Alumni Blog

Announcing Winners of the 36th Annual Alumni Awards

Posted by Seattle University Alumni Association on November 8, 2022 at 2:11 PM PST

Graphic banner for alumni award winners announcement

The Seattle University Alumni Association is proud to announce the Alumni Award winners: five individuals who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, service to the university and community, a commitment to care, academic excellence, diversity, justice and an alignment with our Jesuit values:

  • Alumna of the Year: Ana White, ’95
  • Outstanding Recent Alumnus: Archie Roundtree, Jr., ’18
  • University Service: Mary Ann Goto, ’79
  • Professional Achievement: Rolita Ezeonu, ’06
  • Community Service: Tom Roach, ’71

These exceptional alumni will be celebrated at the Alumni Awards ceremony on Friday, February 10, at Pigott Atrium and Auditorium. The following vignettes highlight the positive impact these alumni are having in their professions, communities and the Redhawk community as a whole: 

 

Anna White

Alumna of the Year Award

Ana White, ’95
College of Science and Engineering

Ana White received multiple nominations that touted not only her leadership at F5, but also her ongoing work to support Seattle University.

As the Chief People Officer at F5, White is described as a generous and courageous leader, one who has shown exceptional leadership in spearheading a human-first and high-performance culture.

One of her first projects was to help develop and define the “BeF5 behaviors.” This required working closely with employees, listening deeply and responding with a framework of behaviors that would come to define the company culture. White then worked with the Executive Leadership Team and her HR team to create “LeadF5 principles” and a leadership framework that has raised the bar on leadership at F5.

Next, White led the efforts to create “radically flexible” schedules and work-from-home options, implemented quarterly four-day “wellness weekends” and increased access to mental health resources. White and her team also boldly raised the bar on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Allyship (IDEA) at F5 over the past four years. On Glassdoor, F5’s ‘Culture and Values’ and ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ ratings are 4.4 out of 5.0 and they have won Great Place to Work awards in both the US and India. Perhaps her greatest achievement was the creation of F5 Global Good, an employee-led philanthropic program that invests in communities worldwide, with an emphasis on helping women and girls of color. F5 Global Good was recognized with Benevity’s 2022 Bestie Award for F5’s “best-in-class approach to corporate purpose” out of a pool of over 900 other companies.

White’s list of achievements and engagement with SU are no less impressive. She has served on the Center for Science and Innovation Task Force and created a STEM scholarship in her parents’ names (both of her parents are SU alums). Additionally, she has been a key contributor to discussions around diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM.

For these achievements, and for embodying the mission and Jesuit values of Seattle University, Ana White, ’95, has been chosen to receive the SUAA’s highest honor: Alumna of the Year. 

 

Archie Roundtree

Outstanding Recent Alumnus

Archie Roundtree, Jr., ’18 JD
School of Law

To find a person who’s deeply motivated to give back and improve the world around them, look no further than Archie Roundtree, Jr. 

After graduating with a doctorate degree from the School of Law, Roundtree focused on a public law career serving underprivileged communities in Los Angeles County at Bet Tzedek Legal Services as an Equal Justice Works Fellow. He also simultaneously served as a Shriver Center: Racial Justice Institute Fellow

His proclivity toward service has manifested in many ways. In his current role at Justice in Aging, Roundtree works to advance equity for low-income older adults while pursuing systemic change in law and policy. Additionally, Roundtree lends his time with underserved communities that have limited access to legal advice. He has long been a mentor to students, guiding them through educational and career choices and advising them on legal and financial literacy. Roundtree has found his voice and continues to speak on local, regional and national platforms. 

Roundtree’s multiple nominators depict him as thriving in situations where he has a chance to improve the quality of life through intentional self-reflection. In order to do so, Roundtree believes in striving toward physical, mental, social, and spiritual health; that we can only do our finest work when balance is found. 

Beyond sharing his experiences and legal expertise with current SU students, Roundtree also stays connected with the university as a member of the School of Law Alumni Board. 

For having achieved so much in the short years since he graduated, Roundtree is the recipient of the Outstanding Recent Alumnus award.

 

Mary Ann Goto

University Service Award

Mary Ann Goto, ’79
College of Arts and Sciences

It’s been said that because of her deep connections with Seattle University, Mary Ann Goto knows everybody in the SU community, and that everybody knows her. 

Goto frequently volunteers at SU events, participates in fundraisers and is often found connecting with other alumni around campus. Recently, she helped plan her class reunion, bringing in alumni from Hawaii for the celebration. For many years Goto was a key leader of the Filipino Alumni Chapter, helping to lead monthly gatherings, plan community events and historical celebrations and build close ties with the Filipino American National Historical Society.

