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Student Testimonials

Many M.A. in Communication and Leadership Studies (COML) students are passionate about sharing their personal stories about the impact the COML Program has had on their lives—read their stories here! We hope you find them relatable, inspiring, and helpful.

"I knew the COML program was a blessing then, but now I am seeing the truly lasting impact." - Heather Gray

Heather Gray, Alumna, Ohio

heathergraWhen I initially enrolled in the M.A. in Communication & Leadership Studies program, I had no true idea what my actual intentions for the degree were. However, my life has been unfolding for at least a decade like a road map; leading me to where I am today, so I knew at some point the light bulb would turn on and I would figure it out.

This past May, exactly 3 years after the receipt of my degree, that light bulb turned on. And it was bright. This year, I found myself back in a leadership role within my franchise businesses.

Currently, I have 3 upper management and 9 clinic managers who report directly to me and then they have around 160 employees who report to them. Without my degree from Gonzaga, I would not be nearly as prepared as I feel I am to handle the daily challenges that come with working with so many different personality and client issues.

Throughout the program, instead of just focusing upon how to lead, we were instructed on servant-leadership. There is a quite a difference I am learning. Since learning about servant leadership and reading up on the topic further, I have decided to incorporate servant leadership into my leadership style toward those I directly impact and in turn am seeing the same leadership mentoring occurring with those that my mangers have a direct impact upon. Yes. I am using the communication aspect of my degree as well. Also a very important tool as I go through the daily ups and downs. However, the servant leadership aspect of the degree has had the most immediate impact and quite possibly the longest lasting effects.

I just wanted to extend my gratitude to Gonzaga, the professors and the overall program curriculum. I wanted an intense, yet “functional” degree and that is exactly what I received. The Communication and Leadership Studies degree and Gonzaga are a true blessing and I want everyone who has a direct impact in this program to know how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to be touched by this program and those involved in it.  I knew it was a blessing then, but now I am seeing the truly lasting impact.

"My COML degree has made a profound impact on my life." - Sarah Arnold

saraharnoldphotoSarah Arnold, Alumna, Indiana

My COML degree has made a profound impact on my life. If I wouldn’t have gone back to get my MA, I would never have been able to realize my love and passion for Higher Education. I now am an adjunct faculty at Indiana Wesleyan University teaching Communication courses online. Also, the program gave me the confidence and knowledge to start my own company, SociallySeasoned, a marketing firm focusing on social media management catering to local small to medium sized businesses. The information I learned about CMC and strategic marketing planning helps me every day in my roles.


I totally recommend this program to anyone that wants to further their education in the Communication & Leadership fields. You can’t find a program like this that integrates both subject matters, which I feel go hand-in-hand. Being able to complete the degree almost completely online was perfect for my lifestyle and schedule, but just when you think it can’t get better, you go to Spokane for your practicum and are blown out of the water by GU’s hospitality, history, and just pure awesomeness!

"I am already putting what I am learning into practice." - Katlen Tillman

Katlen Tillman, Seattle, WA

I’m in my first year of the Communication and Leadership Studies Graduate program, and I’m so excited to see where this will go for me! I am already putting what I am learning into practice. Leadership as a concept is only now crystallizing for me through this program. St. Francis and Servant Leadership are core to my personal philosophy of leadership and what I’m applying to my job in real-time. I have written about how I am applying leadership to my new position in these posts:

"Thank you for your mentorship, guidance, and assistance with my educational and vocational goals." - Michael Ballard

michaelballardI wanted to thank you for your mentorship, guidance, and assistance with my educational and vocational goals.  I was offered, and accepted, a full-time teaching position at Iowa State University, assisting in the development of an ASL/Deaf Studies Minor, Major.  My job description will be developing course curriculum, program development/leadership, etc.  I am grateful for all each of you have done for me.

– Michael Ballard, Gonzaga M.A. Communication & Leadership Student ’13

"To say the least, it has and will continue to be the experience of a lifetime." - Melanie Steel

My Experience as an Online COML Student at Gonzaga University


Melanie pictured with peers Trent Gerbers and Richard Rock

As I considered the idea of working toward a second Master’s Degree, there were several factors that were important.  Among others, it was important that the degree come from a quality school, offer me growth both professionally and academically, offer convenience, as well as help me nurture relationships among classmates.  As a member of the National Communication Association, I was aware that they had awarded Gonzaga’s COML program an honor of innovation, and I quickly determined that the program could offer me quality, growth, and convenience.  I jumped in hoping the relationships would fall into place.

My first class through Gonzaga was my first experience with a fully online class.  By the end of the first eight weeks, I made a close friend with a classmate from Washington.  After three more classes, names started to sound familiar and I began to recognize the ideas, attitudes, constraints, and personalities of my classmates – all of this from taking classes together while residing in different corners of the country.  Personally, the relationships really came together after ten months in the program when I attended my first on campus residency.  The experience was similar to finally meeting someone you’ve known virtually for years.  Within hours, the entire group had clicked and it felt as though we had sat in the same room with each other for each and every class.  It was beautiful.  It was fulfilling.  It was exciting.

I am now over half way through the program and some of my closest friendships have developed through my time as a Gonzaga student.  I live in Houston, but I have friends in Maryland, Oklahoma, Florida, Washington, and California.  We all talk on a daily and/or weekly basis.  They know my daughter and we share Christmas/Valentines/Sympathy/Just Thinking of You cards.  My daughter even refers to one of my friends as “Uncle Jeff!”

For those considering this program, the prestige of Gonzaga and the convenience of an online education are easy to see.  What may be unexpected, as it was for me, is the quality of relationships that you can develop and nurture through a virtual connection – partly due to the required residency component, which solidifies the connection of the students.  To say the least, it has and will continue to be the experience of a lifetime.

– Melanie Steel, Gonzaga M.A. Communication & Leadership Student ’14

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