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The power of transformation

The power of transformation

“I don’t think I learned anything until the moment I chose to change,” says Irene Huang, BBA '17.

By Monica Sather | Student reporter

For alumna Irene Huang, success at Loyola meant transformation.

The 2017 business graduate and native of Shanghai struggled in her first semesters at Loyola. But at the beginning of her junior year, something connected for her. She realized that she had to make a change and decided to recommit herself to school.

“I don’t think I learned anything until the moment I chose to change,” says Huang.

This transformation included her learning to use the resources Loyola offers students such as the writing center, the career center, and the library. Huang also reached out to professors for feedback and to build strong relationships that would help her excel.

Below, Huang shares the story of her transformation to inspire others to make the same positive change in their lives, especially other international students who might be struggling with living in a foreign country.

“Our time here is limited and you can’t wait,” says Huang. For her part, Huang plan to pursue a graduate degree in Integrated Marketing Communications and hopefully remain in Chicago.

Reflections by Irene Huang

Today, I share three life lessons that I learned from my college life.

I want to start off with one of my favorite quotes from Mark Lewis, who is a remarkable psychologist. He said, “The person who you’re with most in life is yourself, and if you don’t like yourself, you’re always with somebody you don’t like.” And personally, I learned this the hard way.

I'm from Shanghai, China. When I first transferred to Loyola, to be honest with you, I felt like I was a very irresponsible student. I couldn't really understand lectures and I would always get lost in class and on our Lake Shore Campus, since I was new. I didn’t put a lot of effort into my studies in my sophomore year and that was a miserable time for me.

After three semesters here at Loyola, I gradually noticed that everyone around me was growing stronger and becoming more capable of doing all kinds of things. I started to realize how awful I was to waste time here by doing nothing. I was regretful and mad at myself, so in one single moment in my junior year, I decided to begin my transformation, and I’ve made great progress along the way with a lot of professors’ help.

I’m truly grateful to all of my marketing professors, especially one who is always energetic to teach class: Professor Stacy Neier Beran. What an honor to learn from you and work with you. And one of my proudest moments was in Professor Dawn Harris’s strategic management class when our business simulation project related to travel was praised and recognized by the chief marketing officer of Airbnb.

In the end, after so many late-night papers, fun and tiring group projects, stressful exams and all kinds of challenges, I figured out that I enjoy the feeling of being excellent, of being a leader and someone who wants to make a change. Ultimately, I want to be the owner of my life. I believe we all do.

The second thing I learned is giving back. Thank you, Loyola, for giving me such plentiful experiences to learn about this world. From my engaged learning course, I learned to care about my friends, my community, and the earth we are living on. That’s what Jesuit education has taught me, too.

The third thing I learned is to pay attention to the things around you, to embrace perfections and imperfections and cherish them. I still remember the sacramental principle I learned from my theology class, “That which is always and everywhere true must be noticed, accepted and celebrated someway, somewhere, and sometime.” Here, we have the chance to recognize our accomplishments, accept the imperfections, and celebrate our transformation.

I’m lucky to be part of this open and free community. Loyola shows its commitment to us by welcoming all individuals, regardless of their faith, tradition, national origin, or immigration status. It allows me to make mistakes, make changes, and become a better person. All of the generations before me in my family didn’t have the chance to study abroad and learn things from a different perspective. I’m the fortunate one to enjoy the privilege of higher education.

I encourage my fellow graduates to be someone that you like, remember to give back, and pay attention to things around you. Even as we start a new chapter of our life, we should never forget to utilize what we learned and seek to improve ourselves. It’s time to take the next steps in the journey and begin to build our futures.