Category: Service Work

What Does it Mean to be a Part of a Jesuit Institution?

What Does it Mean to be a Part of a Jesuit Institution?

Loyola University Chicago is a Catholic and Jesuit University where ethical and spiritual values are central. These values are expressive of human wisdom, informed by the traditions of American higher education, and animated by contemporary ideals of the Society of Jesus.

Although I do not identify myself as a Catholic, Loyola involves students and patients, faculty and staff from so many nations and neighborhoods, religious backgrounds and ethnic traditions.

Loyola University is one of 23 Jesuit universities and colleges in the United States.

Here are five “characteristics” that explain the Jesuit method of education at Loyola Chicago that makes it incredibly inspirational.

The first characteristic of Jesuit universities is a passion for quality. Jesuit universities set demanding standards for both students and faculty. If it is worth doing at all, it is certainly worth our very best. Whether it be a medical or law school, business or liberal arts college – Jesuit education has, in every age, aimed at educational excellence.

A second characteristic of Jesuit universities is the study of the humanities and the sciences, no matter what specializations may be offered. Loyola wants our students to be able to think and speak and write; to know something about history, literature and art; to have their minds and hearts expanded by philosophy and theology; and to have a solid understanding of math and the sciences with a liberal education.

A third characteristic of Jesuit education and so of Loyola University is its preoccupation with questions of ethics and values for both the personal strength and professional witness of its graduates. Family values, personal integrity and business ethics have always been important. In recent years, this characteristic has taken on added dimensions. Spurred by papal encyclicals and the pastoral letters of the American bishops, Jesuit institutions have tried to focus attention on the great questions of justice and fairness that confront our age: economic inequity, racism and unemployment in our own country; the global imbalance of economic resources and opportunities; and poverty and oppression in the Third World, to cite some examples. These are not easy issues, nor do they have any certain and universally accepted solutions. But Jesuit institutions today feel compelled by our tradition to raise these questions for our students, not through sloganeering and political maneuvering, but in a way that is proper for higher education: through learning and research, reflection and creative action.

A fourth characteristic of Jesuit education is the importance it gives to religious experience. Religious experience is vital and must be integrated into the educational process so that a student has the opportunity to grow in both knowledge and faith, in belief and learning. As a Catholic university, we try to open this all-important horizon of faith experience for all our students, whatever their religious tradition may be. Faith in God is not an obstacle to learning; indeed belief can often sharpen and focus one’s intellectual search. Prayer and liturgy are no threat to knowledge; they help form and strengthen an educational community in the fullest sense.

Finally, we come to the fifth characteristic of Jesuit education: it is person – centered. No matter how large or complex the institution, each individual is important and is given as much personal attention as humanly possible, both in and out of the classroom. The reason for this specific care for the individual is that, for so many faculty and staff at Loyola University and in our sister institutions, teaching and patient care are much more than a job – indeed more than a profession. They are a way of life. This is true not only for members of religious orders but for so many lay men and women of different religious backgrounds who look on their work of teaching or administration as sharing in God’s handiwork, as service to others in the ministry of education and health care.

We believe that the real measure of our Jesuit universities lies in who our students become, so we engage them with real-world problems and promote social justice through academic and service-learning opportunities.

A Series of Firsts: My First Spring Break

A Series of Firsts: My First Spring Break

Me and my ABI peers under the St. Louis Arch.
March 2018.

Hello everybody! Sorry for the short hiatus, this semester has been very busy for me! But I’m back from Spring Break, refreshed and ready to finish this semester strong!

After spending a week in sunny Cancún with my family, I keep going back to what my first Spring Break at Loyola was really like. As my first semester at Loyola went by my Peer Advisor, Kristi, had mentioned that if we wanted our experience at Loyola to be fruitful and to feel align with Loyola’s Ignatian values that we should consider going on an Alternative Break Immersion. ABIs at Loyola are a kind of mission trips organized by Campus Ministry in which students fully immerse themselves in a community for a short period of time to learn about the issues that these communities face, ranging from environmental issues to urban poverty and lack of education. What Kristi said resonated with me: I wanted to make the most of my Loyola experience, and I wanted to learn more about the issues that U.S. society has to face. This way, I decided to go on an ABI for my first Spring Break, and I soon learned that I had been placed in the group that would go to East St. Louis, IL, right next to St. Louis, MO.

