The Center for Experiential Learning is proud to introduce you to these Loyola students who found their direction this semester through service-learning, academic internships, student employment, undergraduate research, and ePortfolio. These students are transforming through their Loyola experiences and we are excited to share their stories and ePortfolios with you.
Would you like to tell us how you found your direction through service-learning, academic internships, student employment, undergraduate research, or ePortfolios? Submit your story here!
This edition of Directions to Success is proud to introduce you to five of the Social Justice Interns. These Loyola students found their direction through the Social Justice Internship Grant Program. This program is a year-long, 300-hour internship experience at our partner organizations: Misericordia and Catholic Charities. These students are transforming through their Loyola experiences and we are excited to share their stories with you.
My experience as an intern at Catholic Charities has been a fulfilling one. I have gained service-leadership skills that have helped to develop me into a stronger leader in the community, communicative skills that have allowed me to handle and address pressing issues, and organizational skills which has aided me in reaching out and utilizing all my possible resources to carry out a task. Working with Catholic Charities enabled me to witness a lot of the struggles that people endure in the city, and with that knowledge, I can begin tackling issues I deem unjust. I will be interning with Catholic Charities again over the summer where I will be organizing and assisting with health fairs all around the impoverished regions in the Chicago area. This will allow me to take the skills I learned at Catholic Charities this year, along with some of my medical training, and use them to provide free quality healthcare to those in need.
Minors: Urban Studies & Peace Studies
My experience working with Catholic Charities has given me valuable experience working in the non-profit sector. Having an opportunity to work with the refugee population in Chicago has challenged me to explore ways I can better advocate for others. Partnering with community organizations, constructing and facilitating workshops, and representing one of the largest non-profit organizations in the U.S. has developed many skills that I will apply toward my career.
My future plans include studying abroad in Uganda and Rwanda this summer, working with organizations committed to addressing educational inequity through structural change, and pursuing a master's degree.
Major: Social Work
Minors: Sociology, Psychology of Crime and Justice
This internship has allowed me to work with families in the interim housing program at Catholic Charities. Through this, I have gained a deeper understanding of who the homeless population is, and how to better serve this community. I have had various experiences thus far. I have taught English lessons, assisted with child care, and searched the internet for resources.
I am still unsure of what career I wish to pursue, but this experience has allowed me first-hand experiences that are necessary to find my path. As a social work major, I know I want to work with people, but I am still searching for what job in social services excites me the most.
Major: International Studies
Minors: Photography and Peace Studies
This internship experience has allowed me to get a different perspective on nonprofit work than my past internships at nonprofits. Misericordia is very different from past organizations I have worked with and I have seen a wide spectrum of what work in the nonprofit and justice field looks like. I know that in the future I will be able to apply the experiences I have had at Misericordia to understand how organizations function to fulfill the needs of those they serve.
My placement has helped me observe what working in a large nonprofit organization with specific duties actually means. Instead of knowing theoretically what this kind of career would consist of, I have seen it in person. My placement has helped me shape my ideas of what kind of role I would like to play in a future career, as well as given me a venue to evaluate my skills and where they lie.
I will graduate in May and am currently pursuing a position with long-term service programs both within the US and abroad.
Name: Andrea Buiser
Minors: Women's Studies and Gender Studies
Working in the non‑profit sector is something I thought I saw myself doing as a career, but prior to my internship, I didn't know much about the organizational aspects of working for a non‑profit. Being an intern at Misericordia taught me a lot the managerial components about non‑profit work, but it also taught me a lot about community development and its significance in other facets of life, whether it is education, access to health care, etc. I know that working for an organization that works towards fostering community development is of interest to me.
Major: Communication Studies: Advocacy and Social Change & International Studies ‘13
Minor: Spanish Language
Mercy Housing Lakefront’s Harold Washington Building
My service-learning and undergraduate research took place while a member of the Urban Issues Learning Community and enrolled in UNIV 291: Seminar in Community-based Research and Leadership. My group worked with the Tenant Leadership Committee at Mercy Housing to investigate how the economic downturn had affected tenants' abilities to obtain adequate food resources.
I consider my experience in UNIV 291 one of the most formative of my Loyola career. The course opened my eyes to a field for which I am extremely passionate and made me confident that I want to pursue a career that focuses on making positive social change within my community. During class, the Associate Director of Loyola's Center for Urban Research and Learning (CURL) spoke to our class and I was extremely interested in the work CURL was doing. This interest turned into an opportunity to become an undergraduate research fellow with CURL. If I had not taken UNIV 291, I would not have known about this opportunity and I would not have gained experience needed for the fellowship.
