Month: November 2015

Giving Thanks For LUC

Giving Thanks For LUC

I feel bad for Thanksgiving. This perfectly good holiday has become overshadowed by the upcoming Christmas season. Rather than serving as a pause and time to give thanks with our loved ones it has become the perfect long weekend to get the best deals on the perfect presents and set up the Christmas tree. I’ll admit that this year I was out shopping on Black Friday and had been listening to Christmas music since the week before, but I still think that Thanksgiving should be given the credit it deserves.

I want this holiday to receive the credit that its due, because I for one have so very much to be thankful for. My thanksgiving weekend was filled with quality family time, reuniting with high school friends, and of course good food—all of which I am insanely thankful for. But I’d like to send some thanks Loyola’s way because it too has brought me plenty to be thankful for in the last 2 ½ years.

LUC thank you for…

  1. The city. I’m grateful that you have given your students the city of Chicago to explore. You’ve never tried to keep us hidden on the Lake Shore Campus, but instead encourage us to enjoy all the exciting things our neighborhood and our city offers us. And I’m always grateful that we’ve got a UPASS to get us around, plus a campus right in the middle of downtown.
  2. Jesuit values. Before I started school at Loyola I didn’t even know what a Jesuit was, but now that I’ve seen them in action I’ve become grateful that it was upon their values our school was founded. Our mission for social justice is one that seeps into nearly every course I’ve had and is certainly a message I will carry with me far beyond my college years.
  3. Experiences abroad. I quite honestly would not have become the person I am today without having spent a semester at Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center. LUC thank you for encouraging your students to take a leap of faith and spend time abroad while we are in college, and thank you for making that opportunity so easily accessible to us.
  4. Caring for the environment. You were not given the title of “The Greenest University in the Midwest” on accident. The initiative you take to make our campus one that will leave a small footprint on this planet is widely appreciated by your students. Thank you for recycling bins, water bottle refill stations, and geothermal powered buildings; your efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.
  5. Our professors. The reason we are here is to receive a high quality education and that would not be true of this institution if your professors didn’t strive to meet that standard. I’ve seen professors teach classes of 200 and still show us how very much they care and each semester I have a professor that blows me away with their knowledge, expertise, and ability to inspire.

Thank you Loyola, for all that you do.

Countdown time again. 10, 9, 8, 7…

Countdown time again. 10, 9, 8, 7…

Can you believe that there is only one week of classes left, with final exams looming, then the semester is over? Where did the time go? It seems as though it was just August yesterday.

If you’re like me, you’re undergoing a somewhat turbo-charged version of the kind of healthy reflection Loyola instills, except in a microwave package at times like this. Inhale. Did I accomplish everything I set out to do, back when these past four months were clean pages in my planner? Did I carve out a moment to share a warm conversation with that one friend who I promised to catch up with? Maybe not, but not to worry—yet. Two weeks remain in which to complete every line item that is still pending on my list of “things to do.” Yet, there are plenty of activities that I did get the chance to enjoy. Exhale.

Going back to the last week of August. I started off the semester doing well by doing good, by volunteering to help move in hundreds, of the thousands, of students living on campus. Fifteen hours well spent provided a memorable opportunity to greet and meet new first-year students. Although talking to them made me feel “old,” I thoroughly enjoyed reminiscing about how I felt as I first moved in, only a year before, with my life in tow.

In September, I started a new job—working on Michigan Avenue. Without a doubt, juggling classes and work has been strenuous and sometimes overwhelming, but, recognizing that part-time work experience if often limited to undergraduate days, I would not have wished it any differently. Having become friends with many of my co-workers, it would have been a shame to miss out on this facet of my college experience, like having a cup of dark hot cocoa without whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Several weeks ago, I attended my sorority’s semi-formal, which was held at the Library, inside the Chicago Board of Trade building. My “date” was a friend from work who attends DePaul and is in Phi Mu, the sister sorority of Alpha Delta Pi. I know I will one day look back on these special events with nostalgia, wishing there had been more of them. It’s so hard to squeeze in more fun things and not cause chaos with time management or wreak havoc on your GPA, but it’s important to try and achieve a healthy work-life balance.

Next week is the Department of Programming’s Colossus Reveal Party, where the lineup for a stand-up comedian and performance by a well-known musical artist will be revealed. Last year’s surprise entertainers were Jason Derulo and Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias. Rumors have it that this year’s musician is “even more famous than Nick Jonas.”

