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Tuesday, September 24, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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‘A good sadness’: 1st-year Gonzaga students move in

UPDATED: Fri., Aug. 23, 2019, 6:53 p.m.

Josh Winchester, 18, of Sammamish, Wash., gets a helping hand from his brother Sam, 10, and sister, Emma, 8, as he moves his belonging into Catherine-Monica Hall on the Gonzaga University campus. Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, was move-in day for the incoming freshman. Winchester's mother, Jila Javdani, is in the background. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Josh Winchester, 18, of Sammamish, Wash., gets a helping hand from his brother Sam, 10, and sister, Emma, 8, as he moves his belonging into Catherine-Monica Hall on the Gonzaga University campus. Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, was move-in day for the incoming freshman. Winchester's mother, Jila Javdani, is in the background. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Leon Garcia-Martinez had many feelings attending Gonzaga University’s move-in day Friday with his son, Leon Garcia-Camargo. For the past year, Garcia-Camargo stayed at home with his father, who was sick.

“He was actually very strong for me during the time I was at the hospital and recovering at home,” Garcia-Martinez said. “We got to share a lot of beautiful things. It’s time to start his new life, so it’s very exciting (and) at the same time, very moving.”

While first-year students and student volunteers ferried fridges, plastic bins of clothing and dorm decorations into Catherine-Monica Residence Hall – many pausing to pet Winni, residence director Carly Halverson’s three-month-old golden retriever – Garcia-Camargo put his arm around his father’s shoulder.

Garcia-Camargo had visited Gonzaga exactly two years ago – he had toured the campus during a freshman orientation – and was drawn to the school because of its strong academics, a great scholarship package and, most important, the people.

“All the people I know here are just super joyous and super into the school, so it will be great,” said Garcia-Camargo, who is from Woodinville.

Gonzaga welcomed 1,257 first-year students on Friday. The class of 2023 is the strongest academically in Gonzaga’s history, with an average 3.82 grade-point average, average ACT score of 28 and average SAT score of 1,280.

Even with the influx of students, the move-in was a well-oiled machine. One of the masterminds was Sydney Lowe, a first-year and small-group leader who was one of four leaders who stayed at Gonzaga all summer planning orientation weekend.

“It’s kind of crazy,” Lowe said. “I’m going to be a senior this year, and knowing that I was in their shoes just three years ago now. This is, like, the best time on campus, because campus just feels so full of life with everyone pitching in to help, and all of our new Zags coming in with all of their full energy.”

Monica Friedman, mother of first-year student Jane Friedman, remarked on the efficiency of the move-in, especially compared to her own orientation at University of California, Berkeley.

“It took us about 30 seconds to check in. I thought it would take us an hour,” Monica said. “Just checking in for Berkeley, it was ridiculously long lines, and now it’s all digital. I was anticipating total chaos like normal, like big schools, but this is not as big a school, which is one of the reasons she’s going to love it here.”

Monica is certain Gonzaga is the right place for her daughter, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t warrant a few tears.

“This is a good sadness, this is just what moms do,” Monica said. “She was expecting it.”

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