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Summer 2003 | Volume 26, Number 3 | Athletics
Second Wind
Marathoner, Wife, Mom and Business Alum Comes Back After Tough Times

ABOUT 20 YEARS AGO, Claudia Shannon ’97 tended bar at night, tended her kids during the day and felt depressed over a recent divorce. The lack of a college degree was keeping her from better-paying jobs. “I got so angry at my life one day,” she says, “that I put on some track shoes and ran through that anger. And it felt good!”

The next day and the next, she rose at 4:30 a.m. to run. Not only did her self-esteem increase, but so did her miles. Soon she was up to 10 miles a day — and going fast. At age 32, she placed fifth in her first 26.2-mile race, the women’s Emerald City Marathon. Eventually, she placed second in the women’s Big Sur Marathon with an astonishing time of 2:50, just about one half hour behind the men’s marathon champion.

Shannon is a poster child for what can be accomplished by a student over 40. Born in 1952, she may have been the oldest Seattle Pacific University athlete who was an academic all-district selection. In her senior year, as a 45- year-old mom, she ran 5K and 10K races in track and was a member of the cross-country team that took 14th at nationals. By then, she was remarried — to two-time Olympic boxer Robert Shannon — and working full-time at an insurance firm while excelling in upperdivision classes in the School of Business.

Robert Shannon had convinced Seattle Pacific coach Doris Heritage to recruit Claudia for both cross country and track. She won her first two SPU cross-country races — one in an Alaskan blizzard. “Claudia’s amazing,” says Heritage. “She gives everything she’s got every time, and she never quits.”

Claudia Shannon credits Heritage for being a mentor, helping her to understand more about God. “Doris isn’t exclusionary,” says Shannon. “She’s curious about the world. Religion has opened her world, not closed it.” Shannon found advantages to running for the University rather than for herself. “I learned a sense of community with the SPU women’s team,” she says. “We had a bond.”

Today, Shannon works in insurance law at Safeco. As a senior commercial claims adjuster, she tries to even the balance of power between parties. “I wanted to change the world,” says Shannon, “So I went to law school. But I found that in law, you can change things only a little bit. What you can do is protect vulnerable people. SPU reinforced the idea that being good means giving when it’s really tough to give.” That’s good for everyone’s self-esteem.


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From the President
Americans today are searching for a new tone for their lives. “We are talking here about another set of values — not the giddy sense of entitlement that emerges out of exuberant times,” says President Philip Eaton.

A Gift at Any Age
Young alumni are supporting The Campaign for SPU with the Young Alumni Endowment. They will provide scholarship support to students engaging the culture. [Campaign]

Like Grandfather, Like Grandson
On June 7, 80-year-old Sheldon Arnett finally received his bachelor’s degree from Seattle Pacific. His grandson, Jeremiah Johnson, earned his SPU bachelor’s degree the same day. [Campus]

The Retiring Class of 2003
Five professors, with a combined 162 years in the classroom, retired this year. They tell of their careers and the impact students had on them. [Faculty]

Still Exploring
Missionary bush pilot Roald Amundsen ’41 founded Missionary Aviation and Repair Center (MARC) — becoming an explorer just like the famous Norwegian for whom he was named. [Alumni]

My Response
After 25 years, Joyce Quiring Erickson, retiring professor of English and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, reflects on glossy brown chestnuts, home and the Promised Land.