An Open Letter to Gonzaga University

We all find a place where we belong. I think I found mine. Thank you Gonzaga!

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It’s been a few weeks since I wrote this and sent it to Gonzaga. But I want others to read it. Take it in. Maybe go for a campus tour. I promise you’ll feel the same way I do. It’s a wonderful place filled with amazing people.

An Open Letter to Gonzaga University:

Hello everyone!

I wanted to thank you all. You don’t know it, but all of you have touched my heart. You are all so welcoming and kind. I’ve never felt this anywhere else. I am not a student at your university, but anytime I’ve been on campus I’ve been welcomed in many ways. Sometimes it’s something as simple as holding open the door for me or something even more precious to me like smiling as I walked past. Most days I’m going across campus to seek my best friend because I know that being near her will make me feel a little better which is something that I’ve realized I crave. I crave the feeling of belonging somewhere. Being accepted for who I am. Your campus is one of the places that I feel that.

Acceptance isn’t always something that you can easily find. Sometimes it’s in the places that you fear that you’ll find it. I have audition anxiety. I always have. It’s about the fear of not knowing if you’ll be accepted for a role. My friend invited me to audition for the Student Choreography Concert. Originally it was so that I could be in her piece. The strangest thing happened though. I had a panic attack in the middle of my audition and instead of being cut because it was obvious that I couldn’t handle it, I was still accepted. The mentality wasn’t that “Oh she has anxiety and will fail,” it was “I think with enough practice, she can do it.” I ended up not having the right availability to be in hers but that was okay. I was accepted into another piece that was more of a familiar style. I was one of two people at that audition that don’t currently attend GU. But the other might have been an alumni. No one looked at me differently because I wasn’t a student. Honestly, some of them were shocked. They thought I fit right in. Between the students that let me join in their project and the instructors who helped make it happen, I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity. Dancing with all of them has been so much fun.

Speaking of dancing, how about the National Championship game? The energy at the McCarthey Athletic Center was insane! Everyone was on their feet cheering and dancing. It was amazing to see and be a part of. I ended up in the front row with some of the seniors. The other students around me just accepted me as being part of the Kennel. I couldn’t have been more excited and amazed at the inclusiveness. In the last few seconds of the game, we were huddling in the front row. I didn’t get left out because I wasn’t a student. They brought me in with them as we collectively held our breaths. I truly felt what it meant to be part of the Kennel. Then as we started the chant after the game, my heart exploded for a love of the campus culture. We may have lost that game, but in the hearts and minds of those surrounding me, I knew we had won. We won a widespread campus unity that included everyone in that building. I saw what it meant to be a Zag.

Originally my intent was to move away from Spokane and go to NYU or back down to California, but something in my heart is telling me that I need to rethink my plans. I don’t know if it’s a divine intervention telling me to get back to my roots, but I think I know that I want to be a Gonzaga Alumni now. I can’t wait to apply and become a part of this culture that’s both challenging and amazing to be a part of. I’m excited for the day that I can meet up with my sister-in-law and talk about our favorite professors on campus!

Until I meet you on campus, thank you.

Samantha Steyart

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