A decade and a half ago, Dr. Gerard and Bronwyn Slobogean (’02 and ’01) were undergraduates in Gonzaga’s College of Arts and Sciences. Since then, they’ve gotten married, pursued successful careers in the medical field, and established an award to support current students for research in biology and chemistry.
Now, the Slobogean Award provides an undergraduate with a stipend and funds for supplies for fall, spring, or summer terms, while also supporting junior faculty members in their research. Since it was established in 2015, past awards have gone to four faculty-student teams, offering these students the kind of life-changing opportunity to learn and to achieve their ambitions that Gerard himself received at Gonzaga.
“I always had the goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon,” Gerard says. “As a Canadian student, the cost of going to Gonzaga fluctuates with the exchange rate, and during the four years I was there the exchange rate dropped about twenty cents on the dollar. It was like a twenty-percent raise in tuition, which was unaffordable for my family. Dr. Bertagnolli gave me the opportunity to work during the fall and spring semesters as well, so that made a big difference to me. It allowed me to continue to attend Gonzaga.”
After graduation, he went to medical school at the University of British Columbia, and then went on to complete his orthopedic surgery residency. He did two additional clinical fellowships, and spent the past two years working in Baltimore at R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, a pioneering institution in treating trauma.
Bronwyn took an alternate path into the healthcare field. As an undergraduate at Gonzaga, she majored in French with a minor in business, and later made a career change to work as a physician assistant (PA). She currently works at Johns Hopkins doing clinical research in neurology and neurosurgery. She touts her strong liberal arts background as a key to success.
“Strong critical thinking and writing skills are very important to this work,” she says. “These are skills I developed as part of the arts and sciences curriculum at Gonzaga, and having these skills set me apart.”
With the support of the Slobogeans, pre-med biology student Megan Lantsberger ’17 worked with Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Betsy Bancroft to pursue research on invasive bullfrog tadpoles and stickleback fish and their responses to certain effects of climate change.
“Having the opportunity to do undergraduate research has been incredible,” she says. “The experience I’ve had thanks to the Slobogean Award has been monumentally important to my undergraduate experience, and the skills I’ve developed will continue to help me throughout my life.”
Opportunities for our undergraduates to do meaningful and relevant research align with Gonzaga’s Jesuit and humanistic value of fostering scholarly inquiry, creativity, and collaboration. With the support of the Slobogean Award, current and future students can continue to grow and prosper at Gonzaga and beyond.