SU Voice Alumni Blog

Projects Day

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on May 2, 2018 at 1:05 PM PDT

Student Leaders of Tomorrow Solving Problems Today

Seattle University’s location in the heart of a booming city provides the unique opportunity to partner with leading businesses on real-world projects for engineering and computer science students. As they learn from these companies and their employees, our students prepare for successful careers after graduation.

One example of such a partnership is through the Seattle University College of Science and Engineering Project Center. Small teams of engineering and computer science students are partnered with industry sponsors and mentored by Seattle University faculty to provide solutions to real-world problems. Over the course of the academic year, student teams are responsible for almost everything expected from a professional consultant, including project management, budgeting and scheduling. The students collectively work 1000 hours to design and deliver their prototype, software application or proof of concept. Projects Day, coming up next month, is the culminating event of this year-long experience for the students. At this event, student teams present their work to the public, their sponsors and fellow classmates.

We spoke with Chris Payne, a 2000 mechanical engineering graduate and director of Boeing’s Airplane Systems Team, to learn what it means to sponsor a project and why he’s stayed involved with Seattle University. Projects Day is nothing new for Chris, who has been a member of the Mechanical Engineering Advisory Board since 2008. He has attended and participated in Projects Day for many years.


Chris Payne in a Boeing Airplane Cockpit

(Chris Payne and his team aboard a Boeing aircraft.)

“Before I was on the board I would come out to Project Day to see the projects. It’s a fun opportunity to meet the students, ask them questions about their work and hand out business cards.”

As a project sponsor, Chris assigns a manager from his team to act as a liaison between Boeing and the Seattle University students on the project. Chris works with that manager to ensure the team gets the support they need and to ensure that he stays informed on the direction the project is headed.

The project Chris is sponsoring this year is focused on improving the windshield wiper motor for commercial airplanes. A great opportunity for students, if they develop a viable option is will be put into production.  “It’s a great opportunity to get the students involved. They’ve come out here to tour the airplane and learn about the issues we are up against.” Chris went on to explain that while a windshield wiper motor may not seem exciting, they are unreliable and when not working properly, damage a plane’s windshield, resulting in costly repairs and delays.

“I value working with the Project Center and the students because of the opportunity to shape the learning of the students who are about to enter the workforce, and help them connect the dots between their education and a real-world problem,” Chris says.

Chris encourages fellow alumni to attend Projects Day saying, “You have to come meet the students and see their capabilities and skills and the passion that the students have developed. You’ll also see what these students are going to bring to industry. They aren’t just solving a paper exercise. They have tackled real-world problems and have been thoughtful about how to bring them to market.”

Interested to see how Chris’s team tackled the problem of the windshield wiper motor? Come see for yourself during Projects Day on June 8th.

 Register here

Contemplative Leaders in Action 2018

Posted by Seattle University Alumni Association on May 1, 2018 at 2:05 PM PDT

Contemplative Leaders in Action (CLA) in Seattle

Are you in your 20's or 30's and searching for a community of peers who are striving to be purposeful leaders grounded in faith?

Contemplative Leaders in Action (CLA) is a two-year faith formation and leadership development program for young adults (20's and 30's) rooted in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. While the program nurtures individual growth, it also strives to develop a cohort of leaders who can bring the dynamics of faith and justice to lead their families, co-workers and communities.

Application deadline: May 14th. Visit to learn more and access an application. You can also learn more about the Seattle regional program via

Questions? Email Regional Coordinator Maria L. Ochoa at

Follow CLA-Seattle on Facebook

Co-sponsored by the Ignatian Spirituality Center and Contemplative Leaders in Action Seattle

Advocating for Social Justice

Posted by Seattle University Alumni Association on May 1, 2018 at 12:05 PM PDT

In honor of our law students who will be graduating next weekend, May 12, we wanted to highlight the amazing work our law alumni do in the community and welcome the law class of 2018 to the Seattle University Alumni Association. One such outstanding alum is, Fe Lopez, JD, '06

Fe Lopez Coral Dress

The granddaughter of Mexican immigrants, Fé Lopez grew-up in Eastern Washington witnessing the discrimination endured by her American-born parents. Their agricultural worker status and Spanish accents drew racial epithets and humiliations.

