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An Interview With SPU’s First Lady

Sharon EatonFor 14 years, SPU First Lady Sharon Eaton has served the Seattle Pacific community alongside her husband, President Philip Eaton, with hospitality and grace. And often from behind the scenes. Now she graciously takes center stage to share insights from her life at SPU.

Can you tell us some ways you are involved in the SPU community?

I do a lot of entertaining for the University. We have students, faculty and staff members, board of trustee members, friends, guest speakers, and others into our home and on our campus for various events. Phil and I also meet with couples who might be interested in donating to the University, and we represent SPU at meetings across the country. It is a wonderful role.

What do you enjoy most being the first lady?

I enjoy the people I get to meet and know. Our students are wonderful, and we have the best faculty and staff in the world! I feel very privileged to be in this place.

What do you find most challenging about your role?

Keeping up the pace can be difficult. There are many things to do, places to be, and people to meet. I love it all, but sometimes I want to do more than I am able to do.

Your beautiful home is situated between two residence halls. What is it like to live right on campus?

The students are very respectful but also lots of fun. I love living on campus because having students outside our door is a daily reminder of what we are about. At Halloween, students place carved pumpkins on our doorstep (they also trick-or-treat at our house), and when it snows we often wake up and find a snowman in the yard! It can get loud at night, but that noise reminds me of our own college years and how wonderful that season of life is.

What events do you host during the holidays?

We held our annual Sacred Sounds of Christmas concert at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle. Our choirs and orchestra performed Christmas music in this glorious venue, and we held a reception for special guests. We hosted a “Christmas study break” for students; we had about 650 students drop by our house for this party. It’s wall-to-wall people, but students love it! We also hosted a party for all faculty and staff members, and then we hosted an event for special friends of the University. In all, we hosted more than 1,000 people during a week of Christmas parties!

What are you most looking forward to this Christmas?

I love being with our family. Christmas is a precious time of sharing together with our children and wonderful grandchildren. Because we all live in different cities, we don’t get to be together regularly, so the holidays are a special time for us.

You are the parent of three wonderful adult children and the grandmother of seven lively grandchildren. Is there anything else you’d like to say to parents?

Enjoy the process of watching your student become an adult. The college years are a stretching time for students, and it can be an anxious time for parents as you watch your young adult push boundaries. Give your student room to become who they are meant to be. You have a great future ahead of you; in adulthood your son or daughter can be not only your child but also your friend. And someday many of these children will even give you grandchildren! It’s a wonderful journey.