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The Aquilian

Learning to be a leader

Ajani+Bond+%28third+from+the+right%29+poses+with+some+new+classmates+at+the+freshman+picnic+in+2019.%0APhoto+from+Gonzaga+Flickr
Ajani Bond (third from the right) poses with some new classmates at the freshman picnic in 2019. Photo from Gonzaga Flickr

Leadership is a required skill for anyone trying to be successful in their field. From a farmer to an astronaut 200,000 miles from the Earth, leaders are required to help improve the world we live in.  The young men who are dropped off on 19 Eye Street as scrawny and braced-faced eighth graders are morphed into young men who are open to growth; intellectually competent; religious; loving, and committed to doing justice by the time of their graduation. BUT HOW are these Gonzaga students changed into men? Is it the caring environment, being called to serve their community or the many extracurriculars that challenge them mentally and physically? 

While talking to the seniors around campus, I learned it is a multitude of experiences a Gonzaga man will have.

Richard Scott, a star senior football player who will be attending Lock Haven on a scholarship in the fall, claims that Gonzaga taught him how to think for himself. 

“Gonzaga taught me how to think. When I got to Gonzaga in the fall of 2019, my mind was restricted, but throughout my time here, I have learned how to think for myself. I have learned to break ideas down and build them back up my own way—a skill I’ll need forever,” Scott said.

Sports are also an opportunity for young men to transform themselves into leaders. In sports, young men are pushed to lead others to collectively reach the goal of a championship.  Underclassmen learn from the people in front of them how a leader carries themselves and how they keep their teammates accountable. Thomas Batties, a star basketball player who will be attending Harvard this fall, says he saw the people in front of him lead and how he used those qualities to lead others. 

“Between the clubs, I participated in and basketball, I have always had a lot of people around me and in front of me that demonstrated the qualities and elements of a leader, so it was easy to adopt those same abilities in order to become a leader myself over the years. I think that’s a testament to the culture that Gonzaga has built,” Batties said. 

When I arrived in 2019, I believed that I wouldn’t have to lead. I believed because I was a freshman I could keep my head down and the upperclassmen would hold everyone accountable. But I was mistaken. My coaches in football and wrestling pushed me to speak out and lead others. If my teammates and I did not hold others accountable, we would be met with grueling drills. Even outside of sports, figures like Mr. Robert Churchwell, dean of students, always push me to lead by example and show the freshmen and sophomores what a real Gonzaga man is. 

Now, as I am leaving Gonzaga, I hope that my Gonzaga brothers and I pushed the people who came after us to become better leaders.  White talking to some of the juniors around campus, I’ve noticed they are excited about becoming the leaders on campus, but they are aware of the responsibility it entails. 

 Junior Tomas Ergueta feels “excited for the new responsibilities to come and also anticipating the big challenges and all the work that comes with being an upperclassman.”  

Hopefully, my Class of 2023 brothers and I left a lasting positive impact on the Gonzaga community. The teachings I absorbed at Gonzaga will help me in the future endeavors that I am called to. I truly believe that I became a natural leader while studying at Gonzaga.

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