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6 Famous Women You Didn’t Know Were Jesuit-Educated

What does your Jesuit education mean to you? Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, cura personalis, men and women for others – all these things and more define a Jesuit education. Gonzaga is part of the “Great 28”, referring to the 28 Jesuit institutions of higher education – and that’s just in the United States. There are hundreds of Jesuit high schools, colleges, and universities in the world. Whether you know it or not, being a Gonzaga student makes you a member of an incredible worldwide network of Jesuit educated men and women. The amazing women listed below embody girl power, and their lives have been shaped by a Jesuit school.


The Actors


Gina Rodriguez

Jesuit Institution: St. Ignatius College Prep (Chicago, IL)

The actor, producer, director, and activist we all know and love. Gina is the star of Jane the Virgin, a telenovela full of romance and drama, and Annihilation, a fantasy thriller that premiered on February 23rd. Beyond the screen, Gina is a passionate activist for women’s right and representation for people of color in the media. Just recently, Gina launched the We Will Foundation, which aims to empower young women through the arts.

Amy Poehler

Jesuit Institution: Boston College (Boston, MA)

How can people say that women aren’t as funny as men when Amy Poehler exists? She was the first woman on Saturday Night Live to be promoted from featured player to full cast member in her first season. Amy also starred in the incredibly binge-worthy Parks and Rec, as passionate public servant Leslie Knope. Amy is big on empowering women and girls and co-founded Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, an organization that encourages young people to “cultivate their authentic selves”. 

The Athletes


Brandi Chastain

Jesuit Insitution: Santa Clara University (Santa Clara, CA)

Jersey removed, fists clenched, face toward the sky, and knees scraping against the turf in the ultimate moment of victory is how Brandi will always be remembered in women’s soccer. In 1999, Brandi scored the penalty goal that earned the U.S. Women’s National Team their second World Cup win. When Brandi began playing soccer, there was no girls team for her to join, so instead she out played her male peers to make the boys team at Davis Junior High School, demonstrating for all the girls following in her footsteps the importance of following their dreams, even if they’re challenging to chase.

Missy Franklin

Jesuit Institution: Regis Jesuit High School (Aurora, CO)

That’s right, the two-time Olympian who has found herself at the top of the podium five times is also fellow Jesuit-educated woman. Missy was only 17 years old when she competed in the 2012 London Games. In her Olympic debut, she swept the backstroke events. Missy is an incredible example of female physical and emotional strength, as seen in Touch the Wall, a documentary on her journey to the London Games.

The Politicians


Mazie Hirono

Jesuit Insitution: Georgetown University (DC)

Mazie is a Hawaiian politician currently serving as a member of Congress. She too is the first female elected to the Senate from Hawaii, and the first Asian-American in the U.S. Senate. Because of her own battle with kidney cancer, she is an adamant advocate for health care and has also continues to contribute to the fight against gun violence in America. Mazie’s powerful presence in the Senate is yet another example of the importance of diversity and representation in our government.

Catherine Cortez Masto

Jesuit Institution: Gonzaga University (Spokane)

Catherine was elected to serve as Senator for the state of Nevada in 2016. She uses her power to fight for diversity in Washington, and recognizes how significant a barrier she broke on election night in 2016 – not only is Catherine the first female Senator elected by Nevada, but she is also the first Latina Senator. Ever. Catherine is also a passionate supporter of DREAMers on behalf of her grandfather, an immigrant himself. She strives to be a role model for all young women looking to her as representation in our government, and seeks to fight for social justice, from gun control to health care.

Jesuit educations have molded these women into the bold and beautiful forces of empowerment that they are today. They are changing the worlds in which they live, and in turn, our world. What will you do with your Jesuit education to change your world? Go forth and set the world on fire!

Portland native with a passion for people & words.
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