Inspiring Words of Wisdom from Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst

On Friday, August 9, 2019, Washington State Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst joined the 2019 Alfie Scholar Cohort, members from 2018 Alfie Cohort, and members of the Alfie Team for lunch. A member of the Board of the Civility Fund, the foundation that funds the Alfie Scholars program and the Civility Center for Law, the Chief Justice spoke about her commitment to civility, to the Alfie Scholars, and her hands-on works with the Center for Law.

In sharing her life’s journey, Chief Justice Fairhurst explained that she learned early on to look for the opportunity when things didn’t go as she planned or wanted, because always, there was something better that she would not have been available to do had her original plan worked out. She advised, “There is the right time to do things, so listen for the signals of when it is your time.”

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“If you hit a wall, find a door. And if there are no doors, find what windows are open.”

—Washington State Supreme Court Justice Mary Fairhurst

“If you hit a wall, find a door. And if there are no doors, find what windows are open.” This concept deeply resonated with the scholars, because they have pushed through challenges by finding their open windows just to be at Seattle University and to be an Alfie Scholar. And they are taking on leadership opportunities to open more doors and windows for the underrepresented.

Chief Justice Fairhurst talked about the time a group of women judges from Turkey visited the Temple of Justice in Olympia. As she was pointing to a chart and explaining how our court system worked, she noticed that the women were staring at her, not the chart. She asked if there was something wrong. The women replied that they had never seen a judge smile. They intended to bring back the image of her smiling as the face of justice. Chief Justice Fairhurst then turned, with her warm, bright smile, and made eye contact with everyone in the room, as she said, “You are the face of the Alfie Scholars; you are the face of Seattle University; you are the face of civility.”

She finished with her favorite starfish story. After a huge storm at the beach, a man walks to the cliff to look at the coast line. He sees that there are starfish strewn all over the sand. There is a lone man walking along the beach, stopping, bending over, picking up a star fish, throwing it into the water, then taking few steps, and repeating. The man from the cliff runs down to the beach and asks the man who is throwing the star fish why he is bothering to do this. “Why are you wasting your time. You can’t make a difference. There is no way that you can throw them all back into the water.” And the man picks up another star fish, throws it, and says, “It makes a difference to that one.” “Alfie Scholars, you are making a difference.”

In closing, Chief Justice Fairhurst, asked the scholars, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” After she received a standing ovation, the scholars came up to exchange personal greetings.

On behalf of the scholars, we thank Chief Justice Fairhurst for sharing her time and wisdom with us.

What the scholars had to say:

It was very enlightening to have Chief Justice Mary with us. Her experiences, her work, her knowledge, her courage, her resilience, all of this she used for civility. She found a need in the community and she was the voice of the unheard. Her story was very inspirational for me. It motivates me even more to become a leader for civility in not only in my career, but in everything that I do. If I were to define what makes a hero, it would be her.
— Adrian Nava
Mary was very inspirational and encouraging. I took away a deeper understanding of myself and my position in life. She is a true leader of civility that I strive to imitate someday.
— Ernesto Chacon
Mary is full of wisdom. I felt so lucky to meet her. She inspired me to never give up even if I meet a closed door, there is always an alternative way to get to my dreams.
— Richard Augustino Pallangyo
Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst embodies resilience, passion, dedication and she is truly a leader for civility! What makes her unique is her perseverance and the way she doesn’t allow closed doors to stop her. She taught me the importance of looking for another entrance or accepting things for what they are and being open to life and what comes next. Chief Justice Mary is our leader and hero of civility!
— Haley Cummins
Mary is an incredible woman. I am so glad to have met such a kind, funny and humble human being. The way she speaks and looks at people shows how she values and respects them. When she talked about her journey at the Supreme Court, I could definitely see how her decisions resonate with civility. I love the fact that she uses her position of power to change the world around her.
— Christiana Christy Tembo

