Welcome to the Alumni Family

Lauren Sturgill, ’24 (left) and Denisse Peralta Castaneda, ’24 (right)

Get to know two graduates of the Class of 2024 who share their experience at SU and how the support of donors via scholarships made their dream of higher education a reality.

A portrait of Lauren Sturgill, ’24

Lauren Sturgill, ’24

The power of scholarships can make dreams come true. This was the case for Lauren Sturgill, ’24, a nursing graduate and the recipient of the Joan S. Emerson Long Endowed Scholarship.

The scholarship’s namesake Joan Emerson, ’54, studied nursing at Seattle University and had a successful career filling many nursing roles. She established the scholarship to support caring and dedicated nursing students in reaching their educational goals.

At 8 years old, Sturgill was hospitalized in Seattle Children’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Inspired by the care she received, Sturgill decided that one day she was going to be a nurse.

In high school, she volunteered through Camp Promise, a program for people with neuromuscular disorders. During camp she acted as a caregiver for a young quadriplegic woman who was a student at Seattle University. This experience sparked Sturgill’s interest in neurology—and in becoming a Redhawk.

“She taught me that no matter your physical disability, you can still achieve what you want to do,” she says.

Sturgill knew that Seattle University’s well-known nursing program and connections to local hospitals would help her reach her goal of working at Seattle Children’s.

“Seattle University, coupled with their Jesuit-centered approach to academia and their extensive Core Curriculum, was the perfect university that offered the chance to become a well-rounded nurse and work at Seattle Children’s upon graduation,” says Sturgill.

While a student at Seattle University, she enriched herself with academics, extracurriculars and hands-on nursing experiences. She completed a year-long research project with College of Nursing Professor Dr. Mo-Kyung Sin on nurse neglect in hospitalization of patients with Parkinson’s disease. Their research was published in The Journal for Nurse Practitioners. Prior to graduating, Sturgill worked as a nurse technician at Seattle Children’s. With all of her academic pursuits, she still found time to be a coxswain for the Men’s Crew Team and compete in Irish step dancing.

“Receiving this scholarship made me feel very happy, but also rewarded for all the effort I put toward my education,” she says. “I felt like I was recognized by the school; I wasn’t just a number, but a person. That’s what I love about Jesuit education.”

After graduating, Sturgill is reaching her goal she set as a child. In August, she will begin her nursing residency in neurology and neurosurgery at Seattle Children’s on the neural spinal rehabilitation floor.

“Thank you to the donors, because without them my college experience would have been a lot different,” she says. “This scholarship, along with another I received through the College of Nursing, has allowed me to not have to take out any student loans and focus on my studies. I am incredibly grateful.”

Sturgill is just one of many nursing students aspiring to make a difference in health care. Through scholarship support, she was able to pursue meaningful growth opportunities that enabled her to achieve her dream of becoming a nurse. 

A portrait of Denisse Peralta Castaneda, ’24

Denisse Peralta Castaneda, ’24

For Denisse Peralta Castaneda, ’24, the journey of pursuing a degree at the Albers School of Business and Economics was both scary and exciting. A child of immigrant parents from Mexico and a first-generation college student, Castaneda faced the challenge of navigating the unfamiliar system of higher education alone. However, with the support of the Seattle University community and the Gregory Foxx Scholarship, she thrived as a student and gained important experience for her career.

The Gregory Foxx Scholarship was established by Banner Bank in 2021 in honor of the late Gregory Foxx, ’72. Since Foxx was an Albers graduate, the scholarship was specified to support a junior Albers student. Peggy Foxx, ’74, Gregory’s wife and fellow alumna, is pleased to honor her husband by contributing to a scholarship. As students, the couple was only able to attend Seattle University while supporting their family with aid from scholarships and grants and Peggy is elated to pay it forward.

“This scholarship allowed me to focus on accomplishing my family’s and my dream of obtaining a higher education. From a professional standpoint, I know I bring a high level of resilience along with me and a high level of knowledge, which will allow me to succeed.” 

For Castaneda, receiving this financial support meant she could leave her full-time job and focus on her studies and acquiring work experience relevant to her aspiring field of human resources.

Majoring in Management, she was able to work part-time in human resources for Neighborhood Health, a nonprofit focused on providing access to medical care. She also worked in Student Employment at SU, connecting students with job opportunities across campus.

“This scholarship allowed me to focus on accomplishing my family’s and my dream of obtaining a higher education. From a professional standpoint, I know I bring a high level of resilience along with me and a high level of knowledge, which will allow me to succeed,” Castaneda says. “Being a student at Seattle University prepared me to rely on my community, to advocate for myself and to look for opportunities all around me. I’ve had an education that makes me stand out in a room.”

Far from her hometown in New Jersey, Castaneda found her community at SU. She was inspired by fellow first-generation students who carried the same burdens and motivations and used their experiences to pave the way for others.

“First-gen students carry the burden and pressure of being advocates for themselves and for all their loved ones, often in a world so unfamiliar to them,” Castaneda says. “Seattle University created a sense of community that reminded me that I wasn’t alone in the journey, that others had undergone the same journey and came out on top, so if I kept pushing and working at it, I could too.”

As Castaneda begins her career, she knows that the knowledge she gained at Seattle University has prepared her to be successful in her professional pursuits.

“SU embodied the very core of what a lot of first-gen students aspire to do and be for the world,” she says. “We want to be the change, to better the world, create more fair and equitable chances for all people, ensure access to resources and to value the individual experiences and strengths each person brings along with them.” 

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Monday, July 1, 2024