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The Aquilian

From San Salvador to Gonzaga: Mr. Ruano’s Journey to Eye Street

Mr. Jonathon Ruano stated his career at Gonzaga in campus ministry where he was involved in many Kairos retreats, as pictured here. He later switched over to working in student services, and still helps out with various retreats. Photo by Mrs. Teresa Jackson

When he was just eight years old, Mr. Jonathan Ruano, assistant dean of students, packed his bags and made the journey to the United States. Coming from San Salvador, he arrived in Northwest Washington, DC, not knowing a single word of English. At the time, he felt nothing but resentment towards moving away from his friends and family and coming to a country he knew nothing about. Leaving his father behind in San Salvador made all of it that much more difficult.

“Coming here meant leaving my dad behind. So that was pretty tough at that point because he was such a big influence in my life. I hated the idea,” Mr. Ruano said when asked about his initial thoughts on moving to the United States.

Although it was extremely difficult, he took everything in stride and was quick to learn how to communicate with those around him. He claims he was able to fully communicate and speak English within six months of his arrival in DC. He continued to perfect the language and adapt to his surroundings as he grew more comfortable living in this new place. 

Starting in fifth grade, Mr. Ruano switched over from public school to Catholic education. He says that is where his faith really began to take form and when he began to learn more about the Catholic faith. Faith has long been a driving force in his life and has kept him grounded especially when he was at his lowest. He was raised Catholic and long pondered the question, “What is God’s plan for my life?” This steered him towards the priesthood.

“There was always this little edge about whether or not the priesthood was for me, so I ended up going to the seminary in Cleveland, Ohio. I spent two and a half years in the seminary, studying to be a priest,” Mr. Ruano said. 

Faith has long played an integral role in Mr. Ruano’s life and where his life has led him. He continued his faith journey by learning more about the Jesuit order, and after deciding the priesthood was not for him, he decided to take a job at Gonzaga in campus ministry in 2016 to help young men serve others and grow in their faith together. While working in campus ministry, Mr. Ruano helped students with finding service opportunities and managed the requirements. He also played a vital role in organizing all of the retreats that are at the heart of Gonzaga. At the start of the 2020-21 school year, he moved to  student services where he helps students navigate Gonzaga and acts as a role model for all students.

One of the projects Mr. Ruano is most proud of is his work with the Latin American Student Organization. When he first arrived on Eye Street, the club existed but was not very active. Now, he has transformed the club, and it is now one of the largest and most active organizations on campus. When he looks toward the future, this club is one of the things he is most excited about and hopes to continue his efforts of expanding LASO.

“In the community, I felt that the Hispanic community did not have as much support as it could. So I took that on as a personal mission to help support some of those kids, and the club is pretty healthy now,” Mr. Ruano said about his involvement in LASO.

Mr. Ruano does not know what his future holds, but he hopes that Gonzaga is a large part of it. He is proud of what he does at Gonzaga and enjoys every day he spends on Eye Street. He is currently finishing his master’s degree of education in leadership and policy at Boston College while working at Gonzaga and is excited to see where that takes him.


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