SU Voice Alumni Blog

Friends Stay Connected Through Reading Redhawks

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on Wednesday, February 3, 2021 at 4:46 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.