Gonzaga University is, once again, graduating its largest class ever this weekend as 1,839 undergraduate, graduate and law students don caps and gowns Saturday, May 10 and Sunday, May 11 for Gonzaga’s 115th commencement exercises.
There are approximately 26 more graduates this year than in 2007 when 1,813 degrees were conferred. This marks the sixth consecutive year that the total number of Gonzaga’s graduates has increased. To be conferred this year are 1,050 bachelor, 605 master, 19 doctoral and 165 law degrees. Last May, Gonzaga conferred 957 bachelor, 660 master, 15 doctoral and 181 law degrees.
The Undergraduate Commencement will begin with the academic procession at 9:40 a.m., Sunday, Mother’s Day, in the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena; the ceremony starts at 10 a.m. The keynote speaker will be Rev. Gary Smith, S.J., a former street priest serving the homeless and disadvantaged of Portland, Ore., who most recently worked with Sudanese refugees at the Jesuit Refugee Service in northern Uganda. Rev. Smith, S.J., will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the ceremony. Also to be honored at the ceremony will be Harry F. Magnuson, president of HF Magnuson. Gonzaga’s longest-serving Trustee, Magnuson is a generous benefactor and adviser for every facet of the University. Command Sgt. Maj. (Retired) Tom Williams, a longtime member of the U.S. Army, will be honored with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Williams served in the Gonzaga ROTC and taught, led and mentored hundreds of military science students. Finally, PACCAR CEO and Chairman Mark C. Pigott will be honored with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Gonzaga. Pigott has been a generous benefactor of Gonzaga.
Faith, Music Inspire David Gaines to See Christ in Everything
Jesus Christ has always been front and center for Gonzaga graduating senior David Gaines. A religious studies and philosophy double major with a minor in music performance and concentrations in Catholic studies and leadership, Gaines plans to enter a six-year formation program in Chicago with the Conventional Franciscans.
Gaines, who considers Spokane home, says he “fell in love” with the priesthood years ago, but his experience at Gonzaga, particularly time spent living at the Bishop White Seminary, has helped him to further discern and focus his calling. “The spiritual environment here at Bishop White has been so valuable,” Gaines explained. “It’s really brought the priesthood closer to my heart.”
In addition to his life at the seminary, Gaines has been active in University Ministry, the GU music department, a capella group Big Bing Theory (BBT) and the Comprehensive Leadership Program. As a retreat leader, student music director and as a Knight of Columbus, he has grown in his faith while developing valuable friendships with other members of the Gonzaga community.
Gaines finds Christ in everything he does, particularly music and relationships. He is the director of BBT, a group that performs both secular and religious music. For this tenor, the mere act of listening or singing songs is profound. “God is present in everything and His presence in my life has been affirmed through the joy, love, passion and challenge that music has been,” he said. “I don’t know what my life would have been like without having done those things.”
Stacie McAferty Works for Change from Spokane to Capitol Hill
Election season is exciting for any political scientist, and it will be especially so for Stacie McAferty, of Olympia, who will receive her bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in English on Sunday. McAferty, who has been involved in political life both on- and off-campus throughout her time at Gonzaga, will join with other recent graduates this summer, working on the Campaign Corps, a Democratic grassroots program dedicated to politically empowering young people.
McAferty recently participated in the Washington Semester at American University, where she worked as a foreign relations intern to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. The program was “amazing! I was introduced to new people from all over the world, with diverse backgrounds and political beliefs,” she said. “Being in this program opened many doors for me, and has taught me that, regardless of what the future holds, I am going to be just fine.”
Looking at McAferty’s history at Gonzaga, that is clear. She has spent the past four years dedicated to providing a safer environment on campus for all students, regardless of racial ethnicity, gender or political affiliation. As a residence assistant, intern for GU’s Unity House, co-creator of GU’s Students Making Active Change for Diversity organization, and past president of the Black Student Union, she has served as an advocate repeatedly.
For this political activist, graduating from Gonzaga will be bittersweet. “I will miss this University more than I could have ever expected,” she noted. “It was through my experiences here that I have come to learn who I am, and what it is I would like to do in this world.”
Siblings Ryan and Sarah Olson Lead, Succeed and Graduate Together
For many high school seniors, “going away to college” is akin to gaining freedom by leaving family behind, but for siblings Ryan and Sarah Olson, Gonzaga offered a space to stay together while developing independence. The pair’s mother, Beth Hellwig-Olson, Ph.D., is Gonzaga’s dean of student services.
“I always felt supported having Ryan and Mom on campus,” said Sarah, a history major with a minor in classical civilizations. Ryan, who double-majored in sociology and public relations with minors in philosophy and political science and concentrations in women’s studies and broadcasting, agreed. “I’ve loved having Sarah around, because there have always been those moments when you just need someone to be there for you, and to know she was there has been so great.”
