Author: Mary Mason

It’s MC Hammer time! This blog chronicles my many adventures as a Loyola student in the Windy City. With great food, friends, and opportunities, Chicago is certainly my kind of town. As a double major in English and political science, I spend a majority of my time doing schoolwork. But when I’m not knee-deep in obscure translations of Marx and Machiavelli, I’m taking advantage of the many experiences my school and my city have to offer. That, or I’m on the couch nursing an unwavering devotion to Netflix. Lucky for you, I will record them all.
Poetic Injustice: A Night of Cultural Resistance

Poetic Injustice: A Night of Cultural Resistance

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In case you haven’t figured it out from the giant wall standing between Damen and Mertz, this week is Palestine Awareness Week at Loyola.  Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the Middle Eastern Student Association (MESA) teamed up to spread awareness about the Palestinian resistance and liberation movement.

Yesterday, a friend of mine invited me to one of the events for Palestine Awareness Week.  We joined with many of our fellow students in Mullady Theater for Poetic Injustice: A Night of Cultural Resistance.  Two Arabic artists came to Loyola to perform a sort of hip-hop poetry slam show.  In light of the recent divestment legislation in USGA, the energy in the room was palpable.

Now wherever you stand on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this event was amazing.  The performers were a cool blend of popular culture and social justice, and the crowd hung off their every word.  I can only think to describe Omar Offendum as an Arabic Macklemore, with music that transcends the genre and seeks to spread truth.

The event certainly drew me, even though I don’t have the first-hand experience with the conflict that most of the people in the theater shared.  And even more, it made me want to find out more about Palestine Awareness Week.  Kudos to all those who made the event so amazing!

 

 

Planning for the Future

Planning for the Future

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As a friend of many a Maroon and Gold member, I was invited to attend the Student Alumni Networking Night on March 26.  The event was sponsored by the Gold Board, Maroon and Gold Society, and the Office of Alumni Relations.  Juniors and Seniors were invited to talk over complimentary appetizers with various Loyola Alumni, and discuss what comes next after college.

The event featured a panel of three Loyola Alumni, each speaking on their professional experience after finishing college.  Kara Hewitt Tolentino from the class of 2004 is a Human Resources Manager at Equity Residential, Katelyn Gibbons from the class of 2006 is Vice President of Product Development at Bank of America, and Chris Swit from the class of 2009 is a Systems Administrator at GTCR, LLC.  Each panel member shared their own career path, and gave advice to current students on how to prepare for life after graduation.  Though each of the alumni represent different careers, they all agreed that internship experience goes a long way in finding a job.

After the panel, we enjoyed dessert and mingled with the other alumni members who came to the event.  I was lucky enough to talk to two recent Loyola graduates – one who is working for a non-profit, and the other who is working as a parole officer.  The conversation was comfortable and casual, and I was ready and eager to hear the advice they had to offer.

Even though I have decided to spend the next three years in law school, it was helpful to get a taste of what the future will hold.  I feel blessed to be a part of such a supportive network through Loyola, and I am confident that I will be more than prepared to take on the working world when I complete my degrees.

Pomp, Circumstance, and Tassels

Pomp, Circumstance, and Tassels

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Spring semester is flying by, and seniors on campus are already buzzing about send off activities to wind down our final days at Loyola.

Today was certainly another reminder that graduation is just around the corner.  Seniors were instructed to pick up their graduation gear from Damen MPR between 9:30 AM and 6:30 PM.  After dishing out a good chunk of change for my cap and gown, I was happy to enjoy some free spoils.  Food, snacks, and various Loyola trinkets were offered at tables all over the room.  I was feeling rather unfazed by the whole thing, that is until a woman offered me congratulations as I walked out the door.  Then it hit me how close I am to graduating, how Loyola has really changed me, and how much I’m going to miss my years in college.

So as my new graduation gown hangs looming in my closet, I look forward to all the fun activities to come.  I can’t wait to celebrate!

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

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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.

 

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!

Jesuit Jam

Jesuit Jam

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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.

 

The Season for Excellence

The Season for Excellence

One of the great traditions here at Loyola is the distribution of Excellence Awards at the end of the school year.  Students and organizations are honored for their hard work in living out the Jesuit ideals espoused by Loyola University of Chicago.

And the season for Excellence Awards in upon us again!  This year will be especially important for me as a graduating senior.  I spent the week considering my options and submitting nominations for students and organizations that have been important in my life at Loyola.  For me, this student input makes the awards even more meaningful.  It isn’t a committee of old men deciding who should be rewarded for their work; it is our fellow students who take the time to make sure the recipients are recognized.

So as nominations come to a close, all that’s left to do is wait until the winners are announced at Damen Ball in the spring.  Best of luck to all the nominees!

Local Talent at Lickity Split

Local Talent at Lickity Split

In my experience, Loyola truly has something for everyone.  The interests of the student body are vastly diverse, and our school does a great job of fostering student talents and abilities.

For example, a few of my friends started a band when they were freshmen.  They call themselves the Sandy Pilgrims and they’ve been playing at Loyola events and local restaurants throughout their time in college.

On Friday, my friends and I braved the cold to go see them play at Lickity Split.  The ice cream alone would have been incentive enough, but we all had a great time listening to the music and hanging out.  The small venue made for a great show, as the boys made frequent shout outs and songs dedications.

The show was the perfect way to wind down the week.  I’d recommend a Sandy Pilgrims show to anyone who is looking for fun times and great cover songs.

UNICEF of Loyola

UNICEF of Loyola

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is a shameless promotion of a truly amazing on-campus organization in which I happened to be a member.

The Organization Fair is quickly approaching, and many undergraduates at Loyola are looking for new opportunities and activities.  Whether a student is looking for something he or she truly believes in, or simply looking for a way to fill some free time, there is certainly a group for everyone.

This year, I am a member of the Executive Board for UNICEF of Loyola.  Our first semester was a smashing success, and we’re looking for new members to join our group and keep the momentum going.  UNICEF is a leading global non-profit that works to end preventable child deaths across the globe.  Our club raises money and awareness for this cause.

So if you’re looking for a new organization to join, and you’re interested in social justice, stop by and check out UNICEF’s table at the Org Fair.  I promise you will not be sorry!