etc Winter 2010 Feature Story, Awesome Occupations
Getting Settled

Andrea Vermeer ’07 has found her self-proclaimed “dream job” at Brooks Running Shoes in the biomechanics lab.


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She totally encouraged me, and that’s what I needed. She gave me the confidence to say, ‘I’m good at this.’”

-Andrea Vermeer

At Home on the Range

Dan Escobar, national manager of Kitchens With A Mission


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The kitchen is a great place to train people because it’s busy, stressful, and dangerous. If people can learn how to face those challenges and work through them in a positive and supportive way, they can succeed anywhere.”

-Dan Escobar

Molly Moormeier with Conan O'brien

Whenever bands perform on The Tonight Show, you can bet that Molly Moormeier'09 has done her part to ensure the performance goes as planned.


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I’m so thankful for SPU’s Mentor Program. It was such an easy process that changed my life completely.”

-Molly Moormeier

At Home on the Range

As a traveling scientist, Marcus Eby '09 sees kids change their minds about science daily.


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One little boy said, ‘This is the best experience of my life. I want to grow up and be just like you.’”

-Marc Eby

Molly Moormeier with Conan O'brien

Kacie Tate ’07 sees her faith as an integral part
of her job at the downtown Seattle
YMCA.


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SPU is where I learned that faith isn’t just something you do on Sunday. It’s a way of life.”

-Kacie Tate

At Seattle Pacific University, we find that sad. We believe in a God who teaches us what is best for us and directs us in the way we should go (Isaiah 48:17). And that’s what college is about — letting God reveal where our passions lie and what we should do with them.

So we wanted to talk to SPU alums who not only liked their jobs, but actually even loved them.

Here are some of those stories. Read them and start dreaming of what God has in store for you.

The Reluctant Love Affair


Maybe it seemed too difficult or too unpopular, but Andrea Vermeer ’07 did not want to like physics. One day in her freshman physics class at SPU, she and her group were experimenting with a cart on tracks — all to help understand the relationship between velocity and acceleration. “I’m just a big nerd,” Vermeer exclaimed. “But I love this stuff!”

Eleanore Close, assistant professor of physics, heard the declaration and headed over to the table. “You should major in physics,” she urged. Vermeer blushed. “Me? Physics! No way!”

Close didn’t convince her on the spot, but she didn’t give up either. After many conversations with her professor, Vermeer ended up graduating from Seattle Pacific with a degree in physics. “I adored her. She totally encouraged me, and that’s what I needed,” says Vermeer. “She gave me the confidence to say, ‘I’m good at this.’”

It’s fortunate she followed her professor’s advice. You should just listen as Vermeer talks about her job as a biomechanical lab technician at Brooks Running Shoes. She lights up when she explains how fun it is to fix the cyclic shoe durability machine or test a certain shoe’s impact on the body.

Brooks makes shoes just for running and is recognized as a leader in the field for sustainability and injury prevention. “Running is one of my greatest passions, so this job is perfect for me,” she says.

It’s an unlikely match made in physics and running shoe heaven.

Dan Esobar

Heavy pots, whisks, and spoons played percussion as Dan Escobar ’04 toured the Gwinn Commons kitchen at Seattle Pacific. He stared at the size of the equipment — especially the stand-up mixer that could whip enough potatoes to feed 150 people. “It had a clutch to shift it into gear and everything,” Escobar says.

As an SPU freshman, Escobar was questioning his intended computer science major and wanted to see what it would be like to be a chef. He volunteered in Gwinn, which turned into a job, first on campus, and then at Ray’s Boathouse, a landmark Seattle restaurant.

Escobar switched his major to business administration and earned a reputation as the “food group project guy.” One project connected him with FareStart: a Seattle business that helps homeless and disadvantaged people turn their lives around through several paths, especially through job training in food service.

After graduation, Escobar was hired to oversee the production of 750 meals a day as the FareStart shelter chef. Now he’s the national manager of Kitchens With Mission, a partner organization that helps other businesses either restructure or start up based on the the FareStart model. Acting as a consultant, Escobar travels to see similar programs all over the nation. He misses the hands-on kitchen work, but he loves to watch other students develop an affinity for the culinary arts.

“It still makes me happy to see the look on our trainees’ faces when they tour the kitchen for the first time,” he says.

