For the students of Seattle University, there is much rhetoric surrounding the mission throughout their experience. The second annual Student Mission Day, in partnership with Student Government at Seattle University, Alfie Scholars, Diversity and Inclusion and Student Development, brought that discussion to the forefront in a heightened way. The Campion Ballroom was filled with over 200 students, discussions and speakers focused around this year’s theme, “Seeking Common Ground: Sustainable Solutions to Student Inclusion.”
“This day is important because students are a part of this institution. In fact, there would be no university without students. On that same note, students, like any other group face a lot of issues. It is important that we not only keep talking about these issues but find solutions to them,” said Pa Ousman Jobe, undergraduate student body president.
The keynote speaker this year was Angela Rye, an alumnae of the Seattle University School of Law ‘05. Rye has gone on to have a successful career in politics as the principal and Chief Executive Officer of IMPACT Strategies, a political advisory firm in Washington, D.C.
She also appears on CNN as a Political Commentator and a Political Analyst for NPR. With her family, friends and colleagues present, her speech involved conversation from important people in her life, rooting her professional experience within a personal narrative that brought a unique perspective to her work.
Rye discussed growing up in the Seattle area and the culture shock that went along with transferring from schools with a majority black student population to a majority white student population.
“I spent my college career tutoring and creating opportunities for others. Law school was no different, but just better,” Rye said.
While in law school, she was involved in the Black Student Association and worked in Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ office, where she continued the activism so ingrained in her upbringing.
“My dad brags that my first protest was at two. It’s not like I had a choice to be there at two, but I am grateful nonetheless,” Rye said, gesturing to her father who was present during her speech.
After speaking to her work outside of Seattle U, she connected her work back to the students and the Mission Day theme of solutions and inclusion.
“I think it is important to understand that the culture of this particular campus is one that reflects broader societal issues, but unlike some people in society today, like Donald Trump, there are more folks here that have good intentions but just sometimes lack the ability to implement them,” Rye said.
This sentiment was a common theme at the Faculty Mission Day as well, with each party in conversation aiming to “meet people where they are at” in order to create that mutual understanding needed to make change.
Mitchell Waltos is a first year English and Spanish major who attended Student Mission Day with a friend.
“I especially liked the conversational aspect of [Rye’s] talk, having her family there and getting her resume, and just the audience participation. It made it a lot more empowering than just a normal talk,” Waltos said.
In his third quarter at Seattle U, Waltos likes that students have opportunities to use their voice, and that the responsibility is put on them to shape their education.
“I can definitely see that the students are working with the school to facilitate events like these so we can actually see change,” Waltos said.
It took many different SGSU officers and university coordination to bring this event to fruition. SGSU Representatives Gabriel Narvaez and Braden Wild were some of the main SGSU organizers for this year’s event, in collaboration with a variety of student and student leaders across campus.
“The goal was to create a space for all students to engage in the mission,” Wild said. “The event was really successful and we were happy with the turn out, as well as everyone’s willingness to further explore what it means to live out the mission.”
Wild and Narvaez were involved in planning the university’s inaugural Student Mission Day last year as well.
“The vision of Student Mission Day was born in fall of 2016, and through the collaboration and hard-work of many, what started as an idea has become a reality,” Narvaez said. “As this first group of student-organizers passes the torch to future organizers, it is essential that the spirit of collaboration amongst diversity with an emphasis on equity remains at the forefront of the planning.”
At the close of Rye’s speech, she encouraged the students to take up the issues raised at the event to the offices that can make change.
“I would encourage you before you leave the room today is to figure out what your hopes are for this campus what your dreams are for this campus, and what your demands are. You can have demands when you’re paying,” Rye said. “You control what the agenda of this campus is, you can dictate how students are treated, what the environment is like for students, because [the school] works for you. That is an empowering piece that you should never ever forget.”
Jacqueline may be reached at