Finding His Place

Caleb Jn. Pierre standing in front of College Hall

May 06, 2024
Jenna Turner | Graduate Enrollment Management
A quick internet search about Gonzaga’s men’s basketball changed Caleb Jn Pierre’s future.

All he wanted was a bit of information about the team following a win against Pepperdine, but he ended up discovering Gonzaga’s Doctoral Program in Leadership Studies (DPLS) and decided he needed to learn more.

“As I was going through the website, it just seemed like the program would have catered to me being a full-time working police officer,” said Jn Pierre.

Jn Pierre had thought he would continue researching global affairs, but as he learned more about the Jesuit foundation of the DPLS program, he decided to concentrate on social justice.

“The program gave me more of a focus on what I wanted to research. I had an idea coming in but after my global leadership course, I settled on some themes of how people interact with people from different places,” said Jn Pierre.

He decided to incorporate his experience as a police officer in Bermuda and chose decolonization of police as his research topic.

He wanted to center his dissertation on finding ways for a more compassionate and empathetic approach to policing, especially in communities of color which the faculty encouraged.

He says that faculty support coupled with the hybrid nature of the program has helped make pursuing his Ph.D. possible.

Jn Pierre is from St. Lucia, works in Bermuda and has a family. In order to enroll in the program, which many students do part-time, he needed to attend Gonzaga as a full-time student to maintain his student visa. A challenge to say the least.

“It’s a heavy load I must admit but it is being made much more manageable with the support that I get from the instructors and staff. People work with you to address a need and they do it with a smile on their face,” said Jn Pierre.

The flexibility of the program allows Jn Pierre to complete his studies on his own time. While traveling to Spokane from Bermuda can take a while, Jn Pierre does enjoy the hybrid design of the program.

“It’s good being able to come to campus but it’s also good not having to be there all the time, because if I had to be there longer, I would have had to choose between work and school.”  

Jn Pierre continued, “There’s something about being on campus and being in a space where you have people with that hunger to come and be among other people who drive that desire to learn. So going to campus even if it’s just for three days, it’s an essential part of the program.”  

Jn Pierre is nearing his Ph.D. candidacy and as he looks back on the DPLS program so far, he shared a story that made him feel at home with Gonzaga.   

“The first time I came to campus for immersion was February 2022 and I walked into Hemmingson and at the Center for Global Engagement I saw all these flags. It’s just wonderful, I felt like I was walking to the UN in New York and I’m like ‘wait a minute, where’s my flag? I don’t see a St. Lucia flag here. Am I really the first St. Lucian student to come here?’ The next time I came to immersion in the summer, the flag of St. Lucia was up and that made me feel really good. I feel at home in that building but also on campus.”  

*Caleb Jn Pierre’s research focus won the 2023 Eva Lassman Memorial Student Research Award Honorable Mention which Gonzaga’s Center for the Study of Hate presents each year in honor of the life and memory of Holocaust survivor and educator, Eva Lassman. The award is $250 for Jn Pierre to put towards his research.