Celebrating Graduation with the Alfie Scholars 2017 Cohort

First row: Faiza Abaroone (Nursing), Tiffany Carpenter (International Studies), Mariajesus Elgueta (Nursing), Abdulqadir “Abdul” Diriye (Diagnostic Ultrasound – Cardiovascular), Second row: Angela Flores-Marcus (Electrical Engineering), Danielle Davis (Nursing), Angel Vuong (Diagnostic Ultrasound), Azrael Howell (Psychology), Soren Tran (Nursing) Top row: Jorge Lara Alvarado (Civil Engineering)

First row: Faiza Abaroone (Nursing), Tiffany Carpenter (International Studies), Mariajesus Elgueta (Nursing), Abdulqadir “Abdul” Diriye (Diagnostic Ultrasound – Cardiovascular), Second row: Angela Flores-Marcus (Electrical Engineering), Danielle Davis (Nursing), Angel Vuong (Diagnostic Ultrasound), Azrael Howell (Psychology), Soren Tran (Nursing) Top row: Jorge Lara Alvarado (Civil Engineering)

On Thursday, June 13, 2019, a group of 40 Alfie Scholars from all four cohorts, Alfie Team Members, families, and guests gathered to celebrate the graduating 2017 Cohort. Four members of this cohort are receiving their Bachelor’s degrees in Nursing, two in Diagnostic Ultrasound, one in Civil Engineering, one in Electrical Engineering, one in International Studies, and one in Psychology. All are leading for civility in their communities and professions.

In attendance to celebrate were members from the first Alfies 2016 cohort: Nizama Djudrija (Criminal Justice), Pa Ousman Jobe (Finance), Julie Mariga (Nursing), Gabriel Narvaez (Sociology); members for the rising Alfie Senior 2018 Cohort: Chhavi Mehra (Journalism), Jasmina “Mina” Omerovic (Mechanical Engineering), Cesar Rios III (Nursing), Stephanie Sanchez (Nursing), Chloe Zabrek (Accounting),Yue Zhang (Accounting), members from the entering Alfie Junior 2019 Cohort: Haley Cummins (Communications), and Richard Pallangyo (Computer Science), and Alfie Team members Natalie Cisneros, Carol Cochran, Nathan Colaner, Genevieve Gieger, Paula Lustbader, Scott Petit, Jeff Philpott, and Brendan Taga.

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Alfie Program Director Carol Cochran opened the program by addressing the cohort: “We are here to talk about the legacy that you have helped to create at Seattle University as an Alfie Scholar. You have helped to elevate the name Alfie. You have not only been Civility Leaders in and outside of the classroom, but also you have been leaders in your families and in your communities. Your hard work and dedication are not only changing your life but the course of many lives. You may have inspired someone you do not know to go after their dreams. It has been our privilege to accompany you on your path.”  She then had the cohort stand and said, “I want all of us to look at our honorees this evening. Study their faces, get to know their names. This evening will not be the last time you hear about them. These Scholars are the hope and the future of their communities, our city, our state, and at this very moment, the hope of our nation. These ladies and gentlemen are our Leaders of Civility. Our Agents of Change.”

Alfie Team Member Jeff Philpott thanked the cohort and said it has been a joy and privilege to work with the Scholars; their motivation, academic excellence, and their commitment to civility inspires everyone.

 “Tonight we celebrate the realization of mutual dreams,” said Alfie Founder and Executive Director Paula Lustbader. “Your dreams were to make a difference in your worlds by obtaining your bachelor's degree, to enter a profession, to change your family circumstances, to change your lives in some ways, and to change the communities in which you live and in which you work. Our dream was to cultivate leaders who are going to change the world by being civil, by creating opportunities to engage with other people in our collective and shared humanity to come up with solutions to these seemingly intractable challenges and problems that face our world and that face our country. And when we asked you to become leaders for civility, we had no idea what genies we let out of the bottle. Each of you have exceeded our dreams.”

