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?

6 Responses to “Academic Read #11: The Little Things (Like Marshmallows)”

  • A defining moment in high school for me was joining my school’s “Interact Club”, a branch of Rotary. It is a community service club that I later became the secretary of for two years. I learned a lot about time management, teamwork and just volunteering in general. We helped with a ton of community events as well as helping around our school. It made me realize how much I like to help others, some in big ways, some in little ways. I loved making a difference.

    • Hey Ari,
      Interact is a really incredible program; I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it. When you get to campus, I encourage you to check out the Center for Community Action and Service Learning (CCASL). Volunteering through CCASL programs made me realize that not only do I like helping others, but that I love experiences that challenge and question what I stand for. CCASL programs have completely shaped my Gonzaga experience, as cliche as that sounds.

      See you soon,
      Megan Soldati
      Academics & Special Populations Manager

  • A defining moment/experience for me was becoming a leader in my school’s unique outdoor science and exploration class. I went through the class as a junior and as a senior decided I wanted to apply for the responsibility of leading the same activities I went on. It was an amazing decision, as I was able to learn skills like how to guide a raft, navigation with a compass, and how to lead people through activities that might scare them. The experience increased my confidence as a leader and showed me how help others become more confident in the outdoors as well. I can’t wait to explore the options for outdoor leadership at Gonzaga!

    • meghan montelibano

      Hey Claire! When you get to campus, you should definitely check out GU Outdoors. They lead tons of cool trips throughout the year, including day trips, weekend trips, and can get you awesome student discounts for rentals. There’s also an outdoor leadership class a lot of upperclassmen take.

      See you soon!
      Meghan Montelibano
      PR Manager

  • I volunteered a lot in high school and I am looking forward to continuing at GU. One of the best parts about volunteering is realizing that you are making a difference in others’ lives. That is the best reward I could ask for: to know that I made someone’s day better/safer/etc.

    • Hey Katrina! When you get to campus, make sure you stop by the Center for Community Action and Service Learning (CCASL). Orientation is actually partnering with one of their programs for a day of service the weekend after Orientation. Check it out here:

      Megan Soldati
      Academics & Special Populations Manager

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