I have worked as an undergraduate research fellow with CURL since Fall 2012 and I love the work I am doing! This experience has caused me to reexamine my career goals. I am now considering a graduate degree that will allow me to continue conducting social science research or other work that promotes equity and opportunities to under-served populations within our society. Before pursuing a graduate degree, I hope to complete a yearlong post-graduate service opportunity in the hopes of working with communities and organizations that promote social justice.
Major: Biology ‘13
Minors: Math, Chemistry, Anthropology
Before my undergraduate research class, I never really thought about community based research, or even compared it to the type of research I do, which is usually quantitative. Conducting research and working at the Shedd Aquarium helped me realize where research stands in my life, and what I'd like to do in the future. While conducting my experiment, I developed skills in building an experiment design, from scratch, revising procedures, and communicating my knowledge with individuals on different levels and fields of expertise. After graduation, I plan on continuing my research before entering medical school. Once in medical school, I hope to have time dedicated to research, whether it is still conservation, or in another field. I am currently applying for various research opportunities, some at the NIH. No matter what, I plan to continue working at the Shedd.
My service learning has been an enriching experience. It felt great to give my time helping members from my own community with computer training, resume writing, job searching, college planning, and financial aid procedures. While volunteering, I improved and reinforced my leadership skills all the while building great relationships with my volunteer coordinator and other staff members, thus establishing great professional references. I also improved my communication, teamwork, and writing skills which only reinforce my marketability as I prepare to graduate.
I continue to volunteer at the Indo-American Center where they have always welcomed me with open arms and have expressed great appreciation for my time. I will graduate this summer and, after earning my CCNA in March, will search for full time employment in my area of expertise.
Majors: Psychology, Sociology ‘13
Children’s Home and Aid: Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Child and Family Center
My academic internship involved working with children who have been severely abused. These children have taught me more about myself than I could have ever hoped to teach them. I now appreciate what I have been blessed with, and never take anyone in my life for granted. I now know that I not only enjoy working with children, but am also very good at it. I learned that I am very passionate about helping children and their families succeed. My academic internship developed my professionalism, communication skills, and working under pressure.
I continue to work with this organization today and after I graduate this Spring, I hope to become an employee at either the Rice Child and Family Center or at another location within Children's Home and Aid before returning to school to earn my Masters degree in Social Work.
Major: Social Work (BSW) ‘14
Minors: Women’s Studies & Gender Studies
I am Social Work Intern at Misericordia Heart of Mercy’s Social Services Department through the Social Justice Internship Program as a part of the Center for Experiential Learning. During my time working alongside the supportive and friendly staff, I’ve been fortunate to have exposure both to the administrative and the clinical aspects of running a successful social service agency. As I begin the process of securing my first level field placement in my BSW degree, I am comforted to find that my time at Misericordia has helped prepare me for the next step in my academic and professional career. By observing and interacting with professional social workers and direct support staff, the values of responsibility, integrity, and social justice will definitely stay with me into my next placement. After I complete my BSW next spring, I will continue on to my Master in Social Work (MSW).
Major: Psychology, Premed Minor: Urban Studies
Graduation: May 2015
My experience in the Community-based research course and partnership with Taller de Jose was one unlike any other. Never in my lifetime have I participated in collaboration with an organization, let alone one that offers services to a community so familiar to me like Taller does. This semester working with Taller de Jose and my group to complete a project was fulfilling, eye-opening, and surreal. It is a distinct experience when you work with an organization very closely and learn why they are there, what they do, and why they do it in comparison to a day of service with a group of friends. Overall, my community experience helped develop my understanding of what the community of Little Village needs, and communities similar to it. In addition to developing this understanding, it also opened my eyes to the roles I can fulfill in helping out communities around my area. It has always seemed so far-fetched to me that volunteering locally would make a difference, but after my community-based research project and research with Taller de Jose, I see that anyone can make a positive difference on a small scale that assists in the larger scale of what the organization aims to achieve.
After the Community-based Research course, I’ve developed even further my sense of leadership and have truly defined what service means to me. Specifically, I believe I’ve identified what kind of service I want to be a part of, what kind I don’t, and so on … I’ve furthered my understanding of what it means to be a college student in the realm of service. The reason for this change from beginning to end of the semester is due to the reflection aspect of our class, and the proximity in which we worked with our community partner.
