SU Voice Alumni Blog

Serving Together: Alumni Day of Service

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on January 5, 2017 at 4:01 PM PST

Serving Together for 125 Years!

Each year, Seattle University alumni live out our Jesuit values by serving the local community during Alumni Day of Service. This signature experience during SU’s Homecoming Weekend will take place on Saturday, February 4. As part of SU’s 125th Anniversary, we are placing the emphasis on bringing it back home by serving organizations who partner with the Seattle University Youth Initiative and who are located within the First Hill/Capitol Hill neighborhoods.

This popular event will now include current students along with family, friends and fellow Jesuit-educated alumni. Participants will engage in service projects, ranging from beautification and archiving historical artifacts to preparing math kits, sorting charitable donations and more.

In order to build community, we are hosting a kickoff breakfast for all volunteers. Get to know other volunteers for your service site and get your limited edition Homecoming shirts. You don’t want to miss it.

If that isn’t enough to entice you to participate, all volunteers will get up to four free tickets to that evening’s Homecoming basketball game and alumni rally at KeyArena. Grab your family and friends and cheer on the Redhawks as they take on Utah Valley!

Want to take on more of a leadership role? All alumni are welcome to be volunteer site leaders! Check out the projects that still need site leaders and choose the one that most appeals to you. Once you’re a site leader, start recruiting your friends and family to volunteer with you. It’s that easy!

Alumni Day of Service Kick-Off Breakfast
7:30 a.m.
Rolfe Room | Admissions and Alumni Building
824 12th Ave.
Seattle University

AlleyCat Acres
9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Seattle, WA 98144

Access to Justice Institute / Public Interest Law Foundation
Time TBA
Sullivan Hall, Seattle, WA 98122

Time TBA
Seattle, WA 98146

Filipino American National Historical Society
9 a.m. - noon
Seattle, WA 98122

The Food Bank @ St. Mary's
9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Seattle, WA 98144 

Full Life
9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Seattle, WA 98104

Habitat for Humanity Southcenter
10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Tukwila, WA 98188

Keiro Northwest
9:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Seattle, WA 98122

Mary’s Place
10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Seattle, WA 98121

9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Burien, WA

St. Francis House
9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Seattle, WA 98122 

Sustainable Capitol Hill - Tool Library
9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Seattle, WA 98122

10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Get all the details and a complete list of service sites on our website.

Here is what past participants have had to say about Day of Service.

"The experience was wonderful and it was a chance to give back to the community." 

"It was meaningful to literally get my hands dirty doing service work."

"Most of us are too busy to think about the less fortunate in our community. This event provided a reminder and an opportunity to ‘give back.’"

"I enjoyed meeting other caring people, especially recent graduates who don't have a lot of spare cash but who want to give to the less fortunate."

"I really enjoyed working with people from a variety of backgrounds, schools, and ages..."

Register today and join alumni, friends and current students to make a difference!


"Why I Can't Wait for Grand Reunion Weekend" Alumni Spotlight: DJ Weidner, '07

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on January 5, 2017 at 4:01 PM PST

As a member of the Alumni Board of Governors and now a Reunion Committee Chair for the class of 2007, DJ Weidner, ’07, is what we would call an engaged alum, though SU pride is nothing new to DJ.

DJ did a little bit of everything as a student. He was a Sullivan Scholar, an active member of Campus Ministry and the Search community, and attended a service immersion trip to Belize. DJ was a lead on the new student retreats, and an Orientation Advisor (OA) and Orientation Coordinator.

Outside of Campus Ministry and New Student Programs, DJ worked at the Spectator and was active with Associated Students of Seattle University. “For a short stint, I was the Chair of Battle of Bands for SEAC before I had to resign due to an internship I took with the Washington State Senate. I dabbled in rec sports, tried to start a spirit group called the DIRRTY BIRDS that eventually gave way to the Red Zone and generally tried to be as involved as possible.”