“What you see happen to your family impacts you,” she says. “It inspired me to become a lawyer and fight for social justice.”

After earning her bachelor’s degree in social sciences with a minor in criminal justice, Lopez began researching law schools. She learned about the Seattle University School of Law Academic Resource Center (ARC), which administers the Access Admission Program, and decided to apply.

“As an undergrad, I was once told by an academic counselor that law school isn’t for ‘people like me.’ I was devastated, but it only intensified my determination to succeed. Seattle U’s Access Admission Program is for passionate, driven people who lack opportunity. By providing access, ARC is helping to diversify the legal community.”

The Access Admission Program recognizes promising law school applicants from historically disadvantaged and underrepresented communities who don’t meet the traditional statistical requirements for regular admission (LSAT score and undergraduate GPA). ARC supports these students throughout their law school experience, offering the guidance and academic skill instruction to help them find success in school, the bar exam and their legal careers.

Lopez was accepted to six of the 10 law schools she applied to, including Seattle University as an Access Admission scholar.

Throughout law school, Lopez’ passion for social justice continued to grow and the professional connections she made began to open doors. She became involved with the Student Bar Association, rising to the position of president in her 3L year—the first Latina to hold that office. Lopez also volunteered with several social justice-inspired organizations.

Her involvement in the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington (LBAW) began while she was a student and continued after graduation. As LBAW president, she and other minority bar and community leaders advocated for greater police accountability. In 2014, Lopez was appointed by Mayor Ed Murray to the position of executive director of the Seattle Community Police Commission (CPC), a position she holds today. The CPC directly engages with community members who are negatively and disproportionately impacted by policing. Additionally, the commission advocates for systemic change to the Seattle Police Department’s policies and practices to help build trust and strengthen community-police relations.


Exploring Women's Empowerment As Part of the #MeToo Movement

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on April 30, 2018 at 4:04 PM PDT

The Women of SU Alumni Chapter is known by many alumnae for their popular Connection Café series. The series covers topics ranging from professional development to issues of concern for Seattle University’s community of women.

The group’s next Connection Café on May 10 is focused on women’s empowerment and the #MeToo movement, featuring a storyslam format. We spoke to Keisha Jackson, ‘14, the Women of SU’s education chair, to learn more about this timely topic.

Keisha, also a commissioner with the Seattle Women’s Commission, saw the Women of SU platform as an opportunity for partnership. The Seattle Women’s Commission had expressed a desire to host an event in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, taking place in April.

“The Women of SU event seemed like the perfect combination, to be able to utilize the networks of the City of Seattle and to reach a broader audience with our Women of SU programming.” Because the Connection Café takes place near the end of the academic year, the Women of SU are also inviting senior women to attend. “The seniors will be there and this topic is very relevant to them and all women given the political and social climate,” Keisha said, adding that women are invited to bring their children to this event if the topic is one want they want to explore with their children.

The event will kick off with the evening’s confirmed speakers, including Jaqueline Garcia, the founder of Mujer Al Volante and Circulo De Mama Seattle, Heidi Happonen, a PR industry leader, Sarah Toce, principal owner and Editor-in-Chief of The Seattle Lesbian, Katrina M. Sanford, PsyD, Co-chair of the Seattle LGBTQ Commission, LaTanya Horace, founder of The Silent Task Force, and Seattle University senior, Haleema Bharoocha, '18, Director of the Gender Justice Center at Seattle U.

"I am honored and humbled to offer my insight and experience toward this worthwhile event,” event speaker Sarah Toce shared, adding, "When I ruminate over the kind of world I want to one day leave my daughter, that propels me to work harder building bridges in order to connect communities. Sharing our stories as women is not always an easy task, but it's a mandatory one should we desire to see change in our lifetime. I am proud to be in the company of such esteemed women - and I look forward to seeing everyone."

