Loyola University Chicago

Community Service & Action

Division of Mission Integration

CSA Stories

Welcome to our CSA stories, where you'll find quick but in-depth glimpses into our staff, students, faculty, and collaborators. Interviews are posted with the more recent at the top.


2022-2023 Stories!

Josh Arsulowicz
Major: Supply Chain Management/Finance
Minor: Spanish

Where are you from?
Grand Rapids, Michigan

What do you like to do?
Play basketball, spend time with friends and family, read, watch football and basketball (Go Blers and Go Blue!)

How are you involved in Community Service & Action?
Since the start of my sophomore year, I’ve been involved in Loyola4Chicago.

Why do you engage in the community?
For a few reasons. One, part of my faith as a Christian is the belief that we ought to give back and help those in need. Also, living in a community as diverse and rich as Chicago and Rogers Park inspires me to go out and become more immersed in the community.

What is one of your favorite stories from your community engagement experiences?
Last year, I volunteered at Centro Romero, a primarily Latino after-school program. Once the kids warmed up to me and grew more comfortable with me, they tried to sneak sentences by me in Spanish to their friends or make fun of my Spanish accent (I’m a non-native Spanish speaker---it’s my minor at school). I loved being able to joke and interact with these kids and have them feel comfortable enough to be themselves around me.

How are you involved at Loyola outside of CSA?
I am the Vice President of Men’s Club Basketball, I’m a lector for Mass at Madonna della Strada Chapel, I am member of Alpha Sigma Nu (Jesuit Honors Society), and I am also a part of the Honors College Mentorship Program. Plus, going to basketball games are always at the top of my to-do list.

What is your favorite place on campus?
This is a really tough one, but if I had to pick it would be Gentile Arena. Basketball game days with a packed student section are one of the best parts of being a student here.

What advice would you give to an incoming student at Loyola?
Enjoy the ride! I’m somehow already over halfway through my time here, and it feels like yesterday when I first committed to go to school here. LUC is an incredible place, and do your best to enjoy every second you get here.



Mia Silvestros
Major: Public Health
Minor: Does Premed count?  

Where are you from?
St. Louis, MO

What do you like to do?
I like to eat, sleep, and spend time with my friends. I’m always up for a good movie, card game, or a dance party!

How are you involved in Community Service & Action?
I am a student leader for the St. Thomas of Canterbury soup kitchen! This is currently my second semester as a student leader, but I have been volunteering at the soup kitchen for about a year and a half. I was a member of the Service and Faith Learning Community when I was a freshman (even though we were online). So, the transition to be a member of CSA was easy.  

Why do you engage in the community?
3 Reasons:
    1. To help those in need
    2. To apply my public health knowledge
    3. To make Chicago feel more like home  

How do you envision living out the call to “Build the Greater Good” after you graduate?
My ultimate plan is to earn my MPH before attending medical school, then going into the primary care field. I absolutely love public health and I hope to work in an underserved community as a doctor to provide health education, health promotion, and increased healthcare equity. If the whole medical school thing doesn’t work out, I’d like to still work in community health as a public health official!  

How are you involved at Loyola outside of CSA?
I like to play intramural volleyball and I am a research assistant for a community health program. I’d like to make it to a Ramblers basketball and volleyball game soon!  

What is your favorite place on campus?
Huge fan of the SES. All my homies stare at the koi.  

What tips do you have for building and maintaining community in college?  
Consistency! It can be hard to make connections and memories if you’re only involved in something once or twice during the year. Find something you really enjoy and stick with it!



Arkhawan Salih
Chief Operating Officer
Forging Opportunities for Refugees in America (FORA)

Bachelor’s degree, Law and Political Science
Master’s degree, International Relations
Certificate of Data Science and Visualization, Northwestern University

Professional Experience:
I have worked in the field of Human Rights Advocacy for most of my career. I worked as a leader in project management and organizational management for more than 15 years in the local and international non-profits organizations both in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and the United States.

Where are you from?
Kurdistan Region of Iraq

What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time, I spend most of my time with my family. I enjoy watching movies and talking with my daughters (12, 17 years old). I also enjoy family and friends outings to fun activities and summer concerts and barbeques in Chicago. Additionally, I enjoy my alone time reading, listening to music, and spending some time in nature.

How would you describe your role at FORA?
My role at Forging Opportunities for Refugees in America (FORA) is to oversee day to day operations, implementation of FORA projects and programs, and monitor the quality of services we provide to our community. In addition, working on developing long term planning and program monitoring and evaluation tools, Hiring employees and building a dedicated team who understand the profound impact of social change and advocacy in the field of human rights generally, and the right to accessible and compatible education for the refugee and SLIFE (Student with Limited and Interrupted Formal Education) students particularly.

