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In a matter of days, Hope Keaney will walk across the commencement stage, leaving behind her college life. Friends, roommates, campus activities — the Gonzaga senior will miss them all.

“It is bittersweet,” said Keaney, a history major. “However, I do feel ready to take on a new challenge and begin my next project as a graduate. I’m very excited to start my career.”

Yes, even amid a tough economy and a hyper-competitive job market, Keaney has already lined up a job. Following May’s graduation, she will move to Vancouver, Wash., and work as a client services specialist for Fisher Investments.

Keaney is not alone, either. Fellow senior, Tyler Knop, also has secured work. Coincidentally, he will be working just across the Columbia River, in Portland, Ore., as an account executive at Zones, Inc.

“The thing I will miss most about Gonzaga is the people,” said Knop, who will graduate with degrees in mathematics and economics. “The friends I have been lucky enough to make and the relationships I have built have brought so much happiness over the past four years and given me so many good memories that I can always look back on.

Besides being members of the class of 2013 and the proximity of their new jobs, Keaney and Knop also have something else in common. They are both student callers for the Gonzaga Telefund. A vital cog in Gonzaga’s annual development efforts, Telefund is a dedicated team of nearly 40 students who spend their evenings and weekends calling alumni, parents and friends of the University to ask for financial support.

“Telefund appealed to me so much because it allowed me to be an ambassador for the school and share my devout love and passion for Gonzaga,” Knop said. “On top of this, it allowed me to make an actual difference in the lives of current and future students by raising money for student scholarships and University improvements.”

Added Keaney: “Telefund has taught me so much. I have come to understand the importance of entering every conversation with as much information as possible. Preparation and research are our most important tools.”

Keaney came to Gonzaga from San Anselmo, Calif., a small town located about 20 miles north of San Francisco. Both of her sisters attended Jesuit universities and she recognized the benefits of such an education.

“Gonzaga’s emphasis on serving others has inspired me to find as many ways as I can to help others,” she said, “both those around me and those worlds away.”

Keaney also valued Gonzaga’s emphasis on a liberal arts education. She said the writing, research and analytical skills she has developed over the last four years gave her a competitive edge when applying for jobs.

For Knop, who hails from Reno, Nev., Gonzaga helped him discover and develop all of his best abilities. Most importantly, he learned the importance of chasing his passions.

“I have met so many wonderful people at this school,” he said, “who either do what they love every day or are on track to live out their greatest passions each day.”

It is a lesson Knop and Keaney will take with them as they begin their careers, and their post-Gonzaga lives.

“It is certainly bittersweet,” Knop said. “I am excited for classes to be done and proud of all that I was able to experience and accomplish over my four years … however, my Gonzaga experience has been such a defining part of my life. When an experience like that shapes you so dramatically, there will certainly be sadness upon departing.”

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