DJ found his passion for Seattle University embodied by a much loved member of the SU community, the late Fr. Roger Gillis. “It was during orientation that I met Fr. Gillis. He was the ‘Dancing Jesuit.’ He was gregarious, full of joy and unabashedly himself. For me, that represented Seattle U, the Jesuits and everything the university stood for. Be yourself, love as hard as you can, recognize that we’re all part of this community and find joy in every moment.”

DJ graduated from Seattle University with a degree in political science, but now works in the marketing and advertising field. As a recent graduate of Seattle University, DJ worked for SU’s marketing and communications department where he managed university social media accounts. In his current role, DJ is a Director of Integrated Marketing for Rational Interaction. It was the critical thinking skills and liberal arts education that helped DJ adapt his political science major into a career in marketing.

DJ has stayed involved with Seattle U long after graduation. He has been on the Alumni Board of Governors (ABOG) for over 4 years - an experience that he calls “really rewarding.” DJ also volunteers his time to attend mentorship fairs, networking nights and makes sure to come out for social events. That leads us to DJ’s newest volunteer role with the university, a Class of 2007 Reunion Committee Chair.

Grand Reunion Weekend will be celebrated May 5-7, 2017 with all alumni invited back to campus for a weekend of milestone reunions, club and organization reunions, family events, receptions and the Seattle U Birthday Bash complete with entertainment. We will celebrate six milestone reunions, including the class of 2007. We asked DJ, as a member of the planning committee, what we can expect from the weekend.

“I don’t want to give too much away, but what I can say is that this is the weekend you want to come back to campus. When was the last time you were back on campus? If you haven’t been back in 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 years, it’s probably time to check it out! This weekend is going to be great! Everyone is invited and everyone is encouraged to attend – regardless of the year you graduated. Really, this weekend is about gathering as a full community to celebrate. Seattle U, unlike a lot of other institutions, is much more connected by the communities you were part of rather than your specific class year. We acknowledge that and want to create places around the campus where everyone can gather, reconnect and celebrate.”

Join DJ and your classmates at Grand Reunion Weekend! Our Grand Reunion Weekend website has a complete weekend schedule, registration information and a place to share your pictures and memories.

“I encourage people to reach out, see who is going and pencil that weekend in for a good time!” DJ concluded.

Celebrate Homecoming 2017

Posted by Caitlin Joyce on January 5, 2017 at 2:01 PM PST

By now you know that we are celebrating Seattle University’s 125th anniversary. What you may not know is that Seattle U’s Homecoming is also celebrating its own milestone-five years of Homecoming Weekend. The tradition, which was reignited in 2013, has grown from a single basketball game to a jam-packed week of activities that are fun for the whole family.  

Over the past five years, we’ve established a number of new traditions including the Red Umbrella Parade and celebrating Day of Service during Homecoming weekend.  In honor of our milestone anniversary, Homecoming 2017 is bigger and better for alumni and students. We’ve kept your favorite traditions and are launching the first ever Seattle U Beyond 12th and Jeff Dine Out Day. Dine Out Day is a chance to show your SU pride while dining at many local restaurants and cafes that are Seattle U favorites. Check out the website closer to Homecoming to see participating restaurants. The first 20 guests will get free tickets to the Homecoming basketball game on Saturday.   

And if you don’t get those, Seattle U alumni get an exclusive offer buy one, get one free tickets to the game.

A complete weekend schedule is available online, but some events we thought you’d want to save the date for are:  

Friday, February 3, 2017 

Dine Out Day 
Capitol Hill/International District

Saturday, February 4, 2017 

Alumni Day of Service 
“Serving Together”  
Seattle Area

Hall of Fame Luncheon
Seattle University

Alumni Pre-Game Rally
Key Arena

Men’s Basketball v. Utah State
Key Arena
Get Tickets
Use Promo Code: SUALUM

We look forward to serving, cheering and celebrating with you this February!  

Alumni Professionals Wanted!

