Spotlight: Cheat Sheet to Orientation!

When you get to campus…

  1. Download our online schedule to your smartphone off of Guidebook. When you get the app, click “Download Guide,” then “Redeem Code.” The code is guignite14 (same as our hashtag!).
  2. Use the driving directions from our last spotlight and the handy map on our facebook (also here: to park in the designated areas on campus.
  3. Stop by Orientation Station at Crosby Student Center (we’ll have tents, tables, signs, and cheering Orientation Leaders) to get your welcome packets, new student itinerary, and Zag Swag.
  4. Head over to the US Bank tents and pick up your student ID card.
  5. Head back to the residence hall and start moving in! Be sure to label all your boxes with your room number; Orientation Leaders will be helping you carry things from your car to your room and we don’t want them to get lost along the way.
  6. Check out our Student Resource Fair and our Community Fair on Herak Quad (next to Orientation Station). Here, your family can check-in for Parent & Family Orientation under the smaller white tent.
  7. Be at Martin Center (there will be signs and Orientation Leaders to help you) no later than 3:50 p.m. for Opening Ceremony!


*Please say goodbye to your beloved pets before arriving to campus. The University asks that you do not bring your pets to Orientation. There is a lot going on and we don’t want any family members (pets included) to get overwhelmed. In addition, we don’t want Fido trapped in a car while you move-in! We swear you can skype your pet soon!

If you have any questions at all during the weekend, O-Core will be wearing polos (and headsets and clipboards), Orientation Leaders in blue, Parent Support Leaders in mint green, Rough & Tough in steel, and Super Group Leaders in purple. We are all here to support you as you begin to ignite your spirit at New Student Orientation.

Welcome to Gonzaga and we can’t wait to see you in just a few short days! If you’re on campus early, let us know- we’d love to meet you!

xoxo O-Core

Academic Read #15: Why Go to Academic Convocation?

From our Mission Statement: “Gonzaga University is an exemplary learning community that educates students for lives of leadership and service for the common good.”

The heart of New Student Orientation, the event that focuses on all that you carry by way of hopes and aspirations as you begin your university journey is Academic Convocation. At this event the faculty formally welcomes you into Gonzaga: an “exemplary learning community,” an academic community, a community of conversation about questions, problems, and opportunities that matter, not just for you, but also for the world in our time and into the future.

Gonzaga, as a Jesuit, Catholic, humanistic university, is committed to being a place of genuine conversation – in its classrooms, labs, studios, dorms, and eating places. Why? Because genuine conversations matter. In a genuine conversation the participants are grasped by questions, and in the back and forth of exploration understanding emerges. You probably have had conversations like that – when the issue being discussed mattered more than winning the argument, when time seemed to stop, when you felt truly alive in the midst of it all. You know they are not easy. They take courage, a capacity to listen, and a willingness to own one’s own thinking, to be aware of and not controlled by one’s assumptions. They also are exhilarating.

A university education is an apprenticeship in genuine conversations. You will learn the concepts, theories and practices of your field. Professors will bring you into the conversations that shape disciplines and professions from philosophy to physics or fine arts to finance. You will become a biologist, or historian, or engineer to the degree you enter into the conversations that shape your chosen field. As much as anything else, and especially through the core curriculum, you will learn a fundamental skill – to slow down the leap from event or experience to judgment and interpretation – and thus learn to make richer, truer sense of life.

Within the Catholic and Ignatian tradition genuine conversations are basic to becoming a fully alive, creative human being. These conversations connect us to each other, to all of humanity past and present, and to the transcendent, whether we speak of God, the depth of being, or the wonder of existence.

At Academic Convocation you formally become part of the genuine conversation of Gonzaga, which continues nearly 500 years of such conversations in Jesuit higher education. Gonzaga faculty members, with over 500 years of cumulative study and teaching in their areas of expertise will be there to welcome you into the conversation that is the university.

