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College of Arts and Sciences
Actress (credits include the TV show Scrubs)
To fulfill a passion for theatre
You may recognize Sonal Shah: she had a recurring role on the TV sitcom Scrubs. The role brought together her interest in medicine—and her passion for theatre, which took root at Loyola.
“I've always been a performer, and the first show I did at Loyola was West Side Story and then I was sucked in.” While Shah originally had considered pre-med biology, she found her true home in Loyola's theatre department.
You’ve heard the famous Shakespeare quote “All the world’s a stage,” but Shah will tell you that not all stages are like Loyola’s. During college, she says, “You are searching for your identity and people that love the same thing that you do.” Shah found her cast of soul mates among Loyola classmates and faculty. “It felt like family,” she says. “Everyone in the department was cared for and nurtured.” During a recent visit to Loyola she reflected, “On stage here, I have so many memories of so much community.” It is that sense of campus community that is so elemental to the Loyola experience.
Shah also liked that Loyola challenged all students to move beyond their comfort zone. The broad learning of Loyola’s Core Curriculum was vital in helping Shah discover herself, find her passions, then strive toward her goals. She calls Loyola a “great place to cultivate your humanness.”
“At Loyola, you get a well-rounded education” she explains, “and becoming a well-rounded person will also make you a better theatre performer or production staff member.”
That well-rounded education helped her find work quickly after graduation on many respected stages in Chicago and Los Angeles. Looking back, Shaw credits Loyola for giving her the foundation she needed to go out into the world and bring her dreams to life. “Loyola inspired me to do what I do,” she says.
School of Communication
Reviews Researcher, Groupon
Its Jesuit tradition and big-city Chicago location.
Never a dull moment. That captures the essence of Alysse Dalessandro's Loyola experience. "I did a lot while I was there," she says.
That was possible, she’ll tell you, because Loyola offers its students a supportive environment and advantages other schools don't. "I think the best thing about Loyola is that it's flexible enough that I could study abroad, double major and minor, and do four internships, and work almost the whole time I was at school. I could have all those experiences and still come out magna cum laude and get a great job afterward."
Loyola’s EVOKE program, which encourages vocation through knowledge and experience, helped her solidify writing as a career. So did her extensive internship experience. “The most beneficial thing I did was four internships while I was at Loyola,” says Dalessandro. “Loyola and the journalism program really stressed the practical in-the-newsroom experience—taking classes and learning the basics, and then actually applying them to the real world. When I started working on my own as a freelance writer, I knew how to do it because I had worked in a few newsrooms already.”
All that relevant in-the-trenches experience got her a research job at one of the hottest companies in the country—Groupon, the startup that ignited the group discount deal craze. “I love the environment here. Groupon is an awesome company,” she says.
Loyola was the perfect fit for Dalessandro’s hunger to learn and her desire for a Jesuit education in an urban environment. Loyola’s Chicago setting also offered a competitive edge. “Going to Loyola is a huge benefit. Many of the connections I used out of school were ones that I had established at Loyola.”
Photo credit: Stephanie Bassos
College of Arts and Sciences
Coordinator, Heartland Alliance
She knew that Loyola would give her many opportunities to help make a difference in the world.
Change agent: one prepared to take action in the world toward creating a better society.
That describes Loyola alumna Laura Morales. As a first-generation American, she grew up with an awareness of civil unrest and economic hardship through conversations with relatives in Guatemala. The turmoil in Central America, described firsthand by family who were directly affected, influenced Laura’s decision to attend Loyola. The University's Jesuit tradition, which emphasizes social justice as an important element of academic life, spoke to her.
Like most students at Loyola, Morales embraced the University’s call to action to help improve our world. "I wanted to do something that would benefit the greater good. Loyola was the place to learn how," she says. Loyola’s Center for Experiential Learning helps match students with service opportunities as a way to gain real-world experience and find their commitment to the world. Morales got involved with a student organization called Invisible Conflicts, whose mission is to raise awareness of conflicts around the world that don’t get attention in the media.
"I was one of the cofounders of a partnership that we developed in northern Uganda that educates former child soldiers. I was able to travel to Africa the summer between sophomore and junior year and lived there for three months. That pretty much solidified everything for me—I knew that was what I wanted to do." Morales found her calling to serve others.