A natural ambassador and leader, she is masterful in forging connections between the university and the community. Her connections are deep, from her support of alumni-owned businesses to her volunteer work with non-profit organizations such as the Seattle Asian American Film Festival, InterIM CDA, the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of WA, Keiro Northwest, and the Japanese American Citizens League. A known "foodie," Goto has made efforts to uplift small, mom-and-pop establishments that were struggling during the pandemic, such as Phnom Penh Noodle House, Patrick's Cafe and Bakery, Musang and Hood Famous. 

The desire to serve is embedded in Goto’s character and goes well beyond her volunteer efforts. Professionally, Goto works for Asian Counseling and Referral Service, helping to raise funds for vulnerable members of the community.

For living out Seattle University’s Jesuit values, Goto is the recipient of the University Service award.

 

Rolita Flores Ezeonu

Professional Achievement Award

Rolita Flores Ezeonu, Ed.D, ’06
College of Education

As the daughter of immigrants and a first-generation college student, Dr. Rolita Flores Ezeonu’s academic success was made possible in large part by her family, community, and mentors’ generous support and belief in her. Ezeonu is honored to have built a career helping students who come from similar backgrounds. For 25 years she has transformed educational institutions so they can better serve the most marginalized communities.

Throughout her career, Ezeonu has served as a leading administrator for technical and community colleges in South King County. Currently she is the Vice President of Instruction at Green River College. She boldly draws from her culture, experiences and values to create partnerships, develop programs and usher in resources that increase access to higher education for minoritized, marginalized and low-income learners.

Ezeonu has also partnered with surrounding communities and local nonprofits to remove barriers and expand access to higher education. She has built relationships with community partners like St. Vincent de Paul’s Centro Rendu, Para Los Ninos, and Muckleshoot Tribe to open stronger pathways into technical and transfer programs – helping secure a $1.5 million AANAPISI grant for Highline College. Additionally, she has shared her knowledge and approaches to this work through scholarly publications. She is also a fellow in the Aspen Rising Presidents fellowship this 22-23 year.

In every role, Ezeonu has championed ways to dismantle racism while fostering equity and inclusion.

Having dedicated her career to strengthening educational institutions and the communities that surround them, Ezeonu is well-deserving of the Professional Achievement award.

 

Tom Roach

Community Service Award

Tom Roach, ’71
College of Arts and Sciences

Tom Roach has deep ties to Seattle University, with 24 family members over three generations, including his mother, Patricia Sullivan Roach, all eight of his siblings, and two of his children, having attended SU.

For more than 40 years, Roach served as an immigration lawyer, greatly impacting the lives of thousands of Eastern Washington immigrants by helping them navigate the process to gain citizenship status and employment opportunities.

Though he is now retired, Roach has not stopped helping people.

When Russia invaded Ukraine this past spring, Roach was compelled to help. Guided by his values and an intrinsically caring disposition, he traveled to the Balkan countries bordering Ukraine.  There, he set out to provide assistance to refugees in whatever way he could. Before long, he was putting in countless hours of volunteer work, preparing bags of food for displaced families.

When Roach learned of Ukrainian children unable to go to school, he jumped into action once again. He reached out to 250 friends and family and, almost overnight, raised enough revenue to fund a summer school program, including two full-time teachers, for 51 Ukrainian refugee students.

For his recent good deeds and for a lifetime of serving communities in need, Roach is the recipient of the Community Service award.

***

Congratulations to all of the award winners! We look forward to celebrating their accomplishments on Friday, February 10. As the date draws nearer, keep an eye on our social media accounts for event updates and registration details.

The SUAA has a long history of honoring exceptional alumni. To see a list of past award recipients, click here.

Introducing The Four Newest Members of the SUAA Team

Posted by Seattle University Alumni Association on October 24, 2022 at 2:10 PM PDT

Things are happening at the Seattle University Alumni Association (SUAA). Energy is building, connections are being formed and opportunities for growth, learning, engagement and service are being added continually as we strive to foster a tight-knit alumni community. All of this is to enhance the alumni experience for all SU graduates.

With so much going on, we wanted to take a pause and introduce some exceptional new members of our growing team. These marketing, engagement and philanthropy professionals are a pretty special group – and share a commitment to building authentic and reciprocal relationships with the Redhawk community.

