Featured Alum

Chris Lu, '17

Photo of Chris LuChris Lu (who formerly went by Saul McGuire) had much success in his senior year. He thrived academically and served as a representative for the English Department, all while working towards a larger goal—to become a librarian in Seattle. For Chris, completing his English Literature degree has been a big step towards reaching this goal.

As a nontraditional student, Chris’ undergraduate path wasn’t always linear. Chris has been in college before, considered ministry, and served in the military before his time at Seattle University. “While I was in the military, I was working in logistics, sorting and putting away parts. I liked the idea of getting into archiving, and then I realized there’s a lot more openings, especially in [Seattle], for digital media and information and being a curator of that kind of thing. I moved to Seattle to eventually go into this specific program…It’s nice to set a goal and see everything line up along the way.”

Chris’ hard work will culminate this fall, when he begins the Masters in Library Information Science program at the University of Washington. From there, Chris aspires to work as a research librarian, “learning how to more efficiently find information for people, how to consolidate that information, and how to file, curate, manage, and archive information and forms.”

As for his time at SU, Chris notes, “I want to express my gratitude to the English Department and the professors I had, because I wouldn’t be getting into the program that is literally my dream if it wasn’t for them.” He also advises peers to “put your head down and charge through, it’s over before you know it, and see you on the other side.” Chris served the department as a student representative to the Student Outreach and Professional Development Committee, where he engaged in student recruitment and retention initiatives, and helped plan career and grad school information workshops.

Outside of the academic setting, Chris has spent the summer break traveling the West Coast with his husband and their dog.


Photo of David StrandDavid Strand graduated in 2015, double majoring in Creative Writing and Visual Art. David plunged into his career immediately following his degree, as he started working full time at Seattle’s Frye Art Museum, during finals week of his senior year. Initially hired as a Curatorial Assistant, he was tasked with project managing the museum’s largest exhibition to date, Genius / 21 Century / Seattle, a celebration of exceptional multidisciplinary and collaborative artistic practice in Seattle, which featured over 65 artists.

Following that exhibition, David was promoted to Manager of Exhibitions and Publications, then was promoted again in September of 2017, to the Head of Exhibitions and Publications role; presumably, an ideal blend of his two SU majors, and a great example of working up through the ranks in an organization, into a position that highlights one’s expertise. To date, David has overseen the realization of twenty exhibitions and four publications at the Frye.

For David, being an English major meant pushing his critical thinking faculties, honing his writing skills while expanding his understanding of both the possibilities and limitations of language, and questioning assumptions in order to broaden his worldview, and accommodate multiple perspectives.

Reflecting on his time at Seattle U, David has the following advice for current English majors: “Get involved in the wider Seattle community, literary or otherwise, by attending events and gaining internship experience. Your professors are excellent resources and often have valuable connections in the city that can help you build a bridge from university to the working world. In short, office hours can be for more than just discussing your assignments.”

Focusing on the future, David would like to pursue his Master’s degree, and seek out more creative projects and collaborations.

Photo of Carlito UmaliCarlito Umali graduated with his BA in English Literature in 2008. Today, five years into his teaching career, he is a middle school teacher at Renton School District’s Risdon Middle School, where his curriculum focuses on 21st century skills, STEM integration, and project-based learning.

He credits his various English faculty mentors for helping him to discern his career goals. Post-graduation, he worked for Seattle Central College, and Seattle University’s Center for Service and Community Engagement. These two experiences confirmed his passion for teaching, and from there he completed SU’s Master in Teaching program.

Umali says being an English major taught him how to define himself through writing. “Looking back at all the books I had to read and all those crazy essays – I learned my writing voice. At work, I am writing all the time. The speed, clarity, and confidence that I have in writing came from my training as an English Major.”

Umali advises current students to work and intern at different jobs, particularly before pursuing graduate school. He also emphasizes the importance of learning to work collaboratively. “Wherever you work, you will need to learn how to work with others.”

Umali describes the personal connections he made with faculty as his favorite SU memory. “I am so happy to have had Dr. Tung and Dra. Gutierrez y Muhs. In their classes, they got to really know me. I was working like crazy, hustling to get scholarships, and trying not to take out massive amounts of loans in an expensive, predominantly white institution. Finding them was like finding myself. They didn’t try to make me fit into a model of what an English major was, they allowed me to redefine it. I needed that connection to finish. I am so grateful to them both.”

Photo of Michelle DeLappeEnglish Department alumna Michelle DeLappe graduated from Seattle University while studying abroad in France in 1998. The SU Honors Program inspired Michelle to switch from a pre-med major to English, as she simply loved her literature classes. She landed her first, post-graduation job in a bakery in the Alps, as part of a work exchange program.

