“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.Read More
The Alfie Scholars blog is where we share news, perspectives, and updates from our Scholars.
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.Read More
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.Read More
Alfie Scholar Jasmina “Mina” Omerovic (class of ‘20) was selected this year by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to participate in a five-week online workshop followed by a four-day visit to the NASA JPL campus in Pasadena, CA. Her experience was fun, inspiring, and intense.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
We believe that true civility requires more than mere politeness; it calls upon us to respect others, to remain open-minded and curious, and to engage in honest and constructive discourse. Civility requires an integration of relational attitudes, behaviors, and skills. We believe that the foundation for civility is consciousness, creativity, and community (3 C’s).Read More
We welcomed our Alfie Scholar class of 2020 on June 30, 2018 for an all-day Leadership for Civility retreat. Our new Alfie Scholars represent a diverse range of ages (18-38) and nationalities (Bosnia, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Somalia, Vietnam, United States). Six are the first in their families to attend college. Two are parents. Three were encouraged to apply by current scholars! Three are engineering majors, three are nursing majors, two are business majors, and one is a journalism major.
We are excited to welcome these incredible scholars into our community and look forward to seeing where this journey takes them!
Alfie Scholar and Seattle University Electrical Engineering student Angela Flores-Marcus is one of 20 honorees in the 2018 Women Techmakers Scholars Program offered by Google. Flores is the first Seattle University Student and Alfie Scholar to receive this award, and we could not be more proud.Read More
I’ve been sick for the past week. I woke up this morning coughing and fighting to catch my breath. I put my hand on my chest gasping for air; when I finally caught my breath I smiled and cried a little because in that moment I knew I meant everything I said in my presentation yesterday: “I’m going to tell you right now, I want it so bad I’m going to die trying,” when speaking about my education. I also thought about what my father told me one day while we were having breakfast: “I always dreamed about being a speaker, but I don’t have that gift. I’m not educated, but sometimes when I sleep I have this dream that I’m in front of people speaking and they are listening to what I have to say.” My father was never given the opportunity to live out his dream, but what kind of son would I be if I didn’t live it out for him.Read More
This past summer and fall four of the Alfie Scholars studied and worked abroad. Over the next few weeks, we will post their reflections on their time as global citizens. Our first author is Nizama Djuderija, who studied at the American University of Bosnia and Herzegovina.Read More
Incivility permeates our culture including in colleges and universities. Higher education influences each generation, engenders critical thinking, and establishes cultural norms for professionals. When we teach and model ways to facilitate robust, yet civil, discourse about controversial topics, we empower students to be constructive, civil, and engaged citizens in an increasingly polarized world. After offering a definition and framework for thinking about civility, the paper summarizes the pervasiveness and cost of incivility in our society generally and the presence and impact of incivility on schools specifically. The paper then provides suggestions on ways that higher education can cultivate a campus culture of civility.
November 9, 2016
To the Seattle University Community, on behalf of the Alfie Scholars of Seattle University,
We, the inaugural cohort of the Alfie Scholars program at Seattle University, offer this response to the results of our nation’s recent Presidential election.
Seattle University’s mission for a just and humane world compels us, as civility leaders, to reach out to the greater Seattle University community to offer words of reflection as well as to communicate our promise to continue to engage in the fight for what we believe in and what defines us. For those who do not know what an Alfie Scholar is, we are a highly diverse group of high-achieving transfer students who’ve fought through serious adversity for the honor of obtaining a justice-oriented education. Our governing principle of civility aligns with principles of service, responsibility, and justice. Our instinctive understanding of the full-bodied precedent of unity, as exemplified by so many of the civility leaders who’ve come before us, leads us to foster betterment in ourselves, and in the hearts and minds of others when the chips are down.
In the past eighteen months, we have watched as our common decency has fallen in the face of fear. It is a natural response to be tempted to allow ourselves to trip into a trap of lasting despair, but we argue that it is more important than ever to situate ourselves within the spectrum of love. Now is not the time to engage in the pathology of divisiveness. It is a moment that will test our resolve as individuals who organically understand that what lives in our hearts has the power to thrust us toward a better tomorrow. In this spirit, we wish to offer our compassion to our Mother Earth, our brothers and sisters of color, our Muslim friends, our Native American tribes, our LGBTQ families, the poor and impoverished, and all those questioning their safety as we digest what the future may bring.
We feel strongly that our Seattle University community has the potential to set an example for strength in leadership, specifically leadership that stands boldly to represent what is right and good within each of us. Margaret Mead’s famous quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”, embodies our ideology of staying grounded, as we engage those with whom we have fierce disagreement with. Civility thrives on connectivity, so we reach out today in an effort to both introduce ourselves and to extend our arms to the SU community. We are here to work alongside you, as we begin the arduous work of establishing our common voice as the dominant voice for a more inclusive discourse. In a broader sense, the confrontation of extremes reminds us of our responsibility as arbiters, the importance of communication, understanding and interaction in a much polarized national conversation. We believe that this resonates even more clearly in context when Americans face the potential of global isolation.