The international experience and confidence Morales gained at Loyola have served her well at the Heartland Alliance, where she began working full time after graduation. She interned there as a student and today works in the organization’s international programs division.
Morales is just one of many Loyola graduates working hard to build a better society and discover our common humanity. "One of the big emphases that Loyola really pushed was to go out there, experience things, take on things that you usually wouldn't," she says.
College of Arts and Sciences
Graduate Student, Northwestern University
After her campus visit, she “just knew” Loyola was where she wanted to attend.
Loyola is committed to doing research that matters, the kind that develops lasting results and ground-breaking discoveries to improve the world. Alumna Christine Falaschetti continues that Loyola tradition in her cancer research and nanotechnology work, which studies compounds that can be as small as one billionth of a meter. Scientists and doctors are using these compounds as potential therapeutics and diagnostics.
It’s pretty cerebral stuff. But Loyola prepared Falaschetti well, offering her the smart options she needed to advance her interests and her career. Loyola allowed her to complete research projects to discover what interested her most—using her chemistry and research knowledge to advance medicine. “I had so many more opportunities than students at larger universities because I was able to do hands-on research and present my research at conferences. I really feel like an asset to the lab.”
Falaschetti was also mentored closely by her Loyola professors. “I have made long-lasting relationships with my research mentors and my professors,” she says. “They are always more than willing to give me advice and new ideas to take my research in new directions.”
After she completes her doctoral work, Falaschetti may pursue the research industry, teaching, or patent law. “No matter what I choose, Loyola has prepared me by giving me research experience and helping me develop the relationships that I have.”
Quinlan School of Business
Director of Operations, John Hancock Observatory
Its setting in downtown Chicago is a great advantage because Loyola uses the whole city as its campus.
The John Hancock Center is hard to miss as you arrive at Loyola’s Water Tower Campus. Rising up from Michigan Avenue, it makes a bold statement on the Chicago skyline—and to Loyola students: you’re on your way up.
Little did Zach Morrison realize as he passed it on the shuttle bus from the Lake Shore Campus that, one day, the iconic skyscraper’s 94th floor observatory would be his domain. “I started off as a political science major,” he says. However, as he progressed through the undergraduate Core Curriculum, he found himself drawn more to business and marketing classes. Now, as the Director of Operations at the John Hancock Observatory, Morrison is solving problems on his feet—dealing with everything from staff scheduling to figuring out why the café’s grill isn’t working. Keeping such a high-profile destination running smoothly is a challenge he relishes.
“The John Hancock Center is one of the most iconic structures in the world, so it’s really an honor to be working here and working for such a great tourist attraction,” he says. “Being able to impact the vacations and travel destinations for 600,000 people a year is something that really drives me and keeps me going.”
Morrison credits Loyola’s liberal arts foundation with preparing him for his demanding career. It focused on key life skills such as communication, responsible decision making, and critical thinking. “The Core Curriculum will get you set up for everything that you will encounter after graduation,” he says, and calls it “invaluable.”
School of Education
Teacher, Orchard Place Elementary School
For the opportunity to do teacher training in Chicago—and because employers respect the Loyola name.
Loyola graduates are known for choosing careers that don't always provide an easy path. Juan Bottia wanted to teach bilingual elementary education but worried about whether he was up to the challenge of being responsible for students' education at such a critical, formative period in their lives. The passion he saw in his own teachers in Loyola’s School of Education solidified how vital the job was and gave him the confidence he needed. "Observing my Loyola professors and how much they love what they teach really inspired me."
Bottia also says he always felt supported by the faculty. "My professors were always willing to lend me a hand and help me." In fact, one of them helped Bottia land his teaching job.
Loyola’s emphasis on cross-cultural understanding and global perspectives helped prepare Bottia for the real-world classroom. Loyola’s own multicultural student body and location in Chicago, home to more than 100 ethnically diverse neighborhoods, augmented Bottia’s cultural literacy and his teaching experience. "Loyola gave me the opportunity to observe schools in the Chicago area," he says. "I was able to learn from a variety of environments and work with different ethnic backgrounds. It really expanded my world view and allowed me to really become a better teacher and prepare myself for this career—which takes a lot of planning, a lot of hard work, and a lot of passion."
