Haleema Bharoocha, ’18, wants people to know that although she is an accomplished, capable leader, the process of becoming who she is today has been a messy and humbling learning process. Having entered Seattle U at age 17 with three community college degrees, she says the university’s rigorous education encouraged her to slow down and explore issues from all sides.
“As a leader I’ve learned I don’t need to know it all,” Bharoocha says, “… and that confusion is sometimes a good thing. Those shifts can be revolutionary. I’m learning to let myself sit with the tensions.”
A champion for social justice as vice president of the Muslim Student Association and director of the Gender Justice Center, Bharoocha sometimes feels like she is carrying the weight of the world. In telling her story, she wanted to avoid “the tokenization” of her image by offsetting it with Seattle U’s undergraduate demographics (see below).
Bharoocha credits Seattle U’s intimate classes and engaged professors for enabling her to do graduate-level coursework as an undergrad. She was a 2017 summer fellow in Princeton University’s Public Policy and International Affairs Program, which aims to develop future global policy leaders. After graduating in spring 2018 with honors in sociology, Bharoocha will serve as a Policy Fellow for the Greenlining Leadership Academy in the San Francisco Bay Area advocating for low-income people and communities of color.
This is Bharoocha’s way of living Seattle U’s mission, which she first articulated as a student speaker during the 2017 inaugural Student Mission Day.
“Students need to say, ‘Where do I fit into that mission?’ Because ‘just and humane’ can mean many things. Everyone has their own role to play in advancing justice.”
White (59.8%), Black (4.5%), Asian (26.5%), Pacific Islander (4.0%), Latino (13.2%), Native American (1.8%).
Muslim students comprised 1.1 percent of the population.
Fresh from covering the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, sports writer and web news host Nick McCarvel, ’08, will be the first to tell you that while he might appear relaxed on camera there are times when he is operating outside his comfort zone.
“I’m still nervous today when I try to do bigger things,” says McCarvel, who has covered four Olympics and multiple Grand Slam tennis tournaments. He has interviewed the champion U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team and tennis legends Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Having written for USA Today, ESPN, NBC Olympics and The Daily Beast, he parlayed his skills into a multimedia career that now has him conducting live interviews, hosting video chats and emceeing sports events.
A Montana native, McCarvel knew he wanted to be a sports reporter when he came to Seattle U to study journalism. In his junior year, during a Thanksgiving break in New York City, he showed up at Tennis magazine without an appointment and talked his way into a summer internship. The bold move cemented a guiding philosophy to his self-made career: “You can’t be afraid of being told ‘no.’”
After graduation, McCarvel moved to New York City and established himself as a freelance reporter while supporting himself through nonprofit work. A turning point came in May 2009 when he wrote a blog post about former Wimbledon champion Steffi Graf for The New York Times, his first major byline.
McCarvel advises new college students to put themselves out there: Go to a meeting or a club where you don’t know anyone. During his time at Seattle U, he led Campus Ministry retreats and spearheaded a successful student drive to end the sale of bottled water on campus.
“Be involved in as much as you can and seek out ways to connect with people,” he says. “The worst potential is the kind you don’t tap into.”
Students who study with Associate Professor Dr. Quinton Morris learn to be exceptional in whatever they choose to do in life. The philosophy of this violin and chamber music teacher is to “cultivate a spirit of confidence and innovation that will serve students in both their creative and entrepreneurial pursuits.”
In his own life Dr. Morris is not bound by categories. He enjoys a multifaceted, award-winning career as a concert violinist, chamber musician, educator, entrepreneur and filmmaker. He performs and lectures around the world. Whether he’s on his BREAKTHROUGH World Tour or preparing for a sold out recital at Carnegie Hall, his ever evolving career keeps Dr. Morris busy. In his spare time, he teaches in his nonprofit, the Key to Change, which provides violin instruction to middle and high school students in South King County.
He has received numerous awards, including the Puget Sound Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” for esteemed leaders and entrepreneurs in Seattle, the Seattle Mayor’s Arts Award and the Washington State Governor’s Arts Award. In 2017, Musical America Worldwide’s “30 Movers and Shapers” recognized Dr. Morris as one of the world’s top music professionals. Most recently, he received the Rising Star Award and was inducted into the League of Extraordinary Givers from the Renton Community Foundation.
