By Peter Tormey, Ph.D., Associate Director of Public Relations, Gonzaga University



Deena J. González, Ph.D., Gonzaga University’s provost and senior vice president, says a Jesuit, Catholic and humanistic education is “exactly what the world needs now,” as humanity slowly begins to recover from the devastating pandemic.

“To understand what St. Ignatius of Loyola meant when he asked that his fellow Jesuits be ‘warriors for social change,’ means that our students leave Gonzaga with a moral compass, steeped in ethical considerations intended to help them solve real-world problems,” said González. “In a post-Covid environment, it means that our students do not shy away from difficult questions because they have participated, while here, in ‘productive discomfort’ dialogue, and have been asked — through the Spiritual Exercises and in consideration of economic, racial, and social injustice — to view the world through the eyes of others.”

Gonzaga’s core curriculum aims to help students imagine a world where beauty and justice can reside simultaneously, she adds. “Covid has taught us that we can work through a crisis with resilience and emerge cognizant of our mission and values as an AJCU institution. We encourage students to think of the lasting value of their Gonzaga education, and to pass it on,” González said.

While educating students to address the world’s problems, Gonzaga is also committed to helping students reach their career goals, says Ray Angle, assistant vice president of Gonzaga’s Office of Career & Professional Development (CPD).

CPD has long provided programs, services, coaching and advising to guide graduating students. In light of the pandemic, Angle said, “We are particularly sensitive to the fact that securing a job or getting into a graduate program may take a little longer, so we have emphasized checking in with students, determining how they are managing in the pandemic, and encouraging them to stay motivated and focused.”

Last spring, CPD called all graduating students to check in with them and offer support, and is doing so again this spring. Gonzaga’s ZagsConnect mentoring platform has also offered alumni assistance to help students enhance their resumes. In November 2020, CPD and Alumni Engagement partnered again, to host a webinar on “Staying Positive and Moving Forward,” featuring tips on remaining positive in the job search from recent alumni who have successfully gotten jobs.

Here are some stories of success among recent Gonzaga graduates:

Rosemary Muriungi, Ph.D’20 (photo courtesy of Gonzaga University)    

Rosemary Muriungi, Ph.D’20 (photo courtesy of Gonzaga University)



Rosemary Muriungi, Ph.D., the eldest of five children who were raised in a one-bedroom home with their parents in rural Kenya, dreamed of earning a college education and returning to her country, to impart the transformative power of learning to others.

That day will finally happen.

After earning a Doctorate in Leadership Studies from Gonzaga in 2020, Muriungi now plans to launch an institution of higher learning in her native village of Musalala, near Nairobi, this year. The technical education and vocational training institute will serve high school students facing academic challenges, and offer leadership development programs for all learners.

She credits Gonzaga with affirming her passion to inspire leadership in young people, especially women. “Studying at Gonzaga broadened my horizons on how higher education can be delivered in a way that honors the student and develops the whole person,” Muriungi said.

Justis Simmons ’20 (photo courtesy of Gonzaga University)    

Justis Simmons ’20 (photo courtesy of Gonzaga University)



Justis Simmons (’20), who earned a Bachelor of Business Administration and a minor in the Hogan Entrepreneurial Leadership Program, is an associate at Slalom in Seattle. Simmons says that Gonzaga played a key role in his personal and professional development.

“Working for a business and technology consulting firm, I will encounter a high level of ambiguity, and I developed a portfolio of skills at Gonzaga — both technical and intangible — to tackle business problems of all shapes and sizes,” Simmons said.

He credits Gonzaga with teaching him the importance of “cultivating genuine relationships — an invaluable skill in business,” he said. “People skills are the most important skills for a student to develop, regardless of major. Learning how to lead, to follow, to listen, and to collaborate are the most critical skills for someone who is new to the workforce.”

Charles “C.J.” DeBiase ’20 (photo courtesy of Gonzaga University)    

Charles “C.J.” DeBiase ’20 (photo courtesy of Gonzaga University)



Charles “C.J.” DeBiase (’20), who earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Gonzaga, is in medical school at the A.T. Still University of Health Sciences in Kirksville, Missouri.

“Gonzaga has helped me grow in my faith, developing the skills I will need to be a doctor who seeks to serve all my patients with deep love and compassion,” DeBiase said.

“In a class I took with Rev. Quan Tran, S.J., I saw the value in caring for a patient’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs through his stories,” DeBiase explained. “My involvement in the Office of Mission and Ministry helped me realize the ways in which I can care for all of a person’s needs when I am put in a position of trust.”

DeBiase adds that his desire to serve others “grew immensely” at Gonzaga, where his purpose became clear. “As an aspiring physician, I believe that my purpose in life is to love and serve God through my interactions with others,” he said. “To do this, I believe I must approach each interaction with intentionality and attempt to emanate Jesus’ unconditional love.”

Pearl Griffiths ’20 (photo courtesy of Gonzaga University)    

Pearl Griffiths ’20 (photo courtesy of Gonzaga University)



Pearl Griffiths (’20), who earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology at Gonzaga, is a certified nursing assistant at Whitman Health & Rehabilitation Center, in Colfax, Washington, where she also shadows a physician to prepare for medical school applications. Gonzaga, she says, prepared her for medical school and instilled a need to help others.

“My current job, as well as future aspirations of becoming a doctor, are deeply centered in my passion for helping people and my fascination with the human body and how it works,” Griffiths said. She aspires to “better the lives of my future patients while also working toward a world that is just and fair toward everyone in the realm of medicine.”

Trevor Buckley (’10, ’20), with one of his children (photo courtesy of Gonzaga University)    

Trevor Buckley (’10, ’20), with one of his children (photo courtesy of Gonzaga University)



Trevor Buckley (’10, ’20) earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sports Management from Gonzaga and worked in athletic administration for eight years before returning to his alma mater to earn a Master’s in Initial Teaching. Buckley, who now teaches mathematics at Medical Lake High School in Spokane, says his transition to become an educator resulted from a calling to serve the community in a more impactful role.

“While high-level instruction is a key component to providing quality education, perhaps more critical is the embrace of the challenge of connecting with real kids, in real time, with real problems,” he explained. “This is where I now find my purpose, and I can engage in it confidently as a result of my experience in the MIT program that provided opportunities to learn from true professionals of this vocation daily.”