Posted by Caitlin Joyce on January 5, 2017 at 2:01 PM PST

The value of attending a university is not just the education you receive, but the network of alumni available to you as both a student and after graduation. The SU Bridge Young Alumni Chapter wants to give Seattle University students the opportunity to build valuable connections with alumni before graduation. How are they doing this? One way is the Insider’s Guide to Getting Ahead networking event. In partnership with the Student Alumni Ambassadors, the SU Bridge hosts a night where students and young alumni get a brief overview on networking best practices, then meet with alumni professionals to get answers to their career related questions and to practice their new networking skills in a low-stress environment.  

The SU Bridge has successfully hosted this event for the past three years, but they hope this year to elevate the event and increase the number of alumni professionals. They need your help to be successful.  

We are looking for alumni volunteers to represent a wide variety of industries and fields,” Riley Gaffney, president of the SU Bridge, said. “We get students interested in everything from nursing and business, to marketing and the arts, just to name a few. We are hoping that all students find this a valuable experience, no matter their career goals.”  

Previous alumni professionals have found the opportunity to mentor students fulfilling.  “It feels good giving back to my university and helping a student figure out their professional goals. You know you are making a lasting impact and that’s what being an SU alum is all about.”  

The SU Bridge extends an invitation for all alumni to participate. “Alumni navigating the beginning of their careers and those who are experienced all have something valuable to share.”  

The event is Monday, February 13, from 6-8 p.m. in Seattle University’s Student Center.  

If you are interested in volunteering as a professional at Insider’s Guide fill out this online form. It’s a small time commitment that can provide a big impact on our students and recent alumni.

SU Baseball Set its Sights on the NCAA Tournament

Posted by Caitlin Joyce on January 5, 2017 at 2:01 PM PST

If you’re a supporter of Seattle U athletics, than Seattle U’s baseball team should already be on your radar.  

Seattle U baseball had quite a season in 2016, winning its first regular season WAC conference and head coach, Donny Harrel, was named the WAC Coach of the Year. We sat down with Harrel to reflect on his last eight years with the Redhawks and to get a look at the season ahead.  

Harrel has been with the Redhawks since they transitioned back to Division 1 in 2010. The team has experienced a lot of growth, success and increasing national attention.  

We have gone from 11 wins in our first season back in 2010 to 37 wins last year and the first conference championship in school history. Also, for the first time in our young history, we received votes on the national level as a top 40 program. Even though we did not break into the top 40 - we did receive votes and that is a good feeling that other programs see us being as good as we expect ourselves to be.”  

In the past two years, five Seattle U players have been picked in the Major League Baseball amateur draft, including, Brock Carpenter for the Dodgers, Mike McCann for the Royals, Landon Cray for the Rays, Will Dennis for the Orioles and Brian Olson for the Twins.  

Players who are signed during their junior year, often stick around to complete their education and practice with the Redhawks. Seattle U’s quarter systems makes it possible for the players to attend class before the season starts. Harrel says a benefits of this is that newcomers have the opportunity to practice and build relationships with professional athletes around them who are living their dreams and getting an education. 

For Harrel, the relationships play a big role in the success of the team. “The key for our team is trust and buying into the program. I truly feel our approach is as personal as any program in the country. We develop a strong relationship with the student athletes and their families prior to them coming to Seattle U. This allows both sides to truly know the needs and expectations from all parties. For these reasons - we are very careful of the recruits and people we bring in because they have to fit our culture.” 

What can you expect from the Redhawks this season? “We once again have the immediate goal of winning our conference, but also expect to play in an NCAA regional for the first time in school history. Our goals moving forward are to stay on top and be a national name that people recognize in the baseball world. We also want to be known for a place where students can play high caliber baseball and along the way, get a tremendous education and be well prepared for the real world. Our legacy needs to come from what our players are able to do after Seattle U, not just what we are accomplishing while they are here.” 

Our players are already having a lasting impact on the community outside of their sports careers. Many volunteer with Seattle food banks, Seattle Children’s Hospital and the Boys and Girls Club. “These young men are future leaders of our community. I want our alumni to be proud of what we are doing and will continue to do in the future. All the credit goes to our student athletes who truly believe in making this world a better place. That is SU baseball! 

