Loyola University Chicago

Wellness Center

Student: Emily Dattilo

Major: History, Anthropology
Started LUC: 2011

I am coming from Mount Prospect, a northwest suburb of Chicago. I attended the local public high school and the highlight of my experience there was playing the flute in marching band. My summers were almost completely devoted to long hours at band camp, and the fall was packed with rehearsals during the week and competitions on the weekends. It was a stressful schedule, but the performances were always worth the effort. Many of my close friends from high school were in marching band, and I still keep in touch with many of them. In fact, a few of them also go to Loyola!

My next milestone in life is graduation from Loyola in May. Then, this fall I’ll be starting graduate school where I will continue to pursue my love of history. At the moment, I don’t know where I will be going since I’m still in the process of deciding which school. Once I finish graduate school, I want to find a career in a museum. Even if life does not go exactly the way I planned, I want to be pursuing a satisfying career and to be surrounded by loved ones.

In the future I also hope to be going back to Rome, Italy. Last spring I studied at Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center, and I’ve wanted to return to the beautiful Eternal City ever since I left. Because of my incredible semester there, Rome is like a second home to me. Plus, I am long overdue for a cone of gelato.

I’ve been working at the front desk of the Wellness Center since I was a freshman. As a senior, it’s wonderful to see how the Wellness Center has grown and developed over the years. My own place in the staff has changed too. I now write a biweekly newsletter for the staff, assist one of our social workers with her various projects, and I am even responsible for the seasonal decorations on the windows at the desk. I never would have imagined so many opportunities when I was hired years ago! Also, I have participated in Campus Ministry as a Eucharistic Minister for almost three years. My job is to help the priest distribute the Body and Blood of Christ at Mass on Sundays in Loyola’s gorgeous Madonna della Strada chapel. Even more importantly, my fellow Eucharistic Ministers and I contribute to the sense of community in the chapel by helping to bring everyone together to share in the Eucharist.

The people!! I have met so many amazing people here at Loyola since I first arrived freshman year. These are the people who have shared my joys and my sorrows through these four years. We can count on each other for everything from life advice to $2 falafel sandwiches on Fridays at Le Pita. I also can’t forget the wonderful professors who have encouraged my interests in history and anthropology and recently guided me in my search for graduate schools. My answer wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention the friends I made while studying at Loyola’s campus in Rome. They shared with me joys and sorrows that are normally not part of the typical college experience, like successfully ordering dinner in Italian or getting lost in a maze of streets without signs, and that makes them important pieces of my Loyola experience. All in all, friends at both of Loyola’s campuses have given me the experiences that transformed Loyola from just a university to a home away from home. They are proof that experiences are so much better when shared.

One way I contribute to Loyola is through my work in the May Weber Collection, a new collection of cultural artifacts from around the world. The Anthropology Department received this collection almost a year ago and eventually it will be a resource to students and scholars studying other cultures. My responsibility for the past two semesters has been organizing and storing the artifacts so that they are accessible. There is an unimaginable amount of work involved in establishing a new collection, from accessioning to making storage, but it’s also rewarding. I absolutely love seeing all the amazing artifacts hidden in the boxes! We still have a long way to go, but classes are already studying some of the artifacts. In this sense it has been rewarding to see the collection being used for learning, which is how it is meant to be used.

Another way that I contribute to Loyola communities is through my job as student worker at the Wellness Center. Since freshman year I have been one of the friendly faces at the front desk. The students I interact with all need my help and usually aren’t feeling their best, so I make sure to be as patient and understanding as possible. I always hope that my kindness brightens a sick student’s day.

Professional anthropologists usually travel to faraway groups of people in order to learn about them, but my anthropology classes at Loyola have sent me into Rogers Park and the rest of Chicago to learn about the inhabitants of the city. Some of the places I have visited are the Cambodian American Heritage Museum, The Coffee Shop, and the Chicago Architecture Foundation. My favorite fieldwork location has been The Coffee Shop, located right next to Loyola’s Fine Arts Annex, where I was sent to observe and analyze coffee shop culture. I was a freshman and The Coffee Shop had just opened, so it was a new experience for everyone involved. Since then I have returned many times with my friends and my family to share in the delicious food and drinks. At the same time, I’ve loved watching The Coffee Shop grow and change over the years from a new business to a well-loved local coffee shop.

Another way that I interact with the local community (and the student community) is through weekly Mass at Loyola’s Madonna della Strada chapel. So many different people come to Mass at our beautiful chapel: students, faculty, staff, and their friends and family, locals, and visitors. As a Eucharistic Minister, I help the priest distribute the Body and Blood of Christ, and that also means that I interact directly with many of the people who come to Mass. Regardless of how someone’s week has gone, going to Mass can help people recharge for the week and I like to think that I contribute to giving them a refreshing start to the week.

To me, justice means allowing different perspectives to have consideration on an issue. There are so many different voices out there and each one of them is important. In order to hear other ideas, one must also remember to keep an open mind and be aware about who might be excluded from the decision-making process. It’s a difficult task to be sure that everyone’s opinion is included, so living out justice also means having a certain amount of humility. 

Oddly enough, I didn’t pay much attention to what a Jesuit education really was until a year or two ago. Beginning during the undergraduate admissions process, I was bombarded with buzzwords like “social justice” and St. Ignatius’ famous quote about “setting the world on fire,” but those are all very easy to ignore when you have other things to worry about, like filling out the application. Even as a student at Loyola, it can be difficult to feel as though you are preparing yourself to “set the world on fire” when you’re trying to stay awake during a particularly unexciting lecture. It wasn’t until I was older and taking more classes related to my majors that I realized the difference of a Jesuit education. This kind of education emphasizes social justice in the sense that it provides different perspectives, challenges popular beliefs, and informs minds. One semester I took a history class on Early Modern England and we devoted some of the course to discussing the poor and homeless in London, even though they are a much more difficult group to study because they often left little behind. Another semester I studied modern Latin American history and we openly discussed even the controversial aspects of this time period and region. Classes such as these opened my mind to the value of seeing many perspectives, even when they are difficult to find. I can proudly say that my Jesuit education at Loyola has made me more aware of the complexities of the world and why it is important to acknowledge and, when necessary, act upon those features. 

I love sitting by the Lake, specifically the area by Madonna della Strada. It’s very peaceful sitting in the shadow of the chapel and looking out onto the vast, blueish lake. If the weather cooperates, it can be a great place to stop and relax in the middle of a busy day.

I love this beautiful city of Chicago, so it’s difficult to pick just one favorite spot. So many places in the city hold special memories for me, and as a resident of the suburbs, I grew up with plenty of outings into the city with my family, friends, and classmates. However, since I can’t just pick the entire city, I’m going to pick all of downtown Chicago. Not only are many of my memories there, but also some of the most incredible architecture.

There’s a lot of advice I could give, but I think one of the most important things to remember is to appreciate what you have at Loyola. As annoying as construction detours can be, we have some incredible buildings as a result. Whenever friends or family visit I am always proud to show off Damen Student Center and the Information Commons as highlights of our lovely campus. Not only are our facilities great, but we also have some incredible people studying and working here who make this campus special. My professors, the staff at the Wellness Center, classmates, and friends all add life to the campus. Being in college offers a rare opportunity to explore your interests and make new friends without the full burden of other responsibilities. All of the good that comes out of these experiences is something worth appreciating before graduation.