To emphasize the importance of entering the university, O-Core has designed the Welcome Walk through which you will move as you enter St. Al’s for Academic Convocation. Allow yourselves to experience this welcome.

Bring your hopes, bring your passions, bring yourself to Academic Convocation.

Patricia O’Connell Killen, Ph.D. is Gonzaga’s Academic Vice President. She will emcee Academic Convocation.


Spotlight: Everything You Need to Know About Move-In

With Move-In just a week and a half away (!!!), our Campus Security Officers have some important notes just for you…

Welcome to Gonzaga! Friday, August 29th 2014 is the first day new students can move in to residence halls.  Two major changes in traffic flow on the university campus will allow easy access for unloading and parking:

  • Cincinnati Street from the Centennial trail to Desmet Avenue shall only be a northbound one-way street;
  • Desmet Avenue from Cincinnati to Hamilton Street shall only be an eastbound one-way street to allow egress for departing vehicles. To access Cincinnati Street, you must turn west onto Spokane Falls Boulevard from Hamilton Street and then turn north onto Cincinnati Street.

In order to reduce the wait time for students to unload their belongings; we recommend that after you have completed unloading your vehicle you park your vehicle in the parking garage located at Desmet and Cincinnati, any Gonzaga-owned parking lot, or street parking; and then finish moving into your respective residence hall.

To ease any confusion on how to arrive to your respective residence hall, please follow these directions:

Coughlin Hall/Catherine-Monica/Madonna:

Turn north onto Cincinnati Street (one street west of Hamilton Street) from Spokane Falls Boulevard and continue north to the Centennial Trail where a uniformed staff member shall direct you to your respective residence hall for parking. Coughlin Hall is the first residence hall on your right, Catherine-Monica is the second on your right, and Madonna is the third on the right.

Twohy Hall:

Twohy Hall is located on the corner of Boone Avenue (one street south of Sharp Avenue) and Cincinnati Street. You may park anywhere possible to unload.


Roncalli and Lincoln are located on the north side of Boone Avenue between Cincinnati and Dakota Street (two streets west of Hamilton Street, six streets from Ruby). Alliance is located across Dakota Street from Lincoln. You may park on the street or in the alley to unload.


Dillon and Goller Halls are located between Standard (three streets west of Hamilton, and five streets east of Ruby) and Dakota just south of Sharp Avenue. To park and unload, you must either turn south onto Standard or Dakota Street. You must then turn into the alley between the aforementioned streets where parking is provided.

Crimont Hall:

Crimont is located on the west side of Standard Street just north of Sharp Avenue. There is parking in the alley, or you may park on the street.

Welch Hall:

If you are arriving from Sharp Avenue – turn south onto Dakota Street and continue to Boone Avenue where a uniformed staff member shall direct you to a parking space.

If you are arriving from Hamilton Street – turn west onto Boone Avenue and continue to Dakota where a uniformed staff member shall direct you to a parking space.

Desmet Hall:

Turn south onto Standard from Sharp Avenue and continue south where a uniformed staff member shall direct you to a parking space.


Thank you for your patience, and welcome to Gonzaga University.

- Campus Public Safety and Security

Academic Read #14: Meeting Your Academic Advisor

From our Mission Statement: “In keeping with its Catholic, Jesuit, and humanistic heritage and identity, Gonzaga models and expects excellence in academic and professional pursuits and intentionally develops the whole person – intellectually, spiritually, physically, and emotionally.”

Welcome to the adventure of university study. You knew how to be successful in high school. Your acceptance to Gonzaga confirms that. You can succeed here as well. But do not be fooled into thinking that continuing to do just what you did in high school will assure your success at Gonzaga. It won’t. Why? The educational process is structured differently at the university level. That difference involves both more choices and more responsibility on your part. So, beginning with New Student Orientation, step up to the greater freedom and responsibility that will be yours.

