A Gonzaga Certificate Leads to a Master's Journey

Sarah Gore, CFL graduate, wearing blue cardigan with grey background

June 28, 2024
Jenna Turner | Graduate Enrollment Management
Sarah Gore had always pictured getting a master’s degree but wasn’t sure how returning to school would fit in with her busy life.

Then, a daily walk with a friend changed Gore’s career trajectory.

“She just happened to bring up that she was participating in this certificate program at Gonzaga and was highlighting how it brought a new dimension to her role. It sparked my interest because for years I wondered if a master’s degree would be feasible.”

Her friend was enrolled in Gonzaga’s Certificate in Foundational Leadership (CFL) and the more Gore thought about it, the more she felt it was a good option for her as well.

Gore continued, “I decided that the certificate would be a great opportunity to explore my own leadership aptitude and learn from others with similar interests.”

Gore, a Regional Account Manager at Myriad Genetics, enrolled in CFL and immediately her idea of what it meant to be a leader changed.

“Leadership is not hard-line expertise all the time. It’s caring for the team and the community that you’re a part of. That’s a big surprise, this notion that leadership does not necessarily look like the picture that we all create in our mind of this big boss in the sky bellowing out orders, having all the answers and being the expert at all times,” said Gore.

Embracing the concept that leadership allows room for imperfection and vulnerability, Gore developed new skills and instituted reflection to enhance her problem-solving abilities.

“Leadership is about knowing yourself, your strengths, weaknesses, gaps and blind spots. Then with that knowledge, we can build cohesive teams by honoring talent unique to each individual contributor,” said Gore.

The Certificate in Foundational Leadership exceeded Gore’s expectation, particularly in building and fostering a strong community. Each student was paired with a mentor, and Gore found this helped create a dynamic environment where everyone committed to growth.

“Students actively participated, and I appreciated the opportunity to learn from my classmates and their unique careers. I kept coming back to the importance of community, culture and togetherness,” said Gore.

The CFL program not only provided her with a robust understanding of her leadership style, but it also gave her the confidence to pursue a master’s degree.

“I kind of treated the CFL as a little bit of a litmus test for if I could pursue the master’s degree, to see if I had the time, the bandwidth, the resources, all of that. As I advanced through the certificate program, the idea of pursuing the master’s became more tangible.”

Gore continued, “If you’re curious about exploring your own leadership aptitude and skillset, then this program is the springboard to do so.”

Gore decided to apply to Gonzaga’s online Master’s in Organizational Leadership and was able to use the continuing education credits she earned in her certificate program as three credits in the master’s program.

Gore graduated in 2024 with her master’s degree and earned a promotion to Associate Director.