Division of Student Development|Loyola University Chicago

Division of Student Development

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2012 Loyola Story and Meaning

What does Leadership mean to you?


Jonathan Winarski
 My Loyola story is most definitely a tale of a traveler searching for his destination.  When I first started at Loyola I was a communications major with a biology minor and I was planning on going to medical school.  I also began working with LUC EMS and various other programs which tested my leadership skills and capabilities.  Through these extracurricular activities I was and am still able to hone my skills so that I can constantly be learning and growing.  It was through this growth that I realized my true passion was not clinical medicine, but the organization and delivery of medical care through administrative duties.  It seems that each year I attend Loyola I discover something new about myself; something that adds to the definition of my person.  The theme of service for others has been so ingrained into my being.  It is an amazing and utterly important principle that Loyola has focused on and taught.  Through this journey, I have become like a traveler who, when meeting and talking to those I meet in passing, I realize that what I thought my destination was is not where I would like to go.  Due to the relationships and knowledge that I have gained on this journey my inner compass continues to point closer and closer to where I truly want and need to be.
Kathryn Stromdahl
As a senior in high school I had no idea where I wanted to go to college. Both myparents had only completed high school and as the oldest of three kids I was the first person to make it this far in their education. I applied to 11 schools thinking it would narrow itself down with some rejections and waitlists, but little did I know I would have to choose between all 11. Loyola was close to family with a beautiful campus, had a great track record for pre-med students, and offered a Learning Community for what I was interested in, so Rogers Park became my new home.
I never imagined that I would become so involved when I started as a freshman. I had never typically stepped out of my comfort zone before college, but Loyola offered so many different clubs, service projects, and just general opportunities that I couldn’t pass them up. Going into my senior year I have realized that Loyola has shaped me into the person I want to be because of all the chances it gave me. It has opened me up and given me experiences that I have learned a great deal from. Our Jesuit values and mission have shown me what it means to be part of a community and how I can make a difference. Loyola has presented me all the resources I needed to thrive and I don’t think that I would have had the same chance at any other university. 
Yvette Ssempijja
For the past three years I have been so privileged to gain knowledge and the upmost appreciation for Jesuit teachings encompassed by social justice, human dignity, and global awareness. Furthermore, I have gained the realization that such core philosophies relate to any preferred major concentration from Business, Exercise Physiology, to Journalism. The moral base of such an education is all encompassing and fulfills Loyola’s promise of “Preparing People to Lead Extraordinary Lives.” September of 2009 marks the beginning of my collegiate education, lifelong friendships, and knowledge of social justice as it pertains to my life and self-identification. The communities within Loyola welcomed my class with opened arms as we learned about major classes and explored the beautiful city of Chicago. More specifically, the Department of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs was my gateway to student leadership and opportunity to do service for Loyola and Chicagoland communities. SDMA programs and initiatives inspired me to make a difference by leading student organizations, planning events, and mentoring first-year students. Upon completion at this prestigious institution, I will obtain a Bachelors of Science in Health Systems Management. The document that I so anxiously yearn for in May of 2013 will have my major study written elegantly to symbolize my esteemed academic achievements. Yet, the life knowledge I will carry with me extends beyond the classroom through community events, volunteer opportunities, and meaningful interactions with others.
Betsy Redelman
