Gonzaga University extends Jesuit-like community and experience into college

Year after year, one of the most popular destinations for seniors who graduate from Jesuit High School Sacramento is Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.

Gonzaga is a private, Roman Catholic University with an undergraduate enrollment of a little over 5,000 students. On top of being private and Catholic, Gonzaga is also a Jesuit institution, like Jesuit Sacramento.

One of the most intriguing aspects of being a student at Gonzaga is living in the city of Spokane. Michael Santarosa ’99, an attendee of Gonzaga University Law School from 2003-2006, enjoyed the weather and the fact that it doesn’t feel too far from home in Sacramento.

“[Spokane] is a beautiful town, [with] four seasons,” Michael said. “It’s just a great working class town. It’s fairly close to home in Sacramento. The best ticket in town is obviously the Gonzaga Bulldogs [basketball team].”

Josh Barnes ’10, who majored in English literature and minored in philosophy during his time at Gonzaga, found that Spokane feels similar to Sacramento and the area surrounding Jesuit because “it’s a big place but it feels kind of small.”

Josh also believes that being a Gonzaga student is comparable to being a Jesuit student.

“The biggest difference is there’s girls in class but in reality, it felt very similar,” Josh said. “Dorms were split up by gender or at least floors were, so I was on an all guys floor, so that felt very similar to Jesuit. I still went on retreats and things like that which kind of felt like Kairos or Junior Retreat, just updated with college issues as opposed to high school stuff. It felt like a seamless transition but it still felt like an upward momentum.”

Josh roomed at Gonzaga with one of his fellow Jesuit Marauder classmates, Ryan Case ’10, who majored in business marketing and sports management. Ryan enjoyed the smaller class sizes and feeling of community at Gonzaga and also feels that it is similar to Jesuit.

“Most of my classes were anywhere from 15 to 25 kids per class,” Ryan said. “You got to know your classmates really well. With it being a small school, whether you decided to be an engineer or business major or sciences you’re going to have classes with a lot of the same kids all four years that you’re here. So you have a really good opportunity to build a lot of relationships outside of just your friend group, and it reminded me a lot of Jesuit, how you know everyone in your class.”

As Ryan mentioned, Gonzaga is a place where you can build meaningful relationships, something Josh is very grateful for.

“The choice to go to Gonzaga was arguably one of the best choices I’ve ever made,” Josh said. “The guys who I roomed next to my freshman year ended up becoming my best friends and still are. They’re all going to be in my wedding.”

Generally speaking, Ryan sees Gonzaga as a great potential fit for any Jesuit graduate who would like a college experience similar to the Jesuit experience because of the level of academics and the school’s Jesuit values.

“I thought Jesuit prepared me really well for what to expect,” Ryan said. “There wasn’t a big change in terms of my course load at Jesuit and my course load in college. I think there’s a lot of similarities value wise from a school standpoint. I think it is a great option for Jesuit graduates. The one downside is the weather. Once you get past the weather and the cold, it’s awesome.”

With a tight-knit community of current students and alumni, an appealing and growing city to live in, and many similarities to the experience at Jesuit High School, it is no surprise that Gonzaga University has been a top choice for Jesuit graduates in recent years.