past 13 years of service in the nonprofit sector supporting disadvantaged youth in foster care, youth experiencing homelessness as well as immigrant and refugee families. 


Why did you choose to come back and serve on the leadership team of the Eastside Seattle Chapter?  

I’ve always wanted to give back to Seattle University by volunteering and giving back through mentoring opportunities. Just in 2020, pre-COVID, I volunteered for the LinkUp Mentoring Event for Seattle University’s School of Arts & Sciences. This event entailed speaking with current students in the School of Arts & Sciences about their paths, my professional choices, offering advice, direction and connecting after the event for continued impact.  

Helping to launch and lead the Eastside Seattle Chapter was another opportunity to connect with a larger Seattle University community while giving back to SU in a sustainable way through network building. Alumni communities have a unique ability to build a network of support for alumni across generations and majors. They also allow alumni to renew or strengthen their ties to Seattle U and its mission.


What are your team’s goals for the Eastside Seattle Chapter?  

The start to our regional chapter was different! Our very first event was scheduled a month before the quarantine began in 2020. While this continued planning glitch derailed some of our short-term goals, we were really excited with the alumni and family turn-out during that event. 


How can alumni actively participate in Our Moment for Mission? 

Connecting and volunteering are the two calls to action that I am most passionate about when it comes to Our Moment for Mission, the President’s Challenge. Please consider finding opportunities to stay connected or reconnect with the university and volunteer in the ways that are most meaningful to you. 


How do you see giving back to the greater Seattle U community? 

Go out into the community and support a small local business. If the owner is an SU alum, bonus! If it’s a Black-owned business, even better! 

  1. Visit or order from Communion Restaurant & Bar off of 23rd & Union in Seattle, WA (or hire That Brown Girl Cooks for your next in-person event) You will not be disappointed!  
  2. Order some new, delightful candles from Noir Lux Candle Co. owned by Colina Bruce-SU Alumna and staff.

Embodying the Mission of Seattle U Around the World

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on March 3, 2021 at 4:03 PM PST

A profile photo of Tiffany Harris, '08 standing in front of waterTiffany Harris, ’08, navigated the college search process on her own, but when she visited Seattle U, she remembers the campus feeling like home and a place where she would matter. “Seattle U believed in me, they invested in me and they made my college experience feel really small and connected. I always felt that I was a part of the community. It was a warm, supportive and yet challenging and rigorous community,” said Harris.

Empowered through the Ignatian phrase she heard so often while at SU “ite, inflammate omnia” or “go, set the world on fire,” Harris has always looked for professional opportunities that challenged her and would build a more just and humane world. “I have made it a point to look for signals, reflect and conduct soul searching at various point in my life to find out what looked interesting and where there was a need for my talents.” 

Harris’ career spans multiple sectors. She has overseen a global education program focused on accelerating IT and cloud-related learning at Amazon, served as Public Affairs Specialist for the Peace Corps Headquarters, is a founding member of Shalom Corps (Peace Corps’ Jewish Employee Resource Group), Peace Corps’ Diversity Board and has served on the Chief of Staff’s Diversity Governance Council. “My career path is not linear. It has gone in a zigzag motion. Both my professional and personal path choices have been influenced from what I learned from Seattle University, the Jesuit educational philosophy and the environment that was created on campus and in the classroom.”

She currently serves as the Chief Program Officer at Moishe House, an organization that engages hundreds of thousands of Jewish young adults each year to create vibrant Jewish communities. In her role she oversees 50+ staff members who support community builders around the world to host programming out of their homes, organize adult summer camp, develop immersive experiences and implement Jewish learning in over 120 houses in 25+ countries around the world. “When I moved back to the states in 2014, I was a resident in Moishe House. It was where I re-engaged with activism and community organizing. Our house was the center for book talks, text study, a place to learn about Judaism and a central hub in the middle of DC for young adults from varying backgrounds. It really shaped me in a meaningful way. Now, years later, to be working for the organization that had such a profound impact on my life is meaningful,” said Harris.