You can show your support for our Redhawks by coming out to games and cheering for them this season. A season schedule is online, but make sure to mark your calendars for the two matchups between the Redhawks and the Huskies on April 25 and May 9.  

Can’t wait for the season to start? On Friday, January 27, the Seattle U baseball team is hosting Meet the Redhawks, a fundraiser that gives attendees a chance to meet the players, share a meal with them and help raise funds for future projects and facilities. Seattle Mariners Manager Scott Servais will be this year’s guest speaker. You can learn more and get tickets for Meet the Redhawks here. 

We hope to see you supporting Seattle U baseball this season. Go Redhawks!

New Referral Program

Posted by Admissions Office on December 1, 2016 at 11:12 PM PST


As alumni of Seattle University, you know the impact of a Seattle University education. You know our students are curious, engaged, and eager to make an impact in their professions and communities. You may also know a future Redhawk who would be a perfect fit for Seattle U.

The Admissions Office is seeking passionate SU alumni to recommend prospective undergraduate first-year or transfer students who you think would thrive in the SU community. If you know a neighbor, friend, or family member who would be a good fit for Seattle University, please let us know!


How to refer a prospective student:

- Fill out this form to provide us prospective student contact information.
o We will need the student’s first and last name as well as a valid email address.
o After sharing their information, we would love you to write a few words about why this student would make an excellent addition to the Seattle U community.
o Please refer high-school aged students and older.
- After you submit your referral, the prospective student will receive a congratulatory email for being referred, and an opportunity to provide more information regarding their interests at SU.
- Students who provide additional information will receive a “Future SU Redhawk” sticker, along with more information about the admissions process at SU.
- The Admissions Office will consider the alumni referral as part of our holistic review process.

Thank you for helping to find the next generation of Seattle University alumni. As a reminder, all children, grandchildren, and siblings of SU graduates are considered legacy students and are therefore eligible for a free application. Admitted students are also eligible for a $1,000 McGoldrick Legacy Scholarship.

Thank you for your efforts in continuing to grow our 77,000-strong alumni network, and go Redhawks!


The Importance of our International Alumni Community

Posted by Miranda Benson, '17 on December 1, 2016 at 10:12 PM PST

Father Sundborg visits a group of Dubai-area alumni in December 2013.


When you think of regions where Seattle University alumni tend to live, there are probably a few  that come to mind: Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, maybe even some East Coast cities like New York or Washington, D.C. While these certainly are some of the most popular regions, there are also some that you probably didn’t think of, like Japan, the Middle East, Thailand and China. Despite international students being a growing part of SU’s campus population, they become alumni that, because of their distance, are often overlooked. Vice President for University Initiatives Jim Hembree, PhD, is working to change that.  

Among other strategies, Jim and President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., have been hosting receptions in the Middle East since 2013. “Fr. Sundborg has been building our relationship with international alumni and has been traveling frequently to the Middle East,” Jim explained. Fr. Sundborg and other university officials have visited the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Thailand and many other countries for meetings, receptions and alumni gatherings. Now, Fr. Sundborg is extending that list to include China and Southeast Asia, home to nearly two-thirds of our international alumni, at a reception in Hong Kong on December 20. Prior to that event, alumni in and near Dubai are invited to a reception on December 12.

Fr. Sundborg’s and Jim’s trips are not just for fun—though they certainly are that. They are part of Seattle U’s larger strategic mission to engage international alumni. “As a Jesuit university that has a diverse perspective, we need to globalize our alumni programs so that our alumni are involved, regardless of where they’re from or where they live. That way, our SU alumni community will really and truly be a global community.”

Not every visit or gathering is an ornate affair, Jim explains, but even the simplest lunch meetings are overflowing with hospitality. “Here, we’re lucky if we can schedule an hour to have a meeting,” Jim noted. “There, you go for lunch, then you go see three or four different sites, then you go into people’s homes. The hospitality of our international alumni is so heartwarming.”

