Some of Our Outstanding Graduates

Truc (Alice) Nguyen headshot
Truc (Alice) Nguyen

“I’ve always been self-conscious of my image as I grew up because I had an overbite and crowded teeth,” says Truc. “I was told not to smile too much because it was better to hide my flaws rather than fix it.” After coming to the United States from Vietnam on a number of scholarships, Truc was impressed by the attitude toward dental care she saw in this country. She got braces to fix her teeth when she was 21 years old, and had a chance to observe dentists and physicians. She became convinced that dentistry was her calling. She served as secretary of the Vietnamese Student Association and the SPU Dental Society, and volunteered at Vietnam HealthClinic in Seattle. The biochemistry major also volunteered at the Seattle/King County Clinic, and the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Clinic at Harborview Medical Center. Truc is trained to assist dentists who serves homeless individuals at Seattle’s Union Gospel Dental Clinic. Following graduation, she will work as an assistant to an orthodontist and will continue to volunteer at the Union Gospel Mission and the Vietnam Health Clinic.

Zainab Gaal-Weber headshot

When I was 13 years old, I was seriously hurt in Somalia. A nurse from Doctors Without Borders helped me. Because she was able to recognize the seriousness of my condition, she saved my life. Ever since then, I have wanted to become a nurse.

Jacob Redding headshot

Having finished my master’s degree, I am working on completing the rest of my doctoral degree. I am eager to work for companies that make diversity a priority. Being involved in leadership development, succession planning, and company operations is something that I look forward to. Knowing that I am capable of engaging in these specific areas is a direct result of my successes as a student and the influence of the SPU community.

Lanae Hollingsworth headshot

Being a math teacher will let me invest in people, something I love to do. Currently, I am planning to teach high school math and coach in Texas. A great job would be teaching math and theology, my other major, while coaching.

Michaela Rubenstein
Michaela Rubenstein

This ecology major spent time abroad in Costa Rica, after which she served as a Study Abroad Global Ambassador, sharing her experience with other students. Michaela is now an intern at the Seattle Aquarium working with the Bird & Mammal Team. During her time at SPU, Michaela also participated in the University Scholars program, with her final paper titled “Effects of ZooTunes Concert Decibel Levels on the Behavior of Five Species at Woodland Park Zoo.” Following graduation, she will return to Costa Rica for an internship as a naturalist guide in the Monteverde Cloud Forest.

McKinley Weaver
McKinley Weaver

Even prior to graduation, McKinley had already traveled to South Africa. He has also received a Fulbright scholarship to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. McKinley is graduating with a linguistics and cultural studies major, and an English creative writing minor. He is also one of the first graduates of the Asian studies minor program. After graduation, McKinley will teach English at Mongolia State University of Arts and Culture where he will continue to practice his language skills and prepare to continue his education. Following his Fulbright experience, McKinley is also planning to obtain a master’s degree and a doctorate in linguistics. He hopes to help rethink language policy in Western societies' educational systems.

Abbie Austin
Abbie Austin

Her professors describe her as an amazing student and a strong leader. The graduating communication studies major is also known for having a heart for others. She is currently an intern at Kids for Peace, an organization that seeks to educate youth about breaking down religious and cultural stereotypes while addressing current societal issues. After graduation, Abbie plans to continue her education.

Sarah Jodway
Sarah Jodway

Sarah has been a student leader for two groups in the International Interior Design Association, where she was also nominated as the "Student Volunteer of the Year" for the Puget Sound Campus Center. Sarah was part of the winning team in a design competition, and went on to represent Washington students at the second round of the competition in Arizona. For the past two years, Sarah worked as the lead assistant for a financial professional at MassMutual Northwest, and in 2016, she received the off-campus SPU Student Worker of the Year Award. She is currently working as an interior designer at Rebecca West Interiors. As Sarah continues to gain experience in her field, she ultimately plans to bring her talents to a large architectural firm, where she hopes to design children's hospitals by combining her technical and artistic skills to create places of healing and light.

Kendra Fremont
Kendra Fremont

Persistence and determination are just two attributes of this graduating interior design major. To strengthen her computer skills, Kendra took the initiative to teach herself several drafting and design programs. She has also gained recognition for her award-winning design of a portable workstation, and for her participation in International Interior Design Association events. Kendra is currently interning at Degen and Degen, one of the top design firms in Seattle.