Whether it was working with the former President of Israel to help solve world problems or designing disruptive educational technology at Amazon, or now, helping to shape the way people interact with a 3,000 year old religion, her drive to make the world a better place, instilled in her through her SU education, continues to play a role in her everyday life. “The holistic education ethos, the social and extracurricular structure at Seattle U made me a builder. I am someone who can look at a problem that needs to be fixed and organize people, rally the community and build solutions,” said Harris.

Having lived abroad and on the east coast for the last 10 years, Harris finds that staying connected to Seattle U helps to maintain her ties to Washington State and continues to ground her in the values that she holds core to her identity. “When I meet people from Seattle U there is just a quality about them that I connect with.”  
Harris is looking forward to sharing her story as the alumni speaker of the upcoming SU Communities Connect event on March 24. “To have a network of over 84,000 alumni around the world and providing this opportunity to reconnect while working to ensure that we as a community feel whole again is exciting,” said Harris.  

Join us and other alumni in the Midwest, South and East Coast regions on March 24 to hear Tiffany Harris’ full story as well as President Stephen Sundborg’s reflection on 24 years as Seattle University’s leader by registering for this event.

There are two remaining SU Communities Connect virtual receptions.

Pacific Northwest – Tuesday, May 4 | 4:30-5:30 PDT

International Event Date Coming In April | 6-7 a.m. PST 

Friends Stay Connected Through Reading Redhawks

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on February 3, 2021 at 4:02 PM PST

A zoom screen capture of four women who were a part of the same Honors cohortCelebrating 60+ years of friendship initially fostered through the Honors program at Seattle University, friends Ann Johnson, ’63, Pat Wand ’63, Sydney Keegan, ’64, and Liz Mitchell, ‘63, have managed to stay connected to each other despite time and distance.

The Honors program at Seattle U provided this group of women the opportunity to be a part of a small learning cohort dedicated to the study of the literature and ideas that shape the development of our world. “We all shared a fear and trepidation about what we were entering,” said Wand. The program opened perspectives that they had never expected. “I think the fact that our literature and reading started from the East was incredible. That was my first real exposure to Eastern thought, and it became a major introduction to the world for me.”

Being a part of the Honors program made such an impact on the group that they helped to fund the Thomas L. O'Brien, S.J., and C. Robert Harmon University Honors Scholarship for future Honors students. “We so appreciated the scholarships we received and wanted to help future students,” said Johnson.

Thanks to the diligent sharing and coordination efforts of Johnson, the group has attended class reunions together, participated in campus visits and been a part of regional mixers and receptions throughout the years. “It has been so nice to meet SU alums in town and it was wonderful to hear Fr. Sundborg update us on all the latest news, developments and curriculum changes,” said Wand.

Mitchell adds, “It always feels like we are connecting to Seattle U when we get together. That time in our lives is so memorable that we always end up reminiscing.”

The new Reading Redhawks online book club series offered by the Seattle University Alumni Association has been a new favorite of the group. When Johnson got her email invitation to Reading Redhawks, she immediately forwarded it to her lifelong friends and suggested they participate together. Since the program was hosted virtually, the group was able to participate together despite living in different states around the country. “We were looking for things to do,” said Johnson. “This programming was new and different.”

Reenergized by the program’s subject matter and its relation to current events, coupled with the ability to actively discuss ideas with group members, the group was eager to participate in another lifelong learning experience. “Discussing these ideas with my friends with whom I haven’t talked about literature since 1962 was a bonus - an opportunity to refresh a dialogue and see how we each had developed intellectually over the last several decades. We moved to another Zoom account and carried on our discussion long after the first session with Dr. Madsen ended,” said Wand.

Keegan commented, “I was so excited to do something that felt like Honors again.”