Gonzaga wants you to have ambitious aspirations for your time here and for your lives after graduation. Faculty and staff are dedicated to assisting you as you make choices and organize yourselves to achieve your goals. A key resource toward your success is your assigned academic advisor. Whether you know exactly what you intend to study, or plan to spend your first year exploring and discovering to what field your intellectual and professional passions might lead, you need your academic advisor.

Your academic advisor is a faculty member or professional advisor who has been where you are – beginning college. Your advisor knows things you need to learn about navigating university education at Gonzaga. Your advisor can put you in touch with offices on campus that can assist you in exploring your interests and help if you are having academic difficulty. Your advisor can be a sounding board as you calibrate to the level of expectation and independence of thought expected of university students. And, your advisor can engage you in conversation about or connect you with others who can converse with you about your educational and career goals and ways to achieve them.

Here are some guidelines to help you get the most out of your advising relationship as you begin your time at Gonzaga:

• Attend the meeting with your academic advisor that is part of Orientation. Take questions you need answered to be ready to go to class the first day to that meeting.
• Become familiar with curriculum requirements and track your progress towards graduation. It is your responsibility to know and comply with all GU academic policies, procedures, and deadlines.
• Initiate regular contact with your academic advisor, minimally once per semester.
• Use advising sessions effectively: make appointments, arrive on time, bring needed materials, ask specific questions.
• Take responsibility for decisions regarding your academic career and for your academic performance.
Orientation includes a designated time for you to meet with your academic advisor. Show up. The meetings take place on Monday, September 1, beginning right after Academic Convocation. Don’t miss your meeting with your advisor.

Patricia O’Connell Killen, Ph.D. is Gonzaga’s Academic Vice President. As a graduate of Gonzaga, she knows what it is like to be excited and maybe a bit nervous about being a new first-year student.

IGNITE Question: What questions do you already have for your academic advisor? Have them ready for your first meeting during Orientation Weekend!

Spotlight: Summer Checklist

With summer coming to a close, the school year is just around the corner and it’s time to get down to business! Here are a few items that should be squared away before you arrive on campus:

  1. Submit a picture for your student ID Card here.
  2. Make sure your immunization form is submitted to the Health Center.
  3. Be sure to check your Zagmail for your housing assignment, your roommate, and your fall semester schedule.
  4. Pack a business casual outfit for Monday of Orientation Weekend. It’s academic day- you want to dress to impress!
  5. If you’re renting a refrigerator, you can do so here.
  6. Lofting your bed? Be sure to reserve a loft kit.
  7. Purchase a mailbox here so you can receive care packages from home!
  8. Have questions about schedule changes? Click here for more info.
  9. Follow@ZagOrientation on twitter and instagram to get instant updates about Orientation
  10. Say “thank you” to people in your life who have helped you be the person you are today.

We are SO excited to finally meet you all. We hope your summer was rad, but the best is yet to come!

Academic Read #13: Investing In yOUR Education

From our Statement of Affirmation: A humanistic liberal education at Gonzaga includes an “calls for an integrated and reflective search for truth…through the sciences; the personal and social world through the humanities…and the transcendent world through philosophy and spirituality.”


There are a few things in life that you’d be wise to invest in: a good retirement plan, your health, and your education.  While I wouldn’t consider myself qualified to speak on the first two points, I do have some words of advice regarding the third.


Here at Gonzaga we are all presented with a unique opportunity.  Not only do we all go to one of the most transformational institutions in the nation, but we have the ability to take classes that you may not have the chance to take at another institution.  I’m talking about the core curriculum.  Classes designed to help you develop intellectually and personally according to our schools Jesuit ideals.  Me?  I love the core.  Being an engineering major it allows me to branch out from my math intensive course load (aka, get out of Herak), interact with different students that I otherwise might not meet, and expand my view of the world.  While this is how I feel now, three years ago was a very different story.