I did not know what to expect from my ABI, as I had no clue where East St. Louis was located in the first place. However, Campus Ministry organizes ABIs in such a way that students going on the same trip have the opportunity to get to know each other and their Leader at least 2 times before the trip begins. As we met with my peers, we talked about the issues that we would see East St. Louis residents: the persistence of food deserts in the area, a great amount of poverty and homelessness, and the lack of good public education systems. We discussed how we wanted to avoid the “savior complex” to present itself during our trip, that we were going to East St. Louis to offer as much help possible without thinking that we would solve all their problems in 5 days. This is when I realized that my ABI would be a learning experience, especially for my peers and me.

The ABI itself was an experience that opened my mind, my heart, and my soul. As we settled down in the house that would host us for the week (shoutout to the students from Creighton who shared the house with us),  Responsibilities for us volunteers included helping at a soup kitchen and visiting a family at their temporary home. However, I chose to volunteer as a teacher assistant at the Catholic School in the neighborhood we were staying at, helping the First Grade teacher, Mrs. Mattern. I was there to help them with their class work and to do the little tasks that Mrs. Mattern might need help with. However, the kids were eager to play with me and learn about where I came from, and they always wanted me to be “it” while playing tag. They made me feel at home, and it was very hard to say goodbye on the last day.

No matter the role we partook in, everybody in my group was always with the members of the community of East St. Louis. Everybody I met was so kind, and always asked if I found myself alright and if I needed help with anything. Can you believe? Me, a volunteer, being asked if I needed help. It struck me like lighting. We were in a community that was given little by the government and outsiders, and yet, they had everything to give us: their hearts and their homes. Just like in Mrs. Mattern’s, we were surrounded by kindness and love for the neighbor throughout our week in East St. Louis. And as the ABI experience is all about reflection, every night we would come together and reflect on what our mission in East St. Louis was, and what we had learned that day. Through journaling and daily examines, I started getting a sense that my ABI trip was not only a mission trip, but also an experience of self-discovery and refleection on our mission at Loyola and in the world.

Yes, my first Spring Break did not fit the stereotype of what this kind of vacations look like: it definitely wasn’t sunny, and I didn’t have the chance to see my family nor spend time with my friends. However, my ABI trip to East St. Louis was so much more than I could’ve asked for. I was able to get to know my fellow peers, a group of young and value-driven people who supported me throughout our time at St. Louis and. But most importantly, I got to meet some of the people of East St. Louis, who showed me a side of the U.S. that as an international student I had never seen. And despite the conditions that the community found itself in, I could see there was hope for things to get better: I saw it in the parents who dropped off their kids at school, I saw it in the teachers and staff of the school, and I even saw it in the children, who shared with me their hopes for the future.

My ABI was an eye-opening experience, to say the least, and I hope that what I learned in East St. Louis will allow me to help others, now and in the future. I still think about the children at To learn more about ABIs, go to this site.

LUC PSA raises over $1500 for Dam Fund in Pakistan

LUC PSA raises over $1500 for Dam Fund in Pakistan

The Loyola Pakistani Students’ Association strives to recognize and alleviate the struggles endured by those in Pakistan, while raising awareness about its culture and beauty. Setting new goals every semester to raise money for those who are underprivileged in Pakistan, PSA decided to help provide for the Dam Fund in Pakistan. 

Since the recent election of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan has created a mission to raise as much money as possible for the dams in Pakistan. According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), Pakistan will dry up by 2025. Pakistan touched the “water stress line” in 1990 and crossed the “water scarcity line” in 2005. The initial fear was that the country would reach the absolute water scarcity line by 2025 if the right decisions were not made at the right time. That time passed long ago. Water availability per capita in Pakistan has depleted to an alarming level. Past governments did little to deal with this massive crisis as it approached. 

Through many service events, PSA has raised over 1500 dollars and recently donated this to the Dam Fund in Pakistan. Just this past semester, events such as ‘Biryani Party’, ‘Lassi sales’ and the well known ‘Shaadi Mubarak’ contributed to this and through the help of its many members, were able to accomplish this goal. Shaadi Mubarak (Happy Wedding day!) was the largest event here at Loyola in November with around 200 attendees that recreated and experiences a ‘mock’ Pakistani weddings, ranging from the decor, food, dances, rasms (Pakistani wedding traditions), to even having a bride and groom play as actors! The purpose of this event allowed for students of all backgrounds to learn about the Pakistani wedding traditions and experience the excitement of it. It was a night to never forget, filled with colors, elegance, and love.

This is a very proud accomplishment of not just the Pakistani Students’ Association, but for Loyola as well. Loyola University creates learning communities that reflect the rich diversity of our global society and this is what truly makes the learning experience one of a kind.