With topics on the Plague hosted by Dave Madsen PhD, ’69 and others such as the Abstractions Of Black Citizenship: African American Art from Saint Louis hosted by the curator of the Hendreen Gallery, the group interacted with faculty and other alumni sparking expansive conversations. Putting context around the current social justice movement inspired the women to dig more deeply into issues that initially appeared to be on the periphery in their lives. “I personally got a lot of satisfaction, using my mind and examining the big issues in the larger community,” said Mitchell.

“I am so appreciative to be able to intellectually connect with Seattle University. I never realized how much I missed it,” said Wand. Gather some classmates and friends from your time at Seattle U and register for an upcoming Reading Redhawks session, a new professional development opportunity or an alumni community-hosted event. Reconnecting with fellow alumni, like this group of Honors students did, can ignite your spark to lifelong learning after graduation. By registering for an event, you automatically become one of the 10,000 alumni we are challenging to engage with Our Moment for Mission: The President’s Challenge by June 2021. Find a complete listing of events from the Seattle University Alumni Association here.

The Power of Sharing: Alumna Makes an Impact During Seattle U Gives

Posted by Seattle University Alumni Association on February 3, 2021 at 4:02 PM PST

Image of Megan Cycyota standing outside in a garden

When Megan (O’Connor) Cycyota, ’07, first chose Seattle University, she was eager to embrace the spiritual and academic facets of the Jesuit Catholic experience. As a student, it was a joy for Cycyota to be able to attend mass at the Chapel of St. Ignatius, and she remained active in Campus Ministry and the Seattle U choir program throughout all four years. While studying accounting in the Albers School of Business and Economics, she learned how to express her own point of view while maintaining a sense of openness to differing perspectives.

“Seattle U taught me how to think critically,” says Cycyota, “how to really assess the information you’re being given while understanding that other people may have different interpretations than you. And how to be open to that dialogue.”

Now a Principal Product Manager at Amazon, Cycyota remains dedicated to empowering the next generation of Seattle U students, giving back to her alma mater with her time, talent and treasure. In addition to volunteering as a member of the Alumni Board of Governors, she supports the Annual Scholarship Fund, the SU Fund and various other programs and initiatives on campus. “The scholarship fund in particular has always been near and dear to my heart because I couldn’t have attended Seattle U without scholarships. Education needs to continue to be accessible,” says Cycyota. “Both merit and need-based scholarships are necessary to make sure that everyone has opportunities to access a transformative education.”

While Seattle U relies each and every day on the generosity of donors like Cycyota, there is one occasion that stands out from the rest as a prime time to give: Seattle U Gives, the university’s official online giving day.

“The thing I like about Seattle U Gives in particular is that it’s a focal point,” says Cycyota. “It helps to have a focused, contained time that’s a celebration of the university. Seattle U Gives is both a single day of participatory giving and a gentle reminder to engage with the community.” 

In recent years, Cycyota has taken an additional step beyond making a gift, volunteering as a Seattle U Gives Social Ambassador. Through this role, Cycyota has encouraged her friends and family to participate in Seattle U Gives and support the scholarships, schools and programs they care about most. While Social Ambassadorship is predominantly geared for online sharing, Cycyota has also found success through in-person connection.

Back when she was in the office in early 2020, she casually told two of her coworkers – both Seattle U grads – that Seattle U Gives was happening, and when. “Neither was aware of it at the time,” says Cycyota. “Just by telling them about it, both of them donated that day.” 

“The experience reminded me that reaching out to others doesn’t necessarily mean they will take advantage of the opportunity. They might not see the value in something that you do or the urgency. But you also never know who will, and so, why not? Why not use the power of more people getting out the message, because you never know what kind of good could come from that?”

This February 25, 2021, join Cycyota in celebrating Seattle U Gives by signing up to be a Social Ambassador. We are more powerful together! As a Social Ambassador, you can help to rally our alumni community for 24 hours of generosity. When you encourage more people to participate, you are ensuring that every gift made during Seattle U Gives – whether $5, $50 or $500 – adds up to make a tremendous impact.


