Response Online


Alumni A World Community

Young Alumni Council Helps Recent Grads Connect

Nickerson and Beyond

By Allie Fraley ( | Photo by Dan Sheehan

Ultimate Frisbee gameAt Homecoming 2013, the Young Alumni Council and ASSP hosted a students-versus-alumni Ultimate Frisbee game on the recently renovated Wallace Field.

Seattle Pacific University had a profound and positive impact on Joel VanderHoek '09. During his time at SPU, he was involved in student ministry and served as ASSP president. But in the months following graduation, he found himself asking fellow young alumni: “What can we do to stay involved with SPU?”

Now VanderHoek serves as the Young Alumni Council's president. The council's goal is to support
graduates from the past 10 years and keep them connected to the SPU community, says Holly Harris Wood '07, alumni and parent relations coordinator at Seattle Pacific, and YAC's staff advisor.

“When you leave SPU, move on with your life, and apply your education — but you have no link back to SPU — it seems like a big loss,” she says. “Our job is to help alumni remain connected.” This means helping alumni connect with each other through resources such as the alumni directory and Facebook page. Young alums can also access career workshops, mixers, and consultations through SPU's Center for Career and Calling.

It also means finding ways to support current students. Each year, the Council hosts a dinner to raise money for the YAC Scholarship Endowment. This year's event honored the 2012 scholarship recipients, seniors Katie Ewton and Katie Thralls, and the 2013 Young Alumna of the Year, Kate Palmen Calamusa '07.

The YAC leaves a mark on many campus events. At Tradition, Seattle Pacific's annual Christmas extravaganza, YAC hosted an open house with free espresso drinks, drawing 150 young alumni, as well as an ugly-Christmas-sweater-clad President Martin.

At the end of the school year, YAC throws a party for SPU seniors called Senior Salute, which is both a send-off and a chance for seniors to get a sense of what it means to be new alumni.

Wood hopes the YAC can broaden its reach by letting people know that there are lots of ways to be involved. “It can be a small commitment, but one that honors your experience,” she says.

VanderHoek wants to see young alums reconnect on the SPU campus. “There's something fun and special about being back on campus,” he says, “especially if you haven't been back in a while.”

Are you a young alum with ideas about how you want to connect with SPU? YAC would love to hear from you. Email or visit