Haleema Bharoocha shared that she is excited for the opportunity to speak at this event and hopes to see a strong turnout from a diverse audience, including those who don’t normally get involved, saying that, “Stories are a form of information sharing that my ancestors used to pass down important information and convey feelings. Even more, stories make people feel something. They call people to action. Sharing my story is incredibly important since Muslim women of color are so often left out of the conversation. I hope that by sharing my story, I inspire others to share theirs. Bringing marginalized perspectives to the mainstream conversation and let others who cannot speak know that they are not alone.”

Following the confirmed speakers, the evening will transition into an open mic. “Women will have 5-7 minutes to share a personal story or a story of the work they do. The story can be in whatever format women feel called to express themselves in. It’s freeform,” Keisha said, adding that everyone is welcome, even if they wish to listen and not share their stories. “If you choose to show up, no one is going to insist you speak on your life experience. You can just listen and experience the stories being told.”
You can reserve your spot at the Women’s Empowerment Connection Café below.

Seattle Women’s Empowerment Story Slam: #TimesUp
Presented in partnership with the City of Seattle Women’s Commission
Thursday, May 10, 2018
6:30– 8:30 p.m.
Seattle University Student Center 160, LeRoux Room
Get Tickets

From Sullivan Scholar to Alumni Award Recipient

Posted by Seattle University Alumni Association on April 5, 2018 at 2:04 PM PDT

Hopefully by now you’ve heard about this year’s Alumni Award recipients include Shasti Conrad, ’07, our Outstanding Recent Alumna Award winner.  Shasti Conrad, ’07, is a rising star who leads with compassion and honesty. Recognized as a dynamic change maker, Shasti’s work is guided by diversity and inclusion.  

Outstanding Recent Alumna Award: Shasti Conrad, '07

A sociology and international studies major while at Seattle University, Shasti cites both the Sullivan Scholars and Honors programs as the highlight of her years at Seattle U.

Following graduation, she became a field organizer for Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, and with support from another Sullivan Scholar, Alyson Palmer ‘06, Shasti joined President Obama’s first class of White House interns. She parlayed that internship to a full-time role in the West Wing with longtime Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to the president, eventually overseeing a policy portfolio that included youth violence in the United States.

“Recognizing, creating and valuing meaningful communities has proven a valuable lesson, one I learned during my time at Seattle U,” Shasti says. “I brought that with me to the White House and take it with me wherever I go.”

Following the 2012 presidential campaign, Shasti went to Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School to earn her master’s in public affair and co-chaired the Students and Alumni of Color network. She also oversaw an annual conference on race relations. As a Princeton Graduate Fellow, she seized an opportunity to work with The Malala Fund, eventually travelling with Malala Yousafzai and her family to the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony, an experience she calls “transformative.”

Upon her graduation in 2015, Shasti joined a creative social impact agency focused on social justice campaigns, including Art for Amnesty, the Environmental Defense Fund and the United Nations.

Returning home to Washington, Shasti joined the national advance team for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. Following the 2016 election, she answered a call from friends and colleagues to run for office herself, a longshot bid for Washington State’s 37th Legislative District Senate seat. A late entry to the race and the youngest, she surprised many by joining the top three vote getters. Seattle U alumna Rebecca Saldana, ’99, won the seat. Local leaders and media took note of this “national leader now home to serve the community she loves.”

Since then, Shasti has kept busy with community efforts, such as her elected position as State Committeewoman to the Washington State Democratic Party for the 37th Legislative District. She is also supporting the work of another Nobel Laureate, Kailash Satyarthi, as the U.S. campaign manager for the 100 Million Campaign, which aims to be the largest youth mobilization in history to end child labor and trafficking.

Committed to Seattle University, Shasti has been a mentor to other Sullivan Scholars, students and alumni, served as alumni representative for the India Initiative and partnered with Professor Jodi O’Brien, PhD, on a diversity and inclusion project for the University of Memphis.

“Shasti is dedicated to helping other people and correcting the systems that disenfranchise,” says DJ Weidner, ’07, a fellow Sullivan Scholar. “She is an advocate, leader and a perfect example of a person dedicated to others, fighting for a just and humane world.”