When I got to Gonzaga all I wanted to do was study engineering.  There were few things I disliked as much as writing essays, and I thought that was all I would be doing in my core classes.  When I learned the majority of my freshman year schedule would be core I was less than thrilled.  For the first few weeks of college I did my best just to skate by, not engaging much with the content and exerting little effort on assignments.   But when I got a C on my first major essay of college I knew I needed to reevaluate my tactics.  At the time I was devastated, but looking back I’m thankful all it took was a C on an English Literature essay to shake me out of my complacency and show me the value of my core classes.


From then on it’s been a very different story.  As I’ve progressed through my time at Gonzaga I’ve become more and more invested into my core and non-major classes.  While it may be incredibly cliché, many of these classes have changed the way I view the world and even changed my life.  I’ve been introduced to subjects and points of view that I had never considered.  I’ve read and discussed beautiful works of literature, philosophy, and theology.  I’ve had incredible professors, a few of which have become mentors to me.  I’ve met some of my very best friends at Gonzaga.  I’ve grown simultaneously closer to and farther from knowing what I want to do with my life. And if nothing else, the 200 level religion course I took sophomore year allowed me to have a two hour discussion about Vatican II with a random dad at my sister’s college graduation last year.


The core curriculum provides an avenue through which students can broaden their horizons, have a better global perspective, and be better women and men for others.  Whether you’re dreading it, looking forward to it, or have no idea what it is, I ask that you give the core a chance.  If I can enjoy a philosophy class, you can too.  Who knows, you may find something new that you’ll enjoy.  Even if it turns out some of the core classes are not for you, at least you learned something.  There’s no downside to that.

If you just want to get a degree you can go anywhere to get that, what Gonzaga offers is an extraordinary learning experience.  Gonzaga is the road less traveled by, and in the immortal words of Robert Frost:


…I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-

I took the one less traveled by,

And it had made all the difference.


Invest in your education by engaging with the core, let it make the difference in your education and in your life.

 Joey Avila is a senior mechanical engineer at Gonzaga. He is an intern for HP in Boise, Idaho and is a ManTalk Facilitator in CM. 

 IGNITE Question: What core classes are you registered in for the fall? What are you hoping you’ll get out of them?

Don’t forget to comment on these academic reads for your chance to win free ZagSwag! Get the low-down here.

Spotlight: Roommates

Roommates really aren’t that big of a deal. Sure, the idea of living with a person you’ve never met before sounds weird (and it is weird in any other context aside from college or New Girl), but your roommate will play a part in your freshmen year. Now, the degree that they play is up to you. You’ll receive your roommate assignment later this week, check your Zagmail! Each roommate dynamic is different, but living in community is an important learning opportunity. Some people instantly click, others develop a gradual appreciation, and some simply live together– which is fine! We asked a few current students about their roommate experience and here’s what they had to share:

“I was in a triple, which exposed me to both a great experience and a challenging one. I was able to learn more about myself, especially how to deal with people you might not always get along with, but I was able to make a new best friend whom without I would not have had such an amazing freshmen year.”

-Alexa S. Sophomore

“I lived with a friend from home and it was great because I always had someone to go to the BARC, class, campus events and what not with me.”

-Arielle A. Senior

“My freshmen year roommate experience was great! We were different people, but we still got along well.”

-Joey Avila Senior

“Everyone gets nervous about random roomies, funny thing is it always works out!”

-Kassi P. Senior

“That’s the cool thing about the system, if you answer the survey honestly; it does a pretty good job with matching you with someone compatible. You don’t have to be best friends with your roommate, but it happens more often than not.”

-Greg O. Junior

Academic Read #12: Learning How to Succeed

From our Mission Statement: “Gonzaga cultivates in its students the capacities and dispositions for reflective and critical thought, lifelong learning, spiritual growth, ethical discernment, creativity, and innovation.”

“’If you could give a piece of advice to yourself at eighteen, what would it be?’

