Month: February 2014

Emergency Simulation

Emergency Simulation

UNICEF Fellow Mandy leading a discussion in global issues and emergency response
UNICEF Fellow Mandy leading a discussion in global issues and emergency response

As the leading humanitarian organization in the world, UNICEF is often one of the first responders in times of global crisis.  When natural disasters hit or political conflicts arise, UNICEF sends in people and supplies to help.

With this in mind, UNICEF of Loyola organized an Emergency Simulation that mirrors UNICEF’s lifesaving work.  During the activity, students were presented with a hypothetical global crisis, separated into task groups, and given one hour to formulate a response.

On Monday during the Emergency Simulation, students were told that Pakistan had been hit with an immense monsoon that destroyed countless homes and left thousands of people displaced.  After splitting into six task groups, students decided how to address issues such as budget, water and sanitation, child protection, communication,  and food.  With only an hour, the activity became an adrenaline-driven race to a solution.

A panel of Loyola doctoral students and UNICEF volunteers facilitated the activity, assisting students and raising issues that influenced how they made decisions.  The activity was followed by a group discussion of the social and political forces that converge in times of global crisis.  On top of that, Einstein bagels and Giordano’s Pizza were shared with all the participants.

As a political science major and sociology minor, not to mention a member of UNICEF, this activity was right up my alley.  I would encourage any student interested in global issues and social justice to attend this event in the future.

A Weekend On The Slopes

A Weekend On The Slopes


Every year, my family and I venture to upstate New York for a weekend of skiing and other winter activities.  Though I possess very little athletic ability, I can at least hold my own when it comes to skiing.  In fact, skiing is probably the only sport that I really enjoy.  That being said, my family’s ski trip is one of my favorite weekends of the year.

After a week of papers and exams, a weekend on the slopes is just what I needed to unwind.  With my roommate Cat and my sister Abby in tow, I set out to meet my family in Cleveland last Thursday.  After loading up the car, we were back on the road Friday morning.  By mid-afternoon, we had arrived at Holiday Valley Resort in Ellicottville, New York.

In light of the recent Winter Olympics in Sochi, Cat and I were amped up and ready to take on the slopes.  After conquering all the black diamond runs and racing down moguls, we were sure that we were up for a trip down through the terrain park.  If it’s not obvious from the picture above, we severely overestimated our abilities.

Other than a few cuts and bruises, not to mention embarrassment, we came out relatively unscathed.  From then on, we decided to stick to our strengths and spend our time on less daunting hills.  Then it was back to the lodge where my Mom had whipped up some homemade gumbo.  It was the perfect way to warm up after a day in the snow.

So though I feel it in my sore muscles, the weekend was totally worth it.  I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m no Shaun White, but maybe with some practice I can take on the terrain park again someday.


In Which I Have A Lot of Feelings, Mostly About the Olympics

In Which I Have A Lot of Feelings, Mostly About the Olympics

Winter has always been my favorite season. I love the scarfs and the snow and the boots and the skiing and the twinkling Christmas lights. Unfortunately, having a broken foot has definitely put a bit of a damper on my mood this year.

Luckily, I’ve been able to distract myself with my favorite quadrennial activity…


I’m obsessed with it all. The opening ceremony. Snowboarding. Curling. Biathlon. Hockey. Skiathlon. Ice skating (Evegeni Plushenko <3). And, most recently: ice dancing.

Ice dancing had never really been on my Olympics radar, but that all changed when my friend, Britt (see below!), and I watched “How to Raise an Olympic Athlete” and learned about Meryl Davis, Charlie White, and their moms, Cheryl and Jacqui.

Crying buddies!

We cried. We screamed. We learned all about Merlie‘s seventeen year skating partnership. We fawned over The Moms.

For that moment onward, my Olympic experience changed forever into a full blown extravaganza spanning snapchat, facebook, and our living room couches. Britt and I watched it all, but at the end of the day, it was always ice dancing that we found ourselves completely fixated on.

time zone troubles.
Time zone troubles.

Merlie knocked it out of the park, winning gold (first for the USA!) and setting a new ice dancing record. Despite that, the past week and a half of Olympic viewing hasn’t been all fun and games. The time delay caused some spoiler problems, and some moments have been hard to watch.