Servicing in Exercise

Servicing in Exercise

 

As a Sophomore at Loyola, I had the opportunity to take the EXCM 101: Introduction to Exercise Physiology course as did many others. This introductory exercise science class is a service learning course that connects Loyola students with Chicago Public Schools’ physical education and health teachers. It has been a great experience to observe and work with children who go to underfunded schools and don’t have as many resources as do private schools. It was nice to help out these teachers and also gain a learning experience.

Each student in the introductory class is assigned to a local CPS school and have different tasks depending on what their interest is. These activities and lessons are focused on fitness and health. I volunteered in a health class from grades K-5, but others have volunteered with after school sports programs, recess, or helped during physical education class.

It was nice to see a wide range of ages. The lessons I observed and assisted with was based on sex education, so younger students learned about good touching vs. bad touching, whereas the older they got, they learned about puberty, how the body works, male and female body parts, etc. Of course the reactions were priceless, but it is so important that these children are exposed to this information because they become aware of these important aspects at an early age and know what to do depending on what situation they can potentially be placed in.

Loyola students are helping CPS with the LearnWELL Initiative which promotes physical activity and healthy eating choices in school. Doing so allows Loyola students to fulfill their service learning hours which is a requirement by the University. it is easily done and also helps the school meet their students’ needs.

“It does vary,” said Karen Berg, director of clinical placements and experiential learning at the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. “At some schools, we are supporting after school sports because that’s really the best fit for Loyola students to be volunteering. In others, we’re in the classroom supporting the health education teachers. We’re supporting PE instructors, and we’re also supporting recess. It really is identified by the school themselves—they’re identifying what is best for them.”

Stephanie Wilson, director of the Exercise Science Program says “They truly find it rewarding. These children really count on the Loyola students to show up. They almost look for these students on the day and the time that they’re supposed to come. I think our students recognize that and are confident and proud in the end that they have given something back to the community.”

These are the little things that go so far in our community. Loyola has done a great job in connecting with the community and offering a helping hand. It allows students’ to step out of their comfort zone sometimes and be able to have a hands on experience. This exercise science course has allowed Loyola students to have the chance to give something back and also gain insight for future plannings.

PSA Provides for Kiran Foundation in Pakistan

PSA Provides for Kiran Foundation in Pakistan

Kiran Foundation is a Non-Profit organization that is imbedded in the reality of Lyari, an area that has been through immense pain and turmoil, but is resilient and largely misunderstood.

“We provide education rooted in the awareness and understanding of mental health and wellbeing by building safe and happy learning environments where children and their families can not only heal through their traumas but also flourish.”

“We nurture mothers and caregivers along with their children, and build safe and happy spaces where they are free to grow and thrive together. We develop positive habits in children from a young age, with the aim to nurture them into kinder, more mindful individuals.”

“We go beyond the ideas of conventional education, and incorporate elements that help children as well as the adults develop a deeper sense and understanding of themselves and others, enabling them to regulate their thoughts and emotions. The beauty of our education system lies in the fact that we engage parents and caregivers (especially the mothers) in the learning process as equal partners. Without the active involvement of the mother, our job is only half-done.”

Children give what children get. The abused have the tendency to become the abusers. This is the ‘Cycle of Abuse’ that has plagued the world at large, and areas like Lyari in particular. “We believe that the only way to reverse this cycle is to engage people in activities that help them direct their energy towards a purpose that is bigger than their pain.”

Our visit to Kiran Foundation was an eye opening and enriching experience. Our PSA executive board fell in love with their mission since day one, but visiting the Foundation in person was powerful and meaningful. There were bright colors everywhere, children smiling and laughing while learning and playing cricket, girls battling guys in basketball, and so much more. Kids ran up to us and gave us warm hugs, which melted our hearts.
Alhumdullilah, this has been eradicated and the neighborhood is much safer in present day. Residents are able to go about their normal everyday lives.
Kiran Foundation gives the underprivileged children of Lyari a noble opportunity to learn, along with their mothers, so they can be women the children can look up to. These children are able to go from Lyari to the top preliminary schools in Karachi, and dream of attending some of the top universities in the world such as Harvard and MIT all because of this foundation. We are very excited to support Kiran Foundation and work closely with the children to give them the resources they need to reach their dreams. 
We are grateful for the amazing donations of all these books by Asim Ali and our Executive Board. We cherish members like you!
Advancing Health Care at Loyola

Advancing Health Care at Loyola

 

Hey Ramblers! The news is in town that Loyola University Chicago will be creating a new School of Health Sciences and Public Health (SHSPH) starting in the 2019-20 school year. SHSPH’s purpose is to educate clinicians and health professionals, address critical needs in the health care industry, and find innovative solutions to closing gaps in health care access and equity.

