Author: Laura Swanson

Are You Sure I’m Almost a Senior?

Are You Sure I’m Almost a Senior?

I promise you that just last year I was moving into a college dorm for the first time, trying to decide on a major and making new friends.

Or maybe I was back for round two, just starting to get the hang of things, making some really good friends and even spending a semester abroad at Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center.

Okay, Okay then I’ve only just begun year three, finally getting to move off-campus, am excited about my major and am embracing being an upperclassman.

But there’s no way I’m almost a senior.

Then again…

For the past three years I’ve been calling Chicago and Loyola home. These years have felt like some of the fastest of my life. As they say, ‘Time flies when you’re having fun!’ Which I would say has been exactly the case for me. Sure, I’ve faced my fair share of stresses and hardships during my college experience, but honestly I wouldn’t take any of it back.

My junior year has been especially good to me. I’ve finally chosen a major that I’m excited about in Public Relations and am looking forward to another year of classes at the School of Communication. And thanks to some inspiration from a favorite Loyola professor of mine, I’ve also added a Marketing minor. My classes this year have pushed me academically, made me a better writer and helped shape my worldview.

I’ve gotten to live with some incredible girls during my time at LUC and this year has been no exception. I’ve loved having the chance to live in an apartment off-campus where I get to be more connected to the Rogers Park community.  This year I got much better about getting out and exploring the city and hope to continue doing so over the next year. (One of my new favorite foods is Spanish tapas–which are especially good at Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba in Lincoln Park!)

This year I’ve experienced the most personal growth yet, academically, spiritually and in my relationships, for which I am truly grateful.

My college experience has been completely different than what my freshman-self would have expected and everything my (almost) senior-self could hope for. I’m not sure what this next year will bring or what will follow, but I think I’ll have a hard time topping my junior year at LUC.

So I guess that after looking back on it all again, it does seem like it’s time for me to be a senior. Even if I’m not quite ready to admit it.

Dance, Eat, Museum, Repeat

Dance, Eat, Museum, Repeat

One of the perks of living with two seniors is getting to share in the joy of end of semester celebrations. As far as senior events go, Damen Ball has got to be one of the most exciting. This dance comes at the end of the spring semester each year as a sort of ‘senior send-off’. Though technically a celebration for those that are graduating, underclassman are welcome to attend if there are any tickets left.

Chicago has countless venues I would have been happy to attend a dance at, and the Museum of Science and Industry wasn’t half bad. For the past few years this museum has served as Damen Ball’s venue of choice and rightfully so. I actually hadn’t visited this museum until Friday night. The building itself is stunning with its long steps and Roman columns, providing a perfectly dramatic entrance to the ball. The extra high ceiling-ed, cross-shaped interior of the museum has a circular center, offering the perfect dance floor. Two of the wings sported long buffet lines of quesadillas, pizza, hot dogs and burgers–which after a quick photo, became our first stop of the night.

Several of the museum’s exhibits were open for students to tour during the ball–the weather exhibit, coal mine and mirror maze. Perfect for those who needed a break from a night of dancing. Though we did find time to scope out the exhibits, my friends and I spent most of our time on the dance floor. The DJ did exceptionally well at keeping people dancing until the ball was over by playing the perfect mix of popular songs and classic throwbacks.

Even if this wasn’t technically a celebration for juniors like myself, Damen Ball was still a perfect way to celebrate the end of the year. I’ll be looking forward to next year when the party will be even more of a celebration for me.

Cheers to the end of the year!

Letting SOC Feed Me for the Week

Letting SOC Feed Me for the Week

Well, technically they only fed me twice.

This was a busy week at the School of Communication. In true college student fashion, I took advantage of opportunities for free food, which meant I ended up attending some really special on-campus events.

The first was on Monday evening. A networking reception was held for students in the Advertising and Public Relations program, alum from the program and professionals in the industry. Many of the professionals are people working at the companies where Loyola students intern, providing the perfect opportunity to network and scope out potential internships.

