Seattle Pacific University: Connections Alumni News

Spring 2009 | Volume 3, Issue 2

Alumni Bookshelf

Jake DeShazer - A Soldier at the Cross

The true story of Jacob DeShazer '48 is one of the most inspiring of World War II. One of the famed Doolittle Raiders, DeShazer was taken prisoner by the Japanese. Beaten and malnourished, he was given a Bible to read. God taught him forgiveness for his captors and there in his miserable cell he committed the rest of his life to Christ.

Liberated at the end of the war, DeShazer returned home to earn a bachelor's degree from Seattle Pacific and to train as a missionary to Japan. He and his wife lived in Japan and served among his former enemies for 30 years. The Deshazers won many to the Christian faith, including the leader of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Jacob DeShazer: Forgive Your Enemies (YWAM Publishing) by Janet and Geoff Benge is the latest volume to tell the thrilling story of the enormous difference made by DeShazer's humble devotion to God. $8.99 each.

SPU Alumni Director Takes New Position in Planned Giving

Doug TaylorDoug Taylor, since 1996 the ebullient and outgoing director of alumni for Seattle Pacific University, has been named a senior gift planning officer in the Office of Development.

"His strong service with SPU alumni combined with his exuberant personality and overall business savvy, will make for a highly successful major gift officer," says Tom Box, vice president for advancement. "Doug is uniquely capable for this position. He can represent the University to every level of constituent with skill and finesse."

The director of alumni position will go unfilled until there is sufficient improvement in the economic climate. Box underscores that the position is important to fulfilling the long-term commitment of SPU to nurturing relationships with alumni and to alumni programming. In the interim, those tasks lie in the capable hands of Laila Sharpe, associate director of alumni and parent relations, and Linda Nolte, office manager.

Please call them at 206-281-ALUM if they can be of service.

Job Search Tips

Man searching newspaperWhat do you do if you've been laid off or are job searching during an economic downturn? This question plagues many SPU alumni as well as new graduates. And recent headline news can add to job search anxiety.

If you find yourself in job transition, Jacqui Smith-Bates, director of the SPU Career Development Center, has a few tips and resources to help you cope and perhaps even enjoy exploring the as-yet-unknown future:

  • Remember that your self-worth is not based on your work.
  • Let go of fear. Allowing fear and disappointment to overtake you can cause bitterness, which only hinders your progress. Instead of allowing fear to paralyze you, focus on exploring so that you can create or find the work that you feel called to do.
  • Ask yourself (and write it out): Why am I here on earth? What's my sense of purpose or calling? What's the thing I'd most like to contribute to changing in the world or my community? What am I really good at doing (talents/skills)?
  • Utilize your resources!* As an alum of SPU, you have many resources at your fingertips. Here are a few noteworthy ones:
    • Workshops. A series for alumni on "How to Find a Job in the Current Economy" is available on iTunes.
    • JobLink. A proprietary online posting system for job and internship openings.
    • Career Beam. Provides excellent assessment and organization, industry, and career research tools available online to SPU students and alumni.
    • Career Counseling and Resume Assistance. For one year after graduation, alumni are eligible for unlimited counseling/coaching appointments in the Career Center at no charge. After that, alumni can access one free appointment yearly and subsequent appointments at vastly reduced rates.
  • Be willing to do temporary jobs to make ends meet while you explore more about your calling. Transition can bring great opportunity if you focus on the journey rather than the loss.

*To access these resources, see under the "Alumni" tab.

Homecoming Reunion Goes Viral

SPU AlumniSharon Grow Schmahl '92 had an idea. Because she and so many other SPU alumni stay connected through Facebook, the online social network, why not throw a Facebook reunion at the 2009 SPU Homecoming and Family Weekend?

She contacted Sharon Iverson Hedman '91 and Greg Hunter '92. They sent invitations to all their friends on Facebook, who forwarded it to their friends. By the time the viral "word-of-mouth" ran its course, hundreds had gotten the word. Of those, approximately 80 attended what was the single largest reunion gathering at this year's Homecoming in January.

Among the guests at the event held in Otto Miller Hall were President Philip Eaton and many children of the graduates. A movie and crafts kept the kids busy while the adults from at least five different class years mingled and plans caught fire to make the reunion an annual event.

