Supporting the Next Generation

Mark Stephen Souder

Evergreen occupies a special place in Mark Stephen Souder's life. He even named his web design company, Studio 403, for his D-dorm room number. "For my two years at Evergreen, that was home," he says.

Souder considers his time at Evergreen as transformative. Consequently, he has repeatedly extended himself to help other students at the college so that they might have the same type of lifechanging educational experience as he did.

"I give to Evergreen because I was fortunate enough to have a full ride from my parents," Souder says. "It's my way of making it a little easier on the next generations of students. My father instilled the spirit of giving by matching all his children's contributions to their alma maters and when combined with either his corporate match—or later my corporate match from Microsoft—it made giving a financially rewarding proposition for all involved."

Mark SouderNow a resident of Seattle's South Park neighborhood, Souder works from home as a marketing and business development consultant. For nearly a decade, he worked for Microsoft, starting as a traffic coordinator when the company was only a few years old and advancing through the ranks to become a direct marketing manager at a time when the number of employees had multiplied tenfold. His career has included stints as a publishing consultant, a serial business owner, an editor, a writer and the publisher of a trade magazine serving Oregon's floral and nursery industry.

At Evergreen, Souder concentrated in graphic arts and business administration, which has served him well with future employers and clients. "What this says to them is, ‘He's creative, but won't go over budget,'" he surmises. The college's evaluation process and seminars also helped. At Microsoft, periodic employee reviews were an "almost identical copy" of Evergreen's narrative evaluations. And, he says, "The seminar style of teaching, which pulls students out of their shells and gets them discussing ideas, projects and problems with their peers is what business is about in the modern age."

Souder also travels extensively, spending about a third of his time satisfying his "sense of wanderlust." He says a summer program he took when he was a student, The Art History of Rome and Greece, didn't introduce him to international travel—that happened earlier with his family—but "it taught me to look at the world with a wider lens."

His 2009 Mark Stephen Souder Scholarship for Information Dissemination went to Genevieve Lee (left)—a transfer student like Souder—who is studying economics, history, political science and as she says, "social movements as they pertain to the ultimate struggle for justice and a world that places the utmost value on serving others."

Lee organizes events connecting immigrant and ally communities in Olympia to the Evergreen campus through the Youth and Young Adult Network (YAYA) of the National Farm Worker Ministry. She credits the Souder scholarship with giving her "much needed financial relief. It also provided me with a sense of legitimacy that I really can be a bringer of positive change to the world."

To Souder, Lee had the "passion quotient" he hopes for in each recipient of his scholarship, which is offered annually to one student who "demonstrates an interest in information dissemination…to create a more equal, intelligent and compassionate society."