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The Aquilian

The Aquilian

Senior Tad Clifton exemplifies ‘the ideal Gonzaga man’


Returning home from the moisture laden heat inducing weather was an incredibly relieving feeling despite the people he had left behind. After a week of close community and countless new experiences, he was sad to leave. The brief trip to Apopka, Florida was over, and even though it was only a week, current senior Tad Clifton had learned a lot about the people he met, a new way to live his life and, most importantly, a new found satisfaction. 

Clifton returned to school from a fruitful spring break and the Gonzaga community after his week with a local Apopka family. On his trip, Clifton dug a pit. Literally. He dug multiple pits and had a ton of fun doing it.

Senior Tad Clifton went on a service trip to Apopka, Fla. last spring break.

Clifton and his fellow classmates created new plots for gardening as well as planting both greenery and a sense of relief in the Apopka natives. As a member of the immersion trip, Clifton actively helped the family he stayed with by being a babysitter and helping them as needed. 

From his trip, Clifton learned an incredibly valuable lesson about progressing through life.

“The best way for someone to learn is through experience, and there is no better experience than serving through service,” Clifton said.

Walking through the airport, reflecting on his trip and all the service he had done previously, led Clifton to decide to incorporate even more service in his life. Clifton currently spends many days in the Fr. McKenna Center and leading retreats in an effort to give back to his community and foster the sense of companionship and common good around his daily life. 

The people around him like his mother and father also include Clifton’s devotion and attention to service as a part of his life and an influential role, as well. 

“He thrives in social situations, pushing past any obstacles like his long commute and other factors in order to actively pursue what matters to him,” said Mrs. Robyn Zygorski Clifton, Tad’s mother. 

Clifton incorporates the student body into service and community building through the two service days and serving as both a christian and community leader. 

“Through service, we are able to put a face to the statistics you see on TV, and social justice issues become more real,” Clifton said.

The point of service is not to check a box, but to learn about, embrace and comfort other people. Gonzaga is a Jesuit school, so students here  put more effort into creating love in action as men for and with others. 

Clifton plans on continuing his education in the Jesuit manner at Boston College and continue living a life for and with others. 

“We talk a lot about in campus ministry what the ideal Gonzaga man is and [Tad] is. [He] always has enthusiasm for campus ministry and he always does a fantastic job making everyone feel included and everyone is part of the Gonzaga community,” said Dr. Colleen Karchunas, assistant director of campus ministry. 

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