This hors d’oeuvres and cocktail hour was held at our Water Tower Campus on the 15th floor of the Corboy Law Center. This venue provides breathtaking views of the city and exactly the right atmosphere for the occasion.

I had the opportunity to chat with several of my professors and two Loyola alum who now work in the city, who I’m looking forward to getting to know. Next semester I’ll be looking for an internship, so hopefully these connections can help get me on the right track!

Friday marked the beginning of Loyola’s Weekend of Excellence, and my second chance for a free meal. I was honored to attend the SOC Honors Ceremony and Student Showcase on Friday afternoon. This ceremony involved a formal presentation of several awards and recognition for different student honors. The awards presented included, Outstanding Major Awards (a winning student was selected from each major within the School of Communication), Top Original Student Work and and an SOC Teaching Award. Students were then honored for graduating from the university’s honors program, for receiving scholarships and new members to the Beta Rho Honors Society were inducted into the organization (that’s were I came in).

Students within the School of Communication are truly producing some incredible work and I’m excited to be a part of a school that is pushing their students toward such excellence.

A huge congratulations to all who were honored during this ceremony and to all the students and faculty who will be celebrated during this Weekend of Excellence! (Where I’m sure there will be plenty more excellent free food.)

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

The Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox.

Not every city is blessed (cursed?) with two Major League Baseball teams, but Chicago boasts a team for the North Side and the South Side. I was raised a Cubs fan and still hold true to the red and blue (no bandwagon-ing here, I promise), but growing up on the other side of the state the biggest rivalry I knew was Cubs vs. Cardinals. I didn’t realize the extent to which the MLB divided this city.

I do my best to stay out of any Cubs vs. Sox heated discussions, but I have been caught in the cross fire. I think that especially at a time when the Cubs are better off than the Sox, the Sox’s fans are holding even tighter to their team allegiance. While they can boastfully ask when the Cubs won their last championship, the Cubs can come back with questioning the Sox last visit to the play-offs…

Even as a Cubs fan, I went to a Sox game last fall for fun. I definitely enjoyed it, but will (somewhat biased-ly) admit that Wrigley is where it’s at. For me, Wrigley’s historic charm and ivy wall are so much more appealing for an afternoon of baseball. Wrigley is also much easier to get to from LUC’s red line L location, rather than a long journey to the South Side for a Sox game.

I had planned to go see the White Sox game this Saturday, but waking up to a snow-covered ground doesn’t exactly put you in mood for baseball. Sooner or later Chicago will get its weather back on track and going to a baseball game will be much more appealing.

As a Loyola student, be sure to keep your eyes out for discounted tickets for baseball games (and all kinds of other shows and events)! Then you’ll have a little extra money to spend on a hot dog or pretzel at the game.

If you come to Loyola from out of town or without an MLB allegiance, I encourage to pay a visit to Wrigley and U.S. Cellular Field to experience all that Chicago baseball has to offer–then you can let me know who really does baseball best.


Spring (and so much more) has Sprung on Campus

Spring (and so much more) has Sprung on Campus

Spring on a college campus brings with it a little more than a change of seasons. To name a few…

Campus tours. Come springtime campus is flooded again with loads of wide-eyed high school students and their parents. Don’t worry about your parents asking embarrassing college questions on the tours. We’ve all been there and really they just have your best interests at heart.

Frisbee games on the quad. We can all finally take a break from being trapped inside, so outdoor quad activity is back in full swing. Frisbee, football or just sitting in the grass (because good news there is grass), we’re down for whatever involves a little fresh air.

Loyola’s incredible grounds staff has the campus bursting with beautiful blooms. I don’t think that the gardeners at LUC get enough credit for all the work they put into to maintaining our beautiful campus. The blooming daffodils make me smile every time I walk past.

Unpredictable weather. Spring in Chicago doesn’t necessarily mean warmer weather and rain showers. A few days have been warm and pleasant, allowing the grass to green and for students to embrace the outdoors. But, it snowed on April 2nd, not even a little flurry in the morning. A sporadic, all-day, on-again off-again blizzard-y, occasionally sunny, spring, Chicago day.