Jim views our international alumni not just as friends and community members, but also as valuable contributors to Seattle U’s alumni network. “Our international alumni are a very accomplished and distinguished group of people,” Jim explained. One example is Dr. Peter Lee, ’63, from Hong Kong who was one of the first international students at Seattle U, as well as the man responsible for introducing Coca Cola to the Chinese market. Dr. Lee recently established SU’s Peter Lee Endowed Lectureship in East Asian Culture and Civilization, which brings to campus experts that explore the impact of East Asian ideologies on modern global issues.

Another key player is Mohamed Alabbar, ’81, founder and chairman of Emaar Properties, one of the largest real estate development companies in the Middle East and the developer of the world’s tallest building,  Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

What Jim values about international alumni is not just their significant accomplishments—it’s how they use their Seattle U experience to better the world around them. “When international students graduate and go back home, they’re changed. So they go back to their home countries and they embody SU’s inclusive values for a diverse global community.”

In an effort to keep our international students engaged as alumni, the Seattle University Alumni Association and the International Student Center are partnering to launch a new International Alumni Chapter. The goal is to engage international students who have stayed in the greater Seattle area after graduating. As the chapter develops, the plan is to extend the chapter into international communities as well. 

Jim says he’s thrilled about what the launch of the new International Alumni Chapter means for this community.  Of what’s to come after that, Jim says, “There’s still so much to explore.”

If you are interested in attending the reception in Dubai or Hong Kong, contact Margaret Fielder at

Dubai Reception
Monday, December 12, 7:00pm
The Palace Downtown Dubai

Hong Kong Reception
Tuesday, December 20, 6:30pm
The Dynasty Club

Interested in leading or contributing to the International Alumni Chapter? Contact Peter Graziani at

Point of Light: Uniting Christians and Muslims through Prayer

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on December 1, 2016 at 10:12 PM PST

Fadi Abouelsaad, ’17, is in his final year of the School of Theology and Ministry’s Transformational Leadership Program and is in the process of becoming a Jesuit. Though not yet ordained Fadi is already an experienced spiritual advisor.

In Fadi’s home country of Egypt, he co-founded “Point of Light,” a 3-day spiritual retreat for Muslims and Christians. This interfaith retreat was born out of a Muslim youth’s desire to attend a Catholic Retreat being led by Fadi. “Mohammed, a Muslim, was interested in attending even after learning the retreat would be based on Christian teachings and stories from the bible and so he was invited to join.”

The response from that retreat was great. The Christian attendees enjoyed having Mohammed there and engaging with him and Mohammed found it to be a wonderful experience himself.  It was clear that this was something worth repeating. Fadi and two spiritual partners moved forward with planning a retreat series for both Muslims and Christians to come together in prayer and spirituality.

Point of Light is a 3-day excursion, sometimes hosted in the desert and other times in a retreat center, but never in a chapel or house of worship. “We decorate the space together. It is like we are building our temple. We use a very neutral room and build together with candles and music to create our sacred space,” Fadi said. This retreat skips the dogma of religions and what each group believes, delving straight into spirituality. “Spiritual life gives opportunity to encounter each other and build together. It is an opportunity for peace building, especially in the Middle East where there is so much religious turmoil.”

“We believe that in every human being and religion there is a light, a universal wisdom, and we want to share this wisdom with each other.” Fadi elaborated, “We have been living with Muslims for centuries and we don’t know them and they don’t know us. We believe that this will lead us to the new humanity where we respect each other and we love each other.”

One of the most meaningful aspects of the retreat is the sense of community and safety that is built. “After the retreat, you realize you don’t know who was Muslim and who was Christian, but you were praying together and this is a wonderful feeling.”  Following the retreats, participants host meals and meditations at their homes. “After you see these people together, it’s impossible to imagine them fighting over religion,” Fadi shared. “We actually have a problem with people wanting to attend each retreat. They keep coming back to this safe place of community where they can share their doubts and questions.”

Some participants admit they have not prayed for 10 years until this retreat. It served as an opportunity for them to reconcile with their faith, with God and with themselves.

