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About the SERVE Grant

Spiritual and Educational Resources for Vocational Exploration

This project was started in 2021 by five SPU History students: Isabel Bartosh, Cambria Judd-Babbit, Rebecca Cavanaugh, Megan Nixon, and Marisa Silva. The five of us used our specific skills to explore the story of queer activism on SPU and how Haven came to be. Cambria and Megan would leave the project upon graduation, but we would be joined by history student Lou Bridges as we neared the closure of the project. 

Below, read about our story, how the project came to be, and how it changed over the course of the last few years.

about the historians

About the Historians


Oral Historian and Writer

Isabel Bartosh (they/she)

March 2021-March 2023

Isabel Bartosh graduates in 2023 with a degree in History and Museum Studies and a minor in Women's Studies. They plan to pursue a graduate degree in Middle Eastern History and Jewish Studies with intentions of pursuing oral history and academic work. 

IMG_4835 (1).HEIC

Oral Historian and SPU Archives Coordinator

Rebecca Cavanaugh (she/her)

March 2021-March 2023

Rebecca graduates in 2023 with degrees in History, Philosophy, and Honors Liberal Arts. She plans to pursue a Masters of Library Science with the intention of becoming a University Research Librarian.


Oral Historian

Cambria Judd-Babbit (she/her)

March 2021- December 2021

Cambria graduated in 2022 with degrees in History, Political Science, and Honors Liberal Arts. She is currently pursuing a Juris Doctorate degree at Seattle University School of Law and plans to go into public interest law.


Website Design and Logistics

Lou Bridges (they/them)

June 2022-March 2023

Lou Bridges is a third year History Museum Studies major graduating in 2024. They hope to go into Museum Studies or Library Sciences. 


Archival Historian and Writer

Marisa Silva (they/she)

March 2021-March 2023

Marisa graduates in 2023 with degrees in History, Political Science, and Honors Liberal Arts. They plan on pursuing a masters in museum studies and remaining in Seattle as a writer.


Archival Historian 

Megan Nixon (she/her)

March 2021-June 2022

Megan graduated in 2022 with a degree in History and a concentration in Museum Studies. She currently works at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle where she has taken a special interest in the intersection of public history and pop culture.

The Proposal

In March of 2021, five students began putting together a proposal and application for the SERVE grant, which are awarded to "directly support faculty and staff exploration of the theological aspects and implications of Christian vocation with a special emphasis on student vocational exploration, discernment, and preparation." Their vision was to compile a brief history of queer activism on Seattle Pacific University's campus. The project took flight and turned into something far richer and denser, igniting a passion that would take them into two years of research and exploration. 

Below, we have included the original proposal we submitted to the SERVE grant, reflecting the intentions this project began with.

SERVE Grant Overview:

"The purpose of the SPU SERVE program is to provide support for SPU faculty and staff to explore and practice the theological aspects and implications of Christian vocation.


We are especially interested in funding research / scholarship that would inform appropriate student developmental milestones and practices associated with vocational discernment. We are also interested in funding course revision(s) associated with issues of vocation. We would also look favorably on funding a faculty yearlong community of learners around issues of vocation. Finally, we would like to fund a summer stipend for a faculty sponsored graduate student who would capture best practices around vocation programs across the country."

- From the SERVE Grant Application

The Project Proposal 

March, 2021

Dear Dr. Raedene Copeland and Members of the Faculty Life Office,


We are pleased to submit an application for a SERVE grant in support of a History Department pilot project: “Summer Research Institute: The History of Student Activism at SPU.” As our application describes, the purpose of this Summer Research Institute is to provide History students with hands-on research experience in collaboration with History Department faculty members to facilitate their vocational discernment as History and Museum Studies students. Their research will focus on the history of student activism at Seattle Pacific University. The rationale for this emphasis is that their findings will benefit many different stakeholders within the SPU community: student groups will learn lessons from the work of past activists; the Office of Inclusive Excellence will incorporate these histories within their Diversity Timeline website; faculty and staff will gain better understanding of the historic shifts in student body demographics and movements on campus; and overall, we hope that telling these histories will aid in the work of community reconciliation that God calls us to. 


Our long-term hope is that we will be able to fundraise enough money to hold a Summer Research Institute each year for at least the next 3-4 years. Each year, students will help select a new theme related to student activism and the OIEX Diversity Timeline, and Dr. Sandy Mayo has expressed her warm support for such an initiative. For Summer 2021, students have selected the theme of LGBTQIA+ activism at SPU--a theme with clear resonance and relevance for our community this year as we engage in unprecedented discussions about both the history and the future of SPU’s policies on human sexuality. In future years, we anticipate that research will focus on topics such as civil rights, disability, immigration, and the like. 


Our students have already begun the work of gaining tangible professional skills by contributing to the writing of this SERVE grant application, and we are confident that our research team possesses the vision and drive to see this pilot project through to successful completion in the Summer and Fall of 2021. 

This project will be carried out over three phases beginning in July 2021 and concluding by the end of fall quarter 2021.

"This project will be carried out over three phases beginning in July 2021 and concluding by the end of fall quarter 2021."

As research began, the five of us realized how much more of a story there was to tell than we realized. We knew this would be going beyond just a summer project, and had the potential to be so much more. 



In our original proposal, we cited the purpose of our project. Looking back, these reflections hold true, and we are thrilled to have achieved what we sought out to do.

