Mike and Sunny Strong
Gonzaga University has changed quite a bit since Mike Strong graduated in 1963. Just about all of the change has been for the better, though Mike notes that change brings with it a new set of challenges.
“When we went to school here, the tuition was $650 - and you could actually earn that,” Mike said. “I paid my way through school by working on a farm in the summertime, but that’s not possible anymore. You have to get help from somebody to afford college these days.”
Mike and his wife, Sunny (’65), are more than willing to provide that help. In 2013 they transferred funds from their individual retirement account.
Mike, who studied biology with the intention of pursuing a medical career, called Gonzaga a life-changing experience, saying his liberal arts education opened up the world to him. His fondest memories involve his time as a member of The Brotherly Order of YoYos, a University-sponsored club in the early 60s. Mike led a drive to endow a scholarship for GU students in the name of the YoYos. The brotherhood banded together and pledged over $100,000 in just one month’s time.
Sunny was part of the first Gonzaga-in-Florence class in 1963, spending 10 days crossing the Atlantic Ocean by ship. She says her year in Italy “really stretched my mind. It gave me a clue that there were other ways to think and do things.”
The Strongs, who were high-school sweethearts, became engaged in a booth in the lower level of the COG. They married in 1965 and have remained loyal to each other and to Gonzaga ever since.
“Gonzaga really gives people options to live their lives fully and to remember others, not just to make a living,” Sunny said. “It gives you an opportunity to find meaning. That is why I am always promoting Gonzaga and I hope that it always stays true to its identity.”