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.

New Provost on Excellence at Seattle U

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Many schools talk about their commitment to academic excellence. They describe their commitment to service or their commitment to social justice. What’s unique about Jesuit education, according to Seattle University Provost Shane P. Martin, is the integration of all of these important priorities in an inclusive manner, and how they inform one another. Thus, academic excellence is grounded in the commitment to service, to social action and to change through leadership.

Installation of Provost Shane P. Martin

So how exactly do we “do” academic excellence at Seattle U? Have we put our own signature on a nearly 500-year-old Jesuit educational tradition? Provost Martin explains it this way:

“Academic excellence is a commitment to two things: A deep grounding in intellectual and academic rigor in one’s content area so as to develop an expertise. But it’s not enough just to be excellent in one’s area. It’s the proclivity through inclusive leadership to make a difference in the world. So it’s a commitment to intellectual rigor coupled with a social consciousness and the desire to make impactful change for the common good of our society.

Martin, who took the reins as provost seven months ago, says Seattle U’s commitment to academic excellence is inclusive throughout all programs at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels, and calls out a few things that have particularly impressed him. One of those is the Core Curriculum.

“We’re educating well-rounded undergraduates who can go deep in problem-solving, and who have the interdisciplinary kinds of skills and perspective that I think the challenges of today’s society, and certainly those of the future, require,” he says. “Because of the way our faculty has carefully thought about the core curriculum, we have a broad offering of courses that address issues of critical thinking, problem solving and quantitative literacy, for example, and that utilize real-world case studies and require students to apply their knowledge to contemporary challenges in society. Formulation of ideas and their articulation is paramount across the core curriculum.”

At the master’s and doctoral levels, Martin notes Seattle U’s carefully-selected programs that build on the core strength of its undergraduate programs, leading students deeper into their field of study while preparing them for positions of leadership. Further, he references the number of Seattle U law school graduates who have moved into positions of leadership in the legal community, including judgeships, as symbolic of the university’s whole array of programs.

That said, he sees opportunities for growth and improvement. Because the curriculum at Seattle U is so connected to real world dynamics, it is always being developed, enhanced and improved. It is designed to reflect and to be in dialogue with the signs of the times.

Asked about specific opportunities for improvement, Martin talks about finding ways to grow and enhance the university’s systems, policies and practices so as to bring more intentionality to the work that is done here.

“Part of that is deepening our infrastructure in our Academic Affairs division,” he explains, “the undergirding to support this dynamic academic curriculum.”

Continuing, Martin says, “The Campaign for Seattle University will be of tremendous support in accomplishing this. It will allow us to recruit and retain faculty who are the right fit for this dynamic institution, and to expand our centers and initiatives that build bridges between the university and the community. Most importantly, it will support construction of the new Center for Science and Innovation, which will be a symbol of Seattle U’s Commitment to academic and inclusive excellence and to integrated, holistic curricula. The CSI will help students of all majors deepen the quantitative and information sciences skills that everyone needs to understand our contemporary world and to make themselves competitive.”

Other opportunities for improvement, Martin points out, include identifying ways to be more holistic, such as bringing student development and academic affairs closer together. Recognizing that a great deal of teaching and learning happens outside the classroom, in clubs, sports and other activities, how can Seattle U reposition what teaching and learning mean for our campus?

Finally, Martin wants to help all Seattle U faculty, staff, administrators and volunteers to think about putting students at the center of their work. How do decisions made affect the student experience and ultimately, lead to students’ success?

“When I say success, I don’t simply mean successfully finishing their degree and graduating,” Martin explains. “The bigger part of student success is the kind of student we are forming and graduating—women and men who see their gifts and talents certainly to help build their own lives, but ultimately given to be in service with and for others.”

The Campaign for Seattle University touches each element of the deepened infrastructure described by Provost Martin to elevate the university’s level of academic excellence. Funds raised support construction of the new Center for Science and Innovation. They also support the recruiting and retaining of excellent faculty who not only share Martin’s vision, but will help bring it to life. They sustain and endow scholarships for the most needy and most deserving students. And they support the bridge-building centers and initiatives Seattle U has in place and hopes to develop in the future. The Campaign for Seattle University fuels SU’s ongoing commitment to academic excellence.

To learn how you can help elevate academic excellence at Seattle University with a campaign gift of time or treasure, contact Aly Vander Stoep, Assistant Vice President for Campaign,, 206-296-6386.

Attending to Students’ Mind, Body and Spirit: Retreats and Immersions

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Seattle University retreats and immersions are some of the most memorable landmarks in a student’s spiritual journey. These experiences provide a point of entry into community for students of all faith traditions or of no faith tradition, as well as a space for self-reflection, discernment and exploring one’s own spirituality. Campus Ministry, a department under the auspices of Student Development, runs a number of student retreats and immersions each year. Some, such as the New Student Retreat, serve a particular segment of the student population, while others, such as the Search Retreat, are open to all. Immersion experiences, also open to all students, offer a deep dive into issues of social justice.

New Student Retreat

Two New Student Retreats are held each year in November at Camp Indianola on the Kitsap Peninsula. The overarching theme of these retreats, open to all entering freshmen and transfer students, is making a home at Seattle U. Students get to know one another and build community while also learning how to locate resources within the university. Sophomore, junior and senior student leaders facilitate ice-breaker activities, give talks and lead small group discussions. The retreats are not a required part of new student orientation; students attend of their own volition. According to Erin Beary Anderson, associate director of Campus Ministry, about 40-55 students typically attend each retreat.

