Major: Psychology • Class: 2015 • Hometown: Columbus, Ohio
If you’re looking for Keyona Castleman, chances are you’ll find her at either Simpson Hall or the Sullivan Center.
She’s a Learning Community assistant at Simpson, and she also works as a peer advisor in the First and Second Year Advising department at Sullivan. “I sleep in Simpson,” she says, “but Sullivan is my home.”
Here, she talks about being a leader on campus, why she’s so passionate about helping others, and what she really thinks about Chicago’s winters.
What’s your favorite Loyola memory?
Although I’ve had many great experiences at Loyola, I’d have to say that some of my favorite memories have been in Simpson Hall. I lived there during my freshman year, and I’m now a Learning Community assistant in the hall. There have been multiple times where I’ve laughed so hard there that I’ve cried!
Talk a little about a professor or mentor who inspired you.
I’m extremely thankful for all the people who have inspired me while at Loyola. But there’s one person who sticks out: Katrina Weizer. She has gone beyond her role as my first-year advisor and taught me the importance of being an authentic leader. It’s been really nice to have someone constantly in my corner supporting me, even if they don’t have to.
Tell us about your leadership activities on campus.
It’s been great because I’ve had a lot of chances to do different things: I’ve worked as a Learning Community assistant, a peer advisor, and a retreat leader. Each experience has challenged me and helped me come into my own. I think without those positions and experiences, I’d be a totally different person. I’m so grateful for each of those opportunities.
How has your involvement in student organizations or service work helped shape you as a person?
I’ve become a person who is more aware of the world around me. I know that there are injustices, but I am also aware that I have the potential to change them. Essentially, I’ve become more passionate about change because I have been given the chance to learn more about who I am, my talents, and what I can bring to the world.
What do you think differentiates Loyola from other universities?
Students at Loyola are willing to have difficult conversations about the injustices around them. We spend time discussing our identities and privileges that may or may not occur because of those identities. It’s because of these conversations that we are able to go outside of our bubbles and try to make change. I think it’s extremely hard to have these types of conversations and not want to do something with them. Students at Loyola respond to the call to action.
And finally, what do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?
Right now, the answer to that question is working in higher education. I’m not sure about a specific school or functional area yet, but I have a lot of time to think about it. And I really hope it’s somewhere warm!
About the weekend
Five years ago, when Loyola celebrated its first Weekend of Excellence, hundreds of students took part in the three-day event. This year, more than 1,000 students will be featured—and the event will run for four days.
It’s a testament to how far the weekend has come in such a short time.
Created as a way to honor and celebrate student achievements, the Weekend of Excellence showcases the academic, civic, and extracurricular work that Loyola students have conducted over the past year. This year’s weekend, which runs from April 16–19, will include presentations and performances, as well as student award ceremonies and induction into the Maroon & Gold Society.
To accommodate the growing number of participants—and to focus more attention on their work—the undergraduate and graduate research symposiums are now held in two different locations on Saturday, April 18. The Graduate School symposium is in the Quinlan Life Sciences building and Palm Court; the undergraduate symposium is in the Mundelein Center and Galvin Auditorium.