Emma VanderWeyst Aims to Build More Equitable World

Emma VanderWeyst

August 31, 2020
Harry Smith ('21)

SPOKANE, Wash. — After graduating a semester early from Gonzaga University with a bachelor’s degree in political science in December 2019, Emma VanderWeyst will attend the University of Washington School of Law this fall and continue her development as a person for others.

VanderWeyst, who hails from Arlington, Washington, said she knew Gonzaga was the school for her the first time she set foot on campus.

“Gonzaga helped me figure out who I am, what I believe, and what I want to do with my life,” she said. “That is far more valuable than just career training.”
Emma VanderWeyst

Well-known to the staff at the Center for Community Engagement as a prolific volunteer, she credits Gonzaga with imparting a strong understanding of what it means to work toward the common good.

 

Emma VanderWeyst in front of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., taken during the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice trip with Gonzaga’s Center for Community Engagement in November 2019. (Courtesy Emma VanderWeyst)
VanderWeyst in front of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., taken during the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice trip with Gonzaga’s Center for Community Engagement in November 2019. (Courtesy Emma VanderWeyst)
“Gonzaga’s rigorous academics and focus on critical thinking, especially through the University Core Curriculum, trained me to be a strong law student and future attorney,” VanderWeyst said. “More importantly, Gonzaga provided me with my purpose and driving force in attending law school — to help build a more just and equitable world.”

Interested in politics and current events, she chose the political science program for its strong reputation for preparing students to be engaged, knowledgeable, articulate, and contributing members of their communities. Also, it’s an excellent foundation for a legal career.

Knowing early on at Gonzaga that law school was her next step, she planned meticulously. With the credits she earned through advanced placement courses in high school, VanderWeyst was able to not only graduate early but to also finish minors in leadership studies and public relations.

“It required taking a full schedule most semesters and planning my classes carefully, but it was definitely worth it,” VanderWeyst said.

With the knowledge she has obtained at Gonzaga, VanderWeyst decided she wants to work on improving the criminal justice system. After considering careers in the nonprofit sector, teaching, and political communication, she believes law school is the ideal match for her interests in politics and social justice and her strengths in critical reading, writing, and public speaking.

VanderWeyst hopes to be a judicial clerk right after law school, and then move into government litigation. Ultimately, she would like to work for an attorney general’s office or as a prosecutor.

While VanderWeyst said she already misses being a part of the Gonzaga community, she believes she will carry the Zag mentality going forward.

“Gonzaga helped me figure out who I am, what I believe, and what I want to do with my life,” she said. “That is far more valuable than just career training.”

Read more Senior Stories from the Class of 2020.