Aerica Shimizu Banks

Rising Scholar: Making a Difference

Aerica Banks ’10 - 2020 Outstanding Recent Alumna

To the donors who provided my scholarship, I want to say thank you. Know that you fund not just an education, but help students find their purpose and serve causes greater than themselves. 

As a high school senior in Sacramento, California, Aerica Shimizu Banks, ’10, knew she needed a scholarship to afford college. When she received a postcard in the mail inviting her to apply for Seattle University’s Sullivan Scholarship, she was curious and excited. Upon researching the award, she found herself drawn to its guiding values of social justice, service, leadership and spirituality. She knew that this was her next step. 

Now, 10 years after graduating, she remains deeply connected to the Sullivan community and is an exemplary model of the SU mission in action.  

Banks is a leader in addressing gender and racial inequity in big tech, and a strong advocate for underrepresented communities. “The Sullivan Scholarship inured in me a commitment to social justice in my work and the confidence to speak up and speak out for what’s right and against what’s wrong,” says Banks. Her many professional achievements include leading diversity and inclusion efforts in Google’s legal team, co-founding BEACON: the D.C. Women Founders Initiative and founding Shiso LLC, a consulting firm that applies an intersectional equity lens to tech, policy and business solutions. She was featured on Forbes magazine’s 2018 “30 under 30” Social Entrepreneur list and was recently nominated for a United State of Women Changemaker honor. 

As an alumna and scholarship recipient, Banks is grateful to all of the donors who empowered her journey and continue to empower current Seattle U students otherwise unable to afford higher education. “My Seattle U education was holistic. I think it’s an approach that’s rare and yet very important that involves the aspects of spirituality and service. Those components are missing from the traditional education,” says Banks. “Donor-supported scholarships help more students graduate with this outlook, creating space for more public servants, future business leaders and future community leaders.” 

Thanks to the generous support of our donors, more and more students like Banks are able to attend Seattle U and use their education to make our world a more just and equitable place.