Lustbader explained that leaders for civility lead in existing formal leadership roles by creating new ones. Others lead informally wherever the opportunity arises to connect and engage in meaningful dialogue with others. She went on to give examples of the formal leadership roles members of this cohort assumed on campus including Student Body President, leaders in honor and professional societies, leaders in class. She then gave examples where they founded new organizations to serve unmet needs such as the Scarlet Group to advocate for undocumented students on campus, the Vegan Society, and the SU Social, Legal, and Moral Justice Group. And she gave examples where members of this cohort have led for civility in their daily lives by standing up to injustice with confidence and respect, by staying connected to their humanness and vulnerability, and by supporting each other, others in their communities, and strangers.

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Lustbader called the cohort and team members to gather in a circle one last time to embrace and solidify the profound bond they now share. As they returned to their seats, they all hugged each other in emotional and cheerful and tearful embraces.

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Once they returned to their seats, Lustbader thanked her father, Al Lustbader, for his vision and generosity in funding this program, Carol, the team members, the families, and all the Alfies. “And as you go forward, I hope that you remain committed to your quest, to remain civil, to be leaders formally and informally, to look for those opportunities to find those areas where we connect with our shared humanity to influence others towards a greater good. And I encourage you to stay protected when necessary but when possible to continue to lean into your own vulnerability. That's where you can find your greatest truth. And that's where lie the seeds of connection to others. And as you lean in, never forget that you are not alone. You’ve got this whole Alfie family. We’ve got your back; we’ve got you. Thank you for making my dreams come true.”

Cochran then called each member of the 2017 Cohort up, and Lustbader and Alumnus Pa Ousman Jobe placed their Alfie’s Stole around their shoulder.

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After he thanked the children for sharing their Alfie Scholar parents with us while they worked toward their degree, Alfie Alumnus Gabriel Narvaez spoke directly to the graduating Scholars. Mix your academic expertise and credentials with “the life experiences you have, you are a powerful force to be reckoned with. You possess the resources and power that others seek, so be intentional with how you share your gifts…Think big, think long-term, and then go for it. And when you do go for it, know that the Alfie family is always here for you, that we are always here for each other.”

It was an evening full of emotion and a sense of accomplishment. The families and guests were full of joy and pride. The Alfie Team was beaming. And the Alfie Scholars glistened with tears on their cheeks, giggled with each other, and glowed.

Below is a slideshow of other images from the celebration. Simply click an image to move to the next one.

Alfie Scholars honored at SU Red Night Out awards ceremony

On May 30th, 2019, Seattle University celebrated the accomplishments of diverse students during the 2019 Red Night Out awards ceremony. Congratulations to two Alfie Scholars, Jorge Lara Alvarado (Civil Engineering ‘20) who received the Saint Peter Faber Integrity Award, an award presented to students who inspire and lead others and are deeply committed to social justice and ethical behavior, and Mariajesus Elgueta (Nursing ‘19) who received the Distinguished Graduating Student Award, an award presented to students who have demonstrated excellence in service, leadership, and academics. Both expressed a similar sentiment, “We feel happy, and we finally feel recognized.” Honorable mentions to the Red Night Out nominees: Tiffany Carpenter (International Studies ’19), Azrael Howell (Psychology ’20), Chhavi Mehra (Communication and Media ’20), Stephanie Sanchez (Nursing ’20), Farhia Hassan (Nursing ’20), Cesar Rios III (Nursing ’20), and Chloe Zabrek (Business Administration and Accounting ’20).

Mariajesus Elgueta and Jorge Lara Alvarado with their medallions/awards

Mariajesus Elgueta and Jorge Lara Alvarado with their medallions/awards

Three Alfie Scholars inducted into national engineering honor society

Congratulations to three Alfie Scholars, Jorge Lara Alvarado (Civil Engineering ‘20), Michel Mugisha (Computer Engineering ‘20), and Jasmina “Mina” Omerovic (Mechanical Engineering ‘20), for their recent induction into the Seattle University chapter of Tau Beta Pi, the second-oldest engineering honor society and the only one that recognizes and promotes professional and academic excellence, offers a chance to build community, and provides leadership development opportunities to engineering students. Mugisha has also been elected the chapter president, and Omerovic has been elected the chapter secretary. Only juniors in the top 1/8th and seniors in the top 1/5th of their class are eligible for collegiate chapters. Learn more here: https://tbp.org/about.cfm

