By Catherine Hinrichsen, Project Director, Project on Family Homelessness
The annual tradition of saying goodbye to our graduating student team never gets easier. But here we are again, celebrating the reason why our project remains strong: We choose a team of outstanding student assistants each year, and we get to watch them change the world while they’re still in school. Then it comes time to let go.
What strikes me about our team of three seniors this year is that they truly exemplify the power of collaboration. For a variety of reasons — schedules, more partner events to work on, and so on — Khadija Diallo, Mandy Rusch and Shan Yonamine had more opportunities to work together than any of our previous teams. And they relished it.
One of my favorite memories is when I’d ask them to go brainstorm in a conference room for an hour, and they’d come out with excitement, pride and a full-fledged great idea, like “Give a Heart, Get a Heart” or “Renters’ Rights 101.”
This year, also for the first time, I’ll tell you a little about them but then let them tell you about their work in their own words. Every year our students write a reflection about their experience on the project, but I always kept those reflections as a learning tool for myself. This year, they suggested I publish the reflections so future students could learn from them too. I thought that was a great idea.
So here goes. Learn with me as we re-visit some of the best moments of a tremendous year, in Part One — the “Hard Goodbyes” section.
Goodbye #1: Khadija Diallo, Strategic Communications Major
Khadija was the first of this year’s students I had met, back in late 2015. She was a member of SU’s Public Relations Student Society of America, and she had impressed me with her professionalism and tenacity. I had my eye on her when it was time to hire new students. It turned out she had an eye on us too.
“It was my dream to be part of the project from the minute I heard about it,” she says. She even came to last year’s Affordable Housing Week event before applying for the project assistant position. That kind of devotion stands out. Take note, young job applicants!
“I liked that I got to work with really brilliant and talented students, Shan and Mandy,” she says, typically effusive with praise, one of her lovely qualities. “It was a pleasure getting to brainstorm with them and see our events come to life from a communications plan to execution.”
Here are Khadija’s highlights for the year.
Goodbye #2: Mandy Rusch, Digital Design Major
Mandy was the fourth Digital Design student recommended to us by Prof. Naomi Kasumi, who has a knack for recognizing students especially suited to this project. Mandy quickly established herself as a designer and artist whose work was in high demand by our partners.
In addition to all her work for our partners, Mandy gave us two special gifts for our project:
- Her “What You Can Do” poster; and
- A brand-new piece, something we’ve needed for years: a one-pager about our project, in the form of an infographic. I haven’t even had a chance to publicly rave about that yet!
“Working with our clients this year really showed me how much need there is for visual content to advocate for important causes,” Mandy said, “as well as how powerful graphics are in communicating them.”
Here are Mandy’s highlights.
Goodbye #3: Shan Yonamine, Strategic Communications Major
I first heard about Shan from two communications professors: our founder and former director, Prof. Barry Mitzman, and Communications Prof. Caitlin Ring. Shan came to us with impeccable writing credentials, having worked as a consultant in the SU Writing Center. She quickly learned how to make the shift to advocacy communications.
“Shortly after writing my first post, I found out that writing academically is very different than writing reflectively,” she said. “For the first time in college, I was able to write from my own perspective and share my own thoughts and opinions.” Shan was our most prolific writer this year, from her first post — a review of “Streetwise” — onward.
Shan also took the lead on event management for our campus events, especially Renters’ Rights 101. And she educated us on many fine Hawaiian traditions, such as grandmothers making and bringing 100 leis to a graduation ceremony. Shan will probably be completely covered in those sweet tropical floral garlands on Sunday, as she, Mandy and Khadija prepare to walk across the stage.
Read about what Shan takes away from her year.
Oh, The Places They’ll Go
I swear this was just a few days ago.
I love this one. Sunshine, advocacy and stellar students! Early May 2017 with the Affordable Housing Week proclamation signed by SU President Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J.
Three remarkable, professional, high-achieving young women who served our partners to the utmost and represent the best of Seattle University. Thank you, Shan, Mandy and Khadija! I know you’ll continue to do great things for our world, just as you have this year.
Coming Soon: Part Two, the “Happy Hellos” section, in which we introduce the new student team.
Happy Hellos and Hard Goodbyes, 2015 Edition — Perry comes back, Krista and Emma join us, Haley continues; Graham moves on to UW; Tiana and McKenna graduate