Jack Parriera, Tim Stuart, Jackie Yoshimura, and Jeff Richards: Only a few examples of young alums who have become professionally successful in Seattle following their time at SPU. Photos by Nick Onken and Luke Rutan.
Cool Jobs in Seattle
OK, OK, so you know about Starbucks and Microsoft, but did you know that Seattle is also home to Boeing, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Nordstrom, Costco, Amazon.com, Nintendo, Washington Mutual, and REI, among others? That’s right — not only is it beautiful — Seattle is a world-class city with serious job opportunities for savvy graduates. Meet some young SPU alums who landed really cool jobs and lived to tell about it:
2 years out | A Paycheck for Her Passion: Jackie Yoshimura
A Hawaiian import, Jackie Yoshimura came to the mainland in 2001 with a plan. She would attend Seattle Pacific University and, following in the footsteps of her mother, pursue a management career in corporate America. But SPU left her changed. Today, Yoshimura is a project and event coordinator for the Acting on AIDS program at World Vision — a program she helped create while a student at Seattle Pacific.
“Not to sound cliché — but the only reason I am where I am — it’s a God thing,” says Yoshimura. “I had no desire to work in the nonprofit sector, nor did I have any idea that I’d be in advocacy. But this is exactly where I’m supposed to be. Now I cannot imagine myself anywhere else.”
During her senior year at SPU in 2003, Yoshimura and several friends decided to put their newfound passion for global AIDS awareness into action. “The statistics shocked me,” says Yoshimura. “Every 14 seconds another child is orphaned by HIV/AIDS — and the numbers continue to grow. But what’s even more shocking was the lack of response from the church.”
What began as a student-led, on-campus campaign to educate and engage SPU students in the worldwide HIV/AIDS crisis, Acting on AIDS grew into a national movement. Just months after her graduation, World Vision invited Acting on AIDS to make its permanent home there, translating into a full-time job for Yoshimura.
Thanks in part to Yoshimura, more than 70 campuses across the country now have active Acting on AIDS chapters. She’s learned that one can never know exactly what the future holds, but for now Yoshimura is content: “This has truly been the ride of my life!”
Acting on AIDS (AoA) brings awareness to SPU campus about the HIV/AIDS pandemic through forums and campus events. Acting on AIDS brings hope to each student by informing them on how they can make a difference in this crisis today.
4 years out | Grown-up Gamer: Tim Stuart
He’s barbecued at Bill Gates’ house; he plays full-contact flag football with his department; and then there are the occasional celebrity sightings at the office. Believe it or not, Tim Stuart also manages to work — as a senior financial analyst in Microsoft’s XBOX division. In addition to developing long-term strategy, Stuart has access to cool new hardware and cutting-edge software well before the general public. Not bad for a 26-year-old from Salem, Oregon.
When Stuart was choosing a university, the city of Seattle played a big part in his decision to attend Seattle Pacific. “I wanted a smaller, Christian university, but in a city,” he says. “I wanted to be able to make connections, but also have a lot of fun — Seattle absolutely paid off for me.”
In 2001, the finance
major, then a junior at SPU, scored a major coup for his future. Competing against thousands of applicants from across the country, he secured one of 18 positions in the Microsoft Finance Internship Program. “My internship is why I am in the job I am today,” says Stuart. “Microsoft doesn’t normally hire people right out of undergrad programs, but there I was, 22 years old with the right contacts to land a full-time job at Microsoft.”
Stuart credits his SPU experience for helping shape his life. “My professors made it possible,” he says. “They knew me as an individual. And when the Microsoft internship came up, they were flexible with me so that I could work and still graduate.”
Not to mention the fact that he met his wife and most of his lifelong friends during his four years at Seattle Pacific: “We just had a first birthday party for our son, and most of the people there were from SPU. That is worth a lot.”
4 years out | A Home Run in the Job Department: Jeff Richards
For Jeff Richards, every day is a whole new ball game (no pun intended). As a marketing manager for the Seattle Mariners, he and his team are responsible for all the marketing and advertising of the ball club, which may mean having lunch with Eric Powers, a DJ at KUBE 93, or setting up a meet-and-greet with fans and Ichiro. It likely means long hours and sacrifice — but for Richards, it’s a dream come true.
“I always knew working in Major League Baseball was what I wanted; I also knew the odds of landing such a position were slim,” says Richards. “But I was confident in my abilities and had a great support system. I’ve come to believe that getting a job, let alone your dream job, is equal parts preparation, dedication, and good old-fashioned luck.”
As for Richards himself, he didn’t leave much up to luck. While a student at Seattle Pacific University, he majored in psychology
and interned — well, just about everywhere — including a downtown law firm, Children’s Hospital & Regional Medical Center, several nonprofits, the University of Washington’s Athletic Department, and an advertising agency, to name a few.
Richards says SPU is a great place to be challenged personally and academically. So much so, he returned in 2003 for a master’s degree in sport and exercise leadership. He credits much of where he is today to his relationships, experiences, and education at Seattle Pacific. “I learned from some of the most impressive, well-spoken, caring professors,” says Richards. “But there was also an education to be had in the residence halls during Finals Week, in Martin Square on a sunny day, and during lunch in Gwinn Commons.”
9 years out | School of Rock: Jack Parriera
At South Seattle’s Zion Preparatory Academy, where 96 percent of the students and 75 percent of the faculty are African American. Jack Parriera does not go unnoticed. The Seattle Pacific University education graduate is known for bringing his guitar, and his rock n’ roll attitude, to class. But with his own signature charm, Parriera motivates and encourages his students about learning, life, and the Lord.
A classroom was the last place Parriera saw himself when he first graduated from SPU in 1997. A doer, he took the business world by storm, and by age 23, he was in charge of a $20 million budget as a purchasing manager at Visio Corporation. He was even quoted in Business Week. He could have bought the Porsche Carrera of his dreams, but he quickly realized money did not equal happiness. And he chose the latter.
“God really woke me up,” says Parriera. “He told me to become a teacher. It happened overnight — really.” He returned to Seattle Pacific to earn his teaching certificate
. Now Parriera says his goals are in the classroom: “My greatest accomplishment would be instilling hope in my students,” he says. “Hope that they can succeed in God’s calling, hope in their brothers and sisters in Christ, and hope that this world can be changed, one person at a time.”
One SPU master’s degree in education
and nearly seven years after getting his undergraduate degree, Parriera is now a middle school principal at Zion Preparatory Academy, and working toward his doctorate in education
and principal certification
at SPU. He still brings his guitar to class. “On my deathbed, I will be able to look back and know I did something important, something that God called me to do,” he says. “As for that Porsche, I’ll take a ’69 Camaro any day.”
By Lindsey Bickel Burgess
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