"People had so much fun posting old photos, tagging friends, and reconnecting on Facebook that they were eager to actually meet up at the reunion," says Hunter, who works for a digital advertising/marketing agency. "It only took a couple of phone calls between the three of us to plan and we all had a blast. There were many more who wanted to come but already had commitments."

Hedman is thinking of providing a couple of computer stations at the 2010 reunion for people who wish to join Facebook. "It was very easy to plan and pull off," says the mother of four. "Just fun people getting together works every time."

Students Sing in Rome

SPU SingersWhen SPU senior Nick Harkins sang Easter Sunday in Basilica di Santa Maria in Rome, he sang for Catholics and Protestants worldwide, to unite them around the risen Christ.

Four from SPU were chosen for the honor: Harkins, a baritone; sophomore Derek Hanson, a second tenor; senior Derek Sellers, a first tenor; and SPU voice instructor and soprano Jackie Koreski. They were part of a choir of 50 handpicked, interdenominational singers from Seattle who joined with 50 Italian singers to present the sacred cantata "The Birth of Christ."

The four auditioned for the cantata's composer Andrew T. Miller. One reviewer called Miller's sacred work "a wonderful composition full of mystery and awe." "In one day we celebrated the resurrection of Christ and sang about the birth of Christ," says Harkins, a member of St. Mark Catholic Church in Shoreline, Washington. "To fuse these two greatest events of the Church in one of the greatest centers of Christendom was a very great blessing."

The unique event was filmed and included actors Michael York, James Caviezel, and Louis Gossett Jr. performing the narration.

Gospel Choir Sings at Qwest Field

A sellout crowd of 30,000-plus fans witnessed a convincing Seattle Sounders FC win over the New York Red Bulls at Seattle's inaugural Major League Soccer game on March 21 at Qwest Field. But before the game even began, the crowd got an earful.

Sounders fans heard the SPU Gospel Choir's joyful rendition of the National Anthem. Under the direction of Stephen Michael Newby, director of University Ministries and the Center for Worship, the Gospel Choir performs in a wide variety of venues during the academic year.

Good Medicine

Project CURE's Michael MedoroThe theme of one popular movie that took many Oscar honors this year is "It is written," that the course of our lives is guided by an unseen hand.

When Michael Medoro '98 came to study psychology and communication at SPU (he earned a degree in both), he joined SPRINT - Seattle Pacific Reach-out International - on summer trips to Uganda/Kenya ('96) and Puerto Rico ('97) that were life-changing. He felt a guiding hand leading him to the work he was meant to do.

After graduation, he became a missionary to Central America and spent 18 months working in a Guatemala orphanage. When Hurricane Mitch lashed the region, Medoro developed a heart for relief work.

For the next eight years, he served with Easter Seals in Arizona, from child development specialist serving families with infants with disabilities to chief operating officer overseeing new programs and services. But the love and compassion for people worldwide that propelled him on his SPRINT trips and touched him so deeply with the plight of hurricane victims never wavered.

In 2004, he earned an M.B.A. in global management and soon after discovered the global reach of Project C.U.R.E., the world's largest distributor of donated medical relief supplies and equipment to more than 120 developing countries. Today as executive director of Project C.U.R.E. Arizona, Medoro oversees the work of 5,000 volunteers and the distribution of millions of dollars in medical materiel.

Last November, Medoro hosted the First Lady of Belize at a lunch gathering of more than 1,100 state business and community leaders. More than $1.6 million in medical materiel went to help the people of Belize.

This fall, Medoro is scheduled to host the First Lady of Guatemala in the hope of raising $2 million in medical aid for her country. The excess medical supplies are donated mostly by medical manufacturers, wholesale distributors, hospitals, and clinics, and would otherwise be discarded or buried away in a warehouse.

"Through Project C.U.R.E., those items directly impact the health infrastructures of nations and save lives," says Medoro. For him, the blessings of his SPRINT experience bring alive Christ's words in Matthew 25:36, "For I was sick and you looked after me." It is written indeed.

SPRINTing Through the Summer

Sprint StudentsFor years SPRINT has offered the SPU community -- especially students like Michael Medoro (above) --- unique global learning and service opportunities that challenge participants to discover their part in God's purpose and plan for the world. During the two-to-six-week trips, team members learn to live by faith and to engage in models of reconciliation and community development that demonstrate the wholeness of the gospel.