However, I’m still going to be extremely sad when the Olympics are over this Sunday. They have taken up such a large part of my life recently, and I’m not sure what I’m going to do without them.

Thanks for the hat, Ralph!

Hopefully my air cast will be off soon, so don’t be surprised if you see me on the Lakefront path, dramatically pretending I’m in the middle of the skiathlon. And if it doesn’t come off, well, I guess I’ll just have rely on my official Olympics hat to hold me over until Pyeongchang!

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Picture of the beautiful Britt Logan in tears has been used with permission from the aforementioned beautiful Britt Logan.

One Billion Rising

One Billion Rising

Following in the spirit of Jesuit values, the Loyola community is committed to social justice.  This commitment is all too clear among Sociology students.  This semester, I am taking a class on social movements and social change.  Over the Valentine’s Day weekend, one of my classmates actually participated in a social movement: One Billion Rising.

One Billion Rising is a global campaign that brings attention to gender inequality and violence against women.  Female survivors of violence and those who love and support them gather in public places to break the silence and share their stories.  It also examines the interlocking forces that contribute to such injustice, such as poverty, racism, imperialism, and patriarchy.  On February 14, 2013, participants in 207 countries gathered to call for change.  One year later, it’s obvious that this movement is steadily growing.

On Valentine’s Day, participants gathered in downtown Chicago to join the movement.  The day was filled with speakers and dancing, all in support of the cause.  My classmate was even featured as a speaker, reading a poem she had written advocating for gender equality.

After hearing about the movement and doing some of my own research, I was disappointed to have missed such a powerful event.  Fortunately, One Billion Rising holds events year round to maintain momentum and spread awareness.  Not only that, but there’s always next Valentine’s Day to stand up and support my fellow women!

Care Package

Care Package

I received the greatest care package the other day from my family.  It was a bunch of random items, but strangely enough, it was all I ever wanted for Valentines day! Here’s a few of the things I received.

1.  Yum Yum Sauce.- Ok, if you’ve never had yum yum sauce, I insist you try it.  Unfortunately, I could not find any at Chicago grocery stores, hence why my mom sent me some from Cleveland.  Yum Yum Sauce is the sauce for steak, chicken and shrimp that the Hibachi restaurants use.  It’s sweet and tangy and the perfect condiment for all meats.  Try it!!!

2. Gossip magazines- I am a pop culture fanatic.  Lately, I’ve been getting all my pop culture news from stations such as E! or social media sites such as Twitter, so it was nice to get some nice, old fashioned (haha) magazines. (Don’t worry.. I read real books too!)

3. A huuuuge bag of chocolate chips- I’m definitely the chocolate chip culprit of my family.  When my mom wants to make chocolate chip cookies, the chocolate chips are almost always gone.. thanks to me.  Hopefully I’ll have a chance to make chocolate chip cookies.. if I don’t eat them all first!

I also got a few random things, such as ritz crackers and coffee cups.  This was definitely one of my best care packages yet… all the necessities!  My family is the best.



Jesuit Jam

Jesuit Jam

photo (3)

The Loyola Men’s Basketball season is in full swing, and the Loyola community has been pulling out all the stops to show its full support!

The walls of Damen have been covered in advertisements for basketball games and events.  On Thursday the school sponsored the Jesuit Jam, closely followed by the “Cage the Redbirds” Tailgate on Saturday.

While I had to spend Sunday catching up on homework and going to meetings, I was able to stop in for the Jesuit Jam on Thursday.  Cheers from the student section could be heard as far as the Damen Food Court.

Besides a free t-shirt and sign, I was treated to some seriously hilarious entertainment from the Loyola Jesuits.  Breaks in the game were filled with trivia sessions, dance competitions, and endless cheering from Loyola students and fans.

Though the basketball team suffered a loss to Bradley, I think it’s safe to say that the event was a huge success.


Madonna Della Strada

Madonna Della Strada

Loyola’s cathedral, Madonna Della Strada, is the most beautiful cathedral I have ever seen in America (I say America because the most beautiful cathedrals I have ever seen are located in Rome, where I spent a semester abroad). Whether you’re inside the cathedral attending Sunday mass or jogging by the cathedral on a lakefront run, I guarantee you will be captivated by our remarkable cathedral.

