Seattle Pacific University: Connections Alumni News
Winter 2015 | Volume 8, Issue 1

Homecoming 2015: Once a Falcon,
Always a Falcon

Homecoming 2015 SPU Class Reunion

February’s coming and you’re thinking of escaping to Hawaii — again? Seattle Pacific University has the perfect alternative. Come join the festivities at Homecoming 2015, February 5–8, and bask in the warmth of former classmates, sparkling entertainment options such as the Student Talent Show and Homecoming basketball, and tasty bites from the creative geniuses at Sodexo.

While you can fly to Hawaii anytime, SPU Homecoming comes but once a year!

Join in the excitement of a Homecoming filled with reunions, theatre, and a wonderful new innovation or two. In addition to “classics” such as departmental reunions, the Homecoming Luncheon, and a basketball doubleheader, come on over to Gwinn Commons after the games for the new Alumni Reception: A Taste of SPU. Visit with President Dan Martin. Savor delectables from multiple food stations in special areas designated for class reunions ending in “0” and “5.” Kids under 5 eat free!

And don’t forget these highlights:

King Lear

  • “King Lear” live on stage with Professor George Scranton in the title role. Don’t miss this beloved theatre professor’s swan song before retirement from 45 years of teaching. If you are one of the many theatre alumni touched by Scranton’s unique set of talents and compassion, come pay tribute to his excellence. Four Homecoming performances, including a special Alumni and Parents’ Night at the Theatre with reception on February 6 (advance ticket purchase required at Tickets for all other performances at 206-281-2959 or

  • SPU Gospel Choir in Concert, 1:30 p.m., February 7. Celebrate over 10 years of African-American gospel music at Seattle Pacific. Join Stephen Michael Newby and choir reunion members in raising the roof of First Free Methodist Church. Free.

  • Arnett Hall and Alexander Hall Tours, February 7 (several times available). See the new energy-efficient Arnett Hall residence and the renewed and historically restored Alexander Hall. Free.

  • Falcon Family Fun Center and Future Falcons Nest Child Care, February 7. The Fine Center at First Free Methodist Church transforms into a carnival fun place filled with games and activities for the whole family, including a Falcon photo booth, face painting, prizes, and much more. Food will be available for purchase from some of Seattle's finest local food trucks. Your Future Falcons will thank you for this! (If you’d like, child care professionals will watch your kids at the Future Falcons Nest — $10 per child, advanced payment required at

Check out the full schedule of Homecoming 2015 events and make your plans today to come home to SPU. Hawaii can wait.

Mom’s Day Moms Spend Fun-Filled Day With Students

On November 1, 2014, mothers flooded the campus, connected with their students, and spent an eventful day together.

The annual Mom’s Day event welcomed 325 participants and sold out the brunch in Gwinn Commons. Of those, 175 went cruising on Lakes Washington and Union. Senior and singer/songwriter Josh Baez serenaded the brunch crowd and the balmy weather, too, was something to sing about.

Pam Martin, wife of SPU President Dan Martin, regaled at brunch with a highly relatable and hilarious tale of moving their son into the residence hall while simultaneously attempting to decorate his room. Study Abroad Director Gail DeBell and Study Abroad Programs Manager/Advisor Cassandra Sanchez interviewed Study Abroad students and whet the appetites of other students for the international “classroom.”

“It was a lovely November day,” says Linda Nolte, assistant director for alumni and parent relations. “Moms, don’t miss out next year!”

Alexander Hall & Becky Arnett Gilliam 80Helping Vets Be Successful Students
The Washington Post reports that 88 percent of American military veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan who enrolled in colleges and universities in the fall will drop out by next summer. The article cites that the great majority of them suffer from “feeling isolated and frustrated in an alien culture.”

According to student vet advocate Will Jonsson, the dropout rate for student vets studying at Seattle Pacific University is “much lower.”

The reasons include Jonsson himself. The “go-to” person for veterans affairs and resources at SPU just since last year, he maintains an office in the Center for Learning in Lower Moyer Hall. Jonsson works closely with the Veteran and Military Support Cadre, which provides community and Christian fellowship, and a place for veterans and those who support them to discuss issues specific to military and post-military life. The Cadre sent volunteers last month to Seattle Stand Down, a two-day effort to help homeless and at-risk vets gain the resources and services specific to their individual needs.

The Cadre facilitates the annual Veterans Day observance on campus, which on November 10 featured retired Master Chief Petty Officer Robert (Chili) Hicks, senior manager at Boeing, and a member of the U.S. Navy for 21 years. Earlier in the day, students tied yellow ribbons around some of the stately trees in Tiffany Loop to commemorate Veterans Day and to honor SPU alumni veterans.

