Rising Scholar Finds Lifelong Community

As a student, finding and fostering community can be crucial to not only your own academic success, but also to the success of your peers. At Seattle University, Brian Le, ’19, cultivated relationships across campus, from his leadership in the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) to his student position in the Career Engagement Office and beyond. Every connection encouraged Le to learn holistically and grow into a better version of himself while giving back to the SU community at large.

At the end of his four years here, Le not only forged lifelong friendships—he strengthened the skills necessary to seamlessly transition from student to adult.

Le, a Bannan Scholar, believes his journey would not have been possible without this scholarship. “The aid I received not only made my attendance a possibility but also it made SU the best option financially. It helped ease the burden off my family so that I could focus on being a successful student and an outstanding member of my community.”


A Rising Scholar

As a prospective college student, Le felt the trepidation many high schoolers experience when figuring out their next steps, post-high school. “It’s scary to look at the price tag that’s associated with higher education these days,” he says. “The financial aid given to me by the SU team eased that fear and uncertainty. It helped me focus more on getting my education, rather than focusing on how to pay for my education.”

With the Bannan Scholarship, Le was able to attend SU and fully immerse himself in campus life beyond the classroom. The financial support provided by the scholarship meant Le had greater capacity to seek personal and professional enrichment opportunities, which led him to both the VSA and the Career Engagement Office.

Moreover, as part of the Bannan Scholars Enrichment Program, Le’s scholarship went above and beyond tuition assistance. As part of the program, Le and his fellow cohort bonded over social, scholarly and service activities, forming yet another meaningful community on campus. “Being in the Bannan program connected me to other students and disciplines that I would not have traditionally been connected to,” says Le. “It fostered relationships between people who were similar, while also having unique differences and unique paths. It opened my worldview.”


Finding Family Away From Home

For Le, the VSA was a cornerstone of his SU experience. In connecting with so many people from a similar cultural background, he found not only a close-knit group of friends, but a deep support system. “Even though we were all going through our own courses and projects, being able to come together as we worked was great for morale,” says Le. “It was really meaningful. They were a family away from family.”

Le’s connections with the VSA were strong and to this day, he still enjoys witnessing all the activities the club hosts on campus. “It's great to see the next generation of young leaders continue to grow the club that I was a part of during my time at SU.”

Now an alum of the club, Le continues his involvement with the VSA’s continental organization, the Union of North American Vietnamese Student Associations (UNAVSA). This year, he is the executive director for their annual conference in Portland, Ore. “I’m excited,” says Le. “Even though I’ve left the Northwest, I’m still connected to the VSA and the people who are a part of this still mean a lot to me.”


Building Networks, Discovering Passions

 Le’s transition from Computer Science major to product manager may seem atypical to some, but to Le, it felt natural. Much of this was thanks to his involvement in the Career Engagement Office (CEO), where he was a student worker. Here, not only did he boost the communication, leadership and teambuilding skills he uses in his position today at OpenTable, his co-workers urged him to begin his professional journey early.

“Working in the (Career Engagement) office, one of the things that we really encouraged—even for freshmen who might not feel like they are ready—is to go to career fairs to learn, experience and network.” For Le, this advice helped him to secure his first internship at Costco Wholesale—one of three internships he would have throughout the duration of his studies at SU.

“I was led to those internship opportunities through my activities and involvement on and off campus at SU, especially my involvement with the Career Engagement Office,” says Le. “They’ve helped lead me to the career direction I’m in today and because of all that, I feel like my transition into adult, post-college life did not feel like a significant or drastic transition.”

Le’s connection to CEO and the wider SU community continued after graduation. Recently, Le was a panelist in the Bay Area leg of the ”Meet 22 in ‘22” roadshows, featuring President Eduardo Peñalver, where he connected with fellow alumni and prospective students to share how SU shaped his personal and professional development. He has also hosted events for the Career Engagement Office, including a workshop on building a successful LinkedIn targeted at computer science and senior capstone project students.


A Next Step

Le encourages fellow alums, parents and community members who are financially able to do so to make a gift to scholarships at Seattle University. Any gift, whether big or small, is an investment in a more just and humane world, says Le. “The people who graduate from SU have a good, holistic view of not only their discipline and their major, but the world more broadly. “They understand what it means to be a human in this world. The university fosters leaders who have strong ethical values and who really consider their own impact on the communities they are a part of. That's the unique thing about investing in a scholarship at SU—you are investing in a better future not only for a fantastic group of individuals, but a better future for us all.”

Tags: Community Engagement, Empowering Leaders, Community and Belonging, Bannan Scholars, Donors, Alumni