Student: Kait Madsen
I’m originally from Council Bluffs, Iowa, which is right by Omaha. I have two younger sisters and two Golden Retrievers. When I’m in Chicago I miss my mom’s home cooking, seeing stars in the sky at night, and going to my favorite local coffee shop, but I love being in Chicago right now. I came to Loyola because I wanted to go to a bigger city for college and loved Loyola’s social justice mission, and I truly know I made the best college choice for myself with Loyola.
I’m in my senior year right now but still not entirely sure where I’ll end up. My work with the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution really sparked an interest in policy, judicial issues, and conflict resolution, so I may eventually go to law school after taking a couple of gap years to work and pursue other opportunities. I also really enjoy research, however, so going to graduate school to be a professor eventually is a possibility as well. In all honesty, I’m completely open to exploring different paths, and hope to be doing work that I find meaningful, that makes me happy, and that allows me to make a positive impact on my corner of the world.
I am a Chairperson for the Student Community Board in the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution, and also work for the OSCCR as student worker. As a Student Community Board member, I get to have meaningful interactions and conversations with students about ideas like justice, integrity, responsibility, and care. The staff members of the OSCCR are incredibly supportive, caring, and motivating and have made my experience at Loyola really wonderful. I also work as a fitness instructor at Halas teaching an early morning toning classes called Guns, Buns, and Abs. I’ve been teaching at Halas for three years and love that I’m in a position to encourage wellness and focus on my own well-being as a fitness instructor. I’m a Content and Section editor for BROAD Magazine, which is a social justice magazine through the Women’s Studies and Gender Studies department. I also have been very involved with Oxfam Loyola, and I’m part of the Maroon & Gold Society as well.
I really, honestly love the people at Loyola. Overall, the students, staff, and faculty members are kind, hardworking, and passionate.
I work for a social enterprise called Loom that’s made up of refugee women who are resettled in the Rogers Park neighborhood from all over the world. The Loom artisans come from Bhutan, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Congo, Sudan, Myanmar, and the Ivory Coast. All of the Loom members are incredibly talented, and they bring their own unique skills and design ideas to Chicago to make products like knit scarves, crochet jewelry, and indigo-dyed silk that they then sell at local sales and in local boutiques. I love working with them every week at a church in Rogers Park, and I think the diversity of the group reflects the diversity of Rogers Park. In addition to Loom, I love to try new restaurants in Rogers Park and throughout the rest of the city. Some of my neighborhood favorites are Thai Spice, Cookies and Carnitas, and Taste of Peru.
For me, justice centers on care. It’s about genuinely caring for the people I interact with on a daily basis, and showing all people respect and dignity. Beyond interpersonal interactions, justice is about caring for populations or identities that are marginalized or underrepresented. It’s about awareness of one’s own position in society and the world at large, and the impact of that position on others.
Loyola’s Jesuit education has been incredibly influential in shaping me as a student and person of the world. One of my best friends who goes to a state school in Iowa came to visit me in my second year at Loyola on a weekend when I had organized a benefit concert for Oxfam Loyola at the Heartland Café in Rogers Park. As I introduced my friend to other students who helped organize the show, played in it, or came to support it, she was blown away at the passions and social justice involvement of the students at Loyola. I think that’s a testament to Jesuit education: there’s a sense of students not trying to just find a career, but trying to figure out how to genuinely make the world better. It’s a really positive environment to learn and live in.
My favorite on-campus spot is the view of the lake from the arched walkway between the IC and the chapel. I still can’t get over the beauty of the lake. In the middle of a major city and a busy college schedule, the lake is a constant reminder to breathe and acknowledge that the world is so much bigger than me. My favorite place in all of Chicago is a tough call. My favorite neighborhood is probably Andersonville, but there are so many special spots.
Get involved with something (or several things) you care about at Loyola, in the Rogers Park community, or in the greater Chicago area. Recognize that college is an opportunity to explore some of your interests and that you have a lot of resources at Loyola to help you follow your passions. Also, find a few spots that are your special “productive” places to do work and save them for times when you really need to get work done. I have a couple of coffee shops that I go to when I need to knock out a chunk of a paper or make a stack of notecards for a test. And finally, remember to enjoy yourself! It sounds cliché, but it really does go by so fast. If there are things you want to experience while you’re here, do them now! And treat yourself to a coffee sometimes.