Loyola University Chicago

Student Leadership Development

Division of Student Development

Staff: Shannon Howes

Title: Director, Student Leadership Development
Started LUC: 2010

I grew up near Toronto, Ontario, in Canada.  I visit my family there as often as possible.  I have lived in Chicago since 2001, and it now feels like home (although I still call my hometown in Canada “home” too).  I love being in a city that has so much to offer – museums, the lake, parks, music and theatre, and so many fabulous neighborhoods to explore with my partner, children, and friends.

Prior to working at Loyola University Chicago, I worked at another university in Chicago, first in residence life, and in a student leadership development office after that.  I was drawn to working in higher education because of my love for learning, the meaningful work I am able to do with amazing colleagues, and all that I gain from spending time with bright, passionate, talented students who inspire me.  As a student, I benefited greatly from staff mentors who believed in me, and encouraged me.  I became very involved on-campus and had so many transformative experiences both during my time as an undergraduate student, and a master’s student.  I hope I can provide students with the kind of support and encouragement I received from my mentors.  

I have the honor of working with so many amazing students.  I am here to listen to their stories, to affirm and encourage them, and to celebrate their accomplishments.  I strive to help create spaces where students feel comfortable and invited to share, learn, and grow together in community.  I am here to answer students’ questions, to ask them questions, and to help them see connections between their lives here at LUC and their future goals.

I strive to find ways to connect students with opportunities that I believe they would enjoy, and that have potential to contribute to their development.  It is so exciting to see students discover issues about which they are passionate, and find ways to take risks, learn, and try new things.  I also love it when students form strong positive relationships with peers, as well as staff and faculty mentors.

This photo is of members of the Leadership for Social Change Learning Community – every year, I have so much fun with this amazing group of students.‌

Student Leadership Development staff strive to provide students with high-quality, engaging opportunities that will enhance their leadership capacity, help them gain confidence in their abilities as leaders, and develop skills and knowledge that will support their efforts to create positive change in the world.  I hope that involvement with our programs enhances students’ curricular and co-curricular experiences, and has a positive influence on their lives broadly.

Our student staff are as committed to their work as our professional staff.  This photo shows our Peer Leadership Team in the 2013-2014 year. 

There are so many things: the opportunity to continue to learn and develop personally, being at a mission-focused institution, being on such a beautiful campus right on the lake, reflecting in a quiet moment at LUREC, and traditions such as the Convocation Walk, Finals Breakfast, and Senior Toast.  More important to me than anything else are the phenomenal students and amazing colleagues with whom I interact every day.    

I have great memories of the programs I have helped to coordinate, and the students I have met as a result.  This photo shows the group of students who participated in The People’s Institute in the first year the program was offered. ‌

I hope that students know that I am here for them, that I believe in them, and that my goal is to do whatever I can to support them in their goals related to personal development and the work they are doing (and will do) to make the world a more positive, just place.  I am inspired by our students – I am a better person today than I was years ago because of them.  I am grateful that I have the opportunity to learn and grow with so many amazing students, and am honored to be part of their journeys. 

In addition to connecting with students through SLD programs, I have served as co-advisor for Student Government of Loyola Chicago since the fall of 2014, and will serve as the advisor for the Maroon & Gold Society in the 2015-2016 academic year (some members of this group are pictured here). 

One of my favorite definitions is from Lee Anne Bell (from Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice, 2007).  To paraphrase, the goal of social justice is to establish a society in which all members fully participate, feel physically and psychologically safe and secure, and experience a sense of agency as well as a commitment to social responsibility for and with all members of the society and the world in which we live.

I strive to always be conscious of ways in which the work I do can support efforts towards social justice.  Certainly, I am far from perfect, there is much I still have to learn, and there is always more I can do.  I am grateful for the opportunity to be a doctoral student in the Higher Education program at Loyola University Chicago.  I have been fortunate to learn with and from wonderful faculty members and students in the program who are passionate about issues of social justice. ‌

I value the commitment to social justice, focus on reflection, and care for the whole person.  These were things I valued prior to coming to work at Loyola University Chicago, and I appreciate that others here share this commitment. 

I also appreciate being part of a network of people who attend and work at Jesuit institutions.  In my first year at LUC, I advised a committee of students who planned the annual National Jesuit Student Leadership Conference (NJSLC), a 5-day student leadership conference for over 300 people. It has been fun to travel with students to other Jesuit campuses in the summers following 2011, when we hosted the conference.  This photo is of the group of students who attended when Santa Clara University hosted the NJSLC.     

My two favorite places are the path along the lake near Piper Hall, and the small hill overlooking the pond at LUREC.  I really appreciate being in these places for quite moments of reflection.  The labyrinth at LUREC is also a great place for thoughtful contemplation.  ‌

A few years ago, a number of staff (and LU Wolf) surprised students with a choreographed dance in the middle of Finals Breakfast.  We practiced in secret for a few days leading up to the event.  For the next few Finals Breakfast events, students came eagerly awaiting another “surprise” because they had enjoyed it so much. You can see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2KfofgFia0

Take advantage of all of the opportunities available to you here.  Focus on your studies, but also make time to build relationships, try new experiences, learn new things about yourself and the world.  Challenge yourself to expand your comfort zone, to think critically, to engage in brave conversations, and explore ways to pursue your passions.