Hats off to the Class of 2022
As we prepare to graduate the Class of 2022, I wanted to honor our seniors with this issue of Shareholders. This class has collectively faced many great challenges, disappointments, and burdens. They’ve navigated the pandemic, lamented the deep racism and injustice in our country, and confronted climate change like we’ve never seen before. They’ve also reckoned with diversity, equity, and inclusion issues and opportunities on our own campus. I believe these students will emerge as significant leaders ready to advance human flourishing through service.
I hope their stories encourage you as you continue to face challenges in business and life with a sense of purpose and expectancy.
JAKE CARLSON Q&A: AN OVERVIEW OF THE CLASS OF 2022
As both the associate director of undergraduate programs and an instructor of Christian Scripture, Jake Carlson has seen our seniors navigate the pandemic firsthand. We caught up with Carlson over Zoom to discuss SBGE’s Class of 2022.
What is the biggest challenge the Class of 2022 had to navigate as students during a pandemic?
For most of these students, they started in person, and are finishing in person, but the middle two years were totally interrupted. Transitioning from in-person to online was difficult for students — and for faculty and staff too. You don’t go to SPU to do Zoom University. Most of us are here for the relationships.
How do you think those challenges will prepare students for the workforce?
Especially for our students who are transitioning to business, being able to pivot while leveraging technology will be very helpful for them. I’ve been impressed with our students who went through these past few years of pandemic learning and their ability to do so with a sense of assuredness.
What are the students you talk to most disappointed about in regards to their university experience?
These students went two years with having relationships seriously impacted. Many of the students are lamenting the loss of relational connections.
How has SBGE pivoted in the last couple of years to support students in different ways than before?
We’ve been trying to do a better job of reaching out to students about how they’re doing instead of hoping they know that our door is always open. Our faculty has been very cognizant that our students are shouldering a lot. There’s a sense that we need to be transparent, humble, and willing to listen because our students need to be heard.
TALES FROM THE CLASS OF 2022
By Julia Siemens
Not one student we talked to from the Class of 2022 had the college experience they expected. No one foresaw a global pandemic, online classes, rules about masking and social distancing on campus, virtual events, or the sort of political turmoil we’ve all experienced in the past two years. But many of the students found that unexpected beauty grew out of the pandemic rubble. Here are four stories from the SBGE Class of 2022.
Tenley Nelsen – BA in Business Administration – International Business and Public Policy for Business
Tenley Nelsen arrived at SPU with a four-year-plan. She would study abroad in Europe her sophomore year and work as a resident advisor her junior and senior years. But instead of boarding a plane bound for European Quarter in spring 2020, she began attending classes online at her parents’ home in Friday Harbor, Washington.
“I thought, Every plan will shift. And it did. But that was a huge thing I learned: I had to be more adaptable,” she said.
Nelsen returned to campus Autumn Quarter 2020 as a resident advisor, but that experience also didn’t fit her expectations. She imagined herself building a fun community, not enforcing masking and social distancing.
“It made you not want to leave your room,” she said. “I had a resident come up to me and say, ‘I looked at your Instagram and saw videos from last year. It looks like college used to be fun.’”
Nelsen did her best to find COVID-safe ways to build community, such as holding a weekly movie night over Zoom. She also gave up her dream of attending European Quarter in Paris, Prague, and Rome and studied abroad in Limerick, Ireland, in Autumn 2022 instead. In hindsight, that program was probably a better fit.
“Connecting with people on an international scale and having a homebase to travel from was really incredible.”
She graduated winter 2022 and is currently taking on a new challenge, working in commercial real estate at EQ Office.
“Being prepared to be unprepared is what I’ve learned throughout COVID,” said Nelsen. “This adaptability has been seen by my employers and has put me on track toward growth with the company.”
The Comeback Kid
Leo Gabriel – BA in Business Administration – Information Systems
Leo Gabriel knew something needed to change. He failed Spring Quarter classes after moving to remote learning. He would wake up, check the news on his phone, and “hope the world would be different.”
“When you realize that so much of your own happiness relies on the function of the world, you need to step back,” he said. “Because even if the world comes back, you might not be happy.”