View my ePortfolio at https://w.taskstream.com/ts/lozano32/MichelleLozanoPortfolio2012
Graduation: May 2014
In the fall semester of 2012 I enrolled in a service-learning course at Loyola, and I decided to spend my time giving back to my community through Ten Thousand Ripples. Over the course of this semester the project has become very near and dear to me. My involvement in Ten Thousand Ripples has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had at college. Before I had chosen a volunteering site for the semester I wrote out a few personal goals for what I hoped to accomplished and get out of my volunteering. I can proudly say that I accomplished all of these goals, but also, I received more than I ever expected in return.
One of my personal goals was to become better acquainted with Rogers Park, geographically. This was especially important to me because my knowledge of Roger's Park was limited to my apartment and the Loyola campus. Now, as I near the end of this semester I have a clear mental map of the neighborhood.
My involvement in Ten Thousand Ripples really pushed me outside of my comfort zone to explore the neighborhood, and I am so glad I did! Some of my favorite discoveries this semester have been the beautiful Loyola Dunes, the Pratt beach park and the painted benches, The Common Cup-a cute cafe off the Morse El stop and the hundreds of pieces of public art and stunning murals all over the neighborhood.
In addition to getting to know the layout of the neighborhood, I have gotten to know several members of the community! This has been especially rewarding. I have noticed that the more people I meet from the neighborhood the more I feel at home.
This "home" feeling has impacted my life in many ways. I have enjoyed getting to know people outside of the Loyola University network. Surrounding the campus is a busy, diverse neighborhood full of artist, writers, and community-activists. Many of the people I met through Ten Thousand Ripples were so interested and supportive of the project. Knowing that other people are as excited and enthusiastic about promoting peace, art and dialogue in our neighborhood was so rewarding.
Academically, working with a diverse group of people has helped me further develop my interpersonal and communication skills. These are important skills I will need throughout my life, college, medical school and as a physician.
View my ePortfolio at https://w.taskstream.com/ts/roesner/UNIV290Fall2012
Graduation: December 2012
The combination of research and taking a research course simultaneously helped me see a great return on my research experience. I had worked on my research project for a semester before starting the undergraduate research course. I found that taking the course while doing the research allowed me to appreciate the work I was doing more and gave me new models in which to analyze what I was doing. I had a great experience in the undergraduate research seminar.
This research experience has been very beneficial to the development of my professional skills. I want to find a job in finance or economics. Both fields are very quantitative and require the ability to work with large data sets. In this research, I created a large, original data set. The course itself has also helped with my interviews. I interviewed for a credit analyst position at a local Chicago bank. During the interview, I was asked about leadership style. I referenced the difference between a transformative leader and a transactional leader. The study of the class gave me great talking points to answer questions. I actually was offered the position and will be starting with the firm next week.
Along with professional development, this research experience has also strengthened my graduate school applications. I truly enjoy the educational experience. Education can open many doors and awards the student with a new understanding of the world around them. It is a profound experience. My number one goal was to get acceptance to attend Vanderbilt University’s Master of Science in Finance program. I have worked diligently in many areas in order to strengthen my application. One such area was this research opportunity. During my interview, I was able to talk about the research I have done. The director of the program appreciated the work I had done, and I believe that this experience influenced their decision to offer me admittance and a scholarship. I know that I will be able to take the experience that I had doing research at Loyola and expand on it at Vanderbilt. Dr. Green was also a great resource to have as I wrote my essays for the application. He was more than willing to review them with me and was very helpful in the recommendations he made.
I have enjoyed this project and the undergraduate research course. Taking the course while doing the research helped me gain a better understanding of the work that I was doing. I learned many things about different research strategies, leadership theory, and ethics. Though my research at Loyola is finished, I am certain that the experience will continue to show returns as I enter graduate school and eventually the professional job market.
Majors: English and History Minor: Catholic Studies
Graduation: May 2013
LIFT-Chicago is a resource center comprised entirely of Loyola University student volunteers and is supervised by two Site Coordinators from AmeriCorps. We work one-on-one with clients who are at or below the poverty level to help them find jobs, housing, public benefits, legal help, and generally provide them with opportunities that will allow them to alleviate themselves from poverty.
After shadowing several client meetings and completing hours of preliminary training, I was ready to meet clients. Ideally, I see four clients per week, as I am in the office four hours a week, so I have seen situations on all ends of the spectrum, from abused single mothers to incarcerated individuals to PhD holders who needed jobs. The success of these meetings varies. Some meetings are frustrating, and we call ten apartments and they might not have openings or they might reject my client based on his or her credit score or assumed background. Some meetings are sad, and I find out my client had three interviews two weeks ago and did not secure a job. Most clients, however, have a glimmer of relief and optimism during their meeting, whether it’s because they secured an apartment viewing or because we applied to four jobs together, or even because I was able to listen to an issue they had in their life and was able to shed some light on it.