Fadi’s vision for Point of Light is to continue his work and reach more people. “My hope is to build bridges between communities and share not only religions, but different cultures.”  Fadi shared that there is a Jesuit Spirituality Center in India that hosts retreats for Hindu, Christians and Muslims. He would love the opportunity to connect with them and learn from the wisdom of their program.

Pilgrimage: The Search for Pope Francis

Posted by School of Theology & Ministry and the Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture on December 1, 2016 at 4:12 PM PST

Mark K. Shriver is the author of the best-selling memoir, A Good Man: Rediscovering My Father, Sargent Shriver and president of Save the Children Action Network. For his newest literary work, Shriver went in search for the heart and soul of the real Pope Francis in the slums of Argentina and the halls of the Vatican. Seattle U will host Shriver on December 7 for a discussion of his surprising, informative and moving journey and his new book, Pilgrimage: My Search for the Real Pope Francis.

A down-to-earth and deeply intimate portrait of Pope Francis and his faith, Pilgrimage is based on interviews with the men and women who knew him simply as Jorge Mario Bergoglio. By setting an example of humility and accessibility, Francis breathed new life into the Catholic Church, attracting the admiration of Catholics and non-Catholics alike. In Pilgrimage, Shriver retraces Francis' personal journey, revealing the origins of his open, unpretentious style and explaining how it revitalized Shriver's own faith and renewed his commitment to the Church.

As president of Save the Children Action Network, Shriver leads an effort to mobilize Americans to end preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths globally and to ensure that every child in the U.S. has access to high-quality early childhood education. His career fighting for social justice in advocacy and service organizations, as well as elected office, has focused on advancing the right of every child to a safe and vibrant childhood.

Shriver joined Save the Children in 2003, serving as Senior Vice President for U.S. Programs until 2013. In that capacity, he created and oversaw the agency’s early childhood education, literacy, health and emergency preparedness and response programs in the United States.

In 2015, Shriver was the Seattle University undergraduate commencement speaker.

We hope you will join us for this free event.

Pilgrimage: The Search for Pope Francis
With Mark Shriver
Moderated by Enrique Cerna, KCTS9-Directory of Community Partnerships
December 7, 2016 | 7 p.m.
Pigott Auditorium | Seattle University

This Seattle U 125th Anniversary Event is in partnership with Elliott Bay Bookstore Company, KCTS 9, the School of Theology and Ministry and the Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture.

A Christmas Message from President Sundborg, S.J.

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on December 1, 2016 at 4:12 PM PST

Seasons greetings!

As we head into the holiday season, I reflect on the year and all I am grateful for. This year I am especially thankful for the opportunity to celebrate Seattle University’s 125th anniversary with all of you. Because of the generosity and commitment of our alumni community, we have grown into the forward thinking, impactful institution we are today. And it is with the support of our alumni that we will continue to thrive for the next 25 years.

While we look back on the accomplishments of this great institution, we also look to what we have to celebrate in the present. This fall, for the fourth year in a row, Seattle University was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, which recognizes universities across the nation that support exemplary community service programs and partnerships. I am very proud of how our students continue to embody our values of care for the whole person and giving back. While we often find it easy to be charitable during the holiday season, I invite you to discern how you too can live our values and give back long after the Christmas season.

This December, I have the joyful task of connecting with our alumni at Advent Mass on campus December 3rd, in the Bay Area on December 7th and across the world in China and the Middle East later on this month. I am excited to have the opportunity to share the blessings of the season in person with these alumni and to come together as a community to celebrate who we are and what we value.

This holiday season, love and community are two values very much on my mind. My hope is that in this time when it feels like there are so many things that can divide us as a nation and global community, that we come together in unity, peace, love and understanding.  Seattle University will remain a place of support, care and inclusion for our students and alumni. Each of us can do our part to make this world a warmer place this season and always.

Know that you, our alumni, are always in my prayers and I hope that you will include me and the Seattle University community in yours.

I want to extend my warmest wishes to you and your family for a very merry Christmas and joyful, peace-filled holiday season.

With blessings,

Fr. Steve