Group of students standing in a circle at the New Student Retreat

Ian Wuertz attended New Student Retreat as a freshman in 2015, and then went on to be a student leader in 2017 and 2018. “The New Student Retreat helped me find an amazing community on campus, my peers, faculty, staff and administrators, and has also been a way for me to discern what I want to do post-graduation. The most impactful aspect of the retreat for me, besides attending as a first year student, has been to lead and watch the new students in my small group go through the same trials, tribulations and revelations as I did, while being a resource for them.”

Search Retreat

The Search Retreat celebrates its 50th anniversary this year! Search was started in 1969 by a Seattle U sophomore, Nancy Roach, and became particularly near and dear to the heart of one of Seattle U’s most beloved Jesuits, Father Roger Gillis. From the time he arrived at Seattle U in the late 1980s until his death in 2010, “Father Rog,” as he was known to students, participated in more than 40 Search Retreats.

Broadly spiritual to provide an entry point for Seattle U’s diverse student population yet theologically-based, Search welcomes all students in to reflect upon how they have experienced love in their lives, and how they might enter into healthy relationships more fully in order to become more loving people in community.

“Many students deeply seek a space in nature to explore their inner-selves,” says Beary Anderson. “Fr. Rog knew the importance of providing students this space to reflect and to see how loved they are in community. Search is very intentional in helping students to understand how deeply loved they are – and that was Fr. Rog’s heart. He adored spending time with students and witnessing the transformation they experienced on retreat.”

Search is a two-day, student-led experience held twice each year at Catholic Youth Organization Camp Don Bosco in Carnation.


Immersion experiences differ from retreats in their length and the level of educational formation students receive prior to embarkation. While retreats require no advance preparation, students spend an entire academic quarter in formation for immersions. Campus Ministry offers three immersion experiences each year. One is in Tijuana, Mexico, one is in Appalachia and the other is in British Columbia. Mexico and Appalachia are week-long experiences. While in formation students learn about the people of the region they will visit, their history and culture, and about the region’s political climate.

The Tijuana trip is organized in partnership with Esperanza International, a nonprofit organization offering service-learning immersion where volunteers help build homes in communities across Tijuana and have the opportunity to authentically engage in the border culture of the city, through the eyes of its own residents.

The Appalachia trip is a cultural immersion organized in partnership with Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, West Virginia. The trip focuses on relationship building with Appalachian communities, authentic learning on the challenges and beauties of the region, and reflection based on Jesuit pedagogy.

Erin Alberts, a senior psychology major and SU’s Student Campus Minister for Retreats, participated in the Tijuana immersion in December 2018. “At first I was nervous about perpetuating ideas of the white-savior complex. However, Campus Ministry was really aware of this issue, and we had pointed discussions about it before we left.”

“The most impactful part of any Campus Ministry experience,” she continues, “is always hearing people's stories. In Mexico I was able to speak to a community member one-on-one and hear how he has been personally affected by migration and the U.S. without ever having crossed the border. He spoke so much wisdom and was able to relay his story in a way that was open and accepting, which was beautiful to see because he was speaking to me, a white, American person. His story held a lot of grace.”

The third experience is shorter, an Inter-Faith Immersion over Memorial Day Weekend. Students travel to Richmond, B.C., where they explore the city’s “Highway to Heaven.” This three-kilometer stretch, officially known as No. 5 Road, is lined by approximately 20 religious institutions and schools from the Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim traditions, all of which blend English with different global languages, and eight Christian churches. Predominantly evangelical Chinese, these churches hold services in Cantonese, English and Mandarin.

The Highway to Heaven has been raised up as a model of interfaith cooperation and harmony. SU students visit the different houses of worship and also take a day trip to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Center at Whistler to learn about the heritage of these Aboriginal peoples. They return to campus with their eyes opened to different faith traditions and a better understanding of the possibilities and difficulties of interfaith engagement today.

The quarter-long formation for this immersion includes visiting a variety of houses of worship in the Seattle area.


The student cost to participate in the above-mentioned retreats is subsidized by Campus Ministry. Students pay a $30 fee to attend the New Student and Search retreats, and Campus Ministry pays a $150 per student subsidy. If students cannot afford to pay the $30 fee, Campus Ministry will provide scholarships or offer a payment plan.

Immersions are considerably more expensive. The student fee for the Mexico and Appalachian trips is approximately $1,000, fluctuating with the cost of air fare. Students are required to pay the full amount out-of-pocket or fundraise it themselves. The student fee for the Inter-Faith Immersion is less at $200. Students must fully fund this amount, as well.

Campus Ministry has a goal that any Seattle U student who wants to experience a retreat or immersion is able to do so, regardless of their ability to pay. Toward this end, the $1.5 million Roger Gillis, S.J., Endowment to Enliven the Student Experience was established in 2018. Once fully funded, distributions from this endowment will grow the number of retreats offered each year and provide greater access to immersions for students with financial need. The endowment is currently approximately 50 percent funded.

“I believe that new worlds can be opened to students through retreat and immersion experiences,” says Anderson, “whether it’s their own spiritual world and connection to God, the life experiences of people in other cultures or how they are called to do justice in the world. When students deeply explore their own spirituality and their own passion for justice and the common good, that’s where transformation happens.”


If you would like to support Campus Ministry Student Retreats and Immersions with a gift to the Roger Gillis, S.J., Endowment to Enliven the Student Experience, please click here

For questions about retreats/immersions, contact Erin Beary Anderson,, 206.296.6053.

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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