If there is anything that Seattle University has shown me in my first year it is that it values the spirit of community. My roommate defined it best when he told me, “Danicole all people want in college is to feel important and make others feel important too.”
I remember rehearsing our Men’s Kahiko for Hui 'O Nani Hawaii’s luau. Our instructor, Erin and Taryn made the boys run through the dance. During one of the run throughs, Erin yelled, “Stop! Someone is off and doing the moves all wrong but I don’t want to say who it is. I don’t want to hurt their feelings.” Being that this was the first lu’au I’d ever be part of, I was so excited and enthusiastic. I told Erin, “It’s okay. We’re family. Just say who it is. It’s not a big deal.” Then she looked at me and said, “Okay, Danicole it’s you.”
But that’s why having a community is so important, especially in college, when you’re by yourself and away from home. A community watches out for you, they ground you, and pick you up when you fall. And that is why you are all here leading successful careers and lives. It’s because during your time at Seattle University, whether it was a club, a professor, or Jesuit, someone saw something special about you before you even realized it.
Take McDonald’s for example. It’s a restaurant that is all over the world. Of course, there is your usual menu of French fries and a big Mac, but each McDonald’s across the world has a unique menu. Where Hawaii has Portuguese sausage, spam, eggs, and rice, a place like Italy serves their sandwiches on cibatta bread, In The Philippines, they serve longanesa for breakfast and in Canada, you can get a McLobster roll. McDonald’s does this in hopes that they can attract consumers to their restaurant by appealing to their culture and the background of their consumers. It is that idea where Seattle U develops their community. At the core, Seattle U wants to develop students who become leaders. But to do that, they make sure that whether the student is interested in sports, social activism, cultural clubs, or student government, that there is a place for them to channel their passions to better the school and later on the world.
During your years at Seattle University, you have been asked to fulfill Seattle University's mission to be "…leaders for a just and humane world." Tonight, you can continue to fulfill that mission by helping 7,000 students like me do the same in their education. Because somewhere back in Seattle, there is a student majoring in SPEX who fins great joy in teaching PE and healthy lifestyles to second graders at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School. In the library there is a student who designs a blueprints for her engineering class, dreaming one day that they will be the one to build a strong bridge through the I5. In a crammed studio in the Murphy Apartments, a senior nursing student studies all night for their medical ethics course because they wish to one day become a nurse practitioner and provide quality healthcare for their impoverished hometown. A Humanities for Teaching major sets up a table by C-Street during lunch to encourage students to sign a petition to demand racial and economic equality to public school students. And in the Pigott Auditorium, there are a small group of economic students selling baked goods to fund a trip to Panama to teach economic sustainability in rural communities.
These stories are the stories of future leaders in the making. We are the future leaders who take our education beyond the textbook and into society. Because like you, SU has emphasized to us that education is not how much you know, but what you do with how much you know. The new generation of SU students (us) understand that it is our kuleana in making this world more effective, ethical, and efficient. However, we cannot continue this endeavor without your mentorship, your guidance, your support, and most importantly, your story of how Seattle University has changed your life.
And as your support us, guide us, mentor us, and share your story, we will do as Saint Ignatius called us to do which is "Go forth and set the world on fire." Aloha and thank you for your time.
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We should always remember where we come from, and that we were once undergraduates too. Remember the way we looked up to alumni who seemed to (or actually did) have knowledge beyond our years?
Even though many recent alumni may want to 'take a break' from our alma mater, come back in five, maybe ten, years. Find out what students are doing and reach out to them - because they can be a resource to us, just as much as we are to them. Shape someone's education in the same way ours was shaped - through sustaining community.