I started out my freshman year at Loyola as a pre-med student. I had a really rigorous course load, was most often in the library until 2 am on school nights, and didn’t really feel like I’d found my place yet. I came into Loyola as a newly inducted member of Gannon Scholars, a 4-year progressive leadership program which focuses on women’s issues and feminism. This program really grounded me and helped me to figure out how to incorporate my passion for women’s issues into my everyday life and future career. Michelle D’Onofrio, a senior Gannon at the time, encouraged me to join Loyola’s chapter of CARE (College Advocates for Reproductive Education), which I did, and 3 years later I am a co-president of the organization. I have since changed my major to International Studies and have picked up minors in Anthropology, Women’s Studies, and Art. I volunteer on Loyola’s Student Farm and as an ESL Conversation Partner, love doing ceramics and painting, and regularly practice yoga. I spent a semester in Vietnam and am headed to Peru in July to do archaeology field work excavating an ancient tomb for seven weeks. Loyola has given me a space to really explore my various interests and has given me so many incredible opportunities. Through all of these experiences, I have been able to put together a much more ‘me’ life plan for myself, which is to become a midwife. My research on midwifery and childbirth as a Johnson Scholar has really helped to guide me on this path and has also opened so many doors for me. Though definitely full of trials and tribulations, I’d say that overall, my time at Loyola has been a huge blessing and really given me a wonderful place to learn and grow. For that I am so thankful.
Matthew Razek
I came to Loyola with the intention of getting involved right away (advice I wish I would have been given when starting high school) and making the best of my experience here, while studying biology for a potential medical career. I got involved right away with the Unified Student Government Association, Campion Hall Council, and Student Ambassadors. These experiences inspired me to get more involved on-campus and I looked for ways to do so. I was eventually re-elected to USGA and became Speaker of the Senate, a position I held for two years. I also became a Resident Assistant in Campion Hall and the Education Director for the 2011 National Jesuit Student Leadership Conference. As my sophomore year came to an end, I found that my biology courses no longer had the same "spark of interest" that they once had. Rather, my involvement with the Division of Student Development, both through organizations and interactions with the staff, is where I rediscovered that "spark." As junior year approached, I started my second term as Speaker, was a member of the Executive Board for Student Ambassadors, and interned in the Dean of Students Office (eventually transitioning to interning in the Office of the VP for Student Development). As second semester approached, I knew that I wanted to pursue a degree in Higher Education Administration after I graduate. Because I knew this (and with some "assistance" from Organic Chemistry) I changed my major to Psychology. I come in to senior year, more excited than ever, as Chief of Staff of USGA, , a Resident Assistant, an Executive Board Member for Student Ambassadors, a Maroon & Gold Society Member, and a student representative on the University Senate. Loyola and the Jesuits mean the world to me and I hope to give back to the University for all that it has given me these last three years!
Vincent Nguyen
Originally, Iattended a Jesuit high school in Dallas, Texas and became very involved andinspired by the Jesuit mission and goals. As such, I felt as though it would beappropriate for me to further my studies at a Jesuit University as well.Through this college search, I found Loyola University Chicago and I could notbe happier that I did. Personally, Loyola means a diverse and well-roundedcommunity, where even though we may not know all its members, everybody canstill come together in order to respect and appreciate each other’s differences.Loyola offered me the opportunity to continue on a Jesuit path and educate meas a whole person allowing me to hopefully contribute to the world when I’mfinished with my undergraduate degree. Loyola means being accepted for who youare after being given the freedom to discover who you are and your beliefs. Ithink that Loyola not only gave me the opportunity to grow in a sense of aneducation but also helped me find a community that I felt truly comfortable in.