A Tribute to Love, Learning and Legacy

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on February 3, 2021 at 3:02 PM PST

A Homecoming Queen photo of Eileen ScallonEileen Scallon Evans Endowed Scholarship for Teaching

The Scallon family legacy at Seattle University spans generations. Eileen Scallon Evans, the family matriarch, entered Seattle College as a “pioneering” 17-year-old co-ed in 1937, just six years after College Dean James McGoldrick, S.J., opened the college to women. Her lifelong love and sense of gratitude toward the university is shared by Eileen’s children, Greg Scallon, ’65, Mike Scallon, ’70, ’76, Patti Scallon Oliver, ’71, and her youngest son, Tim, who took classes at the university, as well as her two grandchildren, Eileen Acheson, ’97, and Elizabeth Scallon, ’04. The family has chosen to honor Eileen and her story of love and perseverance through a tribute scholarship, the Eileen Scallon Evans Endowed Scholarship for Teaching, which provides access to education for future teachers, especially those with children.

Eileen’s Story

Eileen McBride’s decision to attend Seattle College was driven in part by her Catholic upbringing and in part by her distaste for sororities at other universities where she felt people were judged by outward appearances. “Mother knew Seattle College was a better fit for her,” says Oliver, “and she didn’t mind at all that women students were outnumbered by the men. She said the girls always had plenty of dates!”

Eileen studied sociology and engaged in student activities. She was the editor of the Seattle College yearbook, served as president of Silver Scroll (an honor society) and in 1941, her senior year, was chosen Homecoming Queen.

She met her future husband, Vince Scallon, at Seattle College. The couple married in 1941, following Eileen’s graduation, and eventually moved to Spokane where Scallon had been offered a regional manager position with a chain store. By 1949 the Scallons had two young sons and Eileen was carrying their third child, daughter Patti. Then tragedy struck. Vince suffered a heart attack and a massive stroke, very nearly dying. He would recover slowly over time but would no longer be able to provide for the family and his immune system remained compromised.

Suddenly, at age 29, Eileen had become the family’s sole breadwinner and her husband’s caregiver, as well as mother to three small children. Her first instinct was to move the family back to Seattle where she would have the support of extended family. Unsure what to do next, she turned to her alma mater, by then known as Seattle University, and sought the advice of Father McGoldrick. He advised Eileen to pursue a teaching certificate. A teaching credential in addition to her BA in Sociology, he counseled, would open the door to a teaching career which would allow her afterschool time and summers with her young family. In addition, William Codd, S.J., offered Eileen a work-study position in the College of Education while she worked on her teaching certificate.

Fr. McGoldrick’s wise advice started Eileen in the direction of a teaching career that would last more than 35 years. She taught kindergarten and second grade in Seattle Public Schools, twice winning the Teacher of the Year Award. Later she taught middle school at St. Mark’s, and substituted well into her 70s.

“Growing-up, things could be very busy,” Oliver recalls, but I never felt stress. I’m sure my mother did, but we didn’t feel it. I think it was her attitude. She’d wake-up in the morning with lots of energy and bake cinnamon rolls before school, and there’d always be something fun to do on the weekends. She made a wonderful home for us.”

In her later years, Eileen became active at Seattle U again. “Her heart never left Seattle U,” Oliver recalls. “Mother served on various boards, hosted events, aided alumni and participated in Elder Hostel classes offered on campus. That’s where she met Morris Evans years after my Dad passed away, and they got married.”

Eileen’s children were inspired to honor their mother with a tribute scholarship in Seattle University’s College of Education because of the environment in which they grew-up, where education was an imperative, and also because of the care Eileen received from the university community when times were tough.

“My mother’s example taught us that you better have a good education because you don’t know what life will bring,” Oliver says. “Seattle U was such an important part of her life, and she had so much gratitude for the education and support she received. It’s our hope that the scholarship will give students a lift, preferably students who share my mother’s experience of pursuing education while raising a family.”