Gabriel decided to lean on his military training as a former sailor with the Navy to pull himself out of his pandemic-fueled slump.
First, he reorganized his room, removing the TV and moving his desk away from his bed. Then he started waking up at 6 or 7 a.m. to run around Green Lake or do a workout in his Wallingford yard. He also met with advisors at SPU for help and began thinking more about his Catholic faith.
Now, Gabriel is set to graduate and looking forward to an internship at Title Nine, a women’s sportswear company, working with the inventory planning team. He’s excited for the opportunity and feels the pandemic has taught him to succeed in the work world.
“It doesn’t matter what you can throw at me,” Gabriel said. “There’s this huge confidence that I’ll be fine regardless of what happens.”
The Early Employee
Steven Kotansky – BA in Economics and a BA in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics
When Steven Kotansky came to SPU in 2019, he looked forward to living in the residence halls, experiencing an all-hall ball, and getting to know students and professors in his major.
But after only six months of living on-campus, the pandemic moved his college experience to at-home and online.
“I lost a chance to have the traditional college experience and the potential new friendships, connections, and memories that would have come with it,” he said.
But despite the loss, the pandemic also created opportunity.
After taking an internship class at SPU, Kotansky would reach out to business analytics professionals on Twitter and LinkedIn.
“Prior to COVID, maybe 5% of the time they would respond, but it went up to 30%,” he said. “People were stuck at home. They didn’t have anything else to do.”
Kotansky connected with a recruiter at Liberty Mutual, which led to a remote data analytics internship that ended up lasting for a year-and-a-half.
Every morning, he would roll out of bed and jump on the computer at 7 a.m. to connect with his Liberty Mutual colleagues in Boston and the United Kingdom. Then at 10:30 a.m. he would begin his SPU classes. After graduation, he will continue the Liberty Mutual work with a new team in Seattle full time.
“Career-wise the pandemic has really worked out for me,” Kotansky said. “It also gave me time to learn new technical skills to make me more employable.”
The “Political Nerd”
Hannah Waterman – BA in Political Science and Government
When Hannah Waterman received an email acceptance letter for an internship with the U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C., she was stunned.
“I was genuinely speechless for a minute or two,” she said. “It was the first time I cried happy tears.”
She only had two-and-a-half weeks to buy a professional wardrobe and prepare for the internship with Senator Maria Cantwell’s office in autumn 2021. At the Senate, she was thrilled to see senators, attend the White House Christmas tree lighting, and be present for the Facebook hearings.
“As a bonafide political nerd, it was like being a kid in a candy store,” Waterman said.
She’s now back in Seattle and recently began a research job at Strategies 360, a political consulting firm.
Her experience with the U.S. Senate and as executive vice president of ASSP at SPU has only cemented her belief in the importance of policy to create positive change.
“Good policy has the potential to tangibly improve lives,” she said. “The story of the gospel is one of liberation from oppression and overcoming hate. Embodying the life of Jesus means taking those values with you everywhere, even if it means having your tax dollars feed the poor or provide health care to the ill.”
“MY MONSTER MONITOR” WINS 16th ANNUAL SVPC
For the first time in nearly three years, the Social Venture Plan Competition was held in person on campus on Wednesday, April 13. The $5,000 Herbert B. Jones Grand Prize went to “My Monster Monitor” for developing an app to help children monitor type 1 diabetes in a fun way using games and monster characters. Team members included business administration majors Faith Stehr, Manny Diaz, Joshua Erme, and Jeanell Vergara; visual communication major Jenna Rasmussen; and Lydia Porter, who has a self-designed music business major.
MEET SVPC JUDGE AND SPONSOR DUSTIN BRUMBAUGH
SBGE is thankful to all our sponsors who make the Social Venture Plan Competition possible. One of this year’s sponsors is the Tschetter Group, an independent, registered investment advisory firm in Bellevue, Washington. We talked with Dustin Brumbaugh, CEO and CIO of the company, over Zoom. Brumbaugh has been a mentor in the Mentor Program since 2008 and has been an SVPC judge for the past two years.
Tell us a bit about Tschetter Group:
We do wealth planning and investment management for high-net-worth clients. The mission we get up in the morning thinking about is giving people optimism about life and money.