Finding a Place in TV's Late-Night Empire


Trading fashion advice with Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs can be a normal part of Molly Moormeier’s work day. Or she may visit the neighbors with Conan, ride roller coasters with Third Eye Blind, or watch a Tom Cruise mannequin launch from a cannon.

“Working at the Tonight Show is like being at a big playground,” says Moormeier ’09. “There’s no ceiling on creativity. I sometimes forget that it’s work.”

As the Music Department assistant, Moormeier takes care of logistics, such as transportation and contracts, and also hosts the guest bands to ensure that they enjoy their experience.

So how did she get this gig anyway? Long story short: hard work and pure ambition. “It’s important to utilize every resource and seize all opportunities to grow and gain experience,” she says.

When Moormeier transferred to SPU in 2006, she already had a job working full-time at Sony Music and then later interned with Columbia Records in New York. That’s where a friend told her about SPU’s Mentor Program, which helps connect students with Seattle professionals. Moormeier had always wanted to work with Sub Pop, the iconic Seattle label that kick-started the Grunge era with bands such as Nirvana and Soundgarden. The Mentor Program connected her to Sub Pop’s director of “ publicity, Kate Jackson, who later offered Moormeier a temporary position. When the music talent executive at The Tonight Show called Jackson for a referral, she immediately thought of Moormeier. “There was no doubt in my mind. Molly’s such a pro,” Jackson says.

On Sunday, June 14, Moormeier not only graduated from SPU, but she also began her drive to Los Angeles to start work on Tuesday morning. “One Friday I was finishing my last final, and the next Friday I was finishing my first week of work,” Moormeier laughs. “I still experience whiplash sometimes.”

Sounds like an appropriate way to start a job at a place where anything could happen.

Marcus Eby

When everyone was asking for a Buzz Lightyear for Christmas, 10-year-old Marcus Eby had his mind set on a microscope. And his parents — being the supportive people that they are — bought him one. That was just one of the many ways they fostered his love for science outside of the classroom. As someone who grew up in rural, southern Idaho, Eby ’09 didn’t have access to the same resources as students in larger districts.

That’s the main reason he came to SPU. He wanted to be part of a first-class science program — and now he works for the West Coast’s first science lab on wheels. The Science Adventure Lab, part of the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, will bring sophisticated science lessons to 5,000 fourth through eighth graders in underserved communities in Washington this year. We’re not talking about mixing baking soda with vinegar. We’re talking about isolating DNA, identifying infectious bacteria, and exploring respiratory function to understand asthma.

Eby, a mobile lab scientist, prepares those experiments, writes curriculum, and teaches classes. “Each day with the kids is so refreshing, because you get to present science to a new group who have never seen this before,” Eby says.

His Seattle Pacific advisor, Cindy Fitch, associate professor of biology, brought her son and his best friend, Alex, to a local demo of the lab’s capabilities. Now weeks later, Alex is still talking about how he wants to go into science or medicine. “Marc is great with kids,” Fitch says. “He’s just a big kid himself.”

Paying it Forward

Going to college was considered a luxury in Kacie Tate’s Seattle neighborhood. But in her family, it was a right. Tate’s mom would often tell her and her two sisters, “I’m going to help you go to the school you want, whatever it costs.”

As a single parent who never went to college herself, she was adamant that her daughters succeed. “She kept us busy so we couldn’t get into trouble,” says Tate ’07. “I was in choir. I was an acolyte. I was in a mentoring program. I was on the track team, basketball team, cross country team — you name it, I was on it.”

Tate’s peers would often point out her drive. “Kacie, you will go to college,” they’d say. “You can too,” she would respond.

That’s something she still says a lot as a graduate of SPU and a youth development specialist at the Seattle YMCA. She works with approximately 75 students in the YMCA’s high school credit retrieval and G.E.D. programs. Ninety-five percent of these students come from low-income families and face many barriers to success. Tate teaches classes, acts as a case manager, helps students find jobs and internships, and regularly encourages students.

“Being constant and supportive makes a world of difference,” Tate says. “A lot of my students don’t get that at home.”

Last year, one of her students abruptly quit the program. “She rarely came to school, but she was really smart and a good student,” Tate says. Frustrated, Tate pulled her into her office. “I’ve graduated from high school. I’ve graduated from college. I know you can do this,” Tate lectured. When the student showed up the next day, Tate was shocked. “She just needed someone to say she could do it.”


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