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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
Top 10 in the West
for more than a dozen years
—U.S. News & World Report: Best Colleges 2017
#1 Private University in the NW
—The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College, 2018 College Rankings