Why do you engage in the community?
I believe that each person is responsible to help their community in any way they can. For me, I like to help others not only because it is my responsibility but also because I am very passionate about human rights for all. I am able and willing to engage in and benefit the community by using my skills and experience in multiple fields that I built over the time. I manage programs and organizations that restore rights and freedom to the most marginalized and vulnerable people such as children and youth, women, refugees, Institutionalized people, survivors of domestic violence and abuse, etc.

At FORA, we empower refugee SLIFE children by providing 80 refugee children with daily after-school tutoring. Every student receives two hours a day, five days a week, of individualized foundational tutoring so that academic scaffolding can begin, so that, over time, students can catch up to grade level and, finally, so that school becomes meaningful. We provide more than 35,000 hours of student tutoring a year with a two-to-one or less student-tutor ratio. And this deep commitment leads to amazing results. Additionally, we empower student’s families by becoming a sufficient resource to their children’s academic progress, by helping parents to have access to information they need to understand the US education system and how to get engaged with schools.

What is one of your favorite stories from your experiences with CSA/Loyola4Chicago?

I have many wonderful stories and experiences with Loyal students who support FORA students and programs. I have to mention that FORA’s largest number of tutors comes from Loyola work study, Loyola4Chicago and Loyola volunteers. We are so grateful and appreciative of all the work they do, and how they inspire our students everyday. They come with a high level of professionalism and passion that make them a perfect role model for our students. There were several occasions when work-study students from Loyola decided to continue volunteering at FORA as a tutor even after they completed their work-study program. Many times, Loyola interns, volunteers and tutors left such a positive impact on our programs, students and the team that we were deeply saddened when they left or their programs ended. I have to mention that at FORA we offered a job position to one of the very talented and hardworking Loyola students who currently work as Head of Volunteers Recruitment at FORA. We look forward to expanding our partnership with Loyola as both our organizations promote community values and principles that make the social changes possible.

What is your favorite thing about the work you do?
My favorite part of the work I do is the changes and progress I observe in the education and behavior of the children we serve at FORA. When I see a child who was disengaged and did not have hope for their future only a few months ago, is starting to get involved with their tutors and FORA staff members, ask questions about school programs and college life, getting higher grades at school, attending school every day, and seeing smile on their faces is the most rewarding thing at my work.

What is your favorite place in Rogers Park?
My favorite part of Rogers Park is the diverse and colorful area around Devon as this area contains communities of different origins and faith, great grassroots organizations, and authentic cultural restaurants and stores.




Ade Olu-Ajeigbe
Major: Bioinformatics; Minor: Computer Science

Where are you from?
Chicago, IL

What do you like to do?
I enjoy drawing. I play two instruments - guitar and piano. I also love to cook.

How are you involved in Community Service & Action?
I am the leader of the Wednesday Loyola for Chicago group that works with Big Brothers and Big Sisters in Chicago. We help encourage and mentor the young minds at Jordan Elementary school.

What is one of your favorite stories from your community engagement experiences?
During my time as a volunteer for the pantry, there was a time that a woman needed help carrying food to the bus stop. She had had a horrible week, and this helped her as she needed food for her kids. She explained that she had been experiencing back pain from working long hours and that made everything easier. I think being able to help her in a small way made me realize the impact of even the smallest action.

How do you envision living out the call to “Build the Greater Good” after you graduate?
After graduating, I want to continue working in the community as a volunteer delivering food to individuals who need it. I’m passionate about creating solutions to food insecurity in my local community. I want to continue contributing to the community as a volunteer storing, facilitating, and delivering food to individuals who need it. In addition, I hope I can collaborate in other ways like organizing food drives and raising funds for under-served community pantries.

How are you involved at Loyola outside of CSA?
I work at Lakeview Pantry. It is a great experience helping people be able to obtain food and supporting individuals who need food delivered to them.

What is your favorite place on campus?
I have two favorite places on campus the Quad and Halas. Loyola has a beautiful campus, and the Quad is a great place to take it in and have fun. Halas has so many things to do from rock climbing, swimming, and basketball.  

What tips do you have for building and maintaining community in college?
It starts with being knowledgeable about the needs of the community. From there, the main way to build community in college is to get involved. Finding ways to support the community through clean up, donations, or helping to organize events within community are great places to start. Also, joining clubs on campus with your interests are the best way to explore what you are truly passionate about.  

What advice would you give to an incoming student at Loyola?
Loyola is a wonderful university with multiple opportunities. Try everything! Learn as much as you can! Embrace the culture at Loyola. There are so many great people here that you can grow with from faculty to students.




