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Costco Scholarship Breakfast raises record support for deserving students

Written by Mike Thee
September 26, 2017

A record-setting $5.3 million was raised at the 18th annual Costco Scholarship Fund Breakfast on Sept. 13. The funds will be shared evenly between Costco Scholars at Seattle University and the University of Washington. 

Since its inception, the Costco Scholarship Fund has provided a cumulative $51 million for underrepresented students at SU and UW. To date, 600 Seattle University students have graduated as Costco Scholars. 

This year’s breakfast, held at the Meydenbauer Center Bellevue, featured SU students Kimberly Turner (Nursing, ’18), who served as MC, and Saymirah Cornelius-McClam (Biology, ’21), who was featured in a video shown at the event. Alumna Essence Russ (Communication Studies, ’07) also shared remarks. (Their profiles can be found below.)

Turner spoke movingly of how the Costco Scholarship Fund has allowed her to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse and the first in her family to graduate from college. 

“After all the work my mom and I put into my future, it was financial aid that would have the final say,” she said. “When I opened my acceptance letter to Seattle University and found out I was receiving the Costco Scholarship, I was in awe. 

Addressing the scholarship fund’s donors, she said, “I can’t wait to give back to others as you’ve all so generously done for me.” 

Also sharing remarks was SU President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., who said the Costco Scholarship “transforms our university and it transforms (our) students.” 

Father Sundborg and other speakers remembered Jeff Brotman, cofounder of the Costco Scholarship Fund, who passed away over the summer, and expressed gratitude for his commitment to providing educational opportunities for young people.

Pictured above, l. to r., Saymirah Cornelius-McClam (SU), Zareya Flowers (UW), Kimberly Turner (SU) and Camilo Palacio (UW).

Kimberly Turner

Raised in Vancouver, WA, Kimberly is a Senior Nursing major. Kimberly has immersed herself fully into the Seattle University community both within her major and across the campus. Outside of the classroom, Kimberly works at Seattle U’s Eisiminger Fitness Center, serves as an athletic coordinator for intramural sports, and mentors incoming Costco Scholars through Seattle U’s Office of Multicultural Affairs.  As a nursing student she gets hands-on experience at Swedish Hospital and Harborview Medical Center. After graduation, she hopes to follow her passion of working in the healthcare field by studying to become a registered nurse with a focus on serving families and children.

Saymirah Cornelius-McClam

Born and raised in Seattle, Saymirah was pushed by her family at a young age to work hard in order to attain a higher education. Since the 5th grade, she was passionate about the field of healthcare when multiple family members experienced medical hardships. With the support of her family and the Rainier Scholars program, Saymirah excelled academically. Outside of the classroom she played on the basketball team and volunteered with a local preschool and food bank. She attributes her role as student advisor to 5th and 6th graders as being one of her biggest learning experiences. She is an incoming freshman majoring in Cell and Molecular Biology.

Essence Russ

Growing up, Essence always had the ambition to do well in school. As a bright, young individual, she was in the highly capable program in her elementary school, made honor roll through middle school and high school, and was involved in student government and athletics. Seattle University not only met her academically but financially with the support of the Costco Scholarship. Attending Seattle University pushed Essence to think critically, advocate for social justice and focus on growing her whole self. After earning her undergraduate degree, Essence earned a Masters in Communication and Leadership at Gonzaga University. Professionally, she worked five years in the Foster Care community and recently started her own non-profit, Hotel Humanity, an organization that provides interim housing for individuals experiencing homelessness in King County. Her ultimate goal is to expand her non-profit to reach a wider constituent base in order to ensure that all people have a secure and stable home. She attributes her passion to create a better world to her education at Seattle University.