Being close together did not stop the siblings from forging their own individual path, however. Ryan, who has served as the GU gay-straight alliance president and a Gonzaga Student Body Association (GSBA) student senator, plans to pursue gender studies in graduate school. He has interned at the Matthew Shepherd Foundation and the Odyssey Youth Center, as well as participating in the Walt Disney World Resort College Program.
Sarah, who served as a Gonzaga residence assistant and participated in Block Council and the GU Residence Hall Association, plans to work as a professional residence hall director next year. Additionally, she has served on the GSBA as an on-campus senator and member of the elections commission. She has held the position of senior class vice president this year and is a member of both the national history honor society, Phi Alpha Theta, and the honor society for Latin, Greek and classical studies, Eta Sigma Phi.
Though Ryan and Sarah have concentrated in different areas, both are highly respected and well-known at GU. In fact, the siblings were nominated to speak at this year’s undergraduate commencement ceremony. “We actually got the same number of votes, which is pretty awesome and makes sure that we can’t use that to one-up each other at family get-togethers,” Sarah joked.
Jeff Rosick Starts in Accounting at Loyola, Finishes Studying Theatre at Gonzaga
Jeff Rosick made two big decisions before settling into the theatre department at Gonzaga University. He was an accounting major at Loyola University in Chicago before earning his bachelor’s in theatre arts from GU. On his last day studying accounting, he could not focus on the lecture, instead preferring to watch the birds flying past. “I envied them,” he recalled.
After completing his undergraduate work in December of ’07, Rosick began working as a music producer and composer at Cue11, a local sound studio. He hopes to, eventually, enter the film industry: “Filmmaking has always fascinated me as an art form of telling stories.”
Rosick, who recently won the Theatre Arts Academic Excellence and Citizenship Award, has participated in several Spokane-area and Gonzaga productions. He recently acted as Detective Sam Spade in Washington’s Big Read production of “The Maltese Falcon,” for which he also did the sound designing, and he had roles in “Corpsman Up!,” “This is Our Youth,” “The Crucible,” and “Seussical: The Musical.” He also wrote musical pieces for GU’s productions of “Fahrenheit 451” and “The Crane Wife,” as well as the 2007 and 2008 spring dance concerts.
Though Rosick chose Gonzaga before knowing much about its theatre department, he has not been disappointed. “While in the program, I experienced an education that I’m quite certain I wouldn’t have been able to experience anywhere else at an undergraduate level,” he stated, citing his great access to one-on-one time with his professors and individualized attention.
“Gonzaga has given me a healthy amount of confidence and just the right amount of fear,” Rosick reflected. “If there's anything that comes with graduating into the real world, it's fear, and you’ve got to embrace it.”
GU Debate Powerhouse Grace Saez Graduates, Will Continue Debate
Though many people think of basketball as Gonzaga’s most successful sport, it has a contender in the GU debate team, due largely in recent years to its top team of Grace Saez and Nick Bormann.
Saez, an international studies major with a minor in public relations and a concentration in women’s studies, has debated for Gonzaga for the past four years but will soon return home to Las Vegas, to begin graduate work in communication studies. She will not leave her passion for debate in Spokane, however; as she will serve as a coach to the UNLV debate team.
For Saez, who was recently honored with the Sister Conway Forensics Debate Award, debate truly shaped her Gonzaga experience. “Debate was pretty much the most important aspect of my experience at GU. It takes up a lot of time with travel to tournament, research and practices,” she recalled. “Most of my friends are other debaters and it is a very tight-knit group.”
The hard work and long hours paid off for Saez and her teammates. In March, she was honored with the “9th Speaker Award” at the National Debate Tournament and the team beat its rival, Whitman College, in the finals of the Northwest Cross Examination Debate Association Champs Tournament.
Anna-Sophia Zingarelli Discovers Rare Gems in History Club Project
Libraries are not often thought of as exciting places, but for Anna-Sophia Zingarelli, a GU senior majoring in history and classical civilizations with minors in Italian studies and philosophy, the Foley Center Library has been a fascinating space of discovery. Zingarelli remembers participating in the GU history club’s cataloguing project as one of her best experiences at Gonzaga. In this project, the club catalogued old books that had been sent to GU from several neighboring colleges and universities, including a text published in 1484. “It was the first time I’d seen these books. It was really exciting,” Zingarelli recalled.
Her great passion for history and classical civilizations has invigorated her work throughout her time at GU. This year, she was honored with the Fredric W. Schlatter, S.J., Classics Book Award, which celebrates achievement in the study of the classical languages or classical civilizations. She has served as the president of both the GU history club and English club and the secretary of GU’s chapter of Alpha Sigma Nu, the national history honor society. Additionally, she has been a member of the GU Chorale, Choir and Gregorian Schola, and her photography and poetry has been published in several GU publications, including the Charter and “Out of the Shadows.”
After graduating, Zingarelli plans to study abroad in Sicily, Italy, learning about Latin, Greek and Italian cultures, while applying to graduate schools.
For more information on any of these stories, please contact Peter Tormey at (509) 323-6132 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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