Loyola University Chicago

Ricci Scholars

2017-2018 Ricci Scholars

Five Loyola sophomores have been chosen as the next group of Ricci Scholars: Melissa Chiaro, Mark Neuhengen, John Schmisek, Jacob Sierra, and Jessica Xi.

Each of these scholars has performed at the highest levels of their class academically and enjoys the support of a faculty mentor. During their stays in Rome and Beijing, they will participate in regular classes while carrying out their Ricci Scholars projects.

2017-2018 Ricci Scholars

Melissa Chiaro, a member of the Honors Program from Griffith, Indiana, is majoring in international studies with minors in French and marketing. She has been awarded a scholarship to pursue an innovative project on the so-called “Korean Wave,” the recent exportation of K-pop music and Korean television dramas to Italy and China, and its reception by the publics of those nations. Through interviews with university students, fan club members, and academics, Chiaro hopes to uncover general knowledge of and attitudes toward these cultural movements in Rome and Beijing.

Mark Neuhengen hails from Niles, Illinois, and is pursuing a double major in history and religious studies as well as minors in Catholic studies, Islamic studies, and Arabic language and culture. In line with his study of religions, he will focus on relics and the ways in which the Italian Roman Catholics and Chinese Buddhists interact with these objects to illuminate the similarities and differences between and within religious traditions.

John Schmisek, a member of the Honors Program from Winnetka, Illinois, is majoring in international studies and French. He will pursue a comparative study of the largely unexplored underground independent music scenes in Rome and Beijing. In particular, Schmisek intends to examine how the profound changes in the way music is created, distributed, and consumed during the past decade have effected musicians, listeners, and the community spaces of music scenes in the two cities.

Jacob Sierra hails from Hillside, Illinois, and is pursuing a major in marketing and a minor in religious studies. For his cross-cultural project, Jacob will carry out a comparative exploration of the union of art and religion that focuses on the role of public and personal statues in individual worship in Italy and China. His aim is to shed light on the more intimate and spiritual relationship between people and statues in the Roman Catholic and Chinese Buddhist traditions.

Jessica Xi, another member of the Honors Program from Lakeville, Minnesota, is majoring in international studies and history with minors in leadership studies and Chinese. Her project will look at one dimension of globalization by examining a comparatively new group of self-initiated expatriates in Rome and Beijing. In particular, Xi will focus on English-speaking British, American, and Australian citizens and the impact of recent developments in their countries of origins. She hopes to discuss the effects of changes such as Brexit, the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and the decay of the Barrier Reef on their respective communities abroad and engagement in homeland affairs.