How Alums Found Their First Career Job
By Julia Siemens and Liviu Bird ’12 | Photos By Luke Rutan
You may hear us boast about our alumni who are the presidents of major corporations such as AT&T Mobility or who write international bestsellers, such as The Message. And, we can’t bite into a freshly cut fry from In-N-Out without thinking of its co-founder, Esther Snyder ’43. (Oh, Esther, you really did make this world a better place.)
But we know that level of achievement takes time. What about our young alums who still look the same as the day they donned their commencement gowns?
We caught up with three young graduates to discover what steps they took to get where they are now.
From Concessions to Career
At only 5 feet tall, Liza Gonzalez-Ramos never
thought she’d work security. “I’m not particularly
menacing,” she admits. But as a concessions
assistant at the Seattle Repertory Theatre, Liza
was asked one night to guard Carrie Fisher (best
known as Princess Leia in “Star Wars”) from “crazy
“In theatre, you have to be flexible. You learn
to improvise,” says Liza, who was a sophomore at
Seattle Pacific University at the time. She originally
thought of attending college in a small town, but
is thankful she chose SPU, where she found her
concessions gig at a job fair on campus. At Seattle
Pacific, she also acted in several shows, and
worked as box office manager and house manager.
Those experiences prepared Liza for her current
role as the front-of-house manager at Seattle Rep,
one of the city’s largest playhouses.
Jerry McCollum, assistant professor of theatre,
says that the ability to get drama experience both
in the city and on campus is a unique part of
Seattle Pacific’s program. “I came from the
University of Washington, and it was hard for
students to get actual work there. Here, we rely on
our students,” he says. The Theatre Department
hires 15 to 17 student employees each year, and is
well-connected to other venues in Seattle where
students find jobs and internships.
Liza enjoys being part of Seattle’s theatre scene,
and occasionally does work for other venues.
“Seattle’s theatre community is so tightknit,” she
says. “It’s tough to imagine my life outside of that.”
From College Basketball to Professional Basketball
When a contract offer came from Ukrainian
professional basketball team MBC Mykolaiv in late
summer, David Downs moved half the world away
to follow his dream.
“I had great experiences at home,” David says,
“but I wanted to do something different.”
His professional pedigree became evident in
college, where he twice led Seattle Pacific University
in overall scoring, averaging 14.4 points per
game over four years.
It took him a while to settle into Mykolaiv, a
major shipbuilding center on the Black Sea coast,
and a blue-collar town that supported its basketball
team in droves.
“We had probably the best fan base in the
league,” David says.
The Ukrainian Superleague — now, unfortunately,
out of operation — was about as competitive
as a first year player can get. While playing
with the team, the former SPU point guard led the
team with 14 points per game despite an ongoing
“It’s such a different style of basketball,” David
says. “For a first-year player in Ukraine, I was doing
The most difficult adjustment? A brutal travel
schedule. Ukrainian highways are in disrepair, and
trains run slowly.
He recounted one two-game, 1,250-mile trip
from earlier this season: It took 17 hours on the
train to get to Hoverla, near the Romanian border,
followed by a five-hour bus ride to Galichina, near
the Polish border. Another 15 hours capped the
journey, in which Mykolaiv won both games.
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine
didn’t make David worry about his personal safety,
because Mykolaiv sits over 300 miles from much
of the instability. But as the conflict wore down the
economy, the Ukrainian Superleague was forced
into a hiatus at the end of 2014. David returned
home to Seattle for two weeks, and then another
offer came from the Rhine Stars in Cologne, Germany.
David chose to accept and flew to Germany
on Monday, January 10, ready for a new adventure.
“It’s been really cool to go outside of my shell
and experience something so different.”
From Startup to Big Business
In the past two years, Fabricio Turcios has had
three full-time jobs (two simultaneously), and lived
at six addresses — by choice.
Right after his graduation from Seattle Pacific
University, he was hired as the community and
media manager at a tech startup where he interned,
“He was a dream first employee,” says Zealyst
founder Martina Welke. “He came in with the
dedication of a founder.” He also did AmeriCorps
in Seattle at an organization called El Centro De La
Raza, where he helped undocumented students get
funding for college.
Fabricio says that SPU taught him how to think
critically about gender and equality issues. During
and after his time at Seattle Pacific, Fabricio has
sought mentors who are women and people of
color, because he wants to learn from those who
have “had to be the firsts in their fields, families,
One of his mentors mentioned Fabricio to a
friend who worked at Google, who then asked for
an interview. “My entire interview turned to conversations
on the intersection of social causes like feminism
and technology,” Fabricio says. “I truly believe
it was the multifaceted interests I maintained that
led to a job offer.”
Fabricio was a marketing strategist at Google
in Seattle where one of his first projects was to help
find people for a Google Hangout with President
Obama. “I love that I work for a company that
allows anyone to have a voice, and in that way, it
reminds me a lot of SPU.”
He now works in New York City, where he is an
account manager for one of Google’s top 20 clients.
“It’s pretty wild to be working with brands I grew up
with to keep them relevant and innovative,” Fabricio
says. “I try not to think of the hugeness of it all too
often, as it totally wigs me out.”