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The Aquilian

The Aquilian

Advice for students from a departing senior

Luke Essig was a Kairos leader during his senior year; this was one his favorite Gonzaga memories.

My time on Eye Street started completely different from yours. I was the COVID year, which meant that everything was shut down and making friends seemed impossible. For me, making friends felt like something I would simply never do. Given the circumstances, that’s understandable. Once my sophomore year came, I started to try and branch out more. I found that the methods I will talk about will work for almost anybody. I am an extremely awkward person, I struggle with social anxiety, and even I was able to make friends because of these simple things that you can do around campus.

The transition from freshman to sophomore year can be huge at Gonzaga. This is the first time that they offer summer immersion trips. My sophomore summer, I went to Emmitsburg, Md. to help do yard work for people in need. The experience itself was great because it was my first taste of helping people in need, but what was even more of an accomplishment was that I had stepped outside of my comfort zone and done something I never thought I would do. I went on a trip with a bunch of kids I barely knew and came out of it with friends I still hold close to me today.

On that same note, your summer between junior and senior years will also be the best one. This is when the real summer immersion trips open up. All over the world, Gonzaga sends students to help people in need. Last summer, I went to Camden, N.J. for my immersion trip. This was one of my favorite memories at Gonzaga and in my life. We disconnected from our phones and the world around us so that we could do all sorts of service. The friends who I went on that trip with still talk about all of the moments we shared on that trip. As I write this in April, one of my friends mentioned something we did in Camden, 10 months prior, today. 

The second best thing that you can do to branch out in your upperclassmen years is to take electives with small classes. This year, I am taking Journalism Writing, Lakota History, Political Science and Social Justice in Action. All of these are electives which means the classes are smaller than normal. Take classes like this. When a class is small, your bond with your classmates will grow so much stronger. 

Being on the retreat team is another fantastic thing you could do on campus. The option starts sophomore year and if you stick with it, you could be awarded with the highest honor: leading Kairos. This year, I led the sophomore retreat and a Kairos and these two events were some of my favorites during my time at Gonzaga. Joining the retreat team was one of the best decisions I made. The bonds that you make when being on a team for these is unbreakable. Similarly, the bonds you’ll make on freshman and sophomore retreat and Kairos are also unbreakable in their own way. 

Being open to new experiences should be the message of Gonzaga. All this school is is endless opportunities for those who decide to take them. If you don’t, you could still enjoy your time here, but it won’t truly be fulfilled. You are called as a Gonzaga man to participate. Try your best to meet new people, try new things, and be a new version of yourself. Someone who, when you graduate, your freshman year self wouldn’t be able to recognize. 

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    Carol H CorganMay 10, 2024 at 9:54 am

    Great advice, Luke!