Katherine Laco

Portrait of Katherine Laco Psychology and Religious Studies, Religious Pluralism Concentration Major

2019 Award: Flannery Award for Excellence in Religious Studies
Majors: Psychology and Religious Studies, Religious Pluralism Concentration
Hometown: Pasadena, CA
Extracurricular activities:Psychology research assistant, Eye to Eye, Reality Camp, Mission Possible, Psych Club


About the award

Every year the Religious Studies Department honors one graduating senior with the Flannery Award for Excellence in Religious Studies. Criteria for the award include GPA, excellence in academics, leadership and service on campus, and leadership and service to their communities.

This year’s award goes to Katherine Laco. She is an inquisitive, self-motivated, and critical young scholar. During her time at Gonzaga, Kat attended the Gonzaga-in-Israel Program, and she was a Morris Fellow in Undergraduate Research. She is a phenomenal student with an astute awareness for how religious beliefs and traditions impact the daily lives of individuals. Kat excels at combining social theory, religious practice, and theology to better understand people and what makes them tick. Kat is graduating with a double major in religious studies and psychology, and this fall she will begin classwork towards a master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy at the California School of Professional Psychology. We know she will succeed as she leaves us with a substantial foundation of religious knowledge and thoughtful sensitivity that will assist her in understanding her future patients.

More about Katherine

Future Plans:
This fall, I will begin working toward my master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at the California School of Professional Psychology of Alliant International University. I hope to ultimately attain an additional licensure by becoming an Imago Dei therapist, which will allow me to combine my psychology-based therapeutic methodologies with religion. Imago Dei therapists aim to heal the whole person, incorporating the faith of each patient into their healing process.

How has your major contributed to your professional or personal development?
Through my religious studies courses at Gonzaga, I became culturally aware and cognizant of the many ways that religious beliefs impact the daily lives of individuals. In addition, my psychology major helped me gain a better understanding of the many intricacies that form and shape each individual person and the importance of mental health. I believe that my religious studies and psychology majors have vastly widened my worldview. My religious studies major in particular has equipped me with a substantial religious knowledge base and an additional sensitivity that will help me gain a fuller understanding of my future patients. Overall my religious studies degree has helped me better understand my own faith and develop an appreciation of the diverse beliefs of others. The lessons I have learned will continue to enrich my life long after college.

What has been your proudest or most significant accomplishment during your Gonzaga career?
I am very proud of being chosen as a Gonzaga Undergraduate Research Morris Fellowship recipient in the Spring of 2018. This fellowship provided me with funding to conduct my own religious studies research. I chose to examine Vatican II’s reforms on active participation of the laity and parish catechesis in the diocese of Spokane. I conducted background research on Catholic lay participation and engaged in an ethnographic case study of three churches in Spokane. In addition, I presented my results at Fall Family Weekend and wrote a comprehensive paper on my findings. This work was both challenging and rewarding and has validated my choice to pursue a master’s degree.