Ames legacy continues

Anya Annear

Scholarship creates safe space, builds community

The spectrum of scholarships is wide. Whether right out of high school or returning from a break, there are scholarships for everyone, including the underrepresented.
The Ames Scholarship began with the hope to bring awareness.
Upon coming to Seattle, Barbara and Gary Ames saw that the city was going through a race relation problem. There was a lack of diverse students moving on to receive their post high school education, and the Ames family wanted to fix that. This led them to invest in Seattle Pacific University.
In 2001, they began the Ames Family Foundation, which funded the Ames Initiative on Diversity at SPU. This created scholarships, faculty mentoring and vocational guidance for minority students, and Gary Ames became one of the newest members of the SPU Board of Trustees.
Now, 16 years later, the Ames Scholarship program continues to cultivate the leaders of the underrepresented minorities. Currently, there are 73 Ames alumni who have moved on to medical school, law school, graduate school, teaching or working with nonprofit organizations.
On Thursday, Nov. 2, the Ames scholars had their first event of the year: a meet-and-greet introducing the new students to the program.
With the help of the Ames Family, Seattle Pacific University created the Ames Scholarship to support the traditionally underrepresented students of color.
Third-year Alexia Estrada, a global development major, has been a part of the Ames scholars for all three of her years at SPU. For her, the program has grown into so much more than a scholarship.
“Once you get accepted to the program, you receive not only a scholarship, but you also get a mentor,” she explained.
Estrada wanted to work in apple fields over the summer to learn first-hand about the culture of field workers. Not only was she able to work, but through her mentor, she was able to get connected with another faculty member on campus and receive credit for her involvement.

Second-year Ames Scholar and communications student Kevin Mckee has also greatly appreciated being in the program. Tali Hairston of the John Perkins Center has guided McKee through the college experience, helping him make connections and establish goals for after college, McKee explained.

“He makes me feel like I have a place to go on this campus. If I need to get off campus, we can go out to a game or to coffee, and he has just always been something I need in my life,” said McKee.

According to Susan Okamoto Lane, the dean of multi-ethnic and wellness programs, 128 students have received the Ames Scholarship since it was established in 2001.

Of those students, 75 have graduated with Bachelors degrees from SPU, 27 moving on and graduating at other universities and 26 are currently studying at SPU. “This scholarship is helping us make these friends and have people to lean back on,” first year Sawa Tecle added.

The Ames Scholarship program makes her feel a part of the community, that it has created a safe community at SPU. “Making these new friends, who are also students of color, which is really nice because being at a predominantly white institute is kind of hard, to know who you can lean on when times are rough and people look at you as less than what you are,” she said.

Okamoto Lane has been invested in SPU for the past thirty-five years. Nine of those years she has worked with the diverse minority program originally established in 2008.
Working with the Ames Scholarship Program, she has seen and believes in the benefits it gives to scholarship recipients.

“Even before the students have an understanding of their potential, their future influence in the world, that is something that the Ames Scholarship Program wants to support, call out and develop,” she said.