“And there’s something else,” she continues. “My brothers and I received an excellent education at Seattle U and so much more. Fr. McGoldrick and Fr. Codd remained a part of our lives even after mother graduated. There was just this sense of intimacy and continuity. Seattle U was special that way—and still is.”

At the end of the day, not everyone has the means to fund an endowment. However, even the small gifts make a big impact. This February 25, we invite you to join us in celebrating Seattle U Gives—the university’s online day of giving. This year is special—your support will count towards Our Moment for Mission: the President’s Challenge. When we come together as a united alumni community, we're ensuring that every gift, whether $5, $50 or $500, adds up to make a powerful difference for our students.

Lacaux, '07, Helps Prepare Student for Workforce

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on February 3, 2021 at 10:02 AM PST

A profile photo of Tresha Lacaux, '07Tresha Lacaux, ’07, has always had a passion for creating things.  Her career journey started in the family business of making stained glass windows.  Looking to combine her creative thinking with her passion for engineering, she pursued a career in aerospace.  “I have always had a passion for airplanes, so I made the career switch and enrolled at Virginia Tech where I studied aerospace and naval engineering.”

A few years into her studies at Virginia Tech, an opportunity arose for her family to re-locate to Seattle and Lacaux discovered Seattle University. “Seattle University did not offer aerospace degrees, but for my passions and what I wanted to pursue—to be able to understand mechanisms and structures of an aircraft—a mechanical engineering degree was a fantastic fit because it is so versatile,” said Lacaux. As an undergraduate, she loved Seattle U’s mission-driven lens, enjoyed valuable hands on-experience and developed personal connections with faculty. Through listening to guest speakers and working on her capstone project, Lacaux broadened her understanding of the professional applications of mechanical engineering.

Now an alumna, Lacaux continues to feel empowered by her SU education. “The mission-driven aspect of my education at SU continues to influence the way that I approach my work. It makes you think a lot more about the human element in engineering and innovation.” 

Lacaux remains inspired to engage with the College of Science and Engineering. She serves on the Mechanical Engineering Industry Advisory board where she reviews student capstone projects and provides feedback on the type of skills that newly graduating students need to have to become employed. She also helped shape the structural and mechanical engineering graduate curriculum and has volunteered to speak in classrooms. “One of my favorite things to do is come in and talk about what you can do with your mechanical engineering degree and the experiences that I’ve had.” Most recently, during the pandemic, she served as a speaker to give a perspective on the job market in her field and shared the outlook during an unprecedented time in the workplace.

“After one of my speaking sessions during the pandemic, students reached out to me on LinkedIn expressing their appreciation for my perspective. Anytime I can have a small, positive influence on someone is considered a good day in my book. It is one small way that I can give back to a program that offered me those same experiences,” said Lacaux.

Even with her increasingly busy schedule as the 787 Director of Airplane Level Integration, Lacaux still finds time to give back to the community that helped her gain her industry perspective. “One of the most important and valuable things that we can do as alumni is share how the knowledge you gain in the classroom applies in industry. Hearing real-life examples from the workplace and how what you are learning is used in different settings helped me and is really important for current students to hear.” 

By giving your time and expertise, students are inspired and equipped to enter the workforce after their time at Seattle U. “I would always love to volunteer more. I find that whenever I make the time, I am so energized afterwards, and that it is worth it. Just being there to answer questions on a student’s mind is really beneficial,” said Lacaux.  

Be a part of Our Moment for Mission: The President’s Challenge to help empower students and impact the world for the better by volunteering your time at a college, school or program that means the most to you. View a listing of volunteer opportunities on our website.  