Katie Leahy
Katie Leahy

Katie’s Spring Break took place in the Himalayan Mountains. The graduate student in the adult geriatric nurse practitioner program hiked 140 miles through Nepal to set up free medical clinics for residents in isolated villages. Her trip with International Mission Relief provided care for patients with a variety of conditions including hypertension, scoliosis, and even leprosy. After graduation, Katie will be taking the medical board exams, and in August, she will be getting married. Katie plans to stay and work in the Seattle area.

Karley Gordon
Karley Gordon

The music therapy major and psychology minor has spent time working with an array of clients, ranging from the homeless, to adjudicated youth, to those with memory care issues. Next year, Karley will work in Denver at a facility that helps children who have survived trauma, neglect, and abuse as they confront serious mental health challenges through the medium of music.

Alli Bautista

The graduating senior talks about majoring in English: “I’ve found that it’s an intriguing intersection of history, philosophy, language, and life. I think I’ve learned just as many life lessons from my classes in the past four years as I have about sentence structure and Shakespeare.”

Joe August

The roommates and musicians started writing songs as young boys ꟷ Joe started with a Guitar Hero obsession, while Zach says he listened to a lot of good music.


The four seniors, along with junior Zahara Williams, are not only outstanding musicians on their own, but form the band, ZAUX. The group recently released an album.

Chris Bench

The senior guard’s first and last three-pointers helped the Falcons win their 2017 Homecoming game — a moment he will likely never forget.

Zach Caldwell and Mikaela Henderson

The two music majors and acoustic duo met during their first year at SPU, and plan to continue performing after graduation.

Justin Ramsey

The sprinter and honors student is also is working as a student teacher at Shorewood High School.

Kyra Brannan

The long jump championship and mechanical engineering student hopes to design rollercoasters after graduation.

Kalina Thornton

The public relations manager for the Associated Students of Seattle Pacific helps promote services and events to the campus community.

Julia Bennett

The artist created “l’aveu” to honor her late friend and SPU student, Paul Lee, and the events of June 5, 2014.

Lukas Krumpl
Lukas Krumpl

The exercise science major was voted by students as the 2017 People of Promise as someone who "shows true promise and commitment towards SPU's vision of engaging the culture and changing the world." As an international student from Austria, he's been part of international student orientation and helping new students adjust to life in the U.S.. Lukas is a teaching and lab assistant in exercise science, and very active in intramurals.

Kiersten Brown
Kiersten Brown

The Theology Student Union leader was voted by students as a 2017 People of Promise as someone who "shows true promise and commitment towards SPU's vision of engaging the culture and changing the world." She graduated with a degree in Christian theology with an educational ministry emphasis. She also co-facilitated a Women in Ministry panel, participated in the Student Congress on Racial Reconciliation, and serves as an admissions tour guide.

Oliver-Paul Betu

The Queen Anne/Magnolia News featured the senior guard and his journey from the Democratic Republic of Congo to playing basketball for a Division 1 school to becoming a Falcon.

Class of 2017 Senior Gift

The Senior Gift Committee, made up of several SPU students and sponsored by the Associated Students of Seattle Pacific, chose to focus on fundraising "to commemorate the lives of Paul Lee and Erin Kimminau." The tragic events of June 5, 2014, impacted the entire SPU community, and committee wants to commemorate Paul’s life and honor the many who were affected. Students, faculty, and staff are working with the Lee family on a memorial installation for campus which will evoke peace, reflection, movement, and life.

This past fall, the SPU community also lost Erin Kimminau, who passed away in a fatal car accident on her way back from protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. Erin traveled across the country to Standing Rock for the sake of justice, life, and water. Erin will be honored through an endowment set up by her family, supporting servant and social justice scholarships at SPU.

If you would like more information, or to participate by giving, please email student Felicia Perez or the Office of Student Life.

2017 Commencement Speakers

Deborah Wilds

Undergraduate Commencement speaker: Dr. Deborah Wilds, senior fellow for the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust and a member of Seattle Pacific University’s Board of Trustees.

Eric Long

Ivy Cutting speaker: D. Eric Long, professor of biology, Seattle Pacific University

Sue Sherbrooke

Graduate Commencement speaker: Sue Sherbrooke, former chief executive officer for YWCA Seattle/King/Snohomish.

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