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What Makes Gonzaga Special

Updated: Dec 6, 2018


St. Aloysius on the Gonzaga campus in Spokane. Photo by Ryan Cooper

No matter where they are attending, most college students would say their school is special. However, there are several reasons why an education from Gonzaga University is particularly meaningful.

During a recent visit to the Spokane campus, I spoke to a handful of undergraduate students. Many of them used the word “community” to describe the bond that Bulldogs share.

Spike the Bulldog is the mascot for Gonzaga University's athletic teams. Photo by Ryan Cooper

“There’s just a strong sense of school spirit and pride in going to Gonzaga,” sophomore Katie Schiefelbein told me. “I’m proud to tell people that I’m going here and that I’m a Bulldog.”

“It’s definitely like a community,” senior Michael Trautmann said. “I know when I came and visited here four years ago, that was one of the first things I noticed.”

Gonzaga has smaller class sizes, and students say they can get more attention from their professors.

As one of 28 Jesuit colleges in the United States, GU offers a unique approach to education. The Society of Jesus, known as the Jesuits, has a reputation for achievements in learning and community service.

What exactly is so special about a Jesuit education? I consulted the writings of one of the Jesuits I most admire, Fr. James Martin, who offered three main benefits:

1. Cura personalis, the goal of caring for the “whole person,” which includes the mind, body, and soul. GU is rooted in faith and a belief that by becoming a person of conviction, one is more capable of making the world a better place.

2. The concept of magis, which means doing more, is a challenge to all to strive for excellence.

3. Women & men for others: It means to share our talents and gifts, to pursue justice, and to have a concern for the poor and marginalized.

While Gonzaga has its roots in Catholicism and the Jesuit tradition, the university attracts students from all walks of life who want a top-notch education.

Students camp outside McCarthey Athletic Center on game day, November 10, 2018, to snag a good seat. Photo by Ryan Cooper

Academics and research are not the only areas in which GU is competitive. The men’s basketball program is currently ranked #1 in the nation and recently knocked Duke off the top spot after winning the Maui Invitational championship.

“Basketball is huge,” freshman Samantha Beeman said. “It draws a big crowd.”

On home game days, students will camp outside McCarthey Athletic Center all day, even in freezing temperatures, to get first crack at seats when the doors open.

“It creates a good bonding sense for us,” Schiefelbein added. “Everyone knows the Gonzaga basketball team.”

On the court and in the classroom, Zags are making a difference. Undergraduates on campus say they believe they are lucky to attend GU.

“It is the best community and home,” Beeman said. “Immediately once I got here I [knew] this was the best place for me. I can’t imagine being anywhere else.”

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©2020 by Ryan Cooper
Los Angeles, CA
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