Now as a third- and fourth-grade bilingual teacher at an elementary school in suburban Chicago, Bottia works to inspire his own students, all of whom are learning to speak, read, and write in English for the first time. "We’re trying to let our students know that they can go to college one day. They are going to have the opportunity one day to make a career. A lot of these kids don’t know that."
Bottia’s Loyola education has prepared him to address the hopes and challenges of his classroom and our world. He exudes a critical Loyola belief—that with the right support and inspiration, one can prepare to lead an extraordinary life. That can be understood in any language.
Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing
Direct Care Staff Nurse, Northwestern Memorial Hospital
"Loyola has a fantastic reputation in Chicagoland and across the nation."
Learn broadly to think broadly. That aspect of a Loyola education so appealed to Dan Fraczkowski that he chose Loyola for his undergraduate nursing degree and for his current graduate study in nursing informatics.
At Loyola, Dan started as a pre-med biology major. Then, reflecting on a volunteer experience in a hospital pediatrics unit, he switched to nursing. "I realized what drew me to nursing was working one-on-one with patients every day," he says. Today, Dan cares for people ages 18 to 100 on a general medicine unit as a staff nurse at Chicago’s respected Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Loyola’s longtime outstanding academic reputation attracted Dan. “Loyola has nationally renowned programs in the school of nursing and a nationally renowned reputation.” Loyola’s was the first baccalaureate nursing program in the state of Illinois.
Another attractive aspect was Loyola’s access to high-quality clinical opportunities where Dan gained practical skills prior to entering the workforce. “We have excellent clinical partners. We’ve had experiences at some of the best hospitals in the nation,” he says, including his employer, where Dan completed his student clinicals and was subsequently hired.
Dan admires Loyola’s approach to an education that helps all students more fully embrace their work—and their lives. “I think the benefit of a Loyola education is having a broad liberal arts philosophy. You are not solely focused on nursing, the profession, and clinical aspects, but you really get the Jesuit values in terms of being a person for others,” he says. Loyola’s liberal arts focus has, he adds, “broadened my education.” Studying literature, philosophy, theology, history and more, have expanded his understanding of the world, making him more socially and culturally aware, and, thus a better caregiver.
He also appreciates that Loyola encourages students to become even more well-rounded by developing personal interests and experiencing life outside their majors. “I had a great opportunity to be involved in other organizations, not only those solely focused on nursing.”
School of Social Work
Addictions Counselor, Family Guidance Center
He liked the Jesuit traditions, the campuses, and Chicago.
Nicholas Framularo had no doubts about Loyola. He wanted a Jesuit education. While attending a Jesuit high school, he says, “I fell into the beliefs and ideals of the Jesuit traditions of working for others.” He also was drawn to Chicago and fell in love with the Loyola campus.
He also liked that Loyola encourages students to try new things and explore different avenues. And so Nicholas took a social work class. It clicked with him—he knew that was how he could put his values to work in the world.
Currently as counselor at a family guidance center for drug addiction, Nicholas finds his Jesuit education invaluable. It has prepared him well to interact with people from all walks of life, uncover solutions, and stand firm in his belief that he can change the world by serving others. In his job, Nicholas must develop relationships, analyze situations, and put theory to practice with his clients. But, he says, it’s also “taking a look at the whole person,” and that’s a Jesuit ideal. He works to help them stabilize—and succeed, for themselves.
When it comes to opportunities for success, Loyola is committed to providing students with as many as possible. Internships, for example, offer insight on a future career—including what you don’t want to do. Through them, says Framularo, “I could see, ‘This is what it’s like, this is how it works.’” Discovering particular areas within social work that weren’t his thing helped him zero in on the best niches for himself.
The five-year program—during which he could earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree—helped fast-track him into a career. “It made it a lot easier for me to just do a quick transition right into the graduate program,” he says, as opposed to finding another school and spending two more years completing his advanced degree. “My thought was to be able to get out quicker and to be able to help a little bit quicker.”
That’s the Loyola way: we help you get your degree, so you can get on with your life’s work.