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The Aquilian

Advice to Gonzaga freshmen from a senior

Class of 2021 students participate in the Freshman Olympiad in August 2017. (Photo from Gonzaga Flickr)
By Patrick Donnelly–

The nearly 240 members class of 2021 are quickly approaching the end of their Gonzaga journey. Unfortunately for us, the amazing four years we’ve spent here have been overshadowed by the last 12 months. It is hard to remember the times when Gonzaga’s halls were packed with students. 

Those were the times that made us who we are today; those were the times that made us strong enough to face what we do now as students. We were lucky enough to have the fundamental parts of the Gonzaga experience as freshman, sophomores and upperclassmen (for some time). 

Class of 2021 students meet each other for the first time at the New Families Picnic in 2017. (Photo from Gonzaga Flickr)

Although I wouldn’t trade these experiences for the world, not all of it was perfect. As a freshman, you are still adjusting to your new way of life and sometimes mess up. I can proudly say that I made some of these mistakes in my day, so I felt like it was my responsibility to share what I’ve learned with the current freshmen. They haven’t experienced their first real days on Eye Street, so this will prepare them for whenever that day comes.

First, be yourself. This piece of advice may seem obvious, but it is essential to finding your place in the Gonzaga community. It’s easy to get caught up in what’s “cool” as a 13-14 year old, but being who you are will be much better for you in the long run. It will help you find your close friends, which will make your time here much more enjoyable. 

Second, get involved. Getting involved early is a great way to set yourself up for your future, and it also helps you find people with similar interests. Chances are there is a club for what you like on campus, so joining it and meeting new people quickly is perfect for freshmen. Taking up opportunities in campus ministry as frequently as possible will help you work more with them as you get older. Having your face shown there is really important. Plus, they are an awesome group of people who care about you.

Next, ask questions if you need help with anything. I fully understand this is much easier said than done, but speaking up when you need assistance is a great habit to form early. I know how scary life can be as a freshman sometimes, not knowing where to go or what to do at certain times. Asking teachers or other students is an easy way to get an answer. Although frightening, talking to as many people as possible will help you feel more comfortable in the new environment.

Of course, freshmen must try their best to avoid the classic freshman moves. There are quite a few of these, so I’ll knock out the “don’ts” of Gonzaga freshmen: DON’T use the orange trays at lunch. DON’T procrastinate learning the Alma Mater so you can participate in it after Mass. DON’T get addicted to Sage cookies (it’s a dangerous game). And finally, DON’T try to sit in the front row at football games. That is a quick and easy way to make an enemy or two. 

Class of 2021 students deepen their faith on Freshman Retreat in 2018. (Photo from Gonzaga Flickr)

Finally, my most important piece of advice to every single Gonzaga freshman is this: enjoy yourself. Everybody is going to tell you that the years will fly by, and you’ll ignore them. I know because I did. 

Here I am, three years later, wondering where my time on Eye Street went. Take advantage of every second. The late homework nights, the brotherly love in the hallway, the tough tests, the sports games. All of it will be what the Gonzaga experience really is, so make sure you don’t take it for granted. These years will be some of your best. Enjoy them as much as I did.

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    Pam ValeirasMar 19, 2021 at 9:42 am

    Nice article. Good advice! I know you’ll cherish your days on Eye Street!