People of SU

Quite the Family Legacy

Written by Caitlin Joyce, '11

October 24, 2016

Garrand Building in the Spring

Sinead Thornhill is the 25th member of her family to attend Seattle U

This year we celebrate the 125th anniversary of Seattle University, but it's not just 125 years of Seattle University we are celebrating, it is the alumni who have helped shape us over the past 125 years. For some SU families, Seattle University is more than just their alma mater. It is a family tradition. We call these families Seattle University legacy families.

the Roach familyEach fall we invite legacy families to celebrate their current students with a pinning ceremony. One such legacy family is the Roach family, whose members are pictured above. Granddaughter Sinead Thornhill was this year's legacy student speaker during Family Weekend and a Seattle University freshman. Sinead is the last of the 3rd generation of her grandmother, Patricia Sullivan Roach's descendants to attend Seattle University. Patricia Sullivan, '46, was the first of a 25 member strong Seattle University family legacy. Patricia and her husband Jack had 9 children, all of whom attended Seattle University, including Katie Thornhill, '85, Sinead's mother. Four spouses and 11 grandchildren continued the family legacy.

With so many Chieftains, now Redhawks, in the family, Seattle University was Sinead's first choice of university, just as it was for her mother Katie. "My siblings went to Seattle U and I liked what I saw. It was the only school I had my eye on." As a student, Katie was a member of the Irish Student Union and participated in Mission and Ministry retreats.

How does Katie feel now that her daughter is carrying on the family tradition of an SU education? She's thrilled. "It's pretty spectacular. Sinead is a smart girl and she's excited to attend Seattle U.  I'm excited to see what she does with her Seattle U education. We are all proud to be a part of Seattle U."

Despite having 24 family members attend SU, Sinead didn't feel any family pressure to carry on the family tradition, but she admits there were a lot of people rooting for her to choose Seattle U. What made Seattle U her first choice? "Seattle University is in the heart of the city. There's going to be a lot going on and I know I can expand my mind here in ways I couldn't at other universities because of the Jesuit pillars the education is rooted in. I know I can give my heart to others and explore." 

Though only being on campus a short time, Sinead has fully embraced life at SU. "It has not been a hard transition at all because I felt so welcome here. Despite my comfort, I hope I continue to step out of my comfort zone," Sinead said. She was recruited for the rowing team, joined Hui O Nani and is planning to get involved in campus ministry and intramural sports. "I'm looking forward to carving my own part of the family story at Seattle U."

This article originally appeared in SU Voice.