Being a Jesuit institution, the new School of Health Sciences and Public Health brings all of health care together and advocates for education, research, practice. Loyola aims to assist the poor and marginalize our society. Loyola is committed to provide quality care and have professionals to lead the future of health care delivery with a variety of skills and experience.

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care is changing fast now that we are advancing technology and shifting demographics. By the next decade, we are predicted to grow at least 18% – this being the fastest average of growth of all occupations. That being said, there will be 2.3 million new jobs. This expansion in healthcare calls for the demand of health informaticians, clinical data scientists, biostatisticians, and health technology security experts.

SHSPH brings together programs for undergraduate and graduate students and for working professionals seeking a career change or additional education to supplement skills that improve clinical and patient care. Existing Loyola programs, such as those in public health, undergraduate health systems management, exercise science, and dietetics, will be part of SHSPH and will offer more degree or certificate options. Innovative and accessible program formats for adult learners will include online instruction and hybrid learning programs, which will take advantage of existing technology, classroom, and laboratory space on Loyola’s Health Sciences Campus.

SHSPH will provide educational opportunities to current and future health care professionals. Some areas, such as health informatics and data analytics, are unique to the Chicago area and draw on the strength of the University’s relationship and data-sharing partnership with Trinity Health and Loyola Medicine. The school positions Loyola to complement the Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and continue its leadership role in health care education and practice.

This will be a new chapter for Loyola University Chicago in terms of expanding our commitment to educating the health care professionals of the future, improving people’s health, and serving those in need.

Greeksgiving

Greeksgiving

How do Loyola students give back?

Well, one of the ways that the Sorority and Fraternity Life organizations came up with is Greeksgiving – led by Allyssa Suarez, a sister of Delta Phi Lambda and the Programming Chair for the Multicultural Greek Council, the idea was to make bags and fill them with supplies that the people experiencing homelessness in Chicago may need.

Last Sunday, members from both the Multicultural Greek Council and the Panhellenic Council gathered in Palm Court to get to work! Although neither the Interfraternity Council nor some orgs in the Councils that did come showed up, the work still got done – and hours before schedule, too!

The organizations, before this day, had gathered resources to donate, from warm cold-weather accessories like scarves and mittens to razors and shaving cream, feminine products and toothbrushes, hair brushes and water bottles, granola bars and baby wipes. Setting them all out was wonderful to look at and to know we would be giving these.

Each person there decorated the brown paper bags that we would be putting the items inside in a holiday theme, whether it was a menorah or the sun wearing sunglasses and a santa hat. You can see other designs on the picture below. Then, we assembled them and made holiday notes to slip in there too, just for good measure.

Overall, we made just under 50 bags!

Although of course we wish we could make more, we ended the event glad we were able to give, even just a little bit. No two bags were alike, due to the variety of supplies we received from the organizations, and they’ll be handed out sometime next week by the Labre ministry group on campus, who work to build relationships with people experiencing homelessness in Chicago and give them food as well. You can learn more about their work here!

This upcoming holiday season, it’s certainly much easier to think about the people suffering around us, since everyone is big into the, well, holiday spirits, and the cold sets in. Equally important, though, is thinking of others outside of this season, so I hope the tri-Greek council will be able to keep doing events like this into next year! That’s the true Loyola spirit!

How do you give back?

Tips for Enjoying your First Year at Loyola

Tips for Enjoying your First Year at Loyola

Congratulations! You have survived your first three weeks of school and have hopefully become acquainted with your new home here at Loyola University Chicago! Yes, you have a homework, projects, and papers, but hopefully you are able to take time for yourself, some “Me-Time”. College is not just about the academics (which are very important), but it is also about exploring your passions and pursuing your interests. Here are some suggestions to help you have a academically successful as well as a well-rounded, balanced first year at your new school.