Bizzy Stephenson
CSA Community Outreach Coordinator (Staff Member)

What did you study when you were a college student?
B.A. from the University of St. Thomas with majors in English and Justice & Peace Studies and a minor in American Culture & Difference. M.Ed. from Seattle University in Student Development Administration

What do you like to do in your free time?
Sing, watch movies at indie theaters, go on walks and explore the neighborhoods around mine, bike by the lake, read good books.

Where else have you worked?
During graduate school, I worked as a graduate Area Coordinator in Housing and Residence Life.

How would you describe your role with Community Service & Action?
I get to liaison between our incredible community partner organizations and our wonderful student volunteers to facilitate student engagement with community off campus.

What is one of your favorite stories from your experiences with CSA?
Hosting interviews for L4C this year, I got to meet all our volunteers who were so kind, and I got to witness the welcoming leadership of our L4C group leaders. Loyola students keep me hopeful.

What is your favorite thing about the work you do?
I love asking students questions about their experiences, passions, knowledge, and identities.

What is your favorite place on campus?
Does BopNGrill count??

What advice would you give to a student looking to get involved?
Talk to someone like a staff member or upper division student (junior, senior) who does something you think is cool and ask them how you can do it too.




Alexandra Alanis
Major: Biology, Minor: Spanish

Where are you from?
I am from Chicago, Illinois and I grew up in the Rogers Park area! 

What do you like to do?
Outside of school I really enjoy being outside either bike riding, going on runs or playing soccer and volleyball with friends and family. Moreover, I am trying to learn how to cook new recipes because my family loves gardening and having cookouts.

How are you involved in Community Service & Action?
I started off my involvement in CSA by being a volunteer for L4C (Loyola4Chicago) my sophomore year. It was my most memorable experience at Loyola, being able to connect with the community at Centro Romero. This year I am a student assistant and student leader for L4C!

Why do you engage in the Community?
CSA is such a welcoming community that has made me feel more actively engaged with the Rogers Park neighborhood. I want to dedicate my time to helping minority groups and helping to connect new students to the community. During my time I have met so many amazing mentors and upper-classmen that have given me advice about classes and talked to me about their past experiences at Loyola that make me want to actively keep participating.

How are you involved at Loyola outside of CSA?
Outside of CSA I am involved in Best Buddies which is an organization that creates opportunities to develop leadership and bonds by the one-to-one friendships made between people with and without IDD (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities). It is a wonderful experience to advocate for inclusion and to be educated about the IDD community.

How do you envision living out the call to “Build the Greater Good” after you graduate?
My plans after I graduate are to go to medical school and become a pediatrician. I am passionate about children's health and being dedicated to helping others overcome health and safety struggles. By having experienced language barriers growing up, I want to make an impact on immigrant families who need assistance with communication and receiving the proper help they need to ensure their well-being. 

What advice would you give to an incoming student at Loyola?
Do not be afraid or nervous to reach out to your professors or teaching assistants if you have any questions or want to introduce yourself. Making connections early on will help prepare you for the semester and make it easier to better understand the classes you are taking. Also, as a commuter I would recommend coming into the commuter's room occasionally because they often hand out free food and merchandise and it makes it feel very welcoming for all students in their lounge.


2021-2022 Stories!

Brennan McDonald - Student

Maria Diaz - Student

Hailey Samples - Student

Sumayyah Haider - Student

Ashley Goldsmith - Student

Nhi Duong - Student






Allison Wiederin Student
Jakub Krasewicz Student
Ava Borrego Student
Maya Marks-Strauss Student
Alex Rubin Student
Sarah LaVanway Student



Xander King  Student
Maddie Drescher  Student
Erin Hawkins  Student
Andrea S. Barrios  Community Partner
Bryn Siberski  Alumni 
Casey Kazich  Student 
Gabriella Stec  Student 
Derek Wagner  Student 
Carlos Martinez  Student 
Elise Anhornorn Student 
Amy Paul Student
Ian Espiritu Student
Nathan Petithomme Student
Cami Provencher Student
Benjamin Caceres Student


Emily Tolley  Student 
Salena Ibrahim
Hannah Sternig Staff
Jacob Vodick
Libby Thornton Staff


Lauren Kunzer Student
Megan Barry Director of Community Service & Action
Michael Marino Student
Lydia DeWyze Graduate Assistant
Jenna Perryman Student
Maranda Archer Student
Tatiana Cortes Community Outreach Coordinator, AmeriCorps VISTA
Nithia Chowattukunnel Student