Mission Is Possible No Matter the Major

By Sasha Ducey

I have heard the argument that the Jesuit mission of “educating the whole person – mind, body, and spirit” is not emphasized in the more technically focused majors such as accounting, biology, and engineering. It is true that there has been a shift in the core curriculum from a discipline emphasis to learning outcomes, meaning that this argument is not unmerited, but I beg to differ. The mission is still just as prevalent in the coursework of technical majors; it is just experienced in a different way.

I can write about both experiences, having majored in political science and peace and justice as an undergraduate at Villanova University and then returning to graduate school at Gonzaga University for a master of science in taxation degree. It is much easier to link the Jesuit mission of developing the whole person to my undergraduate courses of “International Relations,” “Political Violence,” and “Discrimination, Justice, and Law,” than to a “Tax Periods and Methods” course in the master’s program. I remember intense philosophical and political discussions at Villanova about significant court cases and moments in history; all helped me define myself as a citizen and contributing member of society. Moving to coursework focused on debits and credits, tax reform, and auditing does not necessarily lend an obvious link to the same development, but learning technical skills and demonstrating integrity still helps promote my growth in all dimensions, further portraying the Jesuit mission.

Not only are my classes in Gonzaga University’s School of Business Administration challenging and helping to develop my mind and skills to be a successful tax account; they also place an emphasis on integrity and leadership. Our business coursework includes business law and seminars in ethics that help students develop an idea of what is right and just, not simply legal, in the workplace and see examples of leadership at both ends of the spectrum. Even in my financial accounting and tax courses, we discuss current events and changes in leadership and policy, helping us become more aware of the cultural changes and influences of leading a business.

The culture of Gonzaga’s business school for both professors and students is that of giving back and providing support. Professors are always available for help even beyond the technical skills to include conversations on career and on-campus involvement advice. For students, there are numerous opportunities for peer tutoring, leadership, and community service. Just last spring, 70 Gonzaga accounting students dedicated time to preparing tax returns through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. This opportunity as well as many others allow for the growth of our whole person both culturally and spiritually.

Our success in the classroom and after graduation is due to the shared principles of the Jesuit mission that guide the School of Business and the entire institution. So even though you may hear us talking about leases and interest payments, the Jesuit mission has influenced us and empowered us to take that spirit to the post-graduate world as business leaders in society.

Sasha Ducey is a master of taxation student in the Graduate School of Business at Gonzaga University.

The cover photo of the Jepson Center for the School of Business Administration is featured courtesy of Gonzaga University.