Senior Spotlight: Antoine Herrbach’s Making a World of Difference

Gonzaga Senior Antoinne Herrbach, smiling next to close up of globe.
Senior Antoine Herrbach, a triple major at Gonzaga and a Rhodes Scholarship finalist, has big plans.
March 20, 2024
Lucy Klebeck ('23)

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

Name: Antoine Herrbach
 Political Science, History and Economics
Hometown: Sammamish, Washington 

Gonzaga senior Antoine Herrbach added quite an impressive achievement to his resume this past fall: Rhodes Scholarship finalist. Herrbach missed the actual award, but he says that he is happy to have made it that far, as he was among the 2,500 plus students who initially began the application process—an admirable accomplishment.

The Rhodes Scholarship is the oldest international scholarship program in the world, with a list of noteworthy past scholars: former U.S. president Bill Clinton, Fulbright Program founder James William Fulbright, former National Security Advisor and UN Ambassador Susan Rice. Award recipients, known as Rhodes Scholars, study a full-time postgraduate course at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. The application process requires first that students be endorsed by their college or university. Then the strongest applicants in each of 16 U.S. districts are invited to interview and two are selected for the award. This year, 240 applicants from 90 colleges and universities reached the interview stage. Herrbach competed against other finalists from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

Herrbach initially decided to apply this fall with only 12 days left to complete the application. “I spent the whole weekend drafting a personal statement...I needed a minimum of five references, so I contacted loads of professors and bosses and hoped that they would get back to me in time,” Herrbach says.

Although timing was tight, Herrbach, a political science, economics and history triple major, could not pass up the opportunity to try for a scholarship that fit so well with his future goals.

“My career goal is to work at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, advocating for and creating policy that best supports refugees,” Herrbach says. If he had been selected for the Rhodes Scholar program, he would have studied Refugee & Forced Migration and Global Governance & Diplomacy at Oxford.

Herrbach points to his passion for immigration as the start of his interest in refugee advocacy. Born in France, Herrbach moved to the U.S. at five years old—an experience that he says impacted his life.

At Gonzaga Herrbach joined Model UN where he learned about refugee struggles and attempted solutions. Herrbach now serves as the Head Delegate at Gonzaga and says that Model UN is “an amazing opportunity to cultivate [a] passion for international issues, build community on campus, and meet people from all over the world.”

Herrbach is also involved with GSBA where he currently serves as the attorney general.

“GSBA was my first taste of activism and advocacy and it’s been very empowering for me to work with campus administration to try and make GU a better place,” Herrbach says.

He joined as a sophomore and fell in love with the chance GSBA offers to make changes on campus as students can work with campus administration to make positive changes for the university. Before serving as attorney general he served as international senator and junior senator.

Apart from Herrbach’s activities on campus, he has strived to broaden his global perspective and gain experience working with refugees.

During Herrbach’s sophomore year he signed up for Arabic classes, following a desire to learn more about a culture he believes is misrepresented in the West. The Arabic classes were cancelled due to low enrollment. However, the professor mentioned Gonzaga’s study abroad program in Jordan as an effective way to learn. Herrbach took it upon himself to study Arabic to be able to study in Jordan the next year, an experience that proved to be amazing.

In the 2022 fall semester Herrbach studied in Amman, Jordan and completed all his coursework in Arabic. Living among locals, Herrbach participated in a variety of activities—dancing, cooking, soccer—and stayed up late conversing, making good friends in the process.

This past summer, Herrbach interned with World Relief Spokane, working in both their development department and resettlement department. Herrbach researched and authored educational articles for the Spokane community focusing on displacement and refugee crises around the world and did advocacy work on the Afghan Adjustment Act. In the resettlement department Herrbach served as a translator (he speaks French and Arabic in addition to English) and translated for case managers as well as a weekly job readiness workshop. Among a plethora of tasks to help refugees, Herrbach worked to obtain important documents, such as social security numbers and IDs, helped with transportation to health appointments and moved people into housing.

Towards the end of his internship Herrbach even managed three cases himself. He worked with people who had lived in a refugee camp in Uganda for over 20 years before immigrating to the U.S. “It drives home that refugees are people, not statistics, and that we should do everything we can to support them” Herrbach says.

Despite Herrbach not receiving a Rhodes Scholarship, there is no doubt that he is still on the path to achieving important things and creating positive change. Following graduation, he plans to keep working towards his goals and “to gain further experience in refugee advocacy before [applying] to graduate school.”

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