What makes Gonzaga special?

When I interview people for work, my last question is always, "Anything I missed or anything you really want people to know about you, your team and what you do?" Inevitably I get great answers, and then I always get a bunch of useless footage about how their team is the best, and it's the people that make coming to work fun and blah, blah. blah. When I sat down to write this essay, I put a lot of thought, (OK, a reasonable amount of thought... All right, a thought...) into what makes Gonzaga University (GU) special and what a GU education does and will mean to me. All the obvious things came to mind--great teachers, varied curriculum, blended learning format, etc., etc. Then a few specific things for me came to me, like the fact that I am a life-long learner who is really engrossed and enthralled by this curriculum, that I’ll get a chance to engage in a passion project for my thesis, and that I’ll finally get to study abroad.

And then I asked myself that final interview question and...in this case it genuinely is all about the people. My first trip to campus was an eye-opener. I'd just spent a day at University of Washington (UW) to work with some folks at the Boeing Advanced Research Center and coming to the GU Campus was such a different experience. At UW people just walk by even if you’re clearly lost (or about to pass out I found out…but that’s another story) whereas at Gonzaga people stop and offer to help. You don’t even need to ask for the help. Everyone was pleasant and more than willing to help a lost woman, even if it made them late for their class.

According to my boss I have “a commitment to personal mastery the likes of which [she has] never seen before.” That commitment makes it reasonable that I’d pursue a master’s degree. What isn’t clear, or at least it wasn’t when I started applying to grad schools, is what kind of education is right for me.

My journey started with the first visit to the Communications Leadership studies (COML) web page. I landed on the page and was almost immediately greeted by a chat box asking if I would like help. And I was, in fact, helped. That was my first introduction to the incredibly attentive and helpful student services team. Throughout the entire application process, the student services team of Kirby, Margaret, Gena and Megan made me feel like somebody instead of some number. The incredibly personalized, quick-and-efficient service they provided was at least half the reason I chose GU over the UW, Washington State University and Northwestern.

I’m not gonna lie. I am a completely faithless person. If I were pressed to give you a denomination or faith leaning it would be Buddhist. And being a faithless person heading to a faith-based school I had a lot of fears about how I'd get along with professors, and students who were at the school because of their faiths. Right away those worries were put to rest. And, I'm so surprised to say this, I quickly built some pretty impressive friendships here, finding camaraderie in the most surprising places.

That openness and support is really at the heart of what makes GU special. Though I don’t know what the future holds, (comma needed) I know that my commitment to learning and GU’s commitment to teaching are going to give me a well-rounded education that will deepen my knowledge of my chosen profession. It’s hard to develop a curriculum that works equally well for those coming to grad school straight out of college and those who’ve been working in the field for 20+ years. Add to that the program must accommodate the academic track folks as well as those of us who want immediately applicable learning in a corporate environment. Somehow Mike Hazel and the other professors manage to do it (though I’m still not sure how communication theory will apply to my daily work…)

All of these disparate threads combine to make a tapestry that is very special. One that I know will stay with me for many years to come.

Jacob Skeels, Jennifer Hawton, Desiree Thomas, Liz Rasmussen

The entire  599 COML class with Spike (Margaret McGuire photo)