Jasmina Omerovic

Jasmina Omerovic

Michel Mugisha

Michel Mugisha

Jorge Lara Alvarado

Jorge Lara Alvarado

Alfie Scholar Chhavi Mehra awarded NJC-PNW Newspaper Guild Conference Scholarship

Congratulations to Alfie Scholar, Chhavi Mehra (Communication and Media ’20), who has recently been awarded the Northwest Journalists of Color-Pacific Northwest (NJC-PNW) Newspaper Guild Conference Scholarship. The award is organized in partnership with the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), a non-profit that offers professional development, networking, and scholarship opportunities and encourages aspiring journalists from Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) backgrounds to promote newsroom diversity. As the first recipient of this award, Chhavi will have the opportunity to attend a journalism conference and will also be paired with a mentor from The Seattle Times. Learn more here: http://bit.ly/2VG1dgB

Brad Sherman (Administrative Officer, Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild), Dr. Kimberly Harden (Lecturer, Department of Communication, Seattle U), and Chhavi Mehra

Brad Sherman (Administrative Officer, Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild), Dr. Kimberly Harden (Lecturer, Department of Communication, Seattle U), and Chhavi Mehra

Dr. Kimberly Harden and Chhavi Mehra

Dr. Kimberly Harden and Chhavi Mehra

Chhavi Mehra and Don Shelton (Retired Executive Editor for The Seattle Times)

Chhavi Mehra and Don Shelton (Retired Executive Editor for The Seattle Times)

Two Alfie Scholars selected to participate in Women's Leadership Institute

Congratulations to two Alfie Scholars, Farhia Hassan (Nursing ’20) and Mariajesus Elgueta (Nursing ’19), who have been selected to participate in the Alene Moris National Education for Women’s (NEW) Leadership Institute at the University of Washington, a six-day program designed to foster women’s participation in political and leadership roles. The Institute offers diversity training as well as professional development and networking opportunities. Participants will also have a chance to hear and learn from local activists and women leaders who are social-change-makers.

Farhia Hassan

Farhia Hassan

Mariajesus Elgueta

Mariajesus Elgueta

Three Alfie Scholars selected as Ignatian Leaders

Congratulations to the 2019 cohort of Ignatian Leaders, ten seniors who have demonstrated their commitment to Jesuit ideals of academic excellence, intellectual development, and community service. The program will offer these students opportunities to grow personally, to create and participate in campus events that enrich the student experience, and to provide mentorship to other students and help build community. Out of the ten scholars who were selected, three are Alfie Scholars: Azrael Howell (Psychology ’20), Chhavi Mehra (Communication and Media ’20), and Stephanie Sanchez (Nursing ’20).

Azrael Howell, Chhavi Mehra, & Stephanie Sanchez

Azrael Howell, Chhavi Mehra, & Stephanie Sanchez

The 2019 cohort of Ignatian Leaders with Seattle University President Stephen Sundborg, S.J.

The 2019 cohort of Ignatian Leaders with Seattle University President Stephen Sundborg, S.J.

Two Alfie Scholars graduates join the team at Project Pilgrimage

Two Alfie Scholars graduates join the team at Project Pilgrimage

Alfie Scholars Pa Ousman Jobe (Business and Finance ’18) and Gabriel Narvaez (Sociology ’18) have joined the team at Project Pilgrimage. Project Pilgrimage “builds interracial and intergenerational community … by studying, understanding, and gaining inspiration from transformational movements and individuals, and then taking action.” For more details, visit http://projectpilgrimage.org/

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Congratulations to the inductees into the Seattle University chapter of Tau Sigma Honor Society

Congratulations to the inductees into the Seattle University chapter of Tau Sigma Honor Society

Congratulations to the recent inductees into the Gamma Mu Seattle University chapter of Tau Sigma, a national honor society that recognizes and promotes academic excellence and leadership in  transfer students. Students who earn a 3.5 GPA or higher in their first quarter after transferring are invited to join Tau Sigma. On February 27, 2019, a total of 77 students were welcomed into the Gamma Mu chapter. Among those inducted were seven of the ten 2018 Alfie Scholars cohort.