Initial excitement, quickly followed by end of semester stress. My gut reaction to the onset of spring is to get super excited for summer, since now it’s just around the corner. But I think I speak for most of my classmates when I say that our summer excitement is shortly overcome by the realization that the five hardest weeks of the semester are standing in the way of our summer break.

Senioritis is in full swing. As I look around at the class ahead of me the symptoms of Senioritis are evident. They are prepping for the next steps in their lives and itching to graduate. Their excitement is also mixed with a sense of worry as they step outside the world of undergrad to embrace something new.

As you can see, spring on a college campus is a bit different than elsewhere. Even so, it’s still easily one of the best times of the year.


Decision Time

Decision Time

You’ve made it. You’re nearly finished with your senior year of high school and you can’t wait to take the next steps toward your future in college.

College…that’s the tough part isn’t it? By this point you’re probably dizzy from all the campuses you’ve toured and the pile of acceptance letters at you’ve accumulated. Now that you’ve seen the scholarship options from these schools you’ve probably nailed it down to a top two or three. And by this point you just want to make a decision so that you have a concrete answer to the dreaded “What are your plans for next year?” question.

When it comes down to it here’s a few questions to ask when making your college decision:

1. Does the school offer the major you’re interested in? (And a variety of others in case you change your mind?) Students change their majors much more often than you may think, so even if you can’t predict what you might change your major too, at least look for schools that offer a variety of programs that appeal to you.
2. Are you comfortable with the distance from home? Whether you want to go to school across the country or in your hometown, be sure to think about if you’re comfortable with the distance from home. Consider how often you’ll be able to make the trip home (and how worried your mom will be if you go too far away).
3. Were you offered any grants or scholarships that will make paying for school manageable? College is expensive, which means that schools that don’t offer you large enough scholarships will probably have to be thrown off the list. Don’t forget to look for outside scholarships that can certainly help you pay your way.
4. Do you like the campus? It’s layout, the way it looks, the residence and dining halls? Even if you like everything else, if you don’t like the way a campus looks or feels then you probably won’t end up loving the school. These are the buildings you’ll be taking classes, studying, eating and living in for the next four years—liking them is important.
5. What are the major pros and cons of coming to school here? Go ahead and write it out, when you’re able to see your likes and dislikes in front of you may be able to better understand what is most important to you.
6. Will you be happy calling this school home for the next four years? Loving everything about the college you choose may be impossible, but if this is a place where you can be happy, see yourself grow and ultimately become a better person, then without a doubt, that is the school for you.

Now I must admit that the college decision was much easier for me than it is for most people. In fact, I did exactly what all admissions counselors tell you not to do and only applied to one school. Thankfully, Loyola wanted me and offered me a generous scholarship. For me, LUC checked off all the boxes I needed: plenty of majors, a beautiful campus, academics that would challenge me, Chicago (enough said), opportunities to study abroad and ultimately a place where I could be transformed.

It’s Time for Trivia

It’s Time for Trivia

There’s nothing I love more than a good trivia night. Getting the chance to host one was right up my alley.

On of my communications electives this semester is Special Events Planning. One of our class projects was to secure an opportunity to volunteer at an event. Working directly with the event’s coordinator, we would gain hands-on experience planning and running an event.

I didn’t have a particular event in mind when this project was assigned, so I went to my supervisor in the Undergraduate Admissions Office, Mary Bennett. Thankfully enough, this assignment ended up helping both of us out. Part of Mary’s job as an admissions counselor is to coordinate overnight visits to Loyola for admitted high school seniors.  She needed a host for the trivia night taking place during the overnight visit and I was more than happy to help her coordinate this event.

Although I’ve never been to an overnight myself, I’ve heard great things about these visits and the unique way they let students experience Loyola. Overnight visitors have the chance to eat in campus dining halls, attend classes with their hosts, sleep in a residence hall and attend on-campus events. One option to keep students busy for the evening is going to a trivia night. Mary asked me to create the trivia questions and host the game on March 17th.

