Gifts of all sizes help Seattle University provide a uniquely rigorous, Jesuit-inspired student experience that boosts academic success and fosters professional and personal formation.

Read about some of the people at Seattle University who are guided by purpose and driven by passion to create a more just and humane world.

19th Annual Costco Scholarship Fund Breakfast Raises $4.4 Million

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Over the past 19 years Costco Scholarships have given the transformative gift of higher education to 1,033 deserving underrepresented students in the greater Seattle area. These students have in turn enriched the campuses of Seattle University and the University of Washington with the strength that derives from a diverse academic community.

Large group of Costco Scholars and Alumni from UW and Seattle U

The 19th annual Costco Scholarship Fund Breakfast, an opportunity for Costco vendors from around the world to learn about the fund and hear inspirational personal stories from scholarship recipients, took place on September 14 at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue. Attendance was up by 20 percent over last year’s event, with 1,400 vendor representatives in attendance. The breakfast raised $4,448,900 for the scholarship fund.

Evan Wirkkala, a University of Washington and Seattle U Costco Scholar Alumnus and the current managing director at Cornerstone Advisors, emceed the event. Craig Jelinek, Costco president and CEO, welcomed the attendees, followed by Governor Jay Inslee, who addressed the audience via video. UW President Ana Mari Cauce and Seattle University President Fr. Steve Sundborg each gave brief opening remarks.

Highlighting the program were four Costco Scholar stories. Two students from the UW and two from SU presented, one from each university via video and the other in-person.

Aredy Garcia Quijano, a freshman studying criminal justice/pre-engineering at Seattle U presented via video. Aredy and her family came to the United States when she was 11 years old to escape a dangerous community and political instability. Her parents’ dedication and hard work to provide a better life for her fueled Aredy’s determination to succeed. A varsity athlete in high school and an active volunteer in her community, Aredy was determined to achieve her dream of attending college. A Costco scholarship closed a financial gap, enabling her to attend SU.

Amina Ibrahim, an SU junior majoring in communication and media studies with a minor in criminal justice, grew-up in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood. Her parents left their native Somalia to escape civil war and political turmoil, eventually emigrating to the United States. Though she never attended college herself, Amina’s mother stressed the value of education to her five children. She also encouraged them to seek out support and resources available to them at school and in their community in order to overcome the financial barrier that stood between them and college.

A Costco Scholarship made it possible for Amina to attend Seattle University where she serves as president of the Muslim Student Association, and as a multi-faith minister through Campus Ministry. She also had the opportunity to study in Ghana, where she volunteered her time at a local elementary school catering to children with disabilities.

The 20th annual Costco Scholarship Fund Breakfast will take place on September 19, 2019.


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Marika Yaplee

Scholarships Are a Critical Bridge for Students Who Want to Stay in School

For many families with students pursuing a college education today, a gap between the high cost of tuition and available resources can shatter dreams. At Seattle University, the majority of students and families are unable to fully fund the cost of attendance. While 87 percent of Seattle U undergrads receive financial aid, the ability to finance any remaining differential can impact a student’s educational opportunity.

New student recruitment and student retention are both directly impacted by the affordability gap. Data shows there to be a significant disparity in the retention of Seattle U students with high unmet need versus the overall class retention rate. This is especially so in the crucial transition between the first and second year.

Student scholarships play a critical role in helping to bridge the financial chasm that stands between many students and their dream of a college education. Seattle U offers both merit scholarships and need-based aid to assist students in bridging the gap, but students are also expected to do their part. For some, their part is only covered by loans and working one or more jobs while in school.

“To me the issue isn’t just about funding—it’s about getting students to a place where they can do their best academically because they aren’t constantly worried about their financial situation,” says Jeff Scofield, director of Student Financial Services. “We can change a student’s entire academic experience if we can resolve some of their financial issues.

Bridge Scholarships, such as the Seattle University Opportunity Grant, can go a long way toward helping deserving students complete their education here. Marika Yaplee, ’17, is a case in point.

