Alumni Spotlight: Stefanie McIrvin, '11 - Ghost Hunter

Posted by Caitlin Joyce on Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 1:06 PM PDT

You might not know it to look at her, but 2011 Masters, Public Administration alumna, Stefani McIrvin, is a ghost hunter.

Yes, you read that right, a ghost hunter. While her day job might consist of managing things in Seattle University’s I.T. office, Stefanie has a passion for the paranormal.
Her fascination with the other side began at an early age, when her older sister purchased a historical mansion built in the 1800’s in Spokane, known as the Judge Nash House. She moved into the house at age 5 with her dad and three siblings.

“There were a lot of things that couldn’t be explained, that we all experienced while living in the house. Doors would open and close by themselves. The tea kettle would steam and whistle on the stove, even if there was no water in it. We would hear dance music coming from the ballroom and there would be no one inside. We’d also hear piano music coming from the parlor – my sister didn’t own a piano.”

Stefanie said that despite the weird happenings, and the occasional apparition of a maid or handyman, the house felt like home and the hauntings just became part of life. “The spirits were nice. If you lost something, you’d leave the room to go look for it and find it sitting on the table when you returned. It was like they were trying to help you out.”

While the house she grew up in made her a believer, she didn’t start hunting ghosts until she moved into an older home in West Seattle. “We moved into a house in 2007 and it was a very different kind of haunting. We’d hear heavy footsteps on the stairs, banging from inside the walls and screams coming from the basement.”

The malevolent nature of this haunting caused Stefanie and her now husband, Ryan, to look for ways to capture the events happening in their home. They set up cameras and attempted to record what they were hearing. In their efforts to document their haunting, the couple connected with other paranormal enthusiasts online, who invited Stefanie and Ryan on an official ghost hunt in Nevada at the Goldfield Hotel.

In 2008, they joined their fellow ghost hunters in the small mining town of Goldfield for a 2-night investigation. Their companions were Zak Bagans, Nick Groff and Aaron Goodwin who would later go on to achieve fame through their Travel Channel show, “Ghost Adventures.”

The Goldfield Hotel has been out of operation since the 1940’s and has earned itself a reputation for paranormal activity. On the second night of their investigation, Stefanie and Ryan agreed to be locked inside alone.

During their lock-in, a rock was thrown at Ryan, followed by the sound of footsteps retreating quickly down a staircase. They also heard the loud clamor of footsteps and voices coming from the lobby. When the couple, who thought it was their friends retrieving them, headed to the front desk, they found the lobby empty and silent with the door still locked. Ryan began the investigation as a skeptic, but ended as believer in the paranormal.

Stefanie and Ryan continue to explore haunted locations, including a trip to the Eastern State Penitentiary and a stay in a haunted hotel in Placerville California.

“Do I get scared ghost hunting? Sure. But I think it’s because Hollywood teaches us that the paranormal is scary and dangerous and there’s a basic human fear of the unknown, but I think it’s more exciting than scary.” Stefanie said. “I really do think there’s more out there than we can see.”