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Learning to Learn, Learning to Live, Learning to Love

Learning to Learn, Learning to Live, Learning to Love
The S.O.S. Foundation Scholarship

Maureen and Joe Brotherton ‘72 provide an annual tuition assistance award to support a Brotherton Scholar at Seattle Prep, in addition to students at four other institutions, through their S.O.S. Foundation (Supporting our Success), a private family foundation.

“I didn’t receive scholarships when I attended Prep,” said Joe. “I wasn’t from a wealthy family. We were able to afford it, but tuition has gotten more expensive (relatively).”

“In the 1960s and 1970s,” Brotherton continued, “a middle class family could probably afford tuition without a great sacrifice. Now that’s less true. Those of us who have been lucky enough to make money because of our great Prep education, have the opportunity to make up that difference.”
For many Seattle Prep students, submitting their application for enrollment is an act of faith. The uncertainty of meeting standards set by the admissions office, (future) teachers, and (future) peers, is intimidating. But even more intimidating for some students is the high cost of tuition. Applications are accompanied by a heavy dose of prayer and a belief that if accepted, students will also be blessed by a financial aid award that enables them to register.

Shortly before Catherine Chang ‘14 applied to Prep, her father lost his job. Her mother’s wages as a caretaker barely covered living expenses for their family. At first, attending Prep was something Catherine “didn’t even dare to consider,” but she was attracted to Prep’s reputation for vigorous academics. Her father attended a Catholic school while growing up in Vietnam and her mother was impressed by Catherine’s education at St. Paul School.

“If I don’t try, I’ll never know,” she said. “I prayed over it. I thought if this is God’s will, he’ll help me (get into Prep).”

Her prayers were answered by generous members of the Prep community, including a local foundation and an individual donor, who had established endowments at Seattle Prep for tuition assistance.

“On the day I was supposed to interview with another high school, I got a phone call from Prep saying that most of my tuition was covered,’ Catherine shared. “It’s a fantastic education experience with no burden for my family.”

Catherine nurtured her love of languages at Prep. She spoke Vietnamese and Mandarin at home, took four years of Spanish, was tutored by Frau Khouri, Prep’s German teacher after school, and taught herself the Korean alphabet by watching You Tube videos.

“Throughout my entire Prep journey, the donors really helped me focus on my path. I want to be one of them to help other students from my neighborhood so they can attend Prep, too.”

“When I write a thank you letter to a donor, I make them a promise to do well. My goal is to keep this promise to them, and to myself. I fully understand that receiving an education at Seattle Prep is a blessing, so I try my best to make the most of it every day.”

Like many scholarship recipients, Catherine expressed her gratitude by paying it forward. “I know that when I learn, it is so that I can give back to my community when I grow older and so that I can be of greater service to others. I hope that all that I do will be AD MAJOREM DEI GLORIAM. Prep focuses a lot on justice and service. I learned about both sides of service; it’s important to get to the root cause of solving problems; not just do service, but to try to address the issue.”

In addition to tutoring fellow Prep students in Spanish, Chinese, English and History, Catherine also tutored immigrant children at the Refugee Women’s Alliance. “I want to help them overcome the same language barriers that I had to overcome. For these children, I strive to be the tutor that I wish I had had,” said Catherine.

She also participated in the Liturgy Choir and Academic Advisory Council, while serving in leadership positions for the National Honor Society, Peer Mentoring program and Senior Pilgrimage Retreat.

Sharing her experience at the 2013 Appreciation Dinner prior to the Christmas Choir Concert, Catherine spoke on behalf of many Prep students. “It is through your generosity that I and many other students are able to attend Seattle Prep.”

“I speak for myself and the other students and families assisted; we are sincerely thankful for all of your help. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to lead in my service to others, to share my knowledge and to learn to learn, learn to live and learn to love.”

This fall Catherine enrolled in the Honors Program at UW, studying Spanish and pre-med. “In the future, I hope to be a surgeon, a doctor or a US ambassador. I’m not sure which, but I am sure that I want to be one of Seattle Prep’s benefactors.”

Last year, almost 160 Prep students received financial aid grants totaling over $1,157,757, half of which came from the Seattle Preparatory School Endowment. The school endowment includes over 60 named endowments and 22 funds for tuition assistance established by individuals, foundations and senior classes.

“We rely heavily on our annual fund and auction to supplement endowment earnings,” said Liz Brennan, Director of Development. “Our endowment is currently at $18 million. If we were to build it to $25 million, this endowment would generate close to $1.2 million in tuition assistance annually, enabling us to fund the majority of the tuition assistance budget from endowment revenue. Annual fund and auction proceeds could then directly support the operating budget adn allow Prep to keep tuition reasonable for future generations.”

“The Jesuits played a big role in my life and I am happy to support Jesuit education. I tell my kids, if you’re lucky you’ll get one memorable teacher, in elementary school, high school and college,” said Joe Brotherton ‘72. “I’d like to hope that every kid at Prep has one.”

Brotherton, an attorney and CPA, encourages parents and alumni to think about the benefits of directing philanthropy close to home by creating an endowment for tuition assistance. “I give talks about active philanthropy. You can do it internationally, but also in your own community, at Prep.”

“Everyone already knows you can’t take it with you. You can get a lot more pleasure out of gifting if you do it while you’re alive.”

“An endowed gift will be one way your legacy will survive. It’s a chance to do whatever is important to you – people will forget your name; but if you think your values are important, this is a way to have your values live on,” Brotherton shared.

Did you receive tuition assistance at Prep? Share your story of gratitude at

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