Since I’ve been to my fair share of trivia nights, creating categories and questions wasn’t all that hard. The six categories I created questions for were: food, movies, U.S. states, famous landmarks, Chicago and Loyola. The game was split into five rounds, with each round having one question from each of the categories. When answered correctly, each question was worth five points, except for the Loyola category which when answered correctly was worth zero points, and when answered incorrectly was minus five points. I put all of this into a PowerPoint so that I could use the auditorium’s projector for everyone to see the questions. I used the game Mary had created previously for reference and borrowed her answer sheet design.

I asked a friend of mine to come with me to the trivia night to help with scoring (and moral support). We went to the Life Sciences Building auditorium at 8:30 to set up for our 9 P.M. trivia. Unfortunately, another student group was using the room until 9. It took them awhile to clear out and for us to set up the projector, but we got our game underway by 9:20. 14 students and their hosts came, so we had two teams of seven.

“The Dream Team” vs. “Vince and the Ramblerz.”

The game itself went off without a hitch and the teams enjoyed some friendly competition. When the teams tallied their scores at the end “The Dream Team” had won by 5 points. “Vince and the Ramblerz” asked for a recount so my friend and I double checked the answers and scoring only to find out that “Vince and the Ramblerz” had done their math wrong and were the true victors of the trivia night. Luckily for everyone I had two bags of candy for prizes and let each team split a bag.

This experience was ideal in prepping me for the world of event planning. I got to be involved in the process from start to finish, had to deal with a minor crisis and managed to pull off a successful event.

If you want to put your trivia skills to the test, check out the game we played here:

Trivia Game

It’s Been Awhile Since #myLUCvisit

It’s Been Awhile Since #myLUCvisit

I’m having a hard time believing it, but it’s been 4 whole years since I visited this campus for the first time. During spring break of my junior year of high school my dad, best friend, and I made the journey up to Chicago so that I could visit the school I now call my home. After that first visit I knew it would be impossible for any other school to even compete with how I felt about LUC.

I first came across Loyola in high school while doing a class project that involved researching universities that offered majors for our intended career paths. At that time I was interested in becoming an art director for either a magazine or advertising agency. A combination of a communications and fine arts degree from Loyola would have set up me well to pursue that goal, but I’ve since changed my mind.

Since I was interested in the School of Communications, we set up tours at both the Lake Shore and Water Tower campuses. I had no idea that Loyola’s downtown campus was so close to Michigan avenue (and so handily close to Hershey’s and Ghiradelli’s). After touring WTC, we jumped on the campus shuttle for our tour of LSC.

I was already so excited about Loyola, but stepping foot onto the Lake Shore Campus for the first time took my breath away. Few campuses can boast a location as perfect as ours along the shores of Lake Michigan. Once I’d gotten past how beautiful campus was I was further impressed by the way Loyola structures their “gen eds”. The  CORE is how Loyola structures their liberal arts curriculum. All students are required to take classes in history, philosophy, ethics, writing, literature, math, theology, and science creating well-rounded students across the board.

(Now that I’m finishing my 3rd year here I can say that CORE really did give me the all-encompassing education I was looking for.)

My first visit to LUC obviously left a lasting impression, so much so that when it came time for me to apply to colleges Loyola was the only application I turned in. (Not something I would recommend). For me, Loyola was it. I knew this was where I wanted to spend the next 4 years of my life, so I decided that before I applied anywhere else I was going to see if Loyola would take me. Thankfully I was accepted (much to my parent’s relief)  and was eager to become a Rambler, class of 2017.

Four years after my first visit to campus and I still stare wide-eyed at the beauty of my campus. So thank you to 17-year old me who decided that Loyola may just be the best school for me.



Colossus 2016: NICK OFFERMAN

Colossus 2016: NICK OFFERMAN

Colossus. 2016. Nick. Offerman.

I’ve been hearing rumors of Colossus since  I attended Orientation Week  before freshman year. I heard raging reviews of a huge concert and comedian combo in Gentile Arena. They told me about the super cheap student tickets, which meant the show was usually sold out. And I learned that the reveal party was almost as exciting as the show itself.