Why have you served as an SVPC judge?
I enjoy being around students. They ask great questions and have great ideas. I love the idea of having a competition where people are trying to come up with their best idea to do good in the world through business. Also, I analyze companies for a living, so if I can help refine an idea through my own questions, that’s part of it too.
Why did Tschetter Group sponsor the competition?
As a local business owner and leader, I appreciate what SPU provides to the community and want to build a relationship with the University. We’re happy to be involved.
MAKE COFFEE BLACK AGAIN
Faith & Co. is continuing to release new films for its courses on faith and work. “Make Coffee Black Again” is the story of Cxffeeblack, an identity brand that is reclaiming coffee’s African origins and using it to fight racial injustice in Memphis and beyond. Season Five will explore faith and finance, and filming is currently underway across the country.
IS SPU’S MBA PROGRAM THE NEXT STEP IN YOUR CALLING?
If you want to become a leader who uses business to serve the common good, consider SPU’s MBA program. The program is fully online, so you can receive a high-quality, personal, ethics-based, and AACSB-accredited business education no matter where you live. The program is particularly relevant for anyone who wants to stay on the cutting edge of technology while also using business to advance human flourishing. To make the program more affordable, tuition rates have been reduced by nearly 13% for next year. Request more information today!
NEW SUSTAINABILITY MINOR TO BEGIN AUTUMN 2022
The new Sustainable Management Minor: People, Planet, and Productivity will provide students with the opportunity to take a deeper dive into sustainability issues with business, government, and civil society.
CFB ACTIVE IN FAITH AND WORK COMMUNITY
JoAnn Flett, executive director of the Center for Faithful Business, was a plenary speaker at the 2022 Business for the Common Good conference in Denver. Flett led C3 Leadership Retreat at Alderbrook Resort and Spa and spoke at the KIROS-Bellevue event. This spring, she spoke at the National Christian Foundation's Rainier Club event.
CFB Fellow Amy Sherman recently authored a book titled, Agents of Flourishing: Pursuing Shalom in Every Corner of Society.
A book chapter co-authored by Professor of Accounting Kimberly Sawers titled “Developing the sustainability mindset and leadership” was published in the book Sustainable Mindset and Transformative Leadership.
Professor of Business Ethics Kenman Wong wrote “Advice to Christian Professors of Business” for the winter 2022 edition of Christian Scholars Review.
The War for Ukraine: A Geographical and Theological Conversation
SBGE co-hosted an event on Thursday, April 7, to explore the roots of the war in Ukraine. Speakers were professor emerita of geography Kathleen Braden and professor emeritus of theology Eugene Lemcio.
SPU hosts Pollard Scholarship on campus
Scholars from around the world apply for the Center for Faithful Business’ Bill Pollard Faith and Business Research Fellowship each year. Selected scholars come to SPU for a short residency where they draw upon the Pollard Papers and other resources in SPU’s Faith and Work collection.
The 2021 Pollard Scholars presented their research findings on campus Friday, May 20, followed by a presentation by Dr. John Terrill, who won “Best Paper” for “The Role of Place and Placemaking in the Life of Servicemaster.” The six 2022 scholars are coming to campus to do research in June.
2022 Commencement activities to be held June 11-12
Congratulations to our 2022 graduates! We hope to see you at Commencement. For undergraduates, SPU will be hosting Ivy Cutting at 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 11, in Tiffany Loop. Commencement will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 12, at the Tacoma Dome. For graduate students, Hooding Ceremonies will be held at various times and locations. Graduate Commencement will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 11, at Tiffany Loop.
We would like to honor Bruce Baker, associate professor of business ethics, who is retiring after 13 years of service to SBGE.
Having worked as a tech entrepreneur, corporate executive, ordained minister, and scholar, Baker is that rare “quadruple-threat” professor. His teaching and writing explore the intersection of technology, culture, business, and ethics — all through a theological lens.
In addition to spending time with family and writing, Baker will spend much of his retirement hiking and biking around the Pacific Northwest.
We have two other beloved faculty members leaving this year, Elisabetta Ipino, assistant professor of accounting, and Hau Nguyen, assistant professor of economics.
We wish you all the best in your new endeavors!