Since coming to Seattle University in 2007, Dr. Morris has transformed a once nascent music department into a learning community that fosters young talent. He wrote and re-designed the music curriculum, recruited students and faculty and serves as director of chamber and instrumental music.
A dedicated educator who gives master classes to students throughout the world, Dr. Morris says, “My passion for teaching shines through in my commitment to help students achieve success on whichever educational voyage they choose in life.”
Samantha Garrard, ’16, ’17 MBA, graduated at the top of her class from Seattle University with a bachelor’s degree in public affairs. Having interned for Sen. Patty Murray, Garrard probably could have written her ticket most anywhere in the public sector. Instead, she chose to round out her skill set with a Bridge MBA from Seattle U’s Albers School of Business and Economics. The one-year business degree, designed for recent college graduates with little to no work experience, broadened more than Garrard’s knowledge—it expanded her way of thinking.
“Before [the MBA] I did not know there could be a balance between helping people and making money,” she says. “Then I learned about corporate social responsibility and the value businesses can bring to the community."
Garrard discovered a knack for marketing. Her talent won the attention of Accolade, a Seattle health care concierge company recognized as one of Forbes magazine’s Top 25 “Most Promising Companies in the Nation.” Today, her Albers education continues to serve her as a marketing coordinator with the company. “The bridge program allows me to speak the language of business. I can go into any meeting and understand accounting terms or economic concepts," she says.
Pursuing a business degree was a leap into the unknown for Garrard. But Seattle U’s small classes and professors who “make themselves available” made all the difference in her success.
“It really allows you to take a deep dive … The commitment to educating the whole person is very evident in how they approach teaching.”
What began as a student’s hypothesis—whether a naturally occurring virus could help control polluting algae blooms in freshwater lakes worldwide—has become an ongoing research project involving three College of Science and Engineering (CSE) professors and their students. What’s more, there’s now potential to collaborate with Seattle U’s Jesuit college partner in India.
The CSE professors working together on this project bring complementary specialties. Professor Carolyn Stenbak, PhD, specializes in viruses and immunology. Associate Professor Lindsay Whitlow, PhD, specializes in ecology. Assistant Professor Michael Zanis, PhD, specializes in botany, genomics and bioinformatics.
Since 2013, the trio has mentored CSE students who gather evidence during a summer research project to further the hypothesis. Lessons gleaned are then carried through each of the professor’s classes for the benefit of all their students. The student whose hypothesis initiated the project graduated in 2017 and landed a job with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – National Marine Fisheries Service.
Seattle U’s new partnership with St. Joseph’s College in Bangalore, India, has opened up the possibility of expanding the lake research internationally. During a St. Joseph’s delegation visit to SU’s campus in fall 2017, Stenbak, Whitlow and Zanis taught their research methods to their St. Joseph counterparts.
“At SU and St. Joseph’s, research is centered on the student experience,” Stenbak says. “We’re doing global, collaborative research that addresses critical urban health issues while providing students with the technical skills and cultural awareness to prepare them for the scientific careers of the future.”
Pa Ousman Jobe, ’18, traveled from his home in Bakau, Gambia, to Seattle University where as Student Body President he is taking a stand for marginalized students.
An Albers student majoring in finance with a minor in economics, Jobe is among the university’s inaugural cohort of Alfie Scholars, whose recipients are transfer students from two-year colleges. Before coming to Seattle U, Jobe was at Highline College, where he served as its Student Body President. The aspiring lawyer takes the student leadership position seriously for its ability to effect positive change.
“Living through a world filled with so many issues around oppression and marginalization, we can’t expect anyone to solve our problems for us,” Jobe says. “We are all part of the problem and we ought to all be part of the solution.”
Jobe aims to “amplify the voices of those who are vulnerable.” As president he deploys a power-sharing leadership model. He also seeks to bridge the gap between students and administrators. “The presidency means looking around the room and around the table to see who is missing and how do we invite them in. The presidency is bigger than me…”
Now a senior, his advice to incoming students is get involved, be curious, question the systems and explore all that is around you.
