Seattle Central Announces First Winner of Distinguished Alumni Award

SEATTLE – Alan Sugiyama of Seattle has been selected by Seattle Central Community College to receive its Distinguished Alumni Award. This is the first time in the college’s 45-year history that it has named a Distinguished Alumnus. The award is expected to be awarded annually. The Distinguished Alumni Award was established this year by Seattle Central President Dr. Paul Killpatrick, who joined the college in August.

Sugiyama was selected both for his outstanding contributions to the community and his courageous fight against discrimination as a student at Seattle Central Community College. In 1971, Sugiyama led demonstrations to protest the lack of Asian American administrators at Seattle Central. When numerous meetings and pleas failed, the Oriental Student Union held peaceful demonstrations which shut down the college. These efforts attracted the attention of the Asian American community in Seattle, which advanced the cause into the greater political arena. According to The Seattle Times, the 2/9/71 demonstration was the first one held by Asian Americans in the history of Seattle.

The following year, the Seattle Community Colleges District hired its first Asian American administrator and went on to add courses in Sociology of Asian Americans and Asian American Literature at Seattle Central. Because of those gains, Asian American student organizations sprung up in colleges, universities, high schools and even middle schools throughout the Pacific Northwest.

“Alan is the kind of person whom I hope our students will emulate,” Killpatrick says. “His courageous actions to fight discrimination at Seattle Central have helped shape our commitment to diversity that remains to this day.”

Sugiyama is the founder of the Center for Career Alternatives (CCA), a nonprofit agency that provides education, employment, and training to economically disadvantaged adults. CCA has won numerous awards on the local, state, and national levels – including two Presidential Awards. He served for eight years on the Board of Directors for Seattle Public Schools and has volunteered on more than 100 boards, commissions, and statewide education and training boards. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Washington.

Sugiyama will address students during commencement exercises June 18 at Benaroya Hall.