You are very Fortunate…

You are very Fortunate…


I cannot express how fortunate I am to be able to live life the way I do. I may not live a luxurious and stress-free lifestyle, but I have the basic necessities and more that many others cannot afford to have. Especially at Loyola where students come from fairly stable families, people such as myself can forget how lucky we are to such a good school with good facilities, food, faculty, and most importantly, a private, Jesuit education.

Walking around campus throughout the day, I hear people talk about how they did not wear enough layers of clothing, how restless they are, how they procrastinated on schoolwork, how “broke” they are, and more- typical college student complaints. We truly do not know how fortunate we are until we become the unfortunate ones ourselves.


Here’s a good Dr. Suess quote:

When you think things are bad, when you feel sour and blue, when you start to get mad… you should do what I do… Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re really quite lucky!

Some people are much more…oh, ever so much more…oh, muchly much-much more..unlucky than you!


Personally. I am extremely grateful for my mom for the support and care she has given me. Without her, I would not have been able to attend Loyola and be the person that I am today, writing to you guys.

If there is one message I wish to get across, it is to think about what you say and do, because there will always be others who have it worse than you do.

For this upcoming Thanksgiving holiday this week, I wish all of you a wonderful day with family and friends that you care about. There’s always something to be thankful for.

Find Your Identity

Find Your Identity


College is the best place to find out who you are. Somehow in your 4 years in college, you will find out where you fit in the realm of society, you will understand yourself better, and you will be more confident about yourself. Maturity will kick in sooner or later as you become more independent and responsible for the things you do; you will develop a more wise and intelligent mindset to make better decisions.

Everyone may find their identity in different ways. One of the best ways to learn more about yourself is to join clubs that you are interested in. There, you will find people who may have similar interests and backgrounds; friendships can arise and you may find yourself to be more outspoken, more sociable, and more confident.

Besides clubs, learn about your ethnicity- your family background. This will help you understand where you come from, how your parents & grandparents lived, and may explain why you were raised in a particular way. Plus, showing others your cultural side may make you more special/interesting!

Be open to everyone. Be amicable and let people know who you are by showing them your strong personality and open-mindedness. Whether you meet people in class or meet them for a short while on campus, make a good impression of yourself. Eventually, you’ll find people who will want to be your friends.

Take care of yourself. Even though this may sound self-explanatory, I cannot stress it enough. If you have a ton of anxiety or stress, you are not leaving enough time for yourself to relax and do fun things. Sometimes I get caught up in this, but to compensate for a busy and hectic school week, I do a bunch of enjoyable things over the weekend. Reward yourself!

Learning Loyola’s Lingo

Learning Loyola’s Lingo

In the same way that you’ll never understand the language in a foreign country you’ve never studied, you’ll never understand the ins-and-outs of Loyola without brushing up on the lingo. So to get you prepared for campus I’ll give you a quick LUC dictionary:


Ramblers (ram-B-lur-z)
1. Loyola’s mascot, represented by LU Wolf, formerly represented by Bo Rambler, which was short for Hobo. In 1990 the university stopped using Bo based on the fact that using a homeless man as the mascot for a top university was unfitting and decided to use a wolf instead because of the animal’s tie to St. Ignatious
2. The name is derived from Loyola’s previous mascot-less football team of 1926. The team travelled extensively across the United States earning the nickname “ramblers”, the football team is now gone, but the nickname lives on

LSC (el-S-see)
1. Lake Shore Campus
2. Loyola’s main campus located in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood with more than 40 buildings and housing over 3,000 undergrad students
3. As the name implies, the Lake Shore Campus has one of its borders along the shore of Lake Michigan offering beautiful views and the perfect place to study or relax

The IC (eye-see)
1. The Information Commons
2. The floor-to-ceiling windowed building (connected to the Library) that sits on the shore of Lake Michigan
3. Three floors of pure study space, with every resource a student could possibly desire

Madonna (mah-D-on-ah)
1. In no relation to the popstar, Madonna della Estrada is Loyola’s on-campus chapel
2. This stunningly beautiful chapel hosts mass daily and is a proud symbol of the Catholic faith this university is rooted in
3. Voted as one of the most beautiful campus churches in the United States

Core (k-oar)
1.Loyola’s layered system of “gen eds” that involves 3 credit hours of college writing seminar, artistic knowledge, quantitative analysis, and ethics and 6 credit hours of historical knowledge, literary knowledge, scientific literacy, philosophical knowledge, and theological and religious studies
2.Designed to provide a well-rounded education for all students while promoting four vales essential to a Loyola education: understanding diversity, understanding and promoting justice, understanding spirituality or faith in action, and promoting engaged learning
3.Required for all students, but some course exemptions apply depending on your major

