Naseeb K. Bhangal
Title/s: Program Coordinator, Women's Initiatives & Community Outreach
Department/School/Division: Division of Student Development, Department of Student Diversity & Multicultural Affairs (SDMA)
Campus: Lake Shore Campus
Years at Loyola: 3
What is your favorite thing about working at Loyola?
As a program coordinator in Student Diversity & Multicultural Affairs, I get to work closely with student-leaders, campus partners, staff, and faculty who have a deep commitment to living out Catholic social teaching principles (i.e. Dignity of the Human Person, Rights and Responsibilities, Solidarity, and Care for God’s Creation) within their work on Loyola’s campus. And while this commitment may manifest directly or indirectly in our thoughts and actions, its incorporation is important to me because my work in SDMA depends on the collective participation of members of our community in addressing injustices that impact our students, staff, faculty and our neighbors in Chicago. This allows my work with Women of Color within the LUCES (Loyola University Chicago Empowering Sisterhood Community) program, White-identified students within R.A.W. (Ramblers Analyzing Whiteness), and student-volunteers within Empowerment Pipeline to be fruitful. Our mission challenges many of us to look beyond ourselves in our work and towards our students, colleagues, and society. The city of Chicago holds many of us accountable to enacting our mission in culturally responsive ways, which I believe is a blessing and driving force behind my work in SDMA.
What is your most memorable achievement as a Loyola employee?
As a first-generation child of Desi immigrants and as a Woman of Color, my greatest achievement at Loyola was finishing my MEd in Higher Education, where I was challenged to center my marginalized and privileged identities as a way of preparing for my work with students, staff, and faculty. Loyola’s Higher Education program cultivated a sense of responsibility to know myself before working with students who have been on the margins of higher education (i.e. first-generation students, students of color, Queer students, undocumented students, and Women of Color). Before I finished my second year in the MEd program, I was encouraged to apply for my current position in SDMA. When I landed my current job, I began working at Loyola four months before my graduation from the MEd program. This was not only an amazing opportunity but also a challenging one as I worked to complete a full-time program while being a full-time graduate student. Graduating from Loyola was one of my life’s most important and emotional moments. I didn’t just graduate, but I also managed to secure my future, a fear that often holds back first-generation students of color.
What does Loyola's mission mean to you?
I love Loyola’s mission, and I’m proud to be twice Jesuit-educated. I don’t think as a collective community we are perfect when it comes to upholding Loyola’s mission, but the existence of this mission holds all of us—no matter if you are a student, staff, faculty, administrator, or graduate student—accountable for doing better by living by and enacting this mission in our respective spheres of influence. The part of the mission that speaks most to me as a Woman of Color is “seeking knowledge in the service of humanity,” which I believe leads us all to explore knowledge that has historically been relegated to the margins of Loyola's community and the larger Chicago community. As someone who has been educated in the critical traditions and theories that center race, gender, intersectionality, and power, I find great value in the mission's ability to center service and human dignity. This, in turn, helps me learn from my students in SDMA and better equip students to go beyond themselves and towards collective liberation.
What motivates you to succeed each and every day?
Before working at Loyola, I was a graduate student in the School of Education's MEd in Higher Education program. When I applied for this program in my personal statement I talked about my relationship with my Nani (my maternal grandmother), who never learned how to read or write. She used her thumbprint as a way of acknowledging her existence in the world. She was illiterate based on dominant educational standards, but for me, she carried a wealth of knowledge in her stories. Despite the challenges she faced in a Punjabi, Desi culture as a woman in India, she always planted the seed of education in my mind as a source of liberation. Today, my motivation to be an educator is rooted in my grandmother's motivation to see me in institutions that were never made for us in mind.
Tell us how you show your Rambler pride.
My Rambler pride is present in my relationships with students and colleagues who are a part of my larger SDMA network. My Rambler pride is reflected in spaces with Women of Color, which make me feel invincible and push me to mentor and support students in a similar way. My Rambler pride is present in meetings with colleagues in the Student Life Engagement area and the Division of Student Development who provide me professional and personal guidance through laughter, storytelling, tears, hugs, e-mail check-ins, smiles, jokes, scholarship, and so much more.
Tell us something most people at Loyola would be surprised to know about you.
Before Loyola, I attended Gonzaga University for my undergraduate education. At Gonzaga, I competed competitively as a student-athlete and coxswain on Gonzaga's Division I Women's Rowing team, which went on to make school history by advancing to NCAA Championships for Women's Rowing for the first time in NCAA and Gonzaga history. My experiences as a student-athlete heavily influence my professional identity and how I approach my work with students.