Highlights from 2019 Costco Scholarship Breakfast

This year the marked 20th annual Costco Scholarship Fund Breakfast, and the morning’s program celebrated the occasion in memorable style.

Master of Ceremonies and Seattle University alumna Analisa Chavez greeted the audience and got the event underway.

Costco CEO Craig Jelinek then took the stage. He spoke about the scholars’ incredible drive and determination. He assured all in attendance that the company’s commitment to the Costco Scholarship Fund, as well as to Seattle University and the University of Washington, would continue to be as strong in the future as it has been for the past 20 years. Craig gratefully acknowledged donors for helping to raise more than $5 million this year, and more than $55 million since the inception of the program.

The program continued with a moving video spotlighting four especially accomplished former scholars. As each told their individual story, a similar message emerged about how, without a Costco Scholarship, they likely would not have been able to attend college. Today, as they lead their respective fields of natural medicine, law, education, and aeronautical engineering, they highly praised the program and extended sincere thanks to Jim Sinegal, Jeff Brotman, and every donor who makes the program possible.

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee extended his congratulations via prerecorded video. Brian King, vice president for U.S. customer development of Colgate-Palmolive, offered congratulations on behalf of his company, which has contributed $460,000 to the program since 2000. Craig recognized Colgate-Palmolive for its exceptional generosity and for having made a significant impact on the future of many deserving students.

Father Stephen Sundborg, president of Seattle University, and Denzil Suite, vice president for student life at the University of Washington, each delivered heartfelt speeches on the tremendous value of the Costco Scholarship Fund and the importance of giving underrepresented students an opportunity they likely would not otherwise have. Denzil Suite expressed how, when given such a chance, “These students step up, fueled by sheer grit and bolstered by the knowledge that others see their potential; that we believe in them.”

Via prerecorded video, new scholars Luke Sky Walker and Samantha Cruz shared poignant stories of growing up amid tough family dynamics that made school difficult and college seem an impossibility. Current college students Hamzza Ahmed and Midori Friedbauer each took to the stage to share equally emotional experiences of extreme personal hardship in their childhood and teenage years. A common thread among each student was a fierce determination to excel despite all odds.

As the event came to a close, everyone in attendance looked forward to the next 20 years of remarkable achievements by inspiring individuals. 

Highlights from the 2018 Costco Scholarship Breakfast

The 19th-annual Costco Scholarship Fund Breakfast illustrated the transformative experience scholars have.

Emcee Evan Wirkkala, a double alumnus of University of Washington and Seattle University, opened the program by announcing that CSF has raised $55 million – benefiting more than 1,700 students. Two moving videos were shown featuring Aredy Garcia Quijano, SU, and Jordan Crawford, UW, who shared their stories. Aredy credits her parents for their sacrifices that helped her become the woman she is, while her teacher praised her for being determined when she was faced with obstacle after obstacle. Jordan’s life was and is changed by the scholarship because he will, “never ever have to work two jobs and go to school again.”

To illustrate the impact of Costco scholarships, Alejandro Diaz, a UW student, spoke to attendees about growing up working in the Yakima fields with his parents. The aid he received as a Costco Scholar has given him the gift of time to pursue laboratory research in areas like genetic screening, MRI imaging and biomaterials. He is working toward a career in medicine, yet still feels a sense of pride whenever he looks at cherries and apples in the store. They remind him of his hard-working parents, the struggles he has overcome as a first-generation college student and the opportunities that await him.

Amina Ibrahim, an SU student, also shared her aspirations to guests – to be a journalist to tell the stories of those who have gone unheard. The Costco Scholarship Fund allowed her the opportunity to study abroad in Ghana. Her education also empowers her to continue to help grow her community after she graduates.

Highlights from the 2017 Costco Scholarship Breakfast

The 18th Annual Costco Scholarship Fund Breakfast gave hope to incoming Seattle University and University of Washington scholars. It also honored Jeff Brotman, Costco and CSF fund co-founder, for his contributions and his legacy. Current students Camila Palacio of UW and Kimberly Turner of SU opened the program. After a congratulatory message from Gov. Jay Inslee, Costco President and CEO Craig Jelinek announced this year’s breakfast raised over $5 million, including a special gift of $1 million from Warren Lieb. 