Sakai (seh-K-eye)
online resource
1. Accessed using your university ID and password
2. An online tool used by Loyola students and professors to access assignments and resources for each of your courses

LOCUS (low-k-us)
online resource
1. Accessed using your university ID and password
2. Loyola’s online student portal used for class scheduling, posting grades, requesting transcripts, paying bills, registering for housing, and more
3. At times complex, but with trial and error will become a familiar and frequently used resource

LUREC (loo-R-eck)
retreat campus
1. Loyola University’s Retreat and Ecology Campus
2. Located in Woodstock, IL this campus is used to host many Loyola sponsored retreats for students throughout the year
3. The campus is dedicated to restoring the wetlands and woodlands it calls home and is also home to an organic farm and apiary, much of this produce is used and served in LUREC’s kitchen

My Strengths. My Quest. My Happiness.

My Strengths. My Quest. My Happiness.

Growing up, I had a plan. At a young age, I had conjured a future that was bright and elaborately decorated with success. Everything seemed so simple, I plain forgot that rarely anything in real life goes according to plan.

As a logistical thinker with a penchant for planning and a love of Post-It notes, it’s a constant struggle, knowing in the back of your mind that things probably won’t turn out the way you want them to, yet hanging on to the optimism that anything is possible if you work hard enough at it. According to a StrengthsQuest test, I am good at being an “achiever.” This means that, in planning my life, I failed to anticipate needing time to relax and be happy, because I was too focused on fitting everything I wanted to achieve into the little squares on my calendar. Their customized report listed my top five “talent themes,” along with “action items for development” and gave me suggestions for maximize my talents “to achieve academic, career, and personal success.” Their popular online assessment, called the Clifton StrengthsFinder was designed by the famous polling company, Gallup. The site claims to have helped more than 12 million people around the world “discover their talents.”

Several days ago, I gave myself the afternoon off and walked about a mile down Sheridan—to the beach. I felt at peace there. It was a refreshing, and pretty badly needed, mental break. I realized how easy it is to get wrapped up in trying to force your life to go in “right” direction. My conclusion? Things usually start going the way you want them to when you give up and stop trying, when you learn to see beauty in imperfection, when you finally “let it go” and start enjoying the challenge of navigating a path wrought with little hiccups along the way.

Yes, life is sometimes a chaotic mess, yet I still love trying to plan it out, knowing curve balls will be thrown my way, making everything a little more unpredictable and interesting.

Being a First Generation Student

Being a First Generation Student


Without a doubt, being a first generation student can be challenging, scary, and intimidating. For me, my family was not able to help me much in terms of college advice, connections, and understanding the concept of “college life.”  I had to be independent. I had to figure things out for myself. I had to learn from my mistakes.

I am the very first person in my family to attend college. I am the oldest out all the cousins and siblings. I did not know how to prepare for college- academically and mentally. Things like loans, FAFSA, and class registration were so foreign to me because no one fully explained about them. When I applied to colleges in high school, I completed applications by myself, paid the fees with my own money, and attended campus tours by myself. Although my family was very supportive, they did not know what exactly they needed to do; neither did I. Because it was my education and my future, everything naturally fell under my responsibility.


My freshman year was a little rough, understandably. Everything was so new. My family was not used to me coming home late and I was not used to having so much freedom. As a current sophomore, I can confidently say- things are getting better.

As a first generation student, I experienced many pressures. I was expected to succeed and show others that I could persevere and conquer higher education to become successful- something my family has never been able to do. In return, with that higher knowledge, I would help others (including family members pursing a college education).

I want all the prospective first generation students to know that everyone is different; everyone has a different story. Probably it is very different than mine; maybe you and your family have a different view/mindset on how you go about with college preparation.

Fortunately, Loyola has a special organization that provides first generation students with the help they need to get adjusted to college life. They have tons of info that will help reassure you and lessen your worries/concerns. Plus, you will be among many others who are first generation students too, so getting along may be easy because of similar backgrounds.

Here is a helpful link for first generation students:


College Prom i.e. President’s Ball

College Prom i.e. President’s Ball

When high school ends, so does the hype around school dances. There aren’t a few set nights a year when the school hosts a dance and everyone buys a new dress, gets their hair done, and takes a date out for a night on the town. I absolutely loved getting dressed up with all of my friends, going out to dinner, and dancing all night. I was so sad to see it end with my senior prom. But, as it turns out I’ve still got a few opportunities to do it all over again at Loyola.

