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A family tradition

A family tradition

Jolett Rod (BS '13) transferred a work ethic from her family's cattle farm to Loyola.

Coming from her family's cattle farm and a graduating high school class of 28, Jolett Rod (BS '13) took her turn in college while her brothers cared for her herd 

By Anastasia Busiek

Jolett Rod (BS ’13) kept plenty busy in her time at Loyola. Majoring in biology with three minors (anthropology, bioethics, and neuroscience), she completed 150 credit hours in four years. She also became EMT-certified through Loyola and worked as a volunteer on-call 24 hours a day, responding to emergency medical calls on campus. But then, Rod is no stranger to hard work. Growing up on a cattle farm instilled a healthy respect for long days and commitment to a task.

The family lives and works on their cattle farm—Rod Farm—in Sublette, Illinois, about two hours west of Chicago. They rent out pastures and breed cattle to show and to sell. Rod’s father, Rodney, started a herd in his 20s. When each of his three children turned 8, he gave them two heifers from which the children went on to grow their individual herds—Jolett’s now numbers around 20.  Jolett began showing cattle at age 8, as did her older brothers. Although many farms stick to one breed, the Rods have a little bit of everything: Shorthorns, Maine Anjous, Herefords, Simmentals, and more.

Although her brothers, Rodney and Brody, did what she describes as “most of the hard labor,”—feeding and calving in rain, sleet, or snow—Jolett was responsible for the show cattle during the summers. It went something like this:

Get up before dawn. Take the cattle to the wash rack; tie them to their post. Soak, scrub, and rinse them. Take them inside, dry them with the industrial dryer, comb and brush them, tie their heads up so they stand, and feed them.  Rod showed at county fairs, local 4-H shows, and the Illinois State fair. When she was in 6th grade, her family started to yearly attend a livestock exposition in Louisville. Rod loved it all.

When each of her older brothers left home for college, the other took care of his herd during the school year. When Jolett left for Loyola, her brothers did the same for her, giving her the practical support and peace of mind required to keep up with her rigorous school schedule.

“I knew my brothers were at home maintaining my cattle herd so that I could focus on my studies,” Rod says. “It’s what allowed my success.” She returned home in the summers to work with the calves.

Her first two years at Loyola, Rod was still within the 21-year age limit and was able to show cattle. Those days are over now, but, in a way, they set her to her current path. Rod’s love of animals and gross anatomy influenced her childhood aspirations to be a veterinarian. Then, her senior year, Rod took a forensic osteology class with Professor Anne Grauer and discovered she loved working not just with animal anatomy, but also human. She’s starting chiropractic school in Portland, Oregon, this fall. And although she’ll be far away from both her cattle and her family, neither will be far from her mind.

Read more stories of outstanding Loyola alumni