SPU Vet Corps Navigator Jonsson is available to the SPU military veteran community Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Tent City 3Tent City 3 Has Returned to SPU
SPU will host Tent City 3 through March 7, 2015.

Seattle Pacific University is hosting nearly 100 residents of Tent City 3 this winter in Tiffany Loop. This self-managed community provides safe shelter for people in transition from homelessness to more permanent housing and work situations. They are currently living in tents on the northeast lawn bordering Tiffany Loop.

“Hosting TC3 is a concrete manifestation of our mission to engage the culture and change the world,” says President Dan Martin. “It provides our community a unique opportunity to care for and learn from our neighbor.” About half of the Tent City residents go to jobs or appointments each weekday.

SPU hosted Tent City 3 once before in 2012, when it was located on Wallace Field. The guests have access to University facilities such as the Student Union Building and the SPU Library. They may be invited to be class speakers and attend Falcon athletic events, and SPU students, staff, and faculty will help in preparing food and providing other services to make the guests’ stay an enriching one.

SPU will host Tent City 3 through March 7, 2015. Learn more and see how you can get involved.

A Lot to Shout About

Tent City 3

Before there were Orangemen there were Talons. These spirit generators, circa 1960, cheered for Falcon men’s basketball, needled the opposition, and kept the pot stirred in Royal Brougham Pavilion. Falcon women’s basketball would not debut until the 1975-76 season.

Falcon Men's BasketballFalcons in Action at Home and Away
Hundreds of Falcon athletics fans have cheered their favorite competitors in person at Falcons in Action events this academic year. From Interbay Soccer Stadium in Seattle to Northwest Nazarene University’s Johnson Sports Center in Nampa, Idaho, the SPU Falcons have put on a show and many of their loyal fans have been there play by play.

Men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, and women’s gymnastics are the featured sports. Special receptions for alumni and parents are held at each event. These Falcon enthusiasts enjoy discounted tickets, complimentary refreshments, and SPU alumni swag.

“These events are such fun ways to gather together as SPU alumni and families and support SPU,” says Alumni and Parent Relations Director Bryan Jones. “And our athletes love having so much enthusiasm and support!”

Upcoming events include the Falcon gymnastics team versus the team from Air Force Academy. Check out the remaining schedule of events and advance registration.


Alumni Legacy Families Experience Campus Together

Ellen Long Donnelly ’80, and her husband, Kurt Donnelly ’80, don’t make it to campus that often. He is a U.S. diplomat and policy advisor to NATO for the State Department of Foreign Services. Their home for another year is a posting in Belgium.

Ellen, an educator specializing in gifted students, attended the Alumni Legacy Reception on September 25, 2014, with her freshman daughter, Kelsey. Dad was on assignment. The reception was part of Orientation 2014 for new students.

“You don’t have to go to a huge school to receive a higher level education,” says Ellen, who has also lived in Russia, Germany, and Turkey. “My husband and I received an outstanding education at SPU. When Kurt took the Foreign Service exam, he was extremely prepared.” And that, she adds, is what can be done with a history degree from Seattle Pacific.

As for Kelsey, she is ready to stay put for a time, especially in a city as international as Seattle. “It feels like I’ve been here a while,” she says of her new Seattle Pacific address. “I grew up on my parents’ stories of the place.” She appreciated her mother’s joy in showing her around.

Nearly a hundred alumni parents and their students enjoyed sub sandwiches, chips, and triple chocolate cookies at the complimentary reception in the Walls Advancement Center, new home to Alumni and Parent Relations. Alumni Legacy students receive an annual tuition discount and are eligible for the Alumni Association Scholarship.

Come Warm Up at These
Career Events

All alumni are invited to the Center for Career and Calling's winter career week, a series of workshops, networking events, and employer panels January 12-16, 2015. Topics will include "putting your liberal arts degree to work," "understanding your vocational calling," "conducting a job search using social media," "how to dress professionally on a tight budget," and much more. "Like" the event on Facebook and we'll see you soon!

CCC Events - Winter 2015
Alumni welcome!

Winter Employer Panel
Learn industry insights and career tips from local professionals.
Thursday, February 12, 5:30--7:00 p.m., Demaray 150

Etiquette Dinner
Enjoy an elegant three-course meal while learning the finer points of business etiquette.
Tuesday, March 3, 5--7 p.m., Upper Gwinn Commons

Young Alums Living the SPU Vision

Kayla Graff '12Kayla Graff ’12
Clinical RN/Medical Surgical Pediatrics
Phoenix Children’s Hospital
Phoenix, Arizona

Kayla Graff put her call to serve to the test in 2013 when she traveled to Swaziland to work in the Bulembu Clinic. In a very real sense, she ran toward the battle. Swaziland is an African country ravaged by HIV/AIDS. Some estimates say the number infected comprises over 40 percent of the population — the highest infection rate in the world. Fifteen percent of the country’s population has been orphaned.