‘If you want something, you’ve got to ask. Hard work isn’t enough. Yes, you need to work hard. But then you’ve got to ask.’” –Humans of New York, New York Times

 If you had asked me when I was eighteen what my life’s plan was, I would tell you what college major I would graduate with, what grad school I would attend, and what city my first job would be in. I would assure you of my ability to balance my academic workload, social life, spiritual life, and physical health with each other adequately. I would tell you that I would be able to do this all on my own, with little external resources or support. What I didn’t realize when I was eighteen was that it is okay to need support.

I went to a large high school in a relatively small town. Of my class of 650 students, I worked to excel in honors and AP classes as well as varsity athletics. I spent the majority of my time at school, at practice or at work. My grades seldom suffered, but as senioritis took over, I learned exactly how much work had to be put into assignments to ensure an A in a class. After gaining admittance into Gonzaga, I knew that I would take with me the skills necessary to be a successful student. Fast-forward a few months to my first weeks at Gonzaga. To escape the impending homesickness, I decided to try to get involved in everything I was involved with at home. I joined the club swim team, joined as many clubs as possible, signed up for retreats, and took on the demanding coursework and prerequisite classes that science majors were required to take. As my friend groups began to solidify, I felt completely at ease with my college environment. That is, until midterm grades came out. I sat in my advisor’s office. He assured me that my grades were ‘alright’, but asked if I wanted any resources or strategies to bump my test scores into the next grade bracket. I denied his offer and assured him that I would increase my grades by finals. As I left his office, I was shocked. I had never been one to receive ‘alright’ grades. I started studying harder and for longer durations. I realized that I wasn’t balancing my life as seamlessly as I had imagined, and tried to get back on track.

The Jesuits focus on cura personalis, or the care of the whole person. Aside from gaining a holistic education at Gonzaga, I have found that professors and faculty members embody this idea. The incorporation of the mind, body and spirit are essential for succeeding and excelling in academics at Gonzaga. After receiving poor midterm grades, that first semester of college, I tried to change my study habits. Instead of utilizing the C/M study rooms for nightly homework, I started working in the library. Instead of cramming for exams in the nights leading up to exams, I tried to go to office hours well ahead of time to understand of concepts needed for a test. I would like to say that these changed tactics landed me on the President’s List for that first semester. They didn’t. My grades improved from being ‘alright’ to ‘fine,’ but I was still missing something. I was trying to do it all – by myself. Spring semester of my freshman year, I reached out for help in classes. I joined study groups. I sought out help from TAs. I went to office hours religiously. I visited my advisor to make sure I was on the correct path for my desired career. I continued to put in hard work in all of my classes, but the difference was that I asked for help. The first step in my academic success was admitting to myself that I was unable to do it all on my own. I needed to allow myself to lean on others.

Entering into college, I knew two things. One was that I had my plan. The other was that I loved Gonzaga because of the unique community that it possesses. I learned that my plan didn’t play out as expected because I didn’t allow myself to rely on others. It wasn’t until I accepted my surrounding community and the resources that it provided that my academic standing improved and I was able to become the student that I knew I was capable of being. College is hard. But you’re not in this alone. You will have some sleepless nights, or low test grades, but you do not have to be alone through your academic career. Ask for help. Advocate for yourself. With a lot of persistence and a little bit of help, you will be able to navigate through various academic workloads to turn your life’s plan into a reality.

Jen O’Toole is a Gonzaga senior from Napa, California, now majoring in psychology. Her favorite time of the year at GU is the first warm days of spring right before Spring Finals, where students try to study on lawn chairs on Herak Lawn with friends and then going to baseball games for dinner.

IGNITE Question: Reflect on a time where you needed to change your “plan” in order to achieve your end goals. What obstacles stood in the way? Did you keep, ignore, or alter your plan? What takeaways did this experience leave you with?

Spotlight: Zag Dining

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Food is arguably the best mobilizer to make friends. Ask any GU student, and they will have a memory of uncontrollably laughing over a BARC meal or a life-enlightening moment while at coffee at Margie’s.