Giving Back: When a Mentee Becomes a Mentor

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on February 3, 2021 at 10:02 AM PST

A profile photo of Terren Drake, '14Graduation hasn’t stopped Terren Drake, ’14, from returning to Seattle U and giving back to the Albers School of Business and Economics. Drake currently works for PACCAR—a global leader in design manufacture and customer support of high-quality premium trucks—as the Director of Used Equipment for the US and Canada at PACCAR Financial. “I joined PACCAR immediately after graduating from the MBA program at SU. One of the best parts about working for PACCAR is their philosophy. They want to develop well-rounded leaders that understand different facets of the business and the interconnectivity of the company. It affords employees the opportunity to do a lot of different things,” said Drake.

His educational experience and the MBA program’s emphasis on networking taught him the importance of nurturing and building professional relationships while looking for opportunities to add value to other people’s experience. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Seattle U. I developed the ability to network and build professional relationships during my time at Seattle U and it has paid dividends in my professional career as I have navigated PACCAR culture,” said Drake.

After joining the PACCAR team and completing the management program, Drake relocated to Chicago to work for a few years. Upon his return to Seattle, he reached out to the Albers Mentor Program, wanting to become a mentor after having participated in the program as a mentee. “I walked away from my MBA experience with so much. I felt I received more than what I had learned in the classroom and wanted to continue to be a part of that. As I moved back, it became an ideal way to reconnect with Seattle U and hopefully give back to others the same way my mentors invested in me while I was in the program,” said Drake.

 “There are other MBA students that I was in the program with that also felt compelled to give back and remain connected. A good friend of mine who I met at Albers is also a mentor. He and I will sometimes meet with each other’s mentees. Our professional experiences are different, so the ability to provide differing perspectives is a value add to the students.”

Drake’s unique perspective on participating in the program first as a student made the prospect of mentorship initially daunting, but after realizing his personal experience and the lessons he learned could be valuable to others, he settled in and continues to share his story with his mentees.

Helping other people with similar professional experiences, watching peers make choices about next steps and valuing lifelong learning fuels Drake’s motivation to continue to mentor graduate students. “A lot of people are still trying to figure out what they want to do and where they want to go. To be able to help people navigate that transition feels familiar to me and to be able to share my experience navigating that process is something that I enjoy,” said Drake.

He often finds that while providing advice or feedback to mentees, he gains perspective, learns new principles and believes that it is a way to stay abreast new ideas happening in the business world. “It’s easy to get stuck in a routine, but it’s nice to come up for air and find a different outlet to provide value.”

There are many ways to get involved with the Albers School of Business and Economics. “The more that we are connected and engage with each other, the more it will open a world of opportunities to us when we are at places in our lives when we want to make a change,” said Drake. Find a volunteer opportunity that is meaningful to you and be a part of Our Moment for Mission: The President’s Challenge by joining the Albers Alumni Board, providing feedback on student resumes or serving as a judge on the Harriet Stephenson Business Plan Competition.

Empowering Education: Student Scholar Finds Success at SU and Beyond

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on January 15, 2021 at 11:01 AM PST