Because Marika’s family had limited financial resources to contribute toward her education, it was up to her. She earned a competitive Campion Merit Scholarship, took out loans and worked several jobs. Her freshman year was a success as she ranked at the top of her class with a science-heavy course load. However, when the time came to return for her sophomore year, Marika faced a $6,000 affordability gap that she was unable to pay. She planned to drop out and continue her education at a public institution.

Fortunately, Seattle U was able to step in with a bridge scholarship that enabled Marika to stay in school. She still had to work more than one job to do her part, but she had the determination to succeed and maintained a high GPA while working toward her goal of becoming a pediatric occupational therapist.

Seattle U annually awards upward of $2 million in private scholarships to undergraduates, but unmet need continues to surpass available scholarship dollars.

The Campaign for Seattle University aspires to raise $75 million for student scholarships. These new funds will provide supplemental means to help mitigate students’ remaining unmet need and support new and existing scholarships that provide access to education, celebrate academic success and help with recruitment.

Student scholarships truly do change lives. More than funding a student today, our donors are funding the education that will empower our next generation of leaders.


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Fr. Gillis taught and advised students at Seattle University from 1987-2010


studentsThe late Roger Gillis, S.J., “Fr. Rog,” as he was known to the students who loved him, was an endearing figure who inspired scores of Seattle University students through his many roles as student advisor, theater professor, spiritual counselor and retreat director. Even from his hospital bed, he continued to remind his visitors to “take time for one another because this is how we know we are loved.”

Fr. Gillis believed in providing multiple access points to help Seattle University students “come home to themselves.” His philosophy is as relevant now as ever as we serve a student body that is increasingly diverse. Seattle University strives to give each student the support they need to achieve academically and feel part of the campus community. Mentoring, academic support and community building are just some of the ways we strive to fully engage our students.

The Roger Gillis, S.J. Endowment ensures that Seattle University continues to provide the tailored support our diverse student body needs for success. Knowing that our students’ needs and demographics continue to change, the endowment also gives Seattle University the flexibility to pivot in response while ensuring that effective programs continue. This endowment makes possible:

  • Outreach and support for first-generation students and their families
  • Multicultural competence training for students and staff
  • Comprehensive support for first-year, sophomore and transfer students and military veterans
  • Online support for undergraduate adult learners

This endowment will offer support to our students and build community, just as Fr. Rog lovingly advised.


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Danuta Wojnar, PhD, RN, MED, IBCLC, FAAN

Danuta Wojnar“Like other first-generation immigrants, I had to overcome many adversities to become who I am today. To many students, I am the living example of ‘Yes, you can.’ As such, I expect a lot from myself and no less from my students.”

Danuta’s belief that “one should be part of the solution” has driven her across the globe – from her home in Poland, where she was a member in the Solidarity Workers’ Union, to Nova Scotia, where she fled with her husband and infant son after Poland’s military crackdown in the 1980s. Her path to becoming a College of Nursing professor and associate dean is one the recently naturalized U.S. citizen describes as “the rivers of my life coming together.”

Deep reflection led Danuta to a career in nursing after her master’s degree in education from Poland’s oldest university did not translate to employment in Canada. “I envisioned using my experience as a political activist and my knowledge of teaching and fluency in several languages to promote equitable healthcare for all but especially the underserved.”

She earned an RN degree and did clinical work in Halifax before earning her doctorate in nursing from the University of Washington. Attracted by Seattle U’s social-justice mission, she joined the faculty in 2005 and rose through ranks while managing a substantial teaching load and mentoring many students. She gratefully acknowledges those “who saw my intellect and potential behind the thick accent.”

The international nurse leader has focused her work and research on women and infants from immigrant populations, non-traditional families and the future of nursing. She has published extensively, authored a book and received a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Executive Nurse Fellowship.