Shasti’s ability to bring people together doesn’t stop with her career. Shasti is spearheading the Sullivan Scholar’s reunion taking place on May 5 during Reunion Weekend.  All Sullivan Scholars old and new are invited back to campus to share their favorite memories of the program, connect with their classmates and current students and discover how the program has continued to grow. You can learn more about the Sullivan Scholar Reunion here.

We hope you’ll also join us to celebrate Shasti at the Alumni Awards on May 4 at the Seattle Four Seasons Hotel.

National Poetry Month

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on April 5, 2018 at 2:04 PM PDT

Fr. Steve Hands Crossed


Each summer we showcase Seattle University President Stephen Sundborg, S.J.’ s reading list and it’s always a big hit. As a university president, it should come as no surprise that Fr. Steve is an avid reader, but did you know he is also a poetry aficionado? In honor of National Poetry Month, we spoke to Fr. Steve about his passion for poetry and got the inside scoop on his favorite poems and those poets he thinks you should discover.


Q: Fr. Steve, what are your five favorite books of poetry?

A: Collected Poems by Philip Larkin

  • The Stream and the Sapphire by Denise Levertov
  • Still Life in Milford by Thomas Lynch
  • Collected Poems 1945 – 1990 by R. S. Thomas
  • The Grace of Necessity by Samuel Green

Q: What is your favorite poem?

A: “A Night in Ireland” by Anne Porter in Living Things

Q: What makes that your favorite poem?

A: It is a condensed story of great depth, beautifully expressing experience, dream, youth, and faith.  It has a wonder quatrain:

“He said You’ve come too soon

Go back into the towns

Live there as love’s apprentice

And God will give you his kingdom”

I can’t beat that for expressing the very purpose of my life in a simple, profound way!

Q: What is it that you enjoy about reading poetry?

A: Reading poetry for fifteen minutes each day is for me like prayer.  Poetry takes me below the surface, quotidian, experience of life into its more interior, intimate, holy depths.  I think of poetry as going beneath the soil of life to the tender roots of what is emerging in my life, the more nuanced, personal sources of life.  This is a holy place in which to dwell.  In my experience, there is nothing like poetry, when consistently read, for allowing access to this sacred depth.  Reading poetry every day teaches a person how to read poetry; it explains itself when faithfully practiced.

Q: Who is a poet you think is under the radar that you’d like other people to know about?

A: Mary Stewart Hammond, especially her Entering History.  I discovered her poetry from a display of multiple copies of this book in a New York City bookstore, bought it out of curiosity, and found a treasure.  I would read anything she wrote.

Exploring Seattle University’s Global Reach: Alumni Around the World

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on April 5, 2018 at 12:04 PM PDT

Equipping our students with the knowledge and skills to thrive as global citizens in an interconnected world is both our passion and a strategic priority. Students are challenged to push beyond their habitual boundaries by taking part in experiential learning across geographical and cultural frontiers. Drawing inspiration from our Jesuit Catholic heritage, we aim to educate reflective global citizens who respond with intelligence and heart to the pervasive global issues of our time.

Seattle is an international city, capturing the world’s attention with global companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks headquartered here in the Emerald City.  It should come as no surprise that Seattle U attracts a number of international students looking to take advantage of our world class education and desirable location. This year, we have 767 international students from 61 countries on campus.

As those students graduate, our global alumni network grows and now includes nearly 6,000 international alumni in 92 countries. Accomplished professionals who are passionate about Seattle U, they remain important members of the SU community. As Seattle U continues to come of age as a global university in a dynamic city, our international alumni provide valuable feedback, insights and experiences that help Seattle U understand how we can more effectively engage with the world.

With their generosity of time and resources, our international alumni help to prepare our students to be global professionals and excel in an international marketplace. One of those alumni is this year’s University Service Alumni Award winner, Dr. Peter Lee, ’64, from Hong Kong. Dr. Lee was one of Seattle U’s earliest international students and for more than two decades remains one of our most actively engaged international alumni. Passionate about building bridges between China and the United States and helping our students increase their understanding of the impact of East Asian thought and tradition on contemporary global issues, Peter helped fund the Asian Studies Program and established the Peter L. Lee Endowed Lectureship in East Asian Culture and Civilization to advance student understanding of Asian culture and influence in a global economy.

