Hit the Ground Running
Valedictorian Gus Hardy ’16 shares his thoughts on how to be a success at Santa Clara.
True story: Gus Hardy once swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco in 01:09:59 in icy September waters. He may or may not be a living legend.
If you don’t know his name, chances are you don’t go to SCU. Senior Gus Hardy is a blue flame of a human being, a go-getter who is passionately curious and ambitious about everything in life. Originally from Berkeley, Gus is graduating this spring with highest honors and majors in Political Science and Religious Studies, with a minor in Catholic Studies. When I ask him about any advice he has for younger students, Gus cites a Student Ambassador that once told him: “If you want to succeed and thrive here, hit the ground running.”
It seems Gus did just that, as he has said yes to opportunity after opportunity at SCU. He ran for ASG Senate as a freshman and landed the Campus Ministry Senator position for the following year. He has been an active member in SCCAP, and has a passion for volunteering, serving as the Hospitality Minister in Campus Ministry, and attending World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2013 through the Ignatian Center. He studied abroad in the Philippines as a junior, and he has penned blogs for Campus Ministry as well as for local Bishops. Gus currently holds a fellowship through the Business School working on public policy.
The most influential of all his SCU experiences, however, has been CLC, or Christian Life Community. “The CLC community has been with me through the highest highs and the lowest lows. It helped me to come into who I am.” His Catholic faith is an integral facet of his identity, and when asked about his decision to attend SCU, Gus glows. “I was inspired by Clarence Thomas, an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court, who attended College of the Holy Cross. I wanted to go to a Jesuit school because I wanted a religious education. With my educational background and the kind of high school I attended, people didn’t even expect me to go to college. But on my 90-minute commute to school every day as a high school senior, I would read Santa Clara Magazine. It was a kind of inspiration for me.”
Favorite SCU professor? “Hands down, Father Mark Ravizza. I kept the course reader and journals from my favorite course with him (Theology of Suffering and Solidarity). But I would take anything with him—if he taught a class on how to cook chicken, I would take it.” Note taken.
As a graduating senior, I have an inkling Gus might have some great insights about getting the most out of Santa Clara. He grins mischievously. “Most of my SCU life hacks have involved breaking the law, so I can’t share.” And after a moment: “Hmm…life hack? You only have to pay a flat rate for peanut butter in Benson. I once walked out of there with five cups of peanut butter. Also, more importantly, hang out with the Jesuits. The best secret I have is that Jesuits love having students over for lunch at the Jes-Res, and the food is amazing. Seriously, if you just ask to get lunch with them, they’ll just invite you over and feed you.”
Speaking of food, Gus is pretty all-American, with a penchant for fried chicken and medium-rare cheeseburgers. Other favorites? “Russian novels tend to be the best and the longest. I love Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov.” And his top five films, in no particular order: “Goodfellas; Apocalypse Now; The Big Lebowski; Accepted; and the Mission.”
While Gus’ childhood dream was to become a Jedi Knight, he has just accepted a position in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and will spend the next year doing service in the Pacific Northwest. Long-term plans? Eventually a doctorate in either Political Philosophy or Theology. “And more service. I’d love to go to Atlanta or Alaska.” I kindly point out that those two locales seem to be in stark contrast to one another. Gus responds confidently in the most Gus-like way possible: “I know. But if I want to serve the world, I want to see as many parts of the world as I can.”
Finally, I ask him about his bucket list. Without hesitation, he retorts, “Be featured on Her Campus. Oh, and to run a marathon.”
This article was written for and first appeared on Her Campus. Kendra Clark is a senior at Santa Clara University from Denver, Colorado, double majoring in English and Philosophy.