A profile photo of Saymirah Cornelius-McClamAs a first-generation student, Saymirah Cornelius-McClam, ‘21, came to Seattle U optimistic and ambitious, but soon faced difficulty adjusting to her curriculum in ways many of her legacy peers did not. In 2017, she made a significant decision: she wanted to switch majors. “Part of self-advocacy is someone taking control of their learning,” says Saymirah. “This was the change I needed, and I was going to do everything to make that happen.” With the guidance of her Academic Advisor, Joelle Pretty, and after receiving a high score on her math placement test, she found a new calling in an unexpected place—Accounting.  
“In Albers, I was able to see how an entirely different group of majors thought,” says Saymirah. “This was a new field to me and I fell in love with it. I’ve found it so interesting and relatable, and I’ve heard so many fantastic stories from faculty and alumni about pursuing a career in auditing.” 
Throughout her journey, Saymirah has felt empowered by Seattle U donors. As a Costco Scholar, she has received tuition support to fund her studies, without which she would be unable to attend Seattle U. “I’m thankful to know that there are people out there who will donate and care for students like me,” says Saymirah. “Just knowing that warms my heart.” 
Additionally, Saymirah’s scholarship allows her to spend less time working to supplement her income, and more time seizing the SU learning experience. “This is not something that everyone has,” says Saymirah. “Therefore, my goal has been to take full advantage of that extra time.” 
Despite suffering a major concussion in her sophomore year that pushed back her graduation date, she has continued to be a dedicated student, and is committed to developing new skills and pursuing extracurricular opportunities. She is an active member of Beta Alpha Psi (BAP), an international honor and service organization for students in accounting, finance, and information systems. Through BAP, Saymirah has pursued mentorship opportunities with alumni and with other students, finding new ways to succeed at Seattle U and beyond.  
“An alumnus who was then working at KPMG inspired my future career and helped me secure a KPMG internship,” says Saymirah. “Without that guidance, I’m not sure if I would have been able to get that position. The drive of a student is one thing, but guidance is very important, especially for me as a first-generation college student.”  
What’s next for Saymirah? After college, she wants to get her CPA and audit in a public accounting firm for a few years before going to a private practice. Somewhere along the way, she wants to take her career around the globe. “I had planned to go on Albers’ EU tour in 2020, but due to COVID, I don’t think I’ll be able to take this great opportunity. I still hope to have this international experience at some point in my career. Working abroad would give me the chance to learn more about the stances of other countries, enhancing my business perspective and better equipping me to create positive change both domestically and internationally. ” 
Wherever Saymirah goes, she knows her connection with Seattle U is lifelong, and she’s excited to start the next stage of her SU journey as she looks forward to graduating in 2021. 
Nearly 90% of Seattle U students receive financial aid. Scholarships are the introduction to thousands of stories like Saymirah’s, empowering students to take full advantage of Seattle U’s many unique educational and extracurricular opportunities and to graduate ready to make an impact. This year, as part of Our Moment for Mission: The President’s Challenge, Seattle U is inviting alumni to support current and future students with a gift to the Annual Scholarship Fund. 
The continued generosity of alumni ensures Seattle U attracts and retains students like Saymirah, who turn into the kind of leaders the world needs: capable individuals committed to making a positive difference in their professions and in their communities. 

Spread the word — Seattle U Gives is back!

Posted by Seattle University Alumni Association on January 7, 2021 at 11:01 AM PST

Graphic with Seattle U Gives logo and diamond-shaped pictures of students overlaid on aerial view of campus

Seattle U Gives is SU’s day of online giving, where the combination of many gifts, big and small, makes a powerful impact.

Alumni are the unspoken heroes of Seattle U Gives. With your time, energy and steadfast support, you played an integral role in helping us meet our 2020 goal of $450,000. As we near Seattle U Gives 2021, we’re counting on you to make that same impact, providing the resources for our students to build a brighter future for our campus, our community and the world.

Take Action

Save the date to make a gift for Seattle U Gives 2021: February 25, 12AM to 11:59PM

As a student, you had your own unique SU experience. Were you a scholar? A leader? An athlete? Were you passionate about your academic program or one of the university’s many extracurricular engagement opportunities? With Seattle U Gives, you can contribute directly towards the programs that made your time at SU worthwhile, preserving that experience for current and future generations of students.

This year, your impact is multiplied! With the support of some of our most generous donors, your gift will count toward one of our numerous challenges.

“Especially in these days of COVID, Seattle U Gives is a time where we can come together once a year to give. Challenges make our gifts go farther!”
—Christopher Canlas, ’01, Board of Regents


Mobilize your networks–become a Social Media Ambassador

Help us broaden the reach of Seattle U Gives by volunteering as a Social Ambassador. Email your friends and colleagues and share and forward posts that highlight what you love most about Seattle U. The time commitment is small, but the potential to make an impact is huge!

Ambassadors receive special tools to promote the event, like:

  • Unique social media graphics

  • Personalized donation link

  • Sample email and social media templates

  • Ambassador training

  • Behind-the-scenes updates

Sign Up Now