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Alfie Scholars program increases award to $15,000

Alfie Scholars program increases award to $15,000

The Alfie Scholars Program at Seattle University is now accepting applications for the 2019-2020 cohort. Alfie Scholars receive $15,000 per year for two years to complete their bachelor’s degrees. In addition to the scholarship, each scholar receives:

• Individual advising and instruction

• Academic enrichment programs

• Leadership and civility training

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Kaddy Suso: Get Educated or Die Trying

Kaddy Suso: Get Educated or Die Trying

“I would die for my education,” says Alfie Scholar Kaddy Suso, age 26. Getting an education has been Kaddy’s raison d’etre since she was a young girl in a small village in The Gambia. This was not the plan her family had in mind. As traditionalists, they expected her, like most women in her country, to marry in her early teens, become a gardener, and bear children. That never appealed to Kaddy, who found joy in learning from the get-go and who recognized the unfairness of only allowing men to get an education and the upper hand in society.

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Advocating for Education: My Internship in Washington, D.C.

Advocating for Education: My Internship in Washington, D.C.

It’s 8 a.m. and two hundred students—ranging from the 9th grade to their first year in college and coming from diverse backgrounds—are rehearsing enthusiastically. Some speak original poetry with shining eyes; others break into creative dance or offer calming hugs. In minutes, these talented and underserved youths from across the nation will present powerful narratives in front of almost 1,700 teachers, administrators, and representatives—including the Department of Education. Demonstrating the daily realities of growing up amidst financial hardship, bullying, and gun violence, these students will also share the excitement of participating with GEAR UP, a federal initiative that provides mentoring, college planning, and scholarships. As a Communications and Advocacy Intern, I had the opportunity to learn about educational access, public policy, and government relations while assisting the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) with organizing the 2018 annual conference. My summer working in Washington, D.C., was incredible, and the best moments were meeting the inspiring students that we serve and watching them advocate for their futures on stage.

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Angela Flores-Marcus: Planting the STEMs for Future Women in Tech

Angela Flores-Marcus: Planting the STEMs for Future Women in Tech

When you read about Angela Flores-Marcus’s accomplishments, you are immediately awestruck. Her dedication to her community is apparent through the numerous organizations she has engaged in, including serving as the Vice President of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, the President of Women in STEM club, and Co-Chair of the Queer-Straight Alliance. Her academic excellence is demonstrated by the eleven scholarships she has been awarded and the honor societies she is a part of.

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Alfie Scholars 2018 Cohort on the Philosophy of the Civil Person

To cultivate leaders for civility in their chosen professions and communities, we encourage Alfies to embrace their authentic selves and life’s purpose. We support them in doing so by providing the tools to develop and strengthen their own voice. They learn the importance of hearing their own voice, not only for themselves but for their communities and our society at large. The Alfies learn to communicate their ideas, perspectives, emotions, and values that shape their voice.

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Prostitution, Radical Liberalism, China...Here’s a recap from the Alfie Scholars Senior Conference

To facilitate Alfie Scholars’ development as leaders for civility in their chosen fields and communities, each summer they participate in two Alfie Scholar Conferences. These conferences help form a bridge for students to effectively navigate in academic and professional arenas and communities.

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Julia Mariga

Julia Mariga

When Alfie Scholar and Seattle University College of Nursing graduate, Julia Mariga, found out she was selected by her cohort of 75-80 fellow nursing students to speak at the Pinning Ceremony, she was “genuinely shocked.” She expected someone more “vocal” to be elected and saw herself as a “fly-on-the-wall” in her classes, gently guiding her peers towards various resources and support. “It feels good to know I’ve been helpful to people even when I thought I was just doing a kind thing. It’s good to see people actually benefited from my help,” she says humbly.

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