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The Aquilian

The Aquilian

What I learned from my time at Gonzaga

Cash Barentzen ‘24 running a XC race during the 2023 season. Photo from Cash Barentzen

My four years at Gonzaga have had a substantial impact on my life, and I have learned a lot from my time here. The most important lesson that Gonzaga has taught me is to go out of my comfort zone and challenge myself. I have also learned how to become a man for others at this school. These lessons have helped me develop into the person I am today by helping me make new connections and developing new interests. 

When my freshman year first started, every class was virtual and I could only come to school in person once every three days. I decided during this time that I had to start getting involved at Gonzaga. I heard that the cross country team had practices once a week, and despite never running before, I thought that it could be a good idea to try something new and maybe meet some of my classmates. When I joined the team, I hated running and didn’t know anyone on the team, but four years later, I would find myself being a captain of the XC team, running with some of my best friends. I didn’t realize it at the time, but had I not decided to go out of my comfort zone, I would not have had this experience and would not have some of the connections that I have today. 

When you first come to Gonzaga, everyone tells you about how at Gonzaga we are men for others. I knew what this phrase meant, but I didn’t know what being a man for others looked like. The summer before junior year, I decided to participate in the McKenna Center immersion trip, and this is where I truly learned what it means to be a man for others. By sleeping in the McKenna Center, eating all of my meals with the men in the McKenna Center and working at various other organizations, I learned that to be a man for others means doing more than just volunteering every now and then for service hours. It means getting involved in my community, using my voice to create change and making connections with those who I am helping. Before Gonzaga I thought being a man for others was just helping people every now and then, but after attending this school, I truly understand what it means to be a man for others. 

The last lesson that I learned from attending this school is to challenge myself. During junior year, I was picking my senior year classes. I was looking at the class list and one class, AP Biology, stood out to me. I knew that I had a little bit of interest in the subject, but I also knew the class was going to be very difficult. I decided to challenge myself and take the class, and despite it being a challenging class, I found it to be one of my favorite classes. Challenging myself by taking this course has also given me a new appreciation for the subject and a new interest in biology. 

Everyone learns a lot during their four years at this school academically, but Gonzaga also teaches everyone a lot about themselves. I have loved attending this school for the last four years, but without going out of my comfort zone and challenging myself, my four years would look very different.

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