Loyola hosts two balls during the year. During the fall semester is President’s Ball and in the spring is Damen Ball. I hadn’t been to either before this year, but I’d say there’s a pretty good chance I’ll be attending them both in my last two years on campus. Because it is both of roommates’ senior year they decided it was about time to check out President’s Ball and I wasn’t about to pass about the opportunity to buy a new dress.

The reason President’s Ball is held at all is to honor an outstanding Loyola student from each school with the President’s Medallion. After nominations and an interview process, one student is chosen from The School of Communication, the School of Nursing, the School of Business, etc. A formal awards ceremony is held before the ball for the students chosen and their guests.

The rest of Loyola population is invited to the Ball that is held afterwards. The tickets were only $15 and included entry to the dance, refreshments at the ball, and a shuttle service there and back. The ball’s venue was gorgeous. Held in the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier, the high ceilings and semi-circular room made for quite the jaw dropping setting.

Before my friends and I made our way to the dance floor we made sure to take advantage of the refreshments. A chocolate fountain along with mini grilled cheese with tomato soup, plus mini hamburgers and hot dogs were perfect dancing fuel. The DJ played a wide variety of music to keep everyone happy and as far as I could tell everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves.

By midnight when the shuttles were pulling away from Navy Pier my feet were in tremendous pain from my high heels, I was worn out from dancing, and had spilled chocolate fondue on the front of my dress. But nonetheless I had a really great time and am oh so thankful I don’t have to give up the proms I thought I’d left behind for good.

Full-time Everything, All the Time

Full-time Everything, All the Time

Growing up as millennials, we were taught that hard work is the only way to achieve our goals and get ahead. The pressure to fight for what we want is all we know. For us, there is no other option besides giving 110 percent to be The Best. So, every semester, I, like so many of my peers, fill my plate to the brim with classes and extracurricular activities, striving to create a portfolio that showcases me in a stellar nutshell. The most recent, and one of my favorite, additions to my long list of activities is my new job: working at a global clothing retail chain that has 1,600 stores worldwide and more than 40 stores in the U.S., but is new to the Mid-West.


Joining the Mag-Mile Uniqlo team as a sales associate is arguably one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am lucky to have trained as a member of the new flagship store’s grand opening crew. Seeing many of the in’s and out’s that go into launching a 60,000-square-foot, three-floor store ‘from scratch’ allowed me a rare glance into the incredible effort that goes into creating a successful business, down to the finest nuances of customer service.


In line with the millennial theme that “nothing good comes without hard work,” founder Tadashi Yanai is dead set on making Uniqlo the number one clothing brand in the world by the year 2020. Hence, every employee is pushed to give 100 percent in everything that they do. The new showcase location is so expansive, it takes 85 seconds to ride the giant escalator from bottom to top. Not surprisingly, we employees have been given a directive to walk with a sense of urgency while completing tasks.


In addition to taking eighteen credits, attending senate meetings for student government and chapter meetings for my sorority, plus working twenty hours week, takes toll on one’s body very quickly. Yet, I love working, especially at a store that is the epitome of the way I want to live my life: clean, efficient, and organized down to a T. Despite the long hours, I always look forward to going into work, even when I worked thirty hours in three days during opening weekend.


All things considered, life isn’t so bad. When I roll out of bed at 5am every Thursday morning and put on my ROTC uniform in preparation for the day, I merely need to remind myself that anything less than everything is not enough.

Lab Work at Rush University Medical Center

Lab Work at Rush University Medical Center


Starting summer of this year, I became a lab assistant (volunteer) at Rush University Medical Center in the Pediatrics Department. I wanted to gain more experience in the hospital setting (different from patient care areas), learn more medical terminology, familiarize myself with scientific laboratory equipment, and get more connections to doctors, researchers, nurses, and more. Since Rush University Medical Center is a teaching hospital, I  hoped that I would be able to get a basic idea of what medical school is like by being around medical students.

Inside the laboratory, we have done a study on the effects of osteoarthritis and general arthritis by looking at the interaction of cells of the joints of lab mice. (Yes, children may get arthritis at a young age, too.) It is very interesting to see how different cells interact and it is even cooler to see the cells in different colors (dyes) under a high-powered microscope.

To view the slides under the microscope, I have learned how to make them from scratch. I can put the specimen in liquid parafilm and create blocks. Using a very precise blade, enclosed inside a machine, I can cut the blocks into very thin slices to be placed on the slide (micrometers thin).

This Friday, I am returning back to Rush as a lab assistant. I hope to have more fun and learn more about different topics. I look forward to the many things to come. 🙂