SU Voice Alumni Blog

Empowering Education: Student Scholar Finds Success at SU and Beyond

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on Friday, January 15, 2021 at 11:07 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.