‘Don’t settle’: Gonzaga students celebrate graduation, starting new chapter

SPOKANE, Wash. — Local students celebrated graduating college through a pandemic and are ready to tackle their futures without fear.

Gonzaga University anticipated that 1,235 undergraduates and 786 graduate or doctoral students would receive degrees this weekend. The undergrads walked across the stage on Sunday at the Spokane Arena.

“It’s just been super great being able to do this today,” said Casi Roque. She’s one of the grads who studied Communications and Psychology. She also graduated early.

Celebrating the momentous event in person surrounded by friends is an experience the students aren’t taking for granted.

“It definitely changes the energy in the room a lot, so I’m really appreciative of it being in person,” Roque said.

The energy filled the arena and spilled outside with cheers, celebratory hugs and some larger-than-life faces held up by families who couldn’t be more proud of their grads.

Earning their degrees wasn’t always easy. The pandemic complicated things, but it also helped shape their careers.

“It’s the reason why when I was looking for a job, I was only looking at in-person jobs,” said Charlotte Romero. She also graduated this weekend from Gonzaga and majored in Public Relations. “I didn’t want anything online or remote. I found that I didn’t like that. It was kind of isolating, not a lot of fun.”

Sunday’s festivities were all about fun for the students and their families who watched loved ones achieve a dream and step into their careers with newfound wisdom to guide them.

“Don’t settle. If you have a dream, go for it,” Romero said.

“Trust where you’re at, and trust where you’re going,” Roque added.

Both of these grads will be staying in the Inland Northwest. Romero secured work doing social media marketing in Coeur D’Alene. Roque will continue at Gonzaga earning her Master’s in Organizational Leadership.

To honor the Class of 2020, Gonzaga’s president also invited all graduates and guests to return to campus this weekend to celebrate their accomplishments.

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