In Civil Solidarity,
Nizama Djudrija, Criminal Justice, Class of 2018
Aminata Drammeh, Business, Class of 2018
Pa Ousman Jobe, Business, Class of 2018
Julia Mariga, Nursing, Class of 2018
Dian “D.D.” Meakin, Sociology, Class of 2018
David Morales-Rosales, Criminal Justice, Class of 2018
Gabriel Narvaez, Sociology, Class of 2018
Giang Nguyen, Business, Class of 2018, Class of 2018
Hiba Salama, Diagnostic Ultrasound, Class of 2018
Mahakdeep Singh, Engineering, Class of 2018
President Stephen Sundborg officially launched the Alfie Scholars Program at Seattle University on Wednesday, March 9, 2016. Over 50 representatives from Seattle University, local community colleges, and individuals from around Seattle gathered to celebrate the launch of the Alfie Scholars Program at Seattle University, an innovative academic support scholarship for transfer students.Read More
We certainly know we need it more than ever, right? Anybody been watching the debates recently? Anybody looking at what's going on in our country and notice the crassness, the crudeness, and the lack of sensitivity? Rather than coming together in our shared humanity, some people want to close the borders and build the walls. I'm not naming names. But this is a moment that kind of cries out for civility.Read More
New Alfie Scholars program will enroll transfer students, increase diversity and promote civility
Story by: Dean Forbes and Mike Thee
Published March 1, 2016 in Seattle University's The Commons
On March 9 the university will publicly launch a new scholarship program for community college transfer students.
As announced by President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., in January, Alfie Scholars annually will admit 15 transfer students from diverse populations backed by a $10,000 annual scholarship for two years. The focus on developing leaders who foster civility in their professions and society makes this program stand out.
Alfie Scholars is dedicated to making the dream of attaining a bachelor's degree a reality for transfer students from two-year colleges, to increasing diversity on campus and in the workforce and to promoting leadership to foster civility in society. The program will be available to students who want to transfer to SU beginning with the start of the 2016-17 academic year. (Recipients would still need to go through SU's regular admissions application process.)
The program provides the following:
- A $10,000 annual scholarship.
- Academic support programming that prepares students for the increased academic rigor of a four-year university.
- Opportunities to create mutually reinforcing relationships.
- A customized curriculum to develop leadership skills.
- Preparation to become leaders who foster civility in their professions and society.
With a $500,000 annual budget, the scholarship program is funded by Alife's Fund and headed by Seattle University School of Law Professor Emerita Paula Lustbader. Students will begin the year in August by taking one of the university-required core courses, which will give them a an opportunity to adjust to the academic rigor, to lighten their course load during the academic year, and to form a sense of community on campus and within their cohort.
In 2008, Paula's father, Alfred Lustbader, founded Robert's Fund, named for his brother, to foster civility in the legal profession. In 2014, he founded Alfie's Fund to provide support to help change a life. The Alfie Scholars program is the fund's first initiative.
The Lustbaders chose to benefit transfer students because they are, in Paula's words, an untapped resource of students who have ideas, energy and perspectives who don't have as much access to four-year colleges using the normal channels of admissions and financial aid programs that are available to non-transfer students.
Paula, herself once a community college transfer student, retired from SU in 2015. She now runs both foundations.
"This an underserved population-there's not a lot of support available for transfer students," she says. And by support, she means financial and otherwise. A number of support services and academic enrichment programs will be available to the recipients, including a full-time director, Carol Cochran, who will ensure students get the resources they need to succeed and earn their degrees.
A big part of the program's effectiveness is expected to derive from the cohort model. As Lustbader explains, transfer students come into an environment in which relationships among traditional students who entered as freshmen are already established and transfers can easily feel like outsiders. Alfie Scholars will be connected to each other through a variety of activities. "We want to help them realize that they're here for a mission that's bigger than them," says Lustbader.
Civility is another major thrust of the Alfie Scholars program. Lustbader explains, "Much more can happen constructively-for our relationships, for our productivity, for our environment-if we can all be mutually respectful, considerate and treat people as we would like to be treated. We as a society need to embrace our differences and embrace our shared humanity."
"Communication is a big part of this. We're not advocating for not having different opinions or disagreements; on the contrary, we should robustly be saying, 'I don't understand your perspective because my truth is this, so educate me.' What I want to do is. We hope to help engender a curiosity about other perspectives so we can respectfully discuss issues, increase our understanding, and create best solutions."
How then to foster that kind of commitment to civility among the Alfie Scholars?
"Some of it comes from modeling and educating skills to increase emotional intelligence and effective communication…to cultivate an enhanced awareness of the variety of ways each of our behaviors and words impact others."
Alfie Scholars will also take a course developed specifically for the cohort on leadership and civility. "Our goal is that they will be ambassadors for civility while they're at the university, as well as when they enter their chosen field."
The Alfie Scholars program follows in the footsteps of a program that Lustbader co-founded in the law school in 1987 called the Academic Resource Center, the law school's access admissions program. That program's mission-to increase diversity in the profession-annually accepted 30 students who showed promise but whose backgrounds predicted them not to be successful. Upon admission to the law school, those students received academic support and were part of a learning cohort that embraced the school's mission. Students in the highly regarded program have excelled, with many of them going on to distinguished careers and serving their communities.
Lustbader is a recognized leader in opening new avenues of access to underrepresented students. She was given the Association of American Law Schools Section on Academic Support Award for Excellence in Legal Education. The Washington State Bar Association recognized her outstanding contributions by naming her co-recipient of the organization's Award for Excellence in Diversity (2006). In 2010, she received the Loren Miller Bar Association President's Award for her role in increasing the diversity in the legal profession.