In keeping with our mission to form the future leaders of our Church and world, the Newman Center uses a system of student leadership called “Peer Ministry”.

Each year, 4-6 students are selected from a pool of applicants to work side by side with the staff in running the ministry.  Housed in an apartment with individual rooms above the Newman Center, the Peer Ministers learn to balance school, ministry, and their personal lives in service to their fellow students.  It’s a demanding year of sacrifice, but an extremely rewarding experience.  In the end, peer ministers and the Student Ministry Team are responsible for the majority of the programming, innovation, and activity of the ministry.  At any given time during the day, chances are you’ll find a peer minister roaming the halls, hanging out at the Newman table on campus, serving a Mass, or hosting an event at Newman. 

Inspired by the success of former Newman Director Fr. William Dean Dooley OP (1948-1960) to use Catholic soldiers to catechize other soldiers during WWII, the program trains students to minister to each other.  After a week of intensive training at the Dominican Institute of Student Ministry, peer ministers become Newman’s primary student leaders.  They’re responsible for everything from planning the massive SEARCH retreat to cleaning the bathrooms! 

Often times, students have a unique credibility with each other that community members, staff, parents, and even priests, don’t have.  By training students to fill positions of leadership in the ministry, they’re given greater opportunity to relate to their peers and more effectively support them through the faith transitions common to college life.  This ultimately leads newer students to realize that they should take their faith seriously, that there are other students out their struggling with the same things, and that there are answers to their most intimate and troubling questions.  And that you can be Catholic and cool at the same time! 

Since 1989, Peer Ministers have been some of the greatest advocates of the ministry, and each has left a profound impact on the lives of the students – not to mention the ministry as a whole.  We continually thank all that have served.  But as any peer minister will tell you, their gifts to the community are matched, if not surpassed, by the gratitude they feel for the transformative opportunity to serve their fellow Catholic Huskies. 

Our Peer Ministers

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Liz Cusanelli

Liz is entering her junior year at the UW, double majoring in Law, Societies, and Justice and Political Science, and minoring in Environmental Science Resource Management. She was born and raised in Vancouver, Washington, and is the youngest of three kids in her family.  

Liz is a soccer enthusiast, a concert fanatic, a bookworm, and a tree hugger. She is unapologetically passionate about education, the environment, and the best sport in the world, real fútbol. She is a proud Portland Timbers fan! She has worked for the Portland Timbers before, but her real dream is to meet the players and eventually hold season tickets to their games.

Growing up, her family took her on extended camping and hiking trips, which fostered her love for all things outdoors and for protecting God’s creation. During whatever free time she can grasp, she gets outdoors to go camping, hiking, play sports, or just to go on a walk.

Upon coming to the UW, the Newman Center community has made an undeniable difference in her college experience. She considers herself incredibly fortunate to have found a loving, friendly, and supportive parish that encourages spiritual growth, discipleship, and community. During her sophomore year, she was part of the Student Ministry Team on the Fellowship Team, and is a current small group leader for a group of wonderful young women. Liz is passionate about serving this community, and is looking forward to dedicating her time to the Newman Center this year.


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David Gill

David is a Junior majoring in Math education (hopefully).  As of the time of this writing, it might end up being that, or it might be medical anthropology, depending on how the month of September goes.  Ask him about it sometime in October or later.

            David enjoys many things that most people find horrendously boring, including but not limited to complex math, classical cello playing, and distance running.  He also writes and sings in his spare time, and enjoys running two of the choirs here at the Newman Center.  To add to his eclectic list of interests, David also cooks, likes longs walks, and enjoys just sitting in silence – when he’s not listening to a choice in music once described to him by a friend as “alternative even for alternative”.  For the record, the correct genre title is ‘Indie’.

            Overall, he finds deep meaning in the Catholic faith and is very excited to spend this year ministering to his peers and serving the Newman community as a whole.  Poor self-describing-blurb writing skills aside, he hopes to use his large and diverse number of interests to serve the community in as many ways as possible.


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Catherine Nguyen

Catherine is a senior at the University of Washington studying Early Childhood and Family Studies. She was born and raised in the south-end of Seattle and is the oldest of two children.

Her hobbies include listening to music, singing, watching YouTube videos, playing games with her trolling brother, and doing arts and crafts. Due to the large playlist of songs and sounds that is stored in her memory, it is not unusual to find her singing a random song or humming something from a game soundtrack. Her favorite YouTubers include Simon and Martina, Ryan Higa, Domics, and Wong Fu. When the creative sparks comes about, her creative outlets include origami, knitting, and drawing.

Faith has played a huge role in Catherine’s life. Until she attended university, she has gone to Catholic schools, which helped her in learning about her faith. She is active in the Vietnamese Martyrs Parish, where she attended the youth group and received the Sacraments. Most Saturdays were spent at her parish serving as a catechist, youth leader, and choir member in the JP2 choir. Her deep involvement in her faith is largely due to her parents, who are both active within the Church.

When entering the UW, Catherine initially went into pre-nursing, taking the prerequisite classes with her friends she met through the FIG she was in. However, after volunteering in the hospital and shadowing a nurse, she discovered that while the profession was interesting, it was not her calling. In one of the nursing classes, she became interested in the early childhood unit and was fascinated by the research and knowledge in the early years of life. She ultimately pursued the ECFS major for two main reasons: 1) To learn more about how children develop from infancy and the factors that influence their growth, and 2) To gain knowledge to help her unravel the Bible story about “Jesus and the children”, a story that has puzzled her.