“Seattle University seeks to educate the whole person and as such, I invite them to bring the wholeness of who they are to everything they do,” Jobe says. “Take your time to explore who you are and your passions and design your own journey. My hope is for them to fill their university experience with beautiful dreams and leave Seattle University with a greater desire to fight, love and be in solidarity with others.”
The patio of Edelman’s high-rise office offers sweeping views of Seattle. Phoebe Kim, ’18, often found inspiration here in the summer of 2017 when she was a Prism Scholar at Edelman, a communications marketing firm. By summer’s end, Kim had set her sights beyond that horizon to South Korea, where her mom was born and the rest of her family lives, with a vision to address global injustice through marketing.
It was not the life she had once imagined. Kim came to Seattle University on a music scholarship but had to change course when injury cut her violin career short. She was wading into a new major in communications when she applied for the Edelman internship, which the company established to attract underrepresented minorities to the field.
Though Kim was an intern in the university marketing communications department, she felt she lacked the experience to compete for the internship and almost didn’t apply. Fortunately, a professor urged her on and guided her through the process. Ultimately, Kim was one of two interns selected from 80 applicants across the country for the program’s inaugural year. What she calls the “opportunity of a lifetime” left her emboldened to make a difference through her new profession.
“Here at Edelman I see a connection with social justice. Those issues are only getting more important and coming more to the forefront in the world,” she says. “What a perfect time to put my skills to use.”
Once shy, Kim says Seattle U’s mission to educate the whole person was instrumental in forming the self-assured professional she is becoming. “How I carry myself and how I’ve changed is because of that piece of the mission,” she says. “Being genuine has really shaped who I am.”
Alan Yu, ’17, considers himself lucky to have been offered a job on Microsoft’s high-profile Azure SQL Database team right out of college. But tenacity had much more to do with it than luck. After transferring to Seattle U for its computer science program, Yu set out to join the region’s world-renowned technology sector only to discover that he would have to pay his dues.
Seeking his first internship, Yu applied to 100 companies. Over a five-month period, he was rejected by 93 of his prospects. Interviews proved to be another learning curve. But instead of getting discouraged, he sought feedback and made adjustments along the way. It worked.
Weyerhaeuser hired him as a software developer intern. The experience raised Yu’s profile so that his next search went much more quickly: 50 applications yielding 20 interviews. By November, Yu had lined up an internship at Microsoft for the following summer. That led to two permanent job offers from the company, nearly a year before graduation.
“You’re going to have a lot of failures in life,” Yu says. “Being able to enjoy the learning process helped set the tone for the rest of my years at Seattle University and eventually transitioning to the rest of my professional career.”
Professor Meenakshi Rishi is mentoring the next generation of global citizens as the director of Seattle University’s International Development Internship Program (IDIP). This one-of-its-kind program in the nation connects juniors and seniors to NGO projects in developing countries worldwide.
Rishi has facilitated student connections to projects involving global sustainability, public health, computer coding, microfinance, community development, refugee women and structural engineering for earthquake readiness, among many others. She oversees about eight to 10 students a year in internships to Asia, Africa and Latin America. In addition to on-site work, the 20-credit program requires coursework, developing a research question and a reflection component.
IDIP graduates have gone on to graduate schools, secure Fulbright grants, publish research papers and assume leadership positions in organizations. “No matter where they land, they acknowledge the impact of their IDIP placement in their growth as whole persons,” Rishi says.
“Our students are not just thinking about a just and humane world,” she says. “They are thinking about being an active participant in the operation of a just and humane world.”
When Tsehay Abebe, ’13, arrived at Seattle University, it was the first time she been outside her hometown in Ethiopia. Four years later, she graduated from the College of Science and Engineering with a 3.95 GPA, a bachelor’s degree in cellular & molecular biology and a four-year scholarship to one of the nation’s top medical schools, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Abebe showed an aptitude for research as an undergraduate, landing a coveted research position at the Pacific Northwest Diabetes Research Institute, one of the region’s top research laboratories. There, her studies of beta cell repair involved groundbreaking molecular genetics work.
“Growing up, I was exposed to people who didn’t have access to health care,” Abebe says. “I have always wanted to be a doctor and I chose cell and molecular biology because I am interested in exploring the mechanisms of how the body works. I’m interested in research that has clinical applications and can be used to improve health for everybody.”
