By Evelyne Ello-Hart
(Class of 2014)
SPOKANE, Wash. — Before entering College Hall recently for a meeting, I stopped in front of the statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola, and prayed: “St Ignatius, please be with me, intercede for me. I can not stay here without you holding me and opening doors for me.”
My relationship with St Ignatius started at age 10, when I entered Lycée Sainte Marie, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) and studied there for eight years. The “Communauté Saint François Xavier” with Jesuit spirituality administered the all-girls’ school (1,200 students). Educating the whole person was the motto of the lay sisters. I implemented in the field what I had learned in the classrooms. I led the first protest for a more just school system and a democratic country – for three decades we had the same president in my home country.
Now, as a doctoral student at Gonzaga University I continue to value the education of the whole person. The best way for me as a graduate, nontraditional, and international student of color to be integrated into my new community, and find my place here, is by using my gifts of language and community-building.
I did not become discouraged when some doors remained closed after I knocked, as I know in my heart that St. Ignatius will continue to be with me as I take baby steps to contribute to the vitality of the Gonzaga Community. In fact, this past semester I presented on the post-electoral conflict and war in Côte d’Ivoire to give students here a different perspective and to have other Ivoirians tell their stories to Gonzaga students, faculty and staff via Skype.
Seeking the whole picture has been one element of learning as a whole person. The quiet presence and spirit of St. Ignatius has been with me from Abidjan to Spokane, via Rome where I took classes at the Gregorian University, had diner frequently with my Jesuit friends at Bellarmino, and worked at Vatican Radio with Father Federico Lombardi, S.J.
As I celebrate my first anniversary of being at Gonzaga, and continue to find my place in a new community, I feel embraced by Gonzaga’s Jesuit and Catholic ethos. Education of the whole person remains vitally important to me.
Evelyne Ello-Hart, who hails from Ivory Coast, worked as a journalist for the Vatican in Rome. She is a student in Gonzaga’s Doctoral Program in Leadership Studies and expects to graduate in 2014.