In the 24-hour clinic, run by nonprofit Bulembu Ministries, the handful of staff served an average of 80 patients per week in a prayerful effort to help “reweave the social fabric” of a people. In 14 months, Graff saw many of the Christian community’s 500-plus orphans and the 1,500 villagers surrounding Bulembu. Because nurses in Swaziland diagnose, treat, and prescribe medication, she was thrown into a different world of medicine and professional autonomy where she says she “learned a new level of trust in and dependence upon God.”

"We treated anything and everything (including) pre- and post-natal patients, child illnesses and vaccinations, worms, physical examinations, tuberculosis, mental illness, family planning, basic emergencies, and, of course, HIV/AIDS." Because the ministry also runs a sawmill, she often dealt with missing fingers and deep wounds.

Today, Graff still works with large numbers of children at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and is grateful for the encouragement and equipping she received from SPU to serve, as it turned out, just about anywhere.

Claire Grubbs '09 Claire Grubbs ’09
Missionary, The Village of Living Hope
Shinyanga, Tanzania

Throughout her SPU experience, Claire Grubbs wanted "to do something big with my life." A typical American lifestyle was not for her. The Falcon soccer standout spent the summer after her junior year exploring God's will for her life by traveling to Kazakhstan in Central Asia to live with missionaries and wait on God for discernment.

Her heart said "to go and do crazy things for the Lord." Accepted by Teach for America, she moved to Louisiana to teach in the failing schools of New Orleans. For the next four years, Grubbs taught elementary and middle school grades. To "be all in," she worked and lived in a ghetto. The neighborhood children loved her and spent hours playing in her house.

Last summer, Grubbs joined her pastor father on a mission team to Tanzania. An orphanage and school again put her teaching and love for children into action. She extended her stay and by the end of it, knew that East Africa was her true calling. After another year teaching in New Orleans and in a Christian mission school in Mozambique, she joined The Village of Living Hope to provide homes, schools, medical facilities, and a vibrant church life in service to orphaned and vulnerable children, including the blind and the deaf.

"It was at SPU that I first sensed the call on my life, thanks to my caring professors," says Grubbs. "My soccer team, too, helped to shape my character, drive, leadership skills, and teamwork." (Contact for email updates.)

Alison Soike '03 Alison Soike ’03
Owner, Alison’s Coastal Café & Bakery
Seattle, Washington

Because breakfast is her favorite meal of the day, Alison Soike has a restaurant that fittingly serves it all day. Homemade quiche, eggs benedict, and buttermilk waffles come from her kitchen — and there is a bakery case filled with her creative delights, some utilizing recipes from her grandmothers on both sides.

With her SPU degree in human services and sociology, Soike first went to work for the Boys and Girls Club. As a counselor, and later a program and team director, she invested 11 years there. Though she enjoyed working with teens and middle schoolers, she needed an outlet for her food passions. She decided that her company Curly Catering (she has curly hair), already in operation three years, would expand to a café serving breakfast and lunch.

The breezy, beach décor is redolent of the Oregon coast, her favorite place on the planet. She employs teens and SPU students, some of whom are in culinary arts internships. One night a week SPU scholars are treated to a study discount on some of her tastiest coffee and treats. "I remember how important that was for me when I was a student," says the creator of the café that feels like a stimulating community gathering place.

"When I come to work, I want to be calm and present and love what I'm doing," adds Soike. "And if I can support youth and serve people great food at the same time …" Soike sees it as an extension of who she was at the Boys and Girls Club — with whipped cream on top.

Holly Wood and FamilyImpressions of an Alum Inside Hong Kong
"When my husband and I told people we were moving to Hong Kong last summer, more than one remarked, 'Have fun in Japan!' Maybe I need to make savvier friends, but the reality is I didn't know much about Hong Kong either, at least for someone who was about to become a long-term resident.

"But three months after we landed, our new home hit the international airwaves with umbrellas flying. Tens of thousands of protesters swelled in the streets, demanding answers from Beijing after a change in voting policy essentially limits free elections in the future — a freedom that was promised to Hong Kong Chinese even beyond the end of British rule in 1997.