Theological/Vocational Significance and Purpose


From Seattle Pacific’s Enumerated Commitment to Diversity:

Seattle Pacific’s theology is rooted in an understanding that diversity is intentional and divine, that pursuing diversity is a fundamental part of vocation, and that the gospel promises restorative unity and wholeness. Seattle Pacific has committed to engaging with the complex and tense nature of reconciliation, to fostering unity through difference, and to continuously examining the impact of our curricula, policies, and practices in order to create an environment where all students can flourish. Through this project, we aim to accomplish Seattle Pacific’s goals of reflecting the diversity of God’s kingdom, cultivating diversity and reconciliation, fostering an environment of belonging, and maximizing the resources for equitable outcomes. By providing a documented history of LGBTQIA+ student life and activism at SPU, this project can contribute to SPU’s established reconciliation goals.


This project provides opportunities for History students to accomplish numerous educational goals as outlined in the SPU Undergraduate Degree Program Learning Outcomes. Students directly involved in this project will gain career competency through hands-on experience in the following areas: grant writing, archival research, oral history interviews, and exhibit creation and marketing. Undergraduate experience in these areas can help guide students in their vocational discernment journey within the History and Museum Studies fields. By delineating the history of student-led LGBTQIA+ activism on campus, this project will introduce student activists to an underdeveloped and continuing part of their university’s history.  Engagement with the project and the final results will help SPU students gain experience in cultivating community, as it will teach the research assistants how to work collaboratively. It will teach other SPU students who are not directly involved in this project to evaluate their “self-awareness and cultural biases, engage with different perspectives, and facilitate reconciliation through education.” This project could also aid in engaging prospective students with their vocational discernment process, as it will encourage them to view Seattle Pacific University as a place that would foster their growth into engaged students and activists. They would also view the university as a place that provides exciting opportunities for student-faculty collaborative projects, such as this one


The last question for our proposal was "How will the SPU community benefit from this scholarship?"
Looking back at our original answer, we are beyond proud of how much we have achieved

"Through compiling the history of the LGBTQIA+ community within the SPU community in terms of  enduring presence and activism, we will be providing SPU clubs, staff, faculty, students, prospective students, families, and the Seattle community with a deeper understanding of the LGBTQIA+ community in the context of SPU’s history. This project aims to create a coherent timeline and accessible resources for SPU and Seattle community members interested in learning more about the history of the LGBTQIA+ community on our campus. It would also highlight for prospective, current, and past students of SPU that the LGBTQIA+ community has been an enduring and powerful presence on our campus and that any members of the LGBTQIA+ community do not have to be pioneers of their identity at SPU. There is support within this accessible history and resources for our community which we believe will be beneficial for preserving the past, navigating the present, and expanding inclusivity into the future.


The SPU community prides itself in fostering growth and diversity which includes listening to the LGBTQIA+ community at SPU. It will specifically benefit clubs such as Haven, Hindsight, the Falcon newspaper, advocacy and social justice clubs, and Catalyst through our accessible timeline, resources, and presentations that can be used to spread awareness and educate within our SPU and Seattle Community. It will also greatly benefit the faculty and staff of SPU because it will provide them with a clear image of the context in which policies and institutional norms surrounding non-discrimination and the LGBTQIA+ community were implemented and what they were intended to accomplish. This will allow them to better understand and support all students of SPU, especially those within the LGBTQIA+ community seeking support. In addition, this research will benefit the students of SPU through its contextualization of the past as a means of pursuing an environment that engages with the authentic community of our school in our future.


For the students who participate in this research project, it will provide valuable vocational benefits for those of various majors. For majors of history, social justice, journalism-centered and more it allows them to collect a variety of primary and secondary resources in different formats, archive them, and construct a comprehensive timeline and collection for dissemination and presentation. It will also provide an opportunity to confront the underlying social and religious issues which permeate this necessary history of the LGBTQIA+ community within our institution. This project will also benefit prospective students and families because it equips them with information and resources so they may better understand our institution and its diverse background and stories.


We hope this project can help those in the LGBTQIA+ community or grappling with these questions, feel more welcomed at SPU in years to come. This will also specifically benefit SPU’s existing library archive by adding a collection on LGBTQIA+ history at SPU which is persistently relevant on our campus as our community seeks to embrace diversity through unity. In response to the various lawsuits being brought against SPU and other Christian institutions regarding the LGBTQIA+ community, this project would overall provide our campus and community an opportunity for reflection on the past so that we may recognize where we wish to be in the future as a faith-based school part of a diverse community."

What has it meant to work on this project?


This project has shown me the value of oral history and the absolute necessity of collecting, documenting, and preserving history as it happens. I hope this project is a comfort to future queer students seeking ancestry and community at their institutions.


This project has given me a greater understanding of how much I enjoy public history. Making a project like this accessible to the public through a website has been very rewarding, and shown me how vital sharing history is.


This project has altered my approach and appreciation for the role of history. Our constant effort to preserving the past is invaluable to our future. The past can be nothing if it is not preserved through history.


This project has changed the way I think about history. Every single day we are witnessing history and it's up to us to record and preserve it, and that's extremely powerful to me. This project has made me so grateful to be a part of a community of strong queer and ally students at SPU.


Working on this project revealed to me how deep queer history runs at SPU, especially in light of current events on campus impacting the LGBTQIA+ community.


Brief reflection about what this project has meant
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