Senior Spotlight: Maalik Brown’s Playful Approach to Being a Zag

Gonzaga Senior Maalik Brown, Computer Science major, sitting at a table.
Meet Maalik Brown, the talented senior who seamlessly balances his passion for computer science with his flair for comedic performance on stage.
February 16, 2024
Mara Mahoney ('24)

This piece is part of our Senior Stories series, in which we highlight GU students throughout the year.

Name: Maalik Brown
 Computer Science
Hometown: Renton, Washington 

By day, senior Maalik Brown keeps his eyes laser focused on his computer, meticulously completing rigorous computer science work. By night, Brown compels audiences in Magnuson Theatre to erupt with laughter as he shimmies on stage, impersonating Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh.

Throughout his four years as a Zag, Brown simultaneously fostered his seemingly incongruent passions for computer science and the world of theater, finding fulfillment in both communities at Gonzaga University.

Born in Renton, Washington, Brown grew up with an affinity for playing video games, which ultimately inspired him to dive into a degree in computer science.

“I like playing video games so I thought going into a major where I can make my own would be fun,” Brown said.

After graduation, he’s hoping to turn his lifelong love for gaming into a career where he creates some of the on-screen magic that first appealed to him as a kid.

Additionally, Brown deadpanned, he is perfectly suited for computer science work due to his capability of sitting in a chair and staring at a screen for hours on end.

Brown enrolled at Gonzaga during the tumultuous time of COVID-19, GU’s in person classes providing some much-needed connection when so many universities were online. In the midst of strict socialization restrictions and a period characterized by isolation, Brown was searching for a sense of community. One of his main aspirations for attending college was to forge new relationships with students beyond his hometown.

Enticed by a flier for GUTS, Gonzaga University Theater Sports, hanging up in the St. Catherine/St. Monica Hall, Brown found himself attracted to not only an in-person activity but an activity that brought him joy in high school.

Performing was a big part of Brown’s high school experience, acting in plays from sophomore to senior year. He says that GUTS was the closest thing to performing he was able to find available during his socially distanced freshman year. For four years, GUTS has been one of Brown’s social and creative outlets.

GUTS was a pathway into his involvement in Boone Street Hooligans, an adjacent comedy club that specializes in sketch comedy rather than improvisation.

In the fall of Brown’s junior year, he was cast in a digital sketch entitled “University” where he portrays McCulloh, roaming the Gonzaga halls with an exaggerated shimmy. Although there are many plot lines and elements in this sketch, Brown’s over-the-top portrayal of GU’s president was memorable enough to make a return appearance the following year.

Students may recognize Brown from playing McCulloh but in his day-to-day life on campus, Brown is mild mannered. This is a testament to the juxtaposition he created at Gonzaga by being a ball of energy on stage but a “keep-to-himself" type in the classroom. He notes how naturally opposing his interests are; computer science’s technical nature requires little interaction and substantial screen time, whereas theater requires maximum extroversion. Yet, Brown does not see his time spent as Gonzaga as conflicting, rather he states it was two different worlds he got to explore.

As graduation approaches and his time as a Zag nears an end, Brown is looking forward to cultivating new relationships yet strongly maintaining the community he found at Gonzaga. Reflecting upon his four years, Brown is most grateful for the different types of meaningful friendships created from studying and shimmying.

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