Remarks of Mark Kuczewski, PhD, on accepting the Moral Courage Award from Faith in Public Life. The award is presented to Loyola University Chicago in recognition of the Stritch School of Medicine becoming the first medical school in the nation to have an admissions policy that recognizes Dreamers of DACA status as eligible to apply on their merits.
“I am pleased to accept this award on behalf of Fr. Michael Garanzini, S.J., President of Loyola University Chicago, and Dr. Linda Brubaker, the Dean of the Stritch School of Medicine. Dr. Brubaker is an incredibly courageous and visionary leader. If it were not for her moral courage, there would still be no medical school in the United States whose admissions policy welcomed Dreamers to apply. That’s what you call “making a difference.”
But most of all, I want to accept this award on behalf of the many Dreamers who have shared their stories with me over the last few years. When I listen to each of them, there is a part of the story that is always similar. At some point, the Dreamer recounts having dreams of achieving a career in medicine, law, or some other way of serving their neighbors but is told by others that he or she cannot attain such things because s/he is “sin papeles.” But the Dreamer thinks that this denial of opportunity simply cannot be true. He or she then says something such as, “I thought that if I just worked hard enough and got good enough grades, something would happen. They would have to let me in.”
Every time I hear that part of the story, I am awed. I am usually reminded of the scriptural passage, “Go. Your faith has saved you.” (Luke 7:50) It is not that Dreamers need someone to take pity and heal them. It is that their faith challenges the rest of us to live up to our ideal of a faith that does justice. Their example simply calls forth a healing response within each of us.
As Dreamers have come forward with their impressive credentials and sought access to the education and training that will enable them to be physicians, we at the Stritch School of Medicine have looked at ourselves and asked if we could actually turn them away and deny their future patients the services of highly qualified, bi-lingual and bi-cultural physicians. Who are we to bar the door to them? No, we must not be blinded by the prejudices of our times. We must respond to the faith of the Dreamers with simple fairness. If we failed to do so, we would not be whom we claim to be as a Catholic and Jesuit university. The faith of the Dreamers has called forth our response: “Welcome. Your faith has saved us.””