Julia Duke (’20) held an envelope addressed to her from Gonzaga University, afraid to open it. If it contained what she hoped it did, she could become the first in her family to attend a university; but, it could also mean that her hopes to pursue an engineering degree at GU would remain just a dream, because of the cost. When she finally did open the envelope, she let out a big sigh of relief.
“It was nerve-wracking!” she exclaimed. “After I saw the welcoming introduction to the Zag family and the amount of scholarships I was being offered — it was such a blessing to be given the gift of an education. If not for my scholarships and the generous donors like you who made them possible, I would not be able to be at Gonzaga.”
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Duke’s path to GU had its share of challenges. Her half-sister Jade often played the role of “mom” in Duke’s life, providing guidance, love and support. Together, Jade and Duke moved to Washington State in 2010 to live with Jade’s aunt and uncle while their mother moved to Florida. Duke moved out after six years and lived with her best friend’s family. She found stability and outlets for expression through her high school dance team.
“Dance taught me so many valuable life lessons,” she said, “like the skills to be part of a team.”
Teamwork and dance both remained in Duke’s life after coming to Gonzaga; she eagerly joined Women’s Club Lacrosse and the Swing Dance Club. She has also been active in the Christian Life Community (CLC) and enjoys the time she has spent with University Ministry.
“University Ministry has been such an accepting and supportive community,” said Duke. “I am grateful for Rev. Janeen Steer and how she has helped me on my journey with God.”
For the community who made her scholarships, and through them, her Gonzaga experience, possible, Duke feels tremendous gratitude.
“I am very thankful for your generous donation and the faith you have in GU students,” she said. “Without you, I would not be at my dream college, on my way to a career helping others. I hope to use my engineering degree to someday help people in third-world countries who suffer with contaminated drinking water. Because of you, I will chase my dreams, make every day peachy and continue to be grateful for all I have.”