SU remains focused on keeping our international alumni connected and engaged with their alma mater. Over the years, representatives from Seattle University have visited those areas of the world with high concentrations of Seattle U alumni, including Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand, with more recent trips to China, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. During these visits, we provide opportunities for alumni to network and share their memories about Seattle U with each other. You can see pictures from some of our most recent trips in our International Alumni Facebook album.

Digital networks provide a great opportunity for international alumni to connect and we are pleased that our alumni have created Seattle U groups on WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook

For international alumni staying in the Seattle area, we have the International Alumni Chapter which hosts professional development and social events that meet the unique needs of our international alumni.

So to our international alumni, know that no matter how far from Seattle life has taken you, you remain an important part of the Seattle University community. And if you come back to visit Seattle U, please come see us in the Alumni Building so we can welcome you back to your alma mater.

Harnessing the Power of our Differences: Embracing Diversity and Inclusion

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on April 5, 2018 at 12:04 PM PDT

Natasha Martin in orange blazer.

Each year our SU Advantage Networking Nights address topics important to the professional development of our alumni. This April’s topic not only presents an opportunity for personal and professional growth, but it is incredibly timely as well. Natasha Martin, J.D., Seattle University’s new Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, will present “Harnessing the Power of our Differences: Embracing Diversity and Inclusion.”

Dr. Martin will engage participants in a discussion on the value of authentic engagement in a multicultural society. Bring an open mindset to discover why individual context matters and how embracing difference holds promise for living, learning and working inclusively. Leave with increased awareness and ideas to enhance personal and professional endeavors.

In a recent Spectator article exploring the role of Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, Dr. Martin said, “I think it’s really important for people to understand that what we’re trying to do is to create and sustain a context, the environmental conditions for all of us to thrive—for everyone to feel welcome, valued, respected and to find their place in the institution.”

In the same article, Dr. Martin explained that although she is centered as the anchor, there is a crucial partnership with all stakeholders in order to make a true shift in the climate and culture of the university, a lesson that can be applied to all organizations and individuals striving to make a similar change.

Following Dr. Martin’s presentation, alumni will have the opportunity to network and reflect on the topics addressed.

SU Advantage Networking Night
“Harnessing the Power of our Differences: Embracing Diversity and Inclusion”
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
5:30– 8:00 p.m.
LeRoux Room, Student Center 160

Reserve your tickets to the next SU Advantage here.

About Our Speaker:

Appointed by President Sundborg in September 2017, Natasha Martin is the inaugural Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion. From 2014-2016, Professor Martin served as co-chair of the university-wide President’s Task Force on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence. Professor Martin’s leadership experience also includes three years of service as Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development in the School of Law and 15 years as a faculty member, where she focuses on Employment Discrimination, Advanced Topics in Employment Discrimination, Professional Responsibility and Torts.

A dynamic and engaging speaker, Professor Martin is passionate about fostering community dialogues on diversity and inclusion matters. Dedicated to broad notions of inclusivity, Professor Martin was appointed twice to the Washington State Gender and Justice Commission and was named to Lawyers of Color’s 50 Under 50 List of minority law professors making an impact in legal education in the 2014 Law School Diversity Issue.

Seattle U and the Aloha State: How Luau and the Hawaii Alumni Chapter Got Their Starts

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on April 5, 2018 at 11:04 AM PDT

April is a big month for students and alumni from Hawaii. Every Seattle U alum from Hawaii remembers Luau, a popular celebration hosted by the Hawaii Club, for students and alumni. This April, alumni in Hawaii are celebrating the relaunch of the Hawaii Alumni Chapter.