You may be apprehensive about leaving your home-cooked meals, but contrary to what the movies tell you about college cafeteria food, dining at GU is quite delicious! Dining services are provided by Zag Dining by Sodexo and offer a variety of options. Are you vegetarian, gluten-free, or vegan? A registered Dietician and Executive chef are always available to assist with any dietary needs and allergies. You’ll need proper sustenance to fuel your energy when you’re working hard in the classroom. Read on for dining options at GU!

  1. Meal Plans: Meal plans consist of two facets: Dining Dollars and Swipes. Dining Dollars are accepted at all 15 on-campus retail locations. Swipes are accepted at The Marketplace at the BARC and The Marketplace Express. You also have the option of purchasing Bulldog Bucks, accepted both on and off campus. Bulldog Bucks is an optional declining balance account tied to your ZAGCARD and is accepted both on and off campus. Your Bulldog Bucks account will provide you flexibility, variety and value you deserve. Your unused Bulldog Bucks balance rolls over from semester-to-semester and year-to-year. For more information about meal plans, visit Zag Dining’s website HERE.
  2. The Marketplace: Your dining hall is located in the Marketplace at the BARC. This bright and modern facility at the corner of Hamilton and Desmet will be our home for the next year; we will be moving to the new Hemmingson Center once it is completed!  Our focus is on fresh, delicious food that brings the community together at the table. Every meal will feature a variety of stations from classic to exotic. Look for your favorites and try something new! We are especially excited to feature Simple Servings, a station dedicated to preparing fresh, flavorful dishes without any of the following allergens: wheat, soy, dairy, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, gluten, or eggs. Look for the “Simple Servings” banner at the Marketplace and enjoy seamless healthy dining.
  3. SubConnection: A custom-made sandwich bar, SubConnection is located on the ground floor of Welch Hall. The new SubConnection features two sandwich lines for faster service, more seating, an expanded menu including breakfast sandwiches, and late night hours.
  4. Einstein’s Bagels: The newest addition to on-campus dining options, Einstein’s is located in Cataldo Hall.  Fresh baked bagels, sandwiches, pastries, and their darn good coffee will be ready for you all day long, and late night, too!
  5. Margie’s at Tilford’s, Barney’s Cafe, Cafe Lawte, & Crosby Cafe: Our full-service coffee shops feature locally owned Craven’s Coffee along with sandwiches, fresh baked pastries, delicious soups, and other quick lunches! A Thomas Hammer Coffee is  located in Jepson, however this does not accept dining dollars.
  6. The Marketplace Express: Located in Cataldo Hall, Marketplace Express offers all-you-care-to-eat quick, light, lunch Monday through Wednesday. Choices include deli sandwiches, soups, gourmet salads, beverages, and desserts! New this year: Lunch on Thursdays will feature family-style dining with each table hosted by a GU faculty member or administrator. This unique opportunity promises stimulating  conversation, community engagement and delicious food.
  7. Panda Express: Gourmet Chinese food, wok-cooked, and served fast! Centrally located in Cataldo Hall.
  8. Duff’s Bistro: Located in the Kennedy apartments, a great place to grab a meal, snack or espresso in a casual lounge atmosphere. Continental breakfast, weekend brunch, dinner and freshly prepared grab-and-go items available throughout the school year. Best paninis on campus!
  9. Jamba Juice: Yup, that’s right. Our own Jamba Juice located in the Rudolph Fitness Center! These blended-to-order masterpieces practically invented smoothies.  All of your favorites are in the mix: real whole fruit, 100% fruit juice, sherbet, and frozen yogurt, plus nutritional boosts.  Come in for a refreshing treat that’s always served in a fun and uplifting environment!
  10. Iggy’s Pizza: No, not like “Fancy” Iggy. Like “St. Ignatious” Iggy. When it’s snowing out and you’re too cold to walk to the BARC, Iggy’s serves fresh, hot pizza, calzones and more right to your residence hall! Iggy’s makes their dough fresh with local Shepherd’s Grain flour, and uses real milk cheeses. Gluten-free? Iggy’s got you covered with gluten-free crusts. And it doesn’t stop with pizza – try Iggy’s hearty and delicious sandwiches, too! Available for pick-up from Cataldo, or delivery to your campus dorm or apartment.
  11. Zaggin Wagon: Rock your lunch with food truck fare, Gonzaga-style! Menu and location changes with the season. Always something tasty and new, check Zag Dining on Facebook for the latest location, menu and hours. Popular recent items include Kahlua pulled pork sandwich, BBQ chicken sandwich, and chicken Caesar salad. Yum!
  12. LoCro Market: Located in Lower Crosby, LoCro is Zag Dining’s Convenience Store. LoCro Market also serves Simply-To-Go sandwiches, salads and entrees as well as homemade soup in our Famous Shepherd’s Grain Sourdough Bread Bowls. LoCro also features specialty organic, healthy and gluten free items.