Catherine had a great desire to join a Catholic community when she got to UW. She was excited and intrigued to know that there was a Catholic Newman Center on campus. It was a challenge the first two years to attend any events because of the commuter life. But things opened up in junior year, and she jumped on the opportunity to attend the Veritas events. The Newman community was welcoming, and Catherine found herself finding the piece she was missing in her university experience. Then God took the wheel and had Catherine travel on an unexpected route, because she is now a Peer Minister.

Though shy and quiet at times, Catherine is always wanting to reach out to others and is willing to lend an ear and hand to help. Her greatest passions lie in helping people, especially helping people on their faith journeys in understanding Jesus Christ. The faith journey is not an easy one, and she hopes to be able to be a part in fostering a community where young adults can grow as Catholics. She is looking forward to serving the Newman community this year and taking on new challenges to grow in her faith.


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Brandon Pittaway

Brandon is entering his senior year pursuing a major in Industrial and Systems Engineering. He has a heart for God that has taken him on adventures from Seattle on the West Coast to Philadelphia on the East Coast. It was always his goal to serve others and allow them to grow with him. He loves the opportunity to share stories with others about Faith, Hope, and Love.

He grew up along the West Coast. Born in California and has lived in Nevada, Arizona, and now Washington. He graduated from Camas High School in 2014 and loved to play tennis, run in track, and volunteer his time in student leadership. His family is Catholic and his involvement in the Newman Center has inspired his family to go deeper into their faith. Seeing their joy and happiness is among one of the many things that keep him going (which surprisingly doesn't include coffee).

Brandon found the Newman Center his freshmen year, but like many incoming students he became lost in the distractions that consumed him. In his Junior year, he became more involved with Newman by sharing his testimony on a retreat, leading the Sports Student Ministry Team, and leading a small group Bible Study. This year he stands as an advocate for incoming freshmen expressing the importance of faith in a College environment based on his experiences. He can't wait to meet incoming students and learn with them in the pursuit of Christ.

If you can't find Brandon at the Newman Center, you can find him on a bike rushing to class or exploring the city with a camera at his side. His experience at UW has had him start clubs for sustainable energy development, compete in case competitions for computer simulation, and mentor students pursuing an engineering degree. He loves music, meeting new people, and learning more about himself and God. In discerning what he wanted to do for his last year at UW, he wanted to dedicate that year to service at the Newman Center. Although he has made ministry and school his top priorities, this doesn't stop him from bringing others that have been part of his life at UW along for the ride.


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Danielle Santos

Currently a third year at University of Washington, Danielle is double majoring in Microbiology and Medical Laboratory Science. She was born in Yokosuka, Japan where she spent her first two years of life there before settling in Marysville, Washington. She is the youngest of three sisters. 

Since elementary school, Danielle has had an interest in bacteria when she started watching medical shows for fun. After taking a few required lab courses, she noticed that she enjoyed working in labs and found the work fascinating! With her interest in bacteria and her enjoyment in lab work, her majors could not be a better fit! She has even said that “bacteria are cute” on multiple occasions. Her favorite is the flesh-eating bacteria, not recommended for the faint of heart to look up.

On the side, Danielle is also president of University of Washington’s Microphiles club, tries to work out on a regular basis, and loves to drink coffee at any time of the day, much to her fellow Peer Minister’s chagrin. If Danielle is not at Newman she is either at Odegaard cramming for an exam, playing a new game that she wants to finish in three days, or playing Dungeons and Dragons with her friends. She is a nerd 24/7.

Coming from a small parish back home, Danielle had no idea what to expect from a bigger university or that there would be a Catholic community there. Then when she came to UW and discovered Newman and got a lot more than she ever expected. She had found an equally loving and welcoming community that she had back at home, events that strengthened her faith, and friends for a lifetime! Danielle attended freshman group her freshman year, was part of the Fellowship SMT her sophomore year, and is now a Peer Minister her junior year! Newman has helped ignite Danielle’s faith life and through Peer Ministry she hopes that she can help inspire others as well! 


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Conrad Black

Conrad is entering his Junior year, majoring in Applied Physics and minoring in Math. Conrad was born in Sammamish, Washington, and is the middle child of 11 siblings (yes 11). He graduated from Skyline High School and achieved a Bellevue College Associates Degree in Arts and Sciences.  

Conrad loves to game, loves music (and sings along at any possible opportunity), food, reading, and movies. He also enjoys most sports, in particular Ultimate Frisbee and Soccer, and loves to simply just toss the disc or pass the ball around.

Whilst transitioning from childhood to late teens, Conrad spent most of his spare time outdoors inserting himself into various novels and movies (Lord of the Rings, Transformers, Pendragon, Marvel Comics, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the list goes on) as a new character or protagonist living the adventures. He also played sports, and progressed through the Cadet Program of Civil Air Patrol.

Arriving at the UW, Conrad acquiesced to his best friend's request and visited this place called the Newman Center. This place has now become a home away from home. Conrad feels immeasurably blessed by discovering the Newman Center community that sparks his faith, helps discern his vocation, and creates fantastic friendships. Conrad was a Freshman Group Leader during Sophomore year and is blessed to be your Peer Minister this year. Newman changed his life and it can do wonders for you as well!

 

Interested in learning more about Peer Ministry?  Contact our Campus Minister, Bayli Hochstein, or our Director, Fr. Jordan Bradshaw.

Get to know them - check out our Peer Minister photo album and peer ministers past and present!