And this weekend I finally got to attend my first Colossus. My freshman year ((dop))–Loyola’s student-run Department of Programming– invited Kesha and Mike Birbiglia to perform. Because I didn’t actually know who Mike Birbiglia was, I decided to only go see Kesha. Just a few weeks later Kesha had to cancel her performance due to personal issues. Luckily, I hadn’t invested in any glittery attire so I was just out a Colossus experience. My sophomore year I spent the spring semester studying abroad at Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center, which meant I invested in gelato instead of tickets to Colossus.

Now here I am, a junior, finally able to attend my first Colossus. The performers: Kesha and Nick Offerman. Upon hearing the performer announcement I was more than happy to invest in Nick Offerman tickets, because who wouldn’t want to pass up a night with Ron Swanson? Admittedly, I was on the fence about purchasing tickets for Kesha’s highly anticipated reappearance in the Colossus line-up. I would’ve been happy to go, but in the end it didn’t matter because Kesha had to cancel her performance. I feel so bad for the drama this pop star has been dealing with and completely understand why she couldn’t perform at LUC.

I had only ever seen Nick Offerman perform in his hilarious role as Ron Swanson on the TV show “Parks and Recreation”, so I had no idea what to expect from him as a stand-up comedian. And he was certainly…unexpected. His first joke was about how Loyola had asked him to keep his show PG-13, but as he explained, he simply could not be kept to a PG-13 level. So the first bit of his show didn’t offer much that I can share.

What I didn’t realize about Nick Offerman was his ability to play guitar and sing. He was no Kesha, but still quite funny. My favorites were his songs about how much he dislikes Facebook and how much he loves America, and of course his song, “I’m Not Ron Swanson”. I’d say that he hit it off with the sold-out Loyola crowd, who were happy to have a wild card like him on campus.

I’m definitely satisfied with my first round of Colosuss. But here’s to hoping that next year I can have the full-blown Colossus experience I’ve been hearing about since 2013.

Jesuit Jammin’

Jesuit Jammin’

It’s no secret that Loyola loves their Jesuits. And a little Rambler basketball doesn’t hurt either, so why not combine the two?

Once a year during a regular season men’s basketball game the Jesuits take over for the “Jesuit Jam”. This year was my first ever Jesuit Jam, and I’m quite sad to have missed the games my freshman and sophomore years. I arrived in time to snag a free t-shirt and grab an ideal game-watching seat. The gym was chalk-full of friendly Jesuits mingling with the students, while wearing their hip Jesuit sport jackets of course.

During timeouts we played a few rounds of Jesuit trivia. The winning students won prizes and there was even a Jesuit shootout in which the winning student from Loyola’s School of Medicine won tickets to Arch Madness. (The end-of-season basketball tournament the Ramblers compete at in St. Louis.)

Loyola was facing off against University of Northern Iowa. The two teams were pretty equally yoked, which kept the game close throughout. The Ramblers did not disappoint and managed to win in the final seconds of the game–definitely the best round of LUC basketball I’ve seen so far.

The Jesuit Jam extended beyond just the court with a post-game party in the Damen Den (a conference room in the Damen Student Center). The Jesuits and students got to celebrate the victory with free pizza and pop, plus some quality bonding time. There was an ongoing game of “Jesuit Bingo”, wherein students had to do things like find Jesuits with the same birthday month, from the same hometown, or one who could do ten push-ups with them in order to complete a bingo.

The highlight of the evening was a performance by the Folkin’ Jesuits. An all Jesuit band that sings covers of pop songs at various campus events–and they always steal the show. They played everything from guitars to ukuleles to trumpets to clarinets, sang beautifully and even included a few rap breaks. Their performance of Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” was definitely my favorite. Pretty impressive for a group of Catholic priests.

Since freshman year, I’ve appreciated the Jesuit education Loyola offered. And getting the chance to get to know a few of the Jesuits that actually live and study here is something I highly recommend. They are a passionate group of men that love this university and the students.

So thanks for jammin’ with us, Jesuits!