At The Seattle School, (S)ending is a season of events and conversations supporting graduating students in their final year. During this transition process, students are invited to thoughtfully engage with their own story, examining both vocational and personal growth and plans. Starting in the fall term, the Office of Students and Alumni (OSA) provides opportunities and encouragement to reflect on skills and strengths, to remember significant moments and community connections, and to discern and prepare for the journey ahead.
This concept of (S)ending is woven into The Seattle School experience, from the moment students begin. Graduates of our programs are equipped to serve God and neighbor through transforming relationships in a variety of settings, and we hope these alumni continue as lifelong healers and learners in their communities and vocations. Through this transition process, The Seattle School seeks to bless and release people into the work they will do, choosing to embody a holistic and life-giving (S)ending. Our goal is to intentionally shape practitioners who are thriving years later, who survive the early phase of their vocational work well, and who care for themselves while also being held in community. In (S)ending, OSA and The Seattle School community seek to provide support and scaffolding, encouraging self-kindness and care for all that alumni will experience in the transition from graduate school into the early years of their vocation.
Graduating students are offered workshops covering topics such as resume writing, licensure resources, and alumni networking, as well as information on launching a private practice or non-profit. In addition to vocational planning, students are encouraged to consider the longer arc of formation and personal growth that will be continued after graduation.
Each February, at the weekend (S)ending retreat, graduating students are invited to remember the journey that brought them to The Seattle School, revisiting their first assignment, a creative work centered on the concept “Who Am I,” and exploring questions about identity, expectations, and change. The retreat is offered in a hybrid format. Students attending in Seattle can process this transition through somatic experiences such as moving through the red brick building space and releasing body tension in massage therapy while students participating remotely engage their bodies within the spaces where they have engaged their work as low-residency students. We do this work together because graduates are entering a liminal space, and need to devote time and energy to self-care in order to see what emerges during these processes of grief, play, rest, and discovery.
At the (S)ending retreat, students are also introduced to the alumni community, including Alumni Chapters throughout the country, and the Alumni Quad–an alumni advisory board. It is important for graduating students to know they will have connections and a network of support. The relationship with The Seattle School is not ending but it is changed, as graduates are now part of a much larger community of lifelong learners. The culminating arc of (S)ending points to the feast at the Graduates’ Breakfast and the celebration of Commencement at the end of June – where graduates are welcomed as colleagues.
In the continual process of (S)ending, OSA gathers feedback from alumni in regular intervals of three to five years, and also consults the Alumni Quad, who meet one-on-one with Alumni each month to better understand the needs and vocational journeys of our graduates Alumni also come to the (S)ending retreat to share and discuss three areas: Where have they needed spiritually and where have those needs been met? What does it look like to find community as Alumni? And what have they needed for ongoing vocational development?
The impact of The Seattle School is not only embodied and held in our alumni, but also in the clients and community members served by our graduates. Becoming a good practitioner is a lifelong process of building capacity and deepening experience: practicing ending well is a skill that serves us all well, long after completing requirements for a degree at The Seattle School. Through (S)ending each year, we hope that the newest cohort of alumni will be able to replicate this experience and share with others, serving and blessing God and neighbors in their continued journey throughout the world.