Paying it forward, changing the world
Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on Wednesday, November 4, 2020 at 12:40 PM PST
Growing up in rural Minnesota, Brenda Christensen, ’81 was eager for adventure. As a high school senior, her prayers were answered in the form of a scholarship from the Girl Scouts to spend the summer in Italy—an experience that sparked her imagination and ingenuity, and paved the way for her time and impact at Seattle U.
Christensen graduated from the Albers School of Business & Economics in 1981 and made her first gift, $20 to support the SU Fund, just three years later. As the years progressed, so did her relationship with the university. “I attended events, volunteered, and stayed in touch with staff and faculty who shared updates and opportunities,” says Christensen. “We had conversations about how I wanted to make an impact, and they made it easy to find connections between my values and the difference I could make.”
Eventually, Christensen helped found the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center, and later—inspired by her Girl Scouts experience—established an endowment to help Albers students access international experiences. “I had so many life-changing opportunities thanks to the support of others, and I wanted to pay that forward.” Recently, Christensen joined Seattle U’s Board of Trustees and was even recognized as 2019’s Alumna of the Year.
She continues to play an active role in the life of the university, supporting initiatives all across campus and even establishing a bequest to extend her impact beyond her lifetime. What motivates Christensen’s continued generosity? “Listen to the ideas that come out of Seattle U,” she says. “They’re bold and fearless, yet real-world ready. Our lives could be so different if more people could access this critical education and take what they learned out into the world.”
While Christensen is now a major donor, she continues to stress the importance of small gifts and first-time donations from alumni. Christensen tells all of the students that she’s helped, “when you get your first big job, make a gift back to the university. Every gift—of any size—matters, and together we can keep the cycle going by inspiring the next generation of students.”
Engaged alums like Christensen make a powerful impact, ensuring every student receives a transformative education that prepares them to lead us toward a more just and humane world. As part of Our Moment for Mission: The President’s Challenge, we’re calling on every alum to do what they can. By giving of your time, talent or treasure, you can help build equitable access to Seattle U and empower today’s students to impact our world for the better.
Now more than ever before, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to present unprecedented challenges, Seattle U students need our help to thrive. Learn more about areas to make a difference here.
Cura personalis — 206k raised during SU Gives supported student programs, including in Athletics and the Office of Multicultural Affairs, 656k from the SU Fund strengthened the student experience and upheld SU’s standard of excellence
Access to Education — 158 student scholarship funds supported by SU donors, 154k raised for the Annual Scholarship Fund
Covid-19 Response — 493 students have received grants from the Emergency Needs Fund to date, 100 new Chromebooks purchased for students to access distance learning