After a year-and-a-half of service at LIFT-Chicago, I've realized that the experiences I've had with our clients have taught me that I absolutely need to work with people: something that my sister has been telling me all of my life. I need to see that joy, to guide people through their life journeys in some way, to share jokes and smiles and tears. While I don't know how I will incorporate this into my career goals yet, I have this wonderful organization to thank for allowing me to see and experience what makes me truly happy, on both good and bad days. LIFT-Chicago has inspired me to become the best individual that I can be in the future and in the present.
View my ePortfolio at https://www.taskstream.com/ts/mackendrick1/WhyILIFTforLIFTChicago
Major: Psychology Minor: Biology
Graduation: May 2013
Serving as a Resident Assistant (RA) was a tremendous learning experience for me. It allowed me to overcome challenge of conflict and confrontation while mentoring second year students as they continue their studies at Loyola. RA's often get a "bad rap" for documenting policy violations in the residence halls. My favorite part of the job is disproving this "bad rap" and showing residents how their RA really does care about them and wants to help wherever possible. This position helped me build many skills and much knowledge of what I want to do after graduation.
Sophomore year, I discovered that my passions did not lie in the field of medicine like I originally thought. My interest became ignited by working with my residents and helping them through personal, academic, and social situations. I knew my passion from the position and being involved on campus informed my decision that I wanted to spend the rest of my life on a college campus. As some say, I drank the student affairs "Kool Aid" and I am going to pursue a career in higher education. I am currently applying to graduate programs for a Master's degree in Higher Education & Student Affairs.
Having an internship in a field that I am already making plans to go in to after graduation definitely helps with this desire and urge to learn more and attain valuable leadership skills. I find my behaviors to be different than what they normally are; I find myself being more intentional in my work. I have begun to take a step back and serve as a mentor to others who may be trying to further their development … I have begun to have a “critical eye” and think “outside of the box” when developing programs and offering feedback. The Center for Experiential Learning Academic Internship and Advanced Student Employment class allowed me to do that reflection and it has definitely helped keep my thoughts straight and get down in writing all that I have gained and learned this semester.
I definitely see myself attending or working at larger, public institutions or Jesuit institutions for my entire career. At some point I would also like to pursue an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. amidst starting a family of my own. For now, I plan to go with the flow, hope for the best, and be around college for the rest of my life!
View my ePortfolio at https://w.taskstream.com/ts/razek/MatthewRazek.html
Major: Biology Minor: Psychology
Graduation: May 2013
I started volunteering with Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago (then Children's Memorial Hospital) in August 2010 and have been with the hospital ever since. I am extremely passionate about both medicine and children. Through my life experiences and volunteering I have also realized I am particularly passionate about infants and their health care and developmental processes. I began at Children's as an infant care volunteer, which meant I got to see any children of ages 0-3 years old throughout the entire hospital. I really enjoyed this position because I got to see patients of different ages and with a variety of conditions. Seeing such a variety helped illuminate the wonderful work the hospital was doing. Whether I was assigned to work with a three year old or a three month old, the hospital staff was incredibly attentive to the child's individual needs and care. Although I loved my original position at Children's, I was really excited when I became a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) volunteer at the start of my junior year.
I think my passion for infants arises partly from the fact that I gained four half-siblings between the time when I turned eleven and when I turned fourteen. Within these three years I went to countless medical appointments (both obstetrician and pediatrician), learned all about prenatal care and development from my mother and step-mother, and finally was in the hospital room when my mother gave birth. These experiences sparked my interests, which have been developing ever since. Being in the NICU lets me learn more about the experiences of premature infants, while allowing me to be a part of the infant's development process. One of the strengths of Lurie Children's is that the hospital focuses on all aspects of patient care. They realize that there is more to a patient's wellness than just the medical care, and they employ staff members and volunteers to address a variety of these aspects. As a volunteer, I enjoy supplementing some of the medical care with another important quality for infant development, which is human interaction. Sometimes this means rocking a child to sleep, and sometimes this means playing with a bored infant. In the end, it makes me happy to know that I am helping the staff and the patients by providing comfort and play.
I learned a lot from my experience as a volunteer by taking the service-learning class in the Center for Experiential Learning. This class helped me to think more critically about the impact of my service and about the infants that I work with. Ultimately, these experiences and reflections have taught me about my own desires to become a physician and have shaped how I hope to serve others in the future.
View my ePortfolio at https://www.taskstream.com/ts/jones1072/VolunteerLurieChildrens