Marketplace at the BARCYou have the first week to make changes to your meal plan, which can be done at the Zag Dining Offices located in the white house across from Marketplace at the BARC.  Call the office at (509)313-6906 or stop by and say “hi” to the team.  They will be happy to help you make meal plan decisions, reload your Bulldog Bucks, or issue a temporary meal card if needed!

Need food for a party or special event?  Flavours Catering is now located in the house at 729 E Desmet Avenue.  Check out Flavours Shoestring Catering, a casual catering option designed just for students!

As you can see, there is a lot to check out!  Look for fun events and offers at all our campus restaurants throughout the year. Zag Dining really values student input, so let them know when you like something or want to see something different, and they will listen. Zag Dining recognizes dining together is an important part of building our community.  They are here to support you as you face a new season of challenges, and are excited to be a part of your Gonzaga experience!

Get the latest campus dining news and deals throughout the year by following Zag Dining on Facebook and Twitter. Visit Zag Dining for more info about dining and meal plans on the Gonzaga campus.


Academic Read #11: The Little Things (Like Marshmallows)

From our Statement of Affirmation: A Jesuit University will exemplify a “dedication to human dignity from a Catholic/Jesuit faith perspective.”

“Please don’t eat that Sophia.”

Across from me, a deer-eyed five year old was caught in the headlights of my gaze, frozen elbow deep in a bag of marshmallows intended for that days’ craft. Despite my desires, her hand plummeted into the bag, promptly retrieved jet puff, and deposited in with a grin. With a laugh, I followed her lead, and with a finger to my lips, told her not to tell the other kids.

The innocence of a child is something that should never be compromised. Here at Gonzaga, I was given the opportunity to help children maintain their childhood spirits through SMILE. Every Friday, along with my peers, I went to Browne Elementary School to participate in an after school program where kids were allowed to forget about their stresses at home and just be kids for an hour. Little did I know that the impact of my efforts would be two-fold.

For every ounce of energy I put into the children, I was returned a pound. Returning to campus every Friday night, I felt the bittersweet mixture of frustration from the stories of the children’s home lives and hope that the weekly hour of reprieve we offered them would result in the betterment of their lives.

After my first month of SMILE, my weekly service was no longer a chore, but a gift that I looked forward to every week. As your journey at Gonzaga begins, I hope you consider programs and experiences like SMILE; if not for the opportunity to serve, then for the occasional marshmallow.


Michael Orcutt is a sophomore biochemistry major from Casper, Wyoming. His favorite place on campus is the benches by Lake Arthur. Something most people don’t know about him is that he once met Kanye West in the Milan airport!

IGNITE Question: Eating marshmallows with Sophia was a defining moment in Michael’s Gonzaga Experience. What has been something that has shaped you in high school or in your previous school?