Gerard Luisi
My Loyola story goes to the heart of the Loyola, Jesuit tradition. Since my days at Jesuit College Prep. in Dallas, TX, I have been inspired by the life and work of St. Ignatius of Loyola. St. Ignatius was committed to the idea that God is at work in our daily lives and that all things in life are given to us so that we might better come to know God. This idea is reflected in the Jesuit intellectual tradition which seeks to expand knowledge in the service of humanity.

I came to Loyola so that I might be a part of a community seeking to live out that tradition. Loyola is a vibrant community situated in one of the world’s greatest cities. As such, the potential for Loyola to do good in the world is tremendous. I believe in the commitment Loyola has to prepare people to lead extraordinary lives, lives that truly begin to shape the world into a more just and beautiful place.

During my time at Loyola, I have seen this mission in action. Working at Loyola’s Center for Experiential Learning, I have encountered the impact Loyola students have on Chicago and the world through their volunteer work, academic internships, undergraduate research, and community-based federal work study jobs. While these endeavors would be impressive at any institution of higher education, the Loyola spirit that asks students to “set the world on fire” reminds us that what we accomplish in these areas can actually change the world for the better.
Nia Lewis
Without a doubt Loyola University Chicago has changed mylife. Though I am sure students from all across the country have these samesentiments about their respective universities I like to think Loyola UniversityChicago is much more special. Early on through my involvement with the STARSprogram I was blessed to make connections with both students and staff who sawsomething special within me. With their words of encouragement and example oflove I have been able to mature into a remarkable young woman with the world ather fingertips.
When firstentering into college I was a bundle of potential with no direction. The STARS programtruly helped direct me on a path of social justice and identity development. Equippingme with the tools to talk appropriately about my race and gender relations Ihave been apart of many different areas of campus life. Going on to become ateaching assistant for an anthropology course on globalization,  serve on the executive board of the BlackCultural Center, study abroad in Ghana, become a mentor for STARS myself, amongmany other admirable accomplishments.  LoyolaUniversity Chicago will forever be a chapter in my life that I will look backupon with a smile. Its significance in my lifelong journey is almostindescribable.
John Klinker
During my senior year of high school I toured several different schools throughout the Midwest, during said tours I felt most comfortable at Loyola. I entered school knowing few other students, but quickly met a great deal of new people within my first few weeks through classes and different activities. Because of my different classes and activities I was exposed to a great deal of exciting new opportunities which: have provided me with knowledge, affected my outlook on life, and have been very fun. Because of these initial experiences I continued to further partake in different opportunities offered to me throughout my freshman year as well as the following years. Through these different undertakings I have learned a great deal, been exposed to some incredible experiences, and established relationships with people who will forever remain some of my closest friends. For all of these reasons Loyola has had an enormous impact on me. When I think of Loyola I cannot help but think of the incredible memories which have been created over the last three years, and those to come this year. I also cannot help but to think about how dramatically my experiences will have an effect upon my life after my graduation. Loyola is and will forever remain a key part in the formation of the person that I am and the person I will be.
Meghan Donaghy
As a senior at Loyola, I am able to look back on the past three years of my collegiate experience and smile in recognition of the holistic Jesuit education I have actively pursued and graciously been given. I became involved as a member of the Ignatian Leadership Living Learning Community from the moment I stepped onto campus, which provided me with an unbelievably fitting jump-start to my overall experience at Loyola. This community offered opportunities to learn about myself through reflection as I continuously made connections between the woman I sought to become and the encompassing themes of Ignatian living: leadership, academic excellence, and service to others. I soon became involved with Loyola’s Office of First Year Experience as a Learning Community Mentor, an Orientation Team Leader, and a College Coach. I gained critical mentoring experience through these unique roles, thriving in environments that challenged me to give of myself, act as a positive role model, provide a listening ear and a friendly face, and guide other students to live their lives for others. I made a continual point to lead incoming students in the ways I had been led, out of a larger goal to help them discover and create a Loyola experience that would be meaningful and inspiring to them. I also became involved with Labre, Loyola’s homeless ministry. The time I spent building relationships with my friends on the streets and challenging student volunteers to be authentic and bold in entering the eye-opening perspective that Labre offers has been unlike any other. As I prepare to embark on the next stage of my life, it is a bittersweet feeling to know that I will soon be apart from Loyola, as it has grown to hold a very special place in my heart. However, I am excited to share my personal experiences, dedication to service and justice, passion for academic excellence, commitment to cherishing diversity, and developed leadership skills wherever the future takes me.
David Blount
I often reflect on my personal development in these past 7 years of my Jesuit education. (Graduate of St. Louis University High and now Loyola) My story emphasizes finding self in faith, service, and learning. There have been various struggles in my life that have pushed me to face personal challenges and strive for something greater. In my efforts, numerous opportunities through my education, church community, family, and service, have enriched my view of the world and how I fit within it. It is through exposure to various realities within and outside my own that have allowed me to better understand the world around me. My time at Loyola, and the community we are in, could not have done more to bring this to fruition.  My involvement with student organizations, Student Diversity & Multicultural Affairs, Ministry, Student Activities & Greek Affairs, my studies in sociology and international studies, and my work in the Chicago community presented a setting for me to thrive. I have been challenged intellectually, personally, and spiritually to better understand what it means to serve and progress on all levels. I am grateful to and for my Loyola experience.
Aysel Bayrak
After moving to Chicago from Istanbul, I began taking classes in different schools. At first, I was not very serious because I was more interested in playing music and adapting to my new life in the United States. However, after I took a few science classes (and some intense self-searching) I became more serious about my education. After volunteering at a hospital I was sure I wanted to become a physician.  I looked into my options and found out about Loyola’s Biophysics program. This program seemed like the perfect fit for me as I always liked both physics and biology and because the program included all the coursework necessary for a premed student. I fell in love with the campus on my first visit which is not very unusual as I’ve heard from many other students. My love for Loyola grew stronger ever since. I have never seen a school with such exceptional take on ethics, and with amazing faculty and staff. Loyola changed me in ways I could have never imagined. Meeting many inspiring people who believe in me and support me in where I want to go in life made me a more confident and motivated person.


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