Danuta never spoke about her experience as a political refugee until asked to write an autobiographical poem for the RWJF fellowship. Poignant memories flood the poem, which ultimately looks forward. “I am from the land that nurtured me as a child and expelled me as an adult…I am from the hope for better days ahead.”

Asked what’s next, Danuta smiles, her mind awash with goals for the nursing profession. “There is so much we can do. I want to mentor students to have the conviction to further develop the nursing profession to serve people better.”


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DoQuyen Huynh, DNP, MSN, ARNP, RN
BSN ‘07, MSN ‘10, DNP ‘14

Do Quyen Huynh “Seattle University’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree enabled me to take the next step in my career; that is, to address the primary-care shortage crisis by giving nurse practitioners the tools they need to succeed in complex community health settings.”

Quyen’s decision to become a nurse practitioner (NP) was inspired by her experience growing up in Bellevue as a Vietnamese political refugee who had immigrated at 11 with her family. “Although we came to the U.S. because it is the land of opportunities, over time we also recognized that there were systemic inequalities that profoundly affected those of underprivileged backgrounds, my family included.”

Quyen decided that nurse practitioners represented the future of primary care for underserved, or “resilient,” populations, as she calls them. Seattle U’s College of Nursing perfectly matched her social-justice mission to serve people with limited financial and social resources. She earned three nursing degrees from Seattle U culminating in her doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) in 2014. “I think it speaks for itself that I keep coming back,” she says, distinguishing SU’s nursing program as one with “a soul.”

At International Community Health Services (ICHS), Quyen delivers clinical care to predominantly Southeast Asian and East African patients, the majority of whom are political refugees or immigrants with cultural, language and financial barriers. Quyen loves clinical work but believed she could broaden her impact as a nurse leader backed by a DNP. By all accounts, she was right.

Quyen developed and now directs the Nurse Practitioner Residency Program at ICHS. She advocates for federal funding and accreditation for NP residency and fellowship programs nationally. And, she founded a Northwest consortium to promote collaboration among nursing residencies, fellowships and educational institutions.

Post-graduate training programs, Quyen says, improve primary care for underserved populations by better preparing NPs for the “complex clinical work” that has historically contributed to high turnover. Her work has created an infrastructure to develop future generations of primary-care providers.

“NP post-graduate training addresses the national primary-care shortage crisis, which disproportionately affects underserved populations. Nurse practitioners deserve the support, and patients deserve high quality care regardless of socioeconomic status.”


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Majd Baniodeh, ‘11

Majd Baniodeh “Seattle University does an exceptional job of promoting global awareness. I’d like to see students in every field encouraged to travel. Then we would have a comprehensive and holistic approach to the world.”

A child of war-torn Palestine, Majd was already a citizen of the world when she arrived at Seattle University. When she was just 15 she came to the United States on her own to complete her education. Her world view had been shaped in equal measure by the violence she experienced growing up and the “non-violent resistance” modeled by her parents, both nurses, that inspires her today. “My parents always said, ‘Education is our strongest weapon.’”

Coming to Seattle for high school, young Majd was shocked to discover how little Americans knew about the world, and felt compelled to educate people. Upon entering Seattle U, she was gratified to find a more culturally-aware population. “People at Seattle U have a dedication to global awareness.”

Eager to develop her cultural competency, Majd took advantage of a Seattle U internship in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa. There the trilingual international studies major provided translation and research services. But her real education came in witnessing the pervasive human trafficking of women and girls. Majd tried to intervene, but found the situation to be “a lot bigger than I am.” Upon returning to Seattle U, she captured her impressions in an impassioned paper. “I carried that message and gave the women a voice.”

Such experiences provided the cornerstones of Majd’s global education, but she credits her Seattle U professors with developing in her the critical-thinking skills and confidence she would need for an international career. Professors from economics to English became mentors who prepared Majd for the path she would follow after graduation – working for notable international agencies such as Global Washington and winning acceptance to a prestigious graduate program in applied international studies.

“My Seattle U professors saw in me a powerful woman and gave me the tools to get where I wanted to be.”

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