Natalie Brown, ‘17, is a freshman at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. She is majoring in business and minoring in psychology.
Q: Why did you decide to attend Gonzaga?
A: Gonzaga was always one of my top choices because I knew a lot of people who went there and said they loved it. Then when I visited (the) campus, I knew that this is where I wanted to be. I just had this feeling that this was the place I would have the most support from my peers, teachers, advisers and the overall community, which was really important to me.
Q: How was the transition from high school to college?
A: The transition was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Socially, everything was really easy, and I never felt like I didn’t have any friends, but it did take time to make those friendships into deeper relationships.
Academically, it wasn’t as easy. I didn’t get to pick my class schedule first semester, so I was put into some difficult classes and I struggled a lot. Luckily, I was able to get support from my friends, my academic adviser and the tutoring center.
Q: Why were you not able to pick your first-semester schedule?
A: Freshmen don’t get to pick their first-semester schedules. I don’t know why but that’s just how it is. They get put into random classes based on a survey and their major.
Q: Do you like the small-school environment?
A: I like it a lot. I honestly can’t imagine going to a bigger school – or any other school for that matter. It is so nice to be able to walk across campus and at least see one familiar face. Also, everyone here is really nice, because even if you’re not best friends with someone but you know them, you always say hi.
I think Gonzaga is kind of like a big public high school – you don’t know everyone, but you know of people, and you also have your tight-knit group of friends. I like the size of my school because it gives me an opportunity to choose the people I want to connect with, and since it isn’t really big, it makes it easy for me to find people who have the same goals and interests.
Q: What classes are you taking?
A: I am currently taking 3-D Art and Design, a first-year seminar about loneliness and community, Psychology 101, Business Computing, and Journalistic Writing.
Q: What did your course on loneliness and community cover?
A: It’s a philosophy-based class, so we discuss loneliness and how it affects people. We (also) talk about the different types of communities there are and what makes up a community.
Q: How did you choose your major?
A: At first, I wanted to double major in both business and psychology, but that would take five years instead of four.
And even though I am a business major, my goal right now is to try to attend graduate school after college to become a psychologist. Basically, I’m really only majoring in business because I think it is more versatile than a psychology major, and I don’t know yet if I will have enough money to go to graduate school.
Q: Do you have any roommates?
A: I have one roommate, and she is the best. She is one of my closest friends here, and she is always there for me no matter what. I couldn’t imagine living with anyone else. I honestly don’t think I would have made it through my first year of college without her. She understands me really well, and she is super social and extremely smart. She has helped me make so many of the friends I have now and helped me with a lot of schoolwork.
Also, we’ve both seen each other at our most difficult moments and gotten through them together. We may not spend all our time together, and (we) hang out with different people sometimes, but I think that makes our connection even better because we don’t have to be around each other all the time for our friendship to stay strong. I will really miss her over (the) summer.
Q: How is Gonzaga different from other universities?
A: If you meet anyone who attended, graduated from, or has visited Gonzaga, you will most likely hear them say that Gonzaga has a unique community. The community here is a huge part of Gonzaga, and it is really something you don’t feel on other college campuses. Students here really are engaged with each other and the school. There are constantly activities and events going on campus that are extremely fun and that most students attend.
Also, just walking around campus, you can feel that sense of community because people are always doing things together. It’s not like other universities or colleges where students are doing their own thing and not engaging with the people around them.
I think a big example of this is this phrase everyone uses. It’s called Zags Help Zags, and it’s true. I have heard that shouted constantly about the simple things. Like recently, my friends and I were walking and someone was struggling to parallel park, so we stopped and helped them and afterwards we just yelled “Zags Help Zags.” It seems dumb, but it’s true. Gonzaga students are always helping each other and don’t just turn the other way.
Also, Gonzaga’s basketball program is huge compared to the size of the school. Everyone goes crazy on game days, and it’s an experience like no other. Students go through unbelievable efforts to get tickets to the games – like for the big games we actually have to tent outside. It is so fun.
Q: How is it different from SCDS?
A: There are just so many more options of what you want to engage in like activities and clubs and even people.
Q: How did Country Day prepare you for college?
A: Country Day prepared me for the aspect of taking time for myself in college. I spent a lot of time at Country Day doing my own thing, and now that I’m in college, I am much more involved with the people and what is going on around me. But I’ve found that being able to be okay with not having to be constantly doing something with people and taking time to focus on myself has benefited me a lot in college. It allows me to take a break, recover and reflect on all the activities and people I have been engaging with.
Q: Are you participating in any extracurriculars?
A: I’ve played intramural soccer for three seasons now, both coed and girls.
I also am a sportswriter for the school newspaper here. I covered the men’s soccer season, multiple basketball games and wrote profile stories about different athletes. I love this job and plan to do it next year. It takes up a lot of my time, but I love sports and being able to interview and hear the stories of the athletes is really something I enjoy
I also am part of a CLC, which stands for Christian Learning Community. Although it is religion-based, it is basically a group of eight girls, and we meet once a week and talk about what we are going through and how we can live our lives in the best way possible.
Q: Have you made any freshman mistakes?
A: Yeah. Everyone makes freshman mistakes. When I was signing up for classes for second semester, I accidentally signed up for two classes in Florence, Italy, and my schedule was completely messed up! I was almost in tears because I couldn’t get into the classes I needed, but luckily my academic advisor responded in seconds to all my frantic emails and was able to fix it for me.
And one time I made the big mistake of going out in my Stan Smiths when it was extremely icy outside. So, basically, I had almost made it back to my dorm without falling by clinging on to my friend when I slipped and fell right on my phone, which completely shattered.
Also, a couple times I have pulled instead of pushed on the doors in the student center, and that’s always embarrassing. But it happens to everyone. It’s kind of like a joke around here.
Q: Any advice for the class of 2018 regarding college?
I’d just say everyone is going to be super nice and social in the first weeks of college, but that fades. When that happens, it really helps to have those friends who really know you. So you don’t have to try so hard to be friends with everyone in the first weeks. Just make an effort to put your real self out there, and you’ll most likely be able to find the people who will stay your friend even after all the excitement of college fades.
Q: Why did you give the food (see below) only one star?
A: I don’t like the food at the cafeteria (we call it the Cog) because it’s always the same rotation of food, and it can get really crowded at certain times. I (also) hate being around so many people trying to get food.