    This summer, SPRINT will send nine teams to eight countries:
  • Brazil. The team will work in Recife, the poorest major city in the nation, to understand issues of urban and rural poverty, and how Christians should respond.
  • China. The team will work in Beijing with Compassion for Migrant Children. They will explore the impact of urbanization, and the challenges of rural-urban migration.
  • Guatemala. Two different teams will work in Guatemala City and seek to understand Christian community development through education and community health projects.
  • Egypt. The team will work in Cairo to comprehend the different streams of religious faiths in the history and lives of Egyptians, and explore issues of urban poverty.
  • India. The team will work in Hyderabad with the Dalit Freedom Network to see the challenges of a marginalized people, and the need for reconciliation and community development.
  • Indonesia. The team will work in the Riau Islands to interact with Muslims and build bridges for sustained outreach.
  • Ukraine. The team will work in Kiev and Bogodukhov with summer camps at an orphanage to explore issues arising from abandonment.
  • Vietnam. The team will work in Danang to better understand the culture, build relational networks, and engage in business as mission models.

You can discover more details and how to support these teams here.

Highly Visible Coaching

Ritchie McKayIn an interview last month with Newsweek/The Washington Post, Ritchie McKay '87 said that being a Christian makes him a better coach. In just his second year as men's head basketball coach, the Liberty University Flames enjoyed their first winning season in five years, despite having the fourth-youngest roster in NCAA Division I. Liberty was defeated in the semifinals of this year's Big South Conference Championship.

In the interview, McKay told reporter Kathy Orton, "If I can invest in … the lives of our players … actually be an example for them, then, boy, that's a very, very rewarding opportunity."

On April 1, McKay announced that he will leave his coaching position at Liberty to work with his close friend Tony Bennett, former men's head basketball coach at Washington State University (WSU), who has taken over the helm of the men's basketball program at the University of Virginia. McKay will be his assistant coach. Ken Bone '83, former men's head basketball coach for the SPU Falcons, will lead WSU's program.

A stellar player for SPU, McKay left the Falcon program as the school's single-season and career record holder for steals, and third in career assists.

Liberty, a Baptist liberal arts institution founded by The Reverend Jerry Falwell, was McKay's fifth head coaching position, a timeframe that includes five seasons with the University of New Mexico. Being both a committed, outspoken Christian and a high-profile Division I coach for private and state institutions has made for some turbulent waters.

"He was always ready and willing to give God the glory and praise," says former New Mexico star Troy DeVries. It comes as no shock to McKay that his strong faith has sometimes drawn flak from strict civil libertarians, but he makes no apologies.

"In all my years of coaching, God's sovereignty allowed us to get student-athletes to help our program advance, but also allowed us to help develop these individuals as students, players, and men." For Ritchie McKay, that is a privilege and a job perk that he refuses to trade away.

Honors Aplenty for Teague

Meredith TeagueMeredith Teague kept busy in the fall leading the Seattle Pacific women's soccer team to the national championship. Much of her time during the winter was spent collecting awards.

The senior midfielder scored a team-leading 14 goals for the Falcons, who capped a 22-1-2 season with a 1-0 overtime triumph over West Florida in the Dec. 6 championship game. She played a part in 13 of the team's game-winning goals, scoring seven game-deciders and assisting on an additional six.

Teague received the NCAA Division II National Player of the Year award at a January ceremony in St. Louis. She had already collected honors as the top player in the West Region and Great Northwest Athletic Conference.

A finalist for the prestigious Seattle Sports Star of the Year award, Teague has been nominated for the Honda Award as this year's top women's collegiate athlete.

From Competition to Classroom, Falcons Soar

Jessica PixlerLed by Women's Scholar Athlete of the Year winner Jessica Pixler, the Seattle Pacific women's cross country team was named a Division II All-Academic squad by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. The Falcons compiled the highest team G.P.A. in all of NCAA Division II at 3.737.

Pixler, at 3.914, was honored as the top woman scholar-athlete for the second straight year. She was joined on the Academic All-American team by teammates Lisa Anderberg, Katie Hart, Kate Harline, Jane Larson, Natty Plunkett, and Mary Williams.

Chad Meis was named to the men's squad.

Every SPU sports team exceeded a 3.0 G.P.A. during Autumn Quarter, with a combined G.P.A. of 3.33. Nearly half (86) of SPU's student-athletes made the Dean's List, and 22 achieved 4.0 GPAs.

