Student: Caroline Chalker
Higher Education Master's Student
Started LUC: 2013
My roots are in Connecticut where I was born, raised and where I attended college. I grew up in Clinton CT, which is a shoreline town on Long Island Sound and geographically the exact half way point between Boston and NYC! I graduated from Quinnipiac University in May 2013 and then came directly to Chicago to continue my education as a graduate student in the Higher Education program. My love for the field of student affairs began at Quinnipiac, where I was fortunate enough to be an involved student, and have some amazing mentors who encouraged me to pursue this career. Chicago has always been close to my heart and where I knew I wanted to go to graduate school. My mom was raised here and I still have family both in the city and suburbs, so Chicago has always been one of my favorite places to be.
I have been very lucky here at Loyola to have had an amazing experience that has prepared me to enter the field as a full-time professional. I will be graduating in May and I am currently job searching so I don’t have an exact answer yet, but hopefully I will be in a great job working to help enhance the experience of students as they have some of the best years of their lives. My passions are in programming, event planning and residence life, so that is where you will most likely find me in the future!
Outside of the classroom my main involvement is in my graduate assistantship in the Student Activities and Greek Affairs office, where I work specifically with the Department of Programming ((dop)). The past year and a half in my assistantship has been and exciting whirlwind of experiences that I am very fortunate to have had. Not only have I been able to work with a ton great students, but I am also surrounding by staff members who I look up to and are doing amazing work. I also serve as one of the graduate students who serves on the Graduate Assistant Formation Council (GAFC) which works to better serve the GA's in the Division of Student Development and Academic Services. I also try to engage as much as possible with the Higher Education Student Association (HESA) which is comprised of my peers in the Higher Education program, they provide a lot engaging and meaningful experiences for us as a community, which I truly appreciate.
Without a doubt the people and the memories that I have made with them. Every day I am reminded of why the people at Loyola make it the special place it is. Between the students, staff and faculty, I will be able to graduate in May with some cherished memories. I have to give a shout out to my supervisor Leslie Watland whom I am very blessed to have been able to work with. She not only pushes me to be a great professional, but is also someone who I consider a true friend. She never fails to make me laugh and my time at Loyola would not have been the same without her.
I find myself contributing to Loyola communities in a few different ways. In my day to day work I try to engage the students that I work with in ways that better Loyola and leaves this university a stronger place because of it. That looks a lot like strengthening student leaders, participating in on campus events and programs and pushing them to critically think about their work and actions. Outside of my work, I personally engage in events and programs that open my mind and experiences. Loyola has some phenomenal programming that I have not seen at other universities such as ABI's, panel discussions, trainings and open dialogues. I have tried to soak up as much of that as possible over the last two years.
Chicago is still relatively new to me, but also feels like home as well. I do my best to explore the different neighborhoods that I have lived in, three so far! I also try to shop locally, eat at new restaurants and learn about the history and heritage of different parts of the city. In October I participated in an amazing trip through SDMA called a Fall Break Immersion. We spent three days traveling around the city learning about gentrification in different neighborhoods, specifically in Pilsen and West Humbolt Park, and how it is altering this city and so many lives. I luckily also have my family here who have been able to help show me some really great parts of the city and provide me with some unique experiences that I otherwise would never have known to do!
Over the past year and a half here at Loyola, I have learned and changed my definition of justice more times than I can count. Currently, justice in the context of Loyola, means serving students and our community in the best ways I can. It also means using my spheres of influence to make positive changes to better the lives of those I interact with as well as the greater good. Loyola's mission to serve those on the margins of society has also grounded me in thinking about justice in a context that extends well beyond myself. My future in this field has been altered by the idea of providing education to those who are typically underserved and underrepresented. I work hard to meet students where they are at in their development and challenge them to broaden their understanding of what it means to be a part of community that is social justice oriented. Justice is also an ever evolving term for me so I hope that I never have a concrete answer to a question like this.
Loyola is the first place where I have been involved in Jesuit education, and I am deeply grateful to have had this experience. My time as a graduate student and the Jesuit education I have received, has drastically re-altered how I think about justice, reflection, becoming an educator for the betterment of others, and serving those who have been marginalized. I have become a more thankful, spiritual and thoughtful individual because of my Jesuit education.
My favorite spot on campus is the large conference table in the ((dop)) office when I am surrounded by the students I work with, and we are casually laughing, enjoying each others company and having a typically ridiculous conversation. Although I love the view of the lake, the majority of my memories and favorite times have been spent around this table. Outside of Loyola my favorite spot in Chicago is Oak Street beach on a summer day. Nothing beats the views of the lake, the skyline and being able to enjoy the outdoors. Really any park of the lakeshore path and the beach are amazing!
Dear future Ramblers, immerse yourself! This was one of the best pieces of advice I received when coming to Loyola. As students, we only have a limited amount of time here, so I would tell others to take part in as many experiences you can. Take advantage of all of the amazing programs, events and trips that Loyola has to offer.