"Suddenly our fledgling life in Hong Kong was not about figuring out how to find the best dim-sum (or getting our toddler to chow down), it was about better understanding the complex relationship between Hong Kong and China, and the threat to democratic freedoms that locals here cherish so deeply. We watched the local news online, scoured Reddit, and heard from friends who dropped off supplies like water bottles and Kleenex at makeshift protest headquarters to show support. I felt naive, worried about a Tiananmen-type ending to the protests, and really far from home.

"It's been a few months since the first nights of protests, and the crowds have shrunken but the resolve of Hong Kongers has not. Whether or not Beijing renegotiates election policies remains to be seen (2017 is the next major election year). In the meantime, I'll keep working on my dim-sum consumption, hoping and praying for peace and freedom in Hong Kong."

Holly Harris Wood '07 and her husband, Dustin Wood '07, lived in Seattle for 10 years before moving abroad in 2014 to teach at an international school. Her comments above were received November 13, 2014. To read more of her writing and about their life in Hong Kong, visit

Samuel Macharia '68Kenyan Media Mogul a
Graduate of SPU

Samuel K. Macharia '68 is a Horatio Alger story, Kenyan style. On a visit to his alma mater earlier this year, the founder and chairman of Royal Media Services and his large entourage of family members and business associates met with the Alumni and Parent Relations staff. A persistent and determined man who built a media empire in his homeland, Macharia presented the first copy of his autobiography, Tenacious Courage, to President Dan Martin in appreciation for the education the Kenyan received at Seattle Pacific University.

By some estimates a billionaire, and named in 2013 by Forbes magazine one of the 10 African millionaires to watch, Macharia, or S.K. as he is popularly known today, was born in abject poverty and was only 5 when he lost his mother. The sister who cared for him was married to an elderly man in order to raise the money for her brother’s school fees. As soon as he could, Macharia traveled to the U.S. with just $20 in his pocket and the desire for a first class business education. He received that and more. Today, he owns Kenya’s dominant TV station, Citizen TV, as well as 11 English and local language radio stations.

But 50 years ago, the apprehensive kid from Nairobi made his way to America by way of road, rail, ship, the Sahara Desert, and the sandstorms of Benghazi, Libya, to a life of still more struggle. He slept on the streets of Seattle while he worked long hours to gain an education. One day, while hanging out at the Greyhound Bus Depot in downtown Seattle, he met a Free Methodist pastor who took him under his wing and guided his way. That way included an education from Seattle Pacific.

Macharia’s return to Kenya and his unlikely rise to fame and fortune are chronicled in his book. But for one day last summer, he was content to travel to the campus of SPU to deliver a personal "thank-you" 46 years after receiving a diploma from President C. Dorr Demaray.


The DNA sequencer in the Biology Department was purchased after it spent time as a movie prop on the set of the 2004 film “Cat Woman,” starring Halle Berry. Though the film was widely panned, the sequencer has garnered rave reviews from professors and students alike.

Arnett Hall welcomed its first student residents in the fall. The certified green facility for 150 residents features high-efficiency faucets, showers, and washing machines; LED garage and site lighting; and a green roof area. According to Seattle Pacific University Master Gardener Jeff Daley, green roofs attract beneficial insects, birds, and butterflies when the plants are in bloom.

SPU’s Head Athletic Trainer Jason Durocher is married to Seattle University’s Assistant Athletic Trainer Caroline Durocher. Jason is a fly-fisherman who also enjoys playing basketball and tennis.

Campus Jobs

Engineering Shop Technician
Maintains equipment in the mechanical shop, maintains non-computer equipment in various engineering laboratories, and provides supervision of students in the mechanical shop during scheduled hours.

Security Officer
Provides security to the SPU campus by responding to alarms, emergencies, and criminal activities. Enforces parking regulations and provides customer service such as safety escorts, let-ins, and automotive assistance.

For more information and to apply for these and other open positions at SPU, visit

Alumni Bookshelf

Accuracy: A guide to Living Skillfully and Successfully in Today's Crazy Times

Accuracy: A Guide to Living Skillfully and Successfully in Today’s Crazy Times
(Trafford, 2014)
by Philip Jacobs ’08

$11.39 (paperback)
More details and to order

The Problem With Not Being Scared of Monsters

The Problem With Not Being Scared of Monsters
(Boyds Mill Press, 2014)
by Dan Richards ’88

$11.90 (hardcover)
More details and to order

Winged: New Writing on Bees

Winged: New Writing on Bees
(Poulin Publishing, 2014)
edited by Melissa Reeser Poulin, MFA ’13, and Jill McKenna Reed

$24.00 + s&h (paperback)
More details and to order

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