**

Nicole Parker-Donaldson, ’21
Assistant Director for Student and Young Alumni Experience

Upon graduating from SU with a master’s degree in Student Development Administration, Nicole Parker-Donaldson expected to be working in the arena of diversity and inclusion. After all, her previous communications degree and more than two years of experience in  SU's Office of Diversity and Inclusion lined her up perfectly to follow this path. But when a great opportunity arose at the SUAA, Parker-Donaldson realized her experience was highly “portable” and that she could apply her diversity and inclusion expertise to literally any career.

Working with alumni was not just any career choice, though.

Long passionate about education, as a young student, Parker-Donaldson realized all too well the many prejudices that create certain negative expectations in our society. She knew that as a person of color, she was not expected to achieve a high level of education. But she had other plans and a number of strong, positive mentors who helped guide her. In many ways, they inspired her to become a mentor and a role model in her own right.

These qualities and attributes are indispensable in her work with the SUAA as she builds bridges between students and alumni and creates programming for our newest graduates.

When Parker-Donaldson isn’t busy with her family, she enjoys writing and performing poetry and finding little moments of peace in natural spaces.

 

Aaron Zhao, '24
Graduate Coordinator, Annual Giving

Aaron Zhao was well on his way to earning a computer sciences degree when, as he stared fixated on a large monitor filled with cascades of numbers and codes,  the thought occurred to him, “I’m not enjoying this. What am I even doing here??”

At the time, Zhao volunteered as a peer advisor to fellow students. He found that he reveled in the opportunity to help his classmates navigate through a variety of challenges and obstacles. It was a highly fulfilling experience and it’s where he began to discover his passion.

After completing his computer science degree program at the University of Washington as a first-generation student, he knew his path was headed in a different direction.

That path led him to SU in pursuit of a master’s degree in Student Development Administration. He knows he wants to work with students in some capacity, especially if he can help to guide and inspire them.

When asked what brought him to the SUAA, Zhao says, “As an undergrad, I received a lot of really great support and encouragement from alumni mentors. Now, I’m excited to be in a position where I can help to facilitate those same kinds of connections.”

He’s definitely in the right place for that.

 

Airi Tanaka, '24
Graduate Coordinator, Marketing Communications

Airi Tanaka has more than six years of marketing experience at one of the largest e-commerce companies in Japan, but she hopes to apply that knowledge—and the knowledge she gains as a Part-time MBA (PMBA) student at Seattle University—to a much smaller company.

Having come from a family of entrepreneurs, Tanaka hoped that her father’s and grandfather’s businesses would be kept within the family. For a variety of reasons, that didn’t happen. And so now, one of Tanaka’s career goals is to begin a new family tradition of passing down a business from generation to generation. She’s not sure, quite yet, what that business will be. But as an entrepreneurially minded person, she has plenty of ideas. Regardless of the route she chooses, the project will have at least one requirement, says Tanaka: It must contribute in a meaningful way to the betterment of society while providing opportunities for the less fortunate.

A self-described workaholic who excels in data analysis and the technical side of marketing, there’s hardly an SUAA touchpoint that Tanaka hasn’t been involved with during the past six months. If you’ve received a communication or message from us, it likely passed through Tanaka’s desk at some point.

 

Lucia Nava, '23
Graduate Coordinator, Alumni Engagement

Lucia Nava is pursuing a Part-time MBA (PMBA) degree at Seattle University while simultaneously working with the SUAA to assist in outreach and engagement efforts, grow and support several alumni chapters and coordinate with student alumni ambassadors.

This is Nava’s very first job in the United States. A native of Mexico City, she saw Seattle as a place of opportunity and moved here with her two children during the early stages of the pandemic.

“It’s been challenging,” she admits, “to come to a place where you don’t understand the culture and customs.”

This sentiment has often led to Nava feeling a step behind. She has faced a steep learning curve not only culturally, but also in terms of understanding the intricacies of how American universities operate. “It’s much different than Mexico,” she says.

Still, Nava and her family have found value and opportunities among the challenges. Her children have been enriched by the diversity of cultures in Seattle and her work at the SUAA has forged bonds that have led to a sense of belonging. And, in the long term, the insights she’s gaining at SU will enable her to better guide her children’s journey into higher education.

With backgrounds in nutrition, yoga instruction, international relations and business management, Nava brings a wide range of talents to the SUAA team.

We can find a common theme in the stories of Nicole, Aaron, Airi and Lucia—they all exhibit a deep desire to give back and to contribute in a positive, meaningful way. These traits are certainly not uncommon at Seattle University, but we still consider ourselves privileged to have such people on the SUAA team.

**

Quick facts

Collectively, Nicole, Aaron, Airi and Lucia:

  • Represent four nationalities
  • Speak six languages (English, Cantonese, French, Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish, plus a little Portuguese)
  • Hold seven degrees, with three more in progress