Jim Sinegal, Costco co-founder and director, reflected on the event’s beginnings. In 2000, in response to Initiative 200, Costco used a gift of $1 million to fund scholarships for deserving, underrepresented students. Since then, over $52 million has been raised for over 1,600 scholarships. Jim reminded attendees of past notable speakers, but said, “Every year the students have stolen the show.” “When you open the door for a first-generation student, they’re not the only ones that go through it,” said UW President Ana Mari Cauce. They are setting an example for siblings and family members. SU President, Father Stephen Sundborg, S.J., talked about what a difference maker this scholarship is, allowing students to succeed and thrive.


Highlights from 2016 Costco Scholarship Breakfast

At the 17th Annual Costco Scholarship Fund Breakfast scholars shared their heartwarming stories of dreams realized. Co-emcees Jannette Gutierrez and Rianne Spath opened the program welcoming Costco President and CEO, Craig Jelinek who announced that more than $4 million was raised for deserving scholars. Washington Governor Jay Inslee appeared by video to applaud the fund for giving scholars the chance to “have a real shot at life.”He also recognized Costco supplier and supporter Georgia-Pacific for its contribution of more than $650,000 since 2002, and presented Kathy Walters and Manny Rodriguez a plaque for Georgia-Pacific’s outstanding commitment to students.  

Highlights from the 2015 Costco Scholarship Fund Breakfast

At the 16th Annual Costco Scholarship Fund Breakfast a record number of attendees – over 1,200 – helped raise the largest amount to date: $3.7 million.  It was a huge success!

Highlights from the 2014 Costco Scholarship Fund Breakfast

The 15th Annual Costco Scholarship Fund Breakfast was one of breaking records: not only was it the largest of its kind, it had also raised the largest amount: $3.6 million. Over 1,100 attendees enjoyed breakfast before settling in and listening to stories of determination, perseverance, and ultimately, success.

Highlights from the 2013 Costco Scholarship Fund Breakfast

The 2013 Costco Scholarship Fund Breakfast was held Wednesday, September 25, at the Bellevue Hyatt Regency. More than 1,100 people attended and more than $3.3 million was raised, setting an all-time record! During its 14 years, the event has helped more than 1,100 underrepresented students overcome financial constraints to attend the University of Washington and Seattle University.

Highlights from the 2012 Costco Scholarship Fund Breakfast

Jeri Brunoe, founder of Brunoe Training and Consulting, is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation in Oregon. Brunoe Training and Consulting provides training for businesses, tribes, nations, tribal organizations and those organizations which serves Native American, Alaska Natives and other Indigenous populations. 

Highlights from the 2011 Costco Scholarship Fund Breakfast

Known simply as "FlyGirl", Vernice "FlyGirl": Armour propelled herself from beat cop to combat pilot in three years. After serving two tours flying overseas, supporting the men and women on the ground in Iraq, she had become America's first African American female combat pilot. She believes that women and men from all walks of life have the potential to achieve the highest levels of success with the right flight plan.

Highlights from the 2010 Costco Scholarship Fund Breakfast

The 2010 Costco Scholarship Fund Breakfast featured a conversation with Jim Sinegal, Jeff Brotman, Dr. Chris Holder and Chalia Stallings-Alailima, moderated by Stephen Sundborg, S.J., President of Seattle University. They discussed the history, impact and future of the Costco Scholarship Fund.

Highlights from the 2009 Costco Scholarship Fund Breakfast

The keynote speakers for the 2009 Costco Scholarship Breakfast were four former scholarship recipients that returned to tell a crowd of more than 800 supporters how the award benefited them and what they are doing now. In addition, current scholars from Seattle University and the University of Washington told how the scholarship awards made it possible to pursue their dreams by removing the financial barriers of a college education.

2008 Ms. Erin Gruwell We were honored to have Ms. Erin Gruwell as our keynote speaker for the 2008 Costco Scholarship Fund Breakfast.In the fall of 1994, as an idealistic first-year teacher, Erin Gruwell, took on the challenge of a class of "unteachable, at-risk" students at a California high school. Fostering an educational philosophy that valued and promoted diversity, she encouraged students to rethink rigid beliefs about themselves and others, to reconsider daily decisions, and rechart their futures. With Erin's steadfast support, her students shattered stereotypes to become critical thinkers, aspiring college students and citizens for change. Dubbing themselves the "Freedom Writers," they transformed their lives, even published a book. Their story inspired the motion picture "Freedom Writers. 