Ask any Seattle U student what the longest running club on campus is and they are likely to say the Hawaii Club. Also known as Hui O Nani, this tight knit club describes itself as “a place for those from the islands to call their ‘home away from home’" and a place for those interested in Hawaii to understand and learn what the Aloha State is all about.” But how did one of Seattle University’s longest running clubs get its start? To get the answer, we asked Elliott Chamizo, ’66.

Elliott has long been an important part of the SU community. “In 1961 there were about eighteen of us from Hawaii at Seattle University. We were the first large group from Hawaii to come to SU and we decided it was time to start a club.”

According to Elliott, with the help and guidance of Seattle U’s Hiking Club, the group put in their request and developed a charter for the new club. By 1962 the group was organizing its first Luau.

“Seattle U didn’t have a big venue at the time, so we went off campus to the Knights of Columbus Hall up the street from campus.” The Hawaii Club students decorated the hall and had food flown in from relatives in Honolulu. “We had a real pig prepared by Islanders who lived in the Seattle area,” Elliott recalled.  “We had a great turn out. 150-200 people came out to the first luau. It was such a success that we kept having it year after year.” Luau, usually hosted in early May, quickly became an annual event the entire campus community looked forward to.

Luau Dancers

A few years ago, the club celebrated its 50th anniversary. Then club president, Keenan Kurihara, invited the founding members back to campus to celebrate. “About 15 of us returned and shared the history of the club and the founding of it.”

Despite returning to Hawaii after graduation, Seattle U has left its mark on Elliott. “I was definitely impacted by the Jesuit charism and the idea of community service.” A long-time teacher at Maryknoll High School in Honolulu, Elliott encouraged many future Redhawks to attend Seattle U, including Kurihara.

Despite annual visits by Seattle U in the past, there has not been an active alumni chapter in Hawaii until now. The Hawaii Alumni Chapter leadership committee consists of co-presidents Jennel Sesoko, ’08, and Brandi Yamauchi, ’12, events chair Jeanie Sohn, ’06, and communication chair Keenan Kurihara, ‘16.

According to the chapter’s presidents, “There's something special and unforgettable about those college years at Seattle University.  Whether it be the luau, life in the dorms, Quadstock or creating those lifelong friendships, we all have a connection to Seattle U.  From service projects to social events, the Hawaii Alumni Chapter provides alumni an opportunity to connect, engage and foster that same sense of community right here in Hawaii.”

So whether you’re in Seattle longing for your time on the islands or you’re in Hawaii missing Seattle, with Luau on April 28 and the newly formed Hawaii Alumni Chapter, there’s something for everyone.

Visit the Hawaii Chapter Facebook page to learn about how you can get involved in the Hawaii Alumni Chapter.

Jesuit Volunteer EnCorps: Now Accepting Applications

Posted by Seattle University Alumni Association on April 5, 2018 at 10:04 AM PDT

National Volunteer Month seems like the perfect opportunity to share that Jesuit Volunteer EnCorps is now accepting applications! JV EnCorps is a program of Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) Northwest, facilitating meaningful opportunities for service, community and spiritual formation for adults 50 and older who are committed to social and ecological justice. JV EnCorps is available to individuals living in Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane and Vancouver Washington, as well as those in Portland and Bend Oregon.

During a ten month part-time volunteer service, participants meet regularly in their community to deepen their spirituality and explore the values of community, simple living and social and ecological justice.

Participants have found the program to be a meaningful spiritual and service opportunity.

“I like being a part of our JV EnCorps community because I journey with deep souls and gentle people who love and live in my hometown.” - JV EnCorps Volunteer

“This is my second year. I feel so comfortable and look forward to our monthly meetings. It is like going home each month to my like-minded, caring, giving corps members. I have grown so much in my understanding of our citizens who are just getting by. I am now respectful of everyone I meet and try to hear their concerns. The Jesuit way has become my life. I am intent on seeing God in everything.” - JV EnCorps Volunteer

"I’ve never done anything in my life where I felt more like I belonged than my volunteer work. They could do without me; I’m not sure I can do without them. I’ve been planted there for me, to gain something, to learn something." - JV EnCorps Volunteer

Applications Due: August 15th. 
For more information, email or visit