Link to Athletics for Automatic Updates

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You're Invited to:

Dance at Lughnasa

Theatre Production, April 23-25, 30, and May 1-2. 7:30 p.m. Matinee, May 2, 2 p.m. James Leon Chapman Stage, E.E. Bach Theatre. For tickets, call the Box Office at 206-281-2959.

Written by Brian Friel, "Dancing at Lughnasa" is a play set in Ballybeg, County Donegal, Ireland. Michael remembers the five women who raised him, unmarried sisters who make the most of their simple, rural existence. The movie version starred Meryl Streep.

Retire in Strength

Commentary and celebration of volunteerism with David McKenna, former president of SPU and author of the book Retirement Is Not for Sissies. April 27, 2 p.m., Warm Beach Senior Community. Free. RSVP at 360-652-4593 or 800-652-6302 ext. 22593.

Soak Up the Brass

SPU Brass Ensemble Spring Recital, April 28, 7:30 p.m., First Free Methodist Church (adjacent to SPU campus). Free.

Be Inspired by GospelFest 09

Musical Celebration of African-American Heritage, May 2, 7-9 p.m., Royal Brougham Pavilion, Seattle Pacific University. Suggested donation of $5 plus a nonperishable food item for Northwest Harvest. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

SPU presents "Pacific Northwest GospelFest 09: A Celebration of African-American Heritage" to honor the legacy of Abraham Lincoln. The evening features a 500-voice mass choir and many guest choirs, including the Total Experience Gospel Choir, the Seattle Pacific University Gospel Choir, the University of Washington Gospel Choir, and the choirs of Mt. Zion Church, Canyon Hills Community Church, and Antioch Bible Church.

Brought to you by the SPU Center for Worship at SPU and the Music Department, The Seattle Public Library, and McDonald's of Western Washington.

Listen to Eugene Peterson

Reading and Commentary, May 16, 7:30 p.m., University Presbyterian Church (UPC). Free.

Image journal invites you to attend the 2009 Denise Levertov Award ceremony in honor of Eugene Peterson, SPU alumnus of 1954.

A contributor to Image, Peterson is paraphrasing translator of the bestselling The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language and more than 30 other books. He will receive the award and give a reading and commentary titled "Intently Haphazard."

A reception immediately follows.

The evening is sponsored by the SPU English Department, the SPU M.F.A. program in creative writing, and UPC.

Keep the Beat

SPU Percussion Ensemble Concert, June 2, 7:30 p.m., E.E. Bach Theatre. Free.

Did You Know?

As an undergraduate at Seattle Pacific College, Professor of Educational Ministry Bob Drovdahl '71 was a wrestler dubbed "The Snake."

Associate Professor of Economics Doug Downing met his wife, Lori, while folk dancing at a medieval faire.

Professor of International Business Joanna Poznanska is a graduate of the piano class at Chopin School of Music in Warsaw, Poland.

This Month's Featured Podcasts

Listen to the Homecoming chapel presentation of 2009 Alumni of the Year Len and Marti Ensign

Listen to "Interview Pro: How to Ace Interviews and Win Jobs" by Daniel Halleck

Reunion Footnotes Special

Who has a daughter and grandchildren living in Jerusalem's Old City (Class of '59)? What judge was honored for emulating the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. (Class of '64)? Whose tribal art has been collected by the emperor of Japan and the Walt Disney Group (Class of '74)? Discover these classmates' identities and many more fascinating alumni details in the Homecoming 2009 Class Reunion Footnotes online exclusive available only at

Letters to the Editor


"I was surprised by the article (last issue) on the 30th anniversary of the (computer science) program - time really does fly - I was still a home economics major when I came back (to SPU in 1979) but a Cobol programming class changed my life. [I switched my major to computer science and] got a job as a programmer for a small accounting firm -

"Every programmer they hired for the next year was part of the SPU computer science program. We had more practical programming skills (than those from bigger schools) and many of us had a strong interest in business as well…

"While I'm not writing code for a living anymore, I'm still very much a geek and found a way to merge my textile interest and computer skills in my own (needlework) business.

"I'm glad to see the program still going strong after this many years. It was fun to be part of the infancy not only of a department, but of a world-shaping technology change. Keep up the good work!"

Cathe Ray '80, Owner
A Needle in a Haystack
Alameda, CA

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