2007 Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee At the eighth-annual Costco Scholarship Breakfast, Sept. 27, 2007 at the University of Washington, Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee inspired a crowd of more than 1,000. Dr. Ross-Lee is the first African-American woman to be appointed dean of a U.S. medical school, Ohio University, and currently serves as the Vice President for Health Sciences and Medical Affairs at the New York Institute of Technology. "With hope, poverty is a temporary state of being broke. ... Without hope, poverty is a life sentence of despair and lost dreams. Financial stability is the most consistent determinant of access to opportunity. Lack of financial wherewithal is the single-most pivotal deterrent to success," she said.

2006 Justice Alan C. Page We were privileged to have Justice Alan C. Page as the keynote speaker for 2006 breakfast. The honorable Justice Page was Minnesota's first African-American Supreme Court Justice and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Justice Page played professional football for 15 years, becoming the first defensive player in NFL history to receive the Most Valuable Player Award. While playing professional football he earned his law degree from the University of Minnesota. He was a compelling speaker on creating education opportunities.

2005 Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch We were honored to have Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch as the keynote speaker for the 2005 breakfast. Born and raised along the border in a small barrio in Laredo, Texas, Castillo Kickbusch is all too familiar with poverty, discrimination and illiteracy. It was to the credit of her immigrant parents that she understood that although she sometimes had to do without material possessions her family was rich in culture, tradition, values and faith. The values she learned as a child were reinforced throughout her career in the U.S. military. Castillo Kickbusch became the highest-ranking Hispanic woman in the Combat Support Field of the U.S. Army. In 1996, Castillo Kickbusch retired from the military and dedicated her time to Education Achievement Services, Inc. (EAS) to realize her personal dream and mission of preparing tomorrow's leaders today

2004 The Three Doctors Foundation We were fortunate to have Sampson Davis, M.D., George Jenkins, D.D.S. and Rameck Hunt, M.D. as the keynote speakers for the 2004 Costco Breakfast. The Three Doctors attended high school in Newark, New Jersey, one of the country's most economically depressed and crime-ridden urban areas. Skipping class on one fateful day in 1990, they happened on a seminar in the school library about careers in health fields and the special financial aid offered to attend the premedical/pre-dental program at Seton Hall University. At that time, they all made a promise to one another to become doctors. In 1999, the trio fulfilled that promise when Dr. Davis and Dr. Hunt graduated from medical school and Dr. Jenkins graduated from dental school. The doctors speak frequently to schools and youth groups in an effort to encourage youth to resist drugs and crime and reach for their dreams - no matter how distant they may seem. They established The Three Doctors Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps inner-city youth through scholarships, after-school programs, mentoring and health awareness.

2003 Dr. M. Joycelyn Elders We were delighted to have Dr. M. Joycelyn Elders as our keynote speaker for the 2003 breakfast. Dr. Elders was the first African-American woman to hold the post of Surgeon General of the United States. At the age of 15, Dr. Elders received a scholarship from the United Methodist Church to attend Philander-Smith College in Little Rock, Ark. Upon graduation at age 18, she entered the U.S. Army as a First Lieutenant, where she received training as a physical therapist. She then went on to the University of Arkansas Medical School on the G.I. Bill and graduated in 1960. She was the only woman in her class. She has been listed in "Distinguished Women in America" and has been honored with numerous awards, including the National Governors Association Distinguished Service Award.

2002 Edward James Olmos We were pleased to have actor Edward James Olmos as our keynote speaker for the 2002 breakfast. Olmos has gained acclaim on stage, on television and on the big screen. In addition, he is a director, screenwriter and noted activist. A former ambassador for UNICEF, Olmos gives more than 100 speeches a year, stressing the importance of education, citing the inspiration of his parents, who left school without completing their high school education, but returned later to get their diplomas as adults.

2001 Sidney Poitier We were thrilled to welcome Hollywood pioneer Sidney Poitier as our 2001 keynote speaker. The first African-American to receive the Academy Award for Best Actor, Mr. Poitier broke through the industry's long-standing color barrier to become one of the country's most respected performers. In addition to his Oscar, Mr. Poitier has won two Golden Globes, the Cecil B. DeMille Award, an NAACP Image Award and the Screen Actors Guild's Life Achievement Award, among others. Mr. Poitier also has directed several films, and in 1997 was appointed the Bahamas' Ambassador to Japan.

2000 Earvin "Magic" Johnson We were honored to have Earvin "Magic" Johnson as the keynote speaker for the inaugural Costco Breakfast in 2000. Magic Johnson is best known for his legendary basketball career, but today he directs his efforts towards another lasting legacy - philanthropy. In 1991, he founded the Magic Johnson Foundation, a nonprofit organization which directs its efforts toward the health, educational, and social needs of inner-city youth.