It is the last semester of Rubena Cela’s college education, and the fifth winter she has spent in America. Cela, a 21-year-old senior at Gonzaga, spent the first seventeen years of her life growing up in a home far from Spokane in both distance and likeness: Shkoder, Albania.
Cela first came to the U.S. to attend Gonzaga Prep as a high-school senior. Leaving the familiarity of her family and her country behind, she moved in with an aunt in Spokane. With an open mind and few expectations, she adapted to the new culture seamlessly, but remained astonished by the inundation of foreign things such as water fountains and automated services. As her senior year abroad came to a close, the Albanian student decided to apply to G.U. She planned to return home to Albania, but her acceptance into the college swayed her decision and solidified her place in Spokane.
Cela, who goes by the name Ruby, describes Albania as cozy and small in comparison to the grandiose American culture. “The streets, the buildings… everything over there is sized down and homey,” Cela said. She returns to her home during the summer, where she spends her time at the beach with her family and friends. More than anything, Cela says that she misses her 15-year-old sister, whom she only gets to see during those summer months.
In the semesters preceding this final spring, Cela has dove in and connected with the Zag community. She has worked in the Career Center since her freshman year, and is currently serving as the Vice President of Career Center Representatives. She assured that her coworkers in that center could attest to the change she has undergone personally over the last four years. “I came in as this reserved, quiet freshman … that’s not at all who I am today,” Cela said.
Cela is also a member of the business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi and a barista at Crosby Café. The encouragement of friends and the desire to connect and care for people around her spurred Ruby to take on the responsibility of Resident’s Assistant. After applying during her sophomore year, she was accepted at the last minute, and left Albania for Spokane a month early to begin training. She has filled the role of RA on the fourth floor of Coughlin and in Cushing Hall. “Everybody loves Ruby … she is the best RA!” Cushing resident Denise Wilkerson said.
When this May rolls around, Cela will graduate with an International Business degree with concentrations in Finance and Econ. Her plans are unclear, but she is excited to move on and start a new adventure post-graduation. “I’m not a dweller, it’s my time to leave,” Cela said. Still, there will be pieces of her experience and her home in Spokane that she will miss greatly. Cela’s eyes widened as she admitted what would be the hardest to leave behind: brunch at Madeleine’s Café.
By Jenna Mulligan