Though still a junior, Braden Wild, ‘18, is already running his own company—a “special purpose corporation”—and that company is making it financially feasible for small coffee growers in Nicaragua to produce organic, fair trade coffee. SU student research opportunities and an internship in finance at The Boeing Company have inspired and supported him along the way.
As a freshman, Wild traveled to Nicaragua with student researchers and Seattle University professors Sue Jackels, PhD (College of Science and Engineering) and Quan Le, PhD (Albers School of Business and Economics). There, the Albers dual-degree student in business and economics learned that farmers had little financial incentive to grow organic coffee beans when they were reaping just 20 to 30 percent of the profits. In response, he created Café Ambiental coffee, sold at the Seattle U Campus Store. Those farmers now enjoy 65- to 70-percent returns, enough to support sustainable cultivation.
Café Ambiental, which involves four paid interns and two dozen students from Albers, will expand sales to other university campuses in 2017. Wild envisions a future working in global coffee and hopes for Café Ambiental to continue beyond his graduation.
Professor Henry Louie of the College of Science and Engineering engages students in electrical and computer engineering projects that literally light the world.
Recently, Professor Louie—a 2015-16 Fulbright—led a student team to Zambia where they installed a solar powered energy kiosk that provided the town’s first electricity. A past project in which a senior team designed a microgrid system to harness wind and solar power in rural Kenya won a $25,000 national grand prize in electrical engineering. In both these projects, Professor Louie and his students brought electricity to areas that had previously gone without.
Professor Louie says these projects are “transformative” for students who “come back to Seattle with a broader perspective.”
Rianne Spath, ’17, who was part of the Zambia team, agreed. “It’s an experience I would never be able to get at any other university. It increases my global experience and makes you feel good on the inside.”
Sue Oliver, director of Seattle University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, is leading a team of faculty and students, in partnership with JPMorgan Chase, to help strengthen local small businesses whose futures are threatened by gentrification.
The program works with small businesses in Seattle’s Central Area that are confronting lost retail space, rising rents, shifting markets and new construction forcing them to close or move. Many of the minority-, women-, and immigrant-owned businesses represent the social, ethic, and economic fabric of the community.
JPMorgan Chase has contributed $500,000 to the effort and is providing professional mentors to work with SU student interns. The faculty-student-corporate teams provide business coaching to help clients build their own capacity with a goal of producing customized strategic plans that address all aspects of a successful business from marketing to raising capital.
“Together we’re building upon their existing strengths, resources and capabilities,” Oliver says.
Before entering college, Seattle native Naod Sebhat, ’19, knew quite a bit about the Seattle University Youth Initiative. SUYI is a campus and community partnership in which faculty and students help to improve academic achievement for youth in the neighborhood bordering the university.
While still in high school, Sebhat participated in a project through Seattle U’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE) where local high school students documented the history and redevelopment of the Yesler Terrace housing project in Seattle’s Central District through photography and video.
Now an environmental science major, Sebhat continues his community service as a SUYI volunteer at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School. He is one of more than 1,500 SU students who participate annually in the effort that targets a diverse community where more than 30 languages are spoken. Through SUYI, students like Sebhat gain perspectives, skills and experiences that shape their futures as change makers.
“It has a huge impact on you,” Sebhat says.
Then a Seattle U nursing student, Rebecca Conte Okelo, ’07 RN, ’15 LEMBA, was forever changed by a junior year service trip to Ghana where she witnessed advanced-stage AIDS patients being denied routine medical care. “I was just devastated by what I had seen,” Okelo recalls. “I came back and had no idea what I could do about it.”
What she did was found a health clinic there to help children and adults living with HIV and AIDS. In nearly a decade since, her clinic has grown to become Med25, a multifunctional health center, nursery, vocational school and orphanage. The clinic has helped thousands of patients and has plans to expand into regions and countries.
“This large care center has literally changed the face of HIV and AIDS in the community,” Okelo says.
Okelo credits the role her Seattle U education had in helping shape what has become her life’s work. “Seattle U has absolutely been the catalyst in what Med25 has become.”
for more than a dozen years
—U.S. News & World Report: Best Colleges 2017
—The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College, 2018 College Rankings
—College Factual 2017
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