“Best College Review” recently ranked “The 30 Most Beautiful College Cathedrals.”  Of course, Madonna Della Strada is on the list, taking the number 16 spot.  (I think it should be number 1… but hey 16th out of every college cathedral is amazing!)  Check out the article here to read a what “Best College Review” had to say about our cathedral.

Madonna della Strada Original Interior

Here’s a picture of the cathedral before it was renovated in 2006-2007.  Check out the article for the new, modern interior of Madonna Della Strada.

Picture published by Loyola University Chicago University Archives and Special Collections.  Found at



Homework Tips Part 1

Homework Tips Part 1

After a long hiatus from blogging, I’m finally getting back into the groove of things. A topic I want to revisit in the next two posts is about how to stay on top of your classes. This is extremely important for those students taking 5, 6 or even 7 classes (like me).

Many students think that taking a full schedule of classes is “crazy” and unimaginable, but honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way. As a self-proclaimed procrastinator, I work harder and get everything done more efficiently when I know I don’t have a lot of time. Since I have to fit in seven classes, my jobs and all of my homework into my week, I tend to stay on top of things better so as to not fall behind. It’s taken four years to master my homework strategy, but I’ve got it down to a tee. My top tips to staying ahead of the game are:

  1. Literally jump ahead of the game. For easy classes of mine or the ones I enjoy most, often times I’ll do as much homework ahead of time as possible so that it gives me more time to focus on lengthier or less enjoyable assignments. For example, I’m taking Russian 102 and because I am fluent, the assignments go quicker for me. Because of this, I’ll usually do the whole week’s worth of assignments on Sunday so that throughout the week I don’t have to worry about it.
  2. Figure out what time of the day you work best. I work best in the evening or in the early morning, and on Sundays starting in the afternoon. I also work best after I’m caught up on my main television shows. This doesn’t work for everyone, but if I have one episode to watch, usually I have to get it out of the way first as soon as possible to be able to concentrate. My prime hours of homework tend to end around midnight, so instead of pushing myself to stay up later, I acknowledge that primetime is over and I go to bed. If I have a serious assignment due the next day that isn’t complete, I just set my alarm for a little bit earlier in the morning, organize what is left to do before bed, and get cracking first thing the next day.
  3. Lay everything out on the line. At the beginning of each week I write a list of every single assignment I have due that week, things I have fallen behind on, and things due the next week. I write each individual class and each individual assignment. For example, instead of writing for a class “Read Chapters 1-4”, I’ll write each one separately “Read Ch.1; Read Ch.2; Read Ch.3; Read Ch.4”. When Chapter 1 is done, I cross is out, and it makes me feel much more accomplished and motivated to start on chapter 2 and keep going.

These are the tips that I’m currently using that are working best, but I’ll add a Part 2 to this blog to mention several other tips that are very effective.



I have really exciting news!

I recently auditioned for Loyola’s co-ed a cappella group, Loyolacappella, and was fortunate enough to make it into the group! Anyone who knows me knows how much of an a cappella geek I am, so I really can not emphasize how ecstatic I am to get involved. I had my first rehearsal with the group on Monday, and they could not be more welcoming. It feels a little strange coming in half-way through the year, but I am joining with new other newbies, Allison and Dana, who are both very talented and friendly, which makes it easier.

It’s a little overwhelming to have to learn their entire repertoire so quickly, but in a two hour rehearsal, we learned two of the group’s arrangements (including an awesome cover of Lorde’s “Royals”). Today, I am leaving on a retreat with the group to Libertyville (a suburb about an hour away) so that we can learn the rest of the music, as well as the new songs we’ll be singing this semester. Our first concert is on Valentine’s Day, which is only a week away-kind of crazy to think about, but I am so pumped to start singing again. I apologize to my room mates, who have already been driven crazy by my constant warbling.

If you are into a cappella, there are actually four groups on Loyola’s campus you could audition for: the Acafellas, an all-male group; the Silhouettes, the female group; and Counterpoint, a new competitive group that was founded this semester. I would highly recommend to anyone with an interest in performing to audition for these groups. You do not need to be a music major to audition, so it’s a great way to explore interests outside of your major while you are in school.

I’ll finish with a post of one of my favorite of Loyolacappella’s old songs, a cover of “Samson” by Regina Spektor. Enjoy, and have a great weekend!


“Samson” by Loyolacappella