On her way to France for her study abroad term, Michelle stopped in Washington, D.C. for an MLA conference. At the time, she intended to pursue graduate studies in literature to eventually become a professor – though listening to presentations at the conference about the state of the profession at the time led her to reconsider her plan.

Upon returning to the U.S. in 1998, Michelle worked for a year at Amazon.com—back when it was still a bookstore. By then, she had saved enough for another year abroad, this time with hopes to teach English and improve her Spanish in the Andes Mountains of Venezuela. After returning, she waited tables until finding a job as an international student advisor and assistant manager of a Kaplan test prep center. But Michelle’s goal was to return to Venezuela to settle, since she had enjoyed her previous time spent there so much. In late 2002 she returned to Venezuela, taught English in the Universidad de Los Andes extension program, and completed a masters in linguistics at the same university. She returned to Seattle in 2005, first pursuing a law degree, then a career as a state and local tax lawyer in a Seattle law firm. “Career plans, like all facets of life, are subject to change as we learn and grow as individuals,” says Michelle. Though finding her new path took some time and anxiety, she developed a clear career objective. Michelle credits using this time to explore different worlds and learn more about herself as an important step in pursuing her law career.

“I believe that immersing oneself in other people’s stories and experiences through literature can help us become better humans—more empathetic and effective in interacting with others in our work or personal lives, and more successful in trying to make some modicum of sense out of this complicated, challenging world,” she says. Studying literature reinforced what Michelle calls “good mental hygiene”: critical reading skills, logical and creative thinking habits, and persuasive communication abilities. These are key skills she applies in her career while reading and writing legal briefs, strategizing cases, and negotiating resolutions to disputes.

Michelle has the following advice for current English Department students about how to maximize their time at SU:

“Challenge yourself to learn as much as you can. You don’t have to figure out a whole master plan for your life. As a student, I felt there was often pressure to determine what my ultimate career would be, but I see now, in hindsight, that it was impossible at that point for me to have apprehended the range of possibilities. I wish I could have saved myself the anxiety of not knowing and not having a master plan. Just be patient with the exploratory process and be open to a wide range of possibilities, knowing that you possess the tools and resources to eventually settle on one of the many possible paths to a fulfilling career.”

Photo of Tim TalevichHe oversees the editorial content of a print magazine for more than 13 million subscribers on four continents, an online version, an app, and an annual cookbook run of three million. For The Costco Connection editorial director Tim Talevich '78, each day brings a new challenge.

“When I come to work, I have a plan,” Talevich said from Costco headquarters in Issaquah, WA, “but part of the plan is unplanned.” 

With a staff of 30 in-house reporters, graphic designers, circulation managers, and production people, as well as a full complement of freelancers, Talevich is responsible for producing relevant and fresh content for The Costco Connection monthly print magazine, an online version, and an app for mobile devices.

“We are looking at new products, new trends, and what’s going on in organics and sustainability that are on the minds of consumers,” he said. “We want to help them make the best decisions with their hard-earned money, whether it is for a product or service.”

Talevich rose in the editorial hierarchy of Costco after starting there as a freelance writer. It was a natural progression for Talevich, who began his career in writing while still in high school and decided to major in English at Seattle University. His English degree led to a master’s in journalism from the University of Oregon, experience in regional newspapers in the Northwest, and freelancing for Costco.

When Costco expanded in the mid-1990s, Talevich joined the staff as a reporter. He gradually became involved in international editions, added editorial responsibilities, and took on more management.

“It’s been 20 years of stepping up, and it’s always been a new challenge and professionally fulfilling,” he said.

The Costco Connection features articles on money management, travel, new books and films, products sold in Costco stores, and interesting stories that involve members. Although Talevich has interviewed movie stars and celebrities, including Bill Gates Jr. and Bill Gates Sr., his most interesting interview was with former President Jimmy Carter on the publication of his novel, The Hornet’s Nest, in 2001. The story is a historical fiction about the early stages of the Revolutionary War in the South, when often neighbors were pitted against neighbors in horrific battles.

“Knowing the former President’s deep moral convictions about violence and war, I asked him ultimately if the rebels were justified in taking up arms against the British,” Talevich said. “Mr. Carter paused, giving the question a deep thought, and finally responded that indeed the violence was justified because the British had been so brutal to the settlers. After his answer, we both stayed silent for a few moments.”

In addition to the magazine and its multiple versions, Talevich manages the editorial content of a yearly cookbook with a print run of three million. The most recent cookbook featured 244 recipes and went “like hotcakes” when it came out after Thanksgiving.

Although the days are often long and hectic, Talevich takes great satisfaction in working as part of a team in a successful enterprise. He acknowledges that he has been lucky to turn his passion into a rewarding career. He has this advice for students: “You have to leverage the experience you’ve got in college and then go to the next step. If you love English, then decide if you want to write and then figure out ways to write. Know and appreciate your passion, take what you’ve learned and find new ways of adapting it.”