It's scary to believe how fast my freshman year at Gonzaga went. It seems like it was just yesterday that I was moving into my dorm and waving goodbye to my parents. I remember being so nervous about my roommate, thinking she wouldn't like me or that I wouldn't make any friends. Man, was I wrong.
Hi everyone! My name is Alejandra Ibarra. I am currently a sophomore Zag. I am from the beautiful Portland, Oregon. I’ve lived in Oregon most of my life. My parents were born in raised in a small town in Jalisco, Mexico. I have spent many summers in Mexico visiting with my grandparents. I have two older siblings; one sister and one brother. Both of whom attended Portland State University. Being the youngest of my family I’ve always been different and gone on my own path. Gonzaga and Spokane are definitely different from how I grew up.
My name is Gavin Doremus and I went to a relatively small Catholic High School in Eugene, Oregon called Marist High School. Marist was welcoming, challenging, and full of opportunities that allowed me to reach my full potential for high school. I loved my time at Marist and knew I wanted to be in a similar environment while I was in college. So, after a few visits and an overnight stay in the dorms, I happily chose Gonzaga as my home for the next four years.
It seems like the recent cold front has brought snow all across the nation. Here at GU we’ve had a good amount of snow hit campus. One morning I woke up and opened my curtains to a winter wonderland outside. Big, fluffy snowflakes were falling at a steady pace and they seemed to go on all day. Half the fun of the snow was walking to class and admiring a beautiful, picturesque Gonzaga covered in snow. The entrance to College Hall alone was so breathtaking. I felt a sense of peacefulness and utter content. Anyone could clearly see the joy in my eyes I as I tried to catch snowflakes in my mouth.
January 25 is a date that from now on will always be near and dear to the heart because it is the day when Zags from all over the world can celebrate what it means to be a Zag. During GU’s 125th anniversary last year we saw Gonzaga’s first National Gonzaga Day celebrated on January 25. This year, just like the last, we celebrated this day the best way we know how: with a basketball victory and school pride.
Way back in November I happened to be talking to a few upper classman about the things they enjoyed most about freshman year. Some of the things they told me I had heard many times before, as they included experiences nearly every Zag will tell you are unforgettable. Unique Gonzaga experiences such as the running of the Zags, tenting for basketball games, our very special orientation weekend, freshman retreats, etc. But one thing that I was not expecting was for one of the upperclassmen to say that a small Ski/Snowboarding trip was his favorite thing from the entirety of his freshman year. I didn’t believe him so I asked what ski trip he was talking about. He told me that GU outdoors organizes winter Ski/Snowboarding trips to resorts near the Spokane area, and that they are one of the best ways to get to know some new people very well while having a blast “shredding up and down a mountain.”
The transition to college is different for every first year college student. It can be difficult for some to handle, and for others it can be a much needed change. But whether you find yourself loving college during your first semester, or struggling to find yourself, one thing is certain; this time away from home always seems to mature you. Most of us don’t realize that we have grown until we return home, and are sheltered once again in our childhood homes. The contrast between our new busy lives at GU and our old ones at home, accentuates the emotional and sometimes even physical growth that has occurred during the months since we have last seen our families.
For the past 18 years my mom has woke me up with a hug on the morning of my birthday. Last Saturday was my 19th birthday, but it was also my first birthday away from home. I didn’t wake up to my mom’s hug or to my dad cooking blueberry pancakes. Instead my mom’s hug was replaced by a group of my friends busting into my room early in the morning loudly wishing me a Happy Birthday!
What does it mean to lead and how can one be a leader? I have always had my own ideas about leadership and what it means to be a leader, but it’s not until this year that I am really afforded the opportunity to truly explore this concept. The opportunity I speak of is the Experiential Leadership Institute (ELI). ELI is a yearlong leadership program for sophomores that involves projects, small groups, guest speakers, and discussion that all revolve around “knowing self”, “building community”, and “impacting the world”. One of the main focuses of ELI involves the leadership projects that student groups propose and these projects involve instituting positive change in the Gonzaga community. So not only do we develop what it means to be a leader, but we do it while also practicing leadership and being leaders on campus. Also, what’s nice is that all of this comes with the valuable experience of already being here a year. And since ELI is a sophomore program, you do not have to decide right away if you want to join and you have all of freshman year to experience different roles around campus and determine if ELI might be the right fit for you.
Living on campus for the past month and a half, I’ve had the opportunity to meet new people and try a lot of new things. Gonzaga is not the type of campus where you have to dig deep to find something to do. Just take a stroll through campus on week day evening and you may stumble upon a club meeting or some cool informational session. I am constantly amazed, and a little overwhelmed, at how much goes on at GU.