  1. Do not spread yourself too thin: After coming from the activities and organization fair in the fall, you may become overwhelmed and wonder how you are going to balance your school load as well as your extracurricular life. This is a perfectly normal feeling! Know and have a feeling of your stress level and how much you can take, then plan accordingly. I realized this hard way the first semester of my sophomore year. I thought that taking on a 21 credit hour load, with a job on campus as a Peer Advisor with three UNIV courses, a bass trombonist for the Wind Ensemble, prepare for a recital, be a Kuya (peer mentor) for Kapwa (the Filipino Student Organization), and work at the Undergraduate Admissions Office; would be doable and manageable. Oh, how was I wrong! After the first week of classes, I was highly stressed and could hardly have a chance to relax. That’s when I realized that I had spread myself too thin. To counteract this, I cut down my academic load to 18 credit hours. It was after this decision was I able to relax and fully evaluate my school balance. To teach my students the importance of knowing how much you can take, I told my UNIV students the same thing I am telling you. You know yourself better than anyone else!
  2. Get Involved: Was there a club, organization, sport that you truly enjoyed during high school? There is almost certainly a club like this and more at Loyola! And, if you do not find something but want to start it, Loyola always welcomes new ideas for clubs/activities for its students to join and be a part of. There are also plenty of events to allow students to get involved with service and charity. When coming to Loyola I looked for clubs that I was interested in and also fit my hectic commuting schedule. After being a part of my high school’s Filipino Tinikling Group, I knew I wanted to be a part of Kapwa (Loyola’s Filipino Student Organization) and be a part of their mentoring program. I was fortunate enough to have wonderful mentors (three wonderful Ates) who I am still in touch with. Additionally, I knew I wanted to be part of Loyola’s Wind Ensemble. In high school, I was highly involved in the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Orchestra, Marching Band, and Musical Theatre. Being in the Ensemble allowed me to relax while doing something I enjoy, playing music! Whatever club/organization you end up choosing, be dedicated and be a leader!
  3. Take Advantage of Chicago: You are in Chicago, the third most populated metropolitan area in the United States behind New York City and Los Angeles! What are the perks of a city like Chicago? There is always something for you to do! Whether you want to go to the world renowned museums, watch concerts at Millennium Park, or hang out in Chicago’s small towns and neighborhoods; it is all doable in a city like Chicago. All of these attractions are within a swipes reach? Yes, you heard that right, part of your tuition to Loyola includes something called a U-Pass allowing students access to all CTA Trains and Buses. Take full advantage of this wonderful opportunity!
  4. Take Time For Yourself: This one is self-explanatory but be sure to give yourself the time to relax and enjoy and not get too stressed. If you need help in managing stress and getting adjusted to college life, there are always those who can help you out. From a therapy dog to counselors, there are always people who want you to take care of yourself!
  5. Take a deep breath and fully appreciate the experiences and opportunities that Loyola University Chicago and the city of Chicago has to offer you! Adventure is out there!

Islam Appreciation Week (IAW) 2017 at Loyola

Islam Appreciation Week (IAW) 2017 at Loyola

 

The Loyola University Chicago’s Muslim Student Association’s would like to invite everyone to join in on the events taking place this week from 03/20/17-03/24/17 for Islam Appreciation Week (IAW)! Islam Appreciation Week takes place every year, so come eat, laugh, and learn with us as we get to know a bit more about the teachings of our world’s second largest religion and the people who practice it. This year, IAW will highlight the legacy of American Muslims.

 

DAY 1: Taste of Faith | IAW

To kick off Islam Appreciation Week 2017, join us and sample dishes from across the globe! Get a glimpse of the diverse backgrounds of Muslims and enjoy spoken word, student artwork, calligraphy, henna, and more!

When: March 20, 2017 at 6PM

Where: Damen Den

 

DAY 2: Weaving the Social Fabric | IAW

Muslims have been a part of American society since before the call for its independence. Dr. Searcy will discuss stories of Muslim in America throughout the country’s history and share their contributions to our society. The event will begin with Maghrib (evening) prayer. The lecture will start promptly at 7:30.

When: March 21, 2017 at 7PM

Where: Palm Court

 

DAY 3: Walk a Mile in Her Hijab| IAW 

Hijab for a Day will also take place on March 22nd. Stand in solidarity with the Muslim women who face hate, discrimination, and micro-aggressions on the basis of their hijab and faith identity by pledging to wear the headscarf for the day. You can pledge by clicking the link below. On Wed, March 22, stop by the IAW Table in Damen to take a picture, feel supported, and show some love!
https://docs.google.com/…/1FAIpQLScD-HxcOC9R9YhQG…/viewform…

When: March 22, 2017

Where: Damen tables

 

DAY 3: Looking Beyond the Headscarf | IAW

When it comes to Muslim women, everyone seems to have an opinion. Suzy Ismail will discuss what Western understandings of Muslim womanhood have come to entail. Her talk will unpack negative stereotypes and portrayals of Muslim women as they exist in our society.

When: March 22, 2017 at 6PM

Where: Crown Auditorium

 

DAY 4: Day of Service| IAW 

From 11 am to 3 pm we will be packing lunches and backpacks for those in need around Chicago. Donations of fruit for these lunches are highly appreciated and can be dropped off in Damen 235.

At 5:30 pm we will make our service trip downtown to distribute lunches downtown. Bring your young Ventra.

When: March 23, 2017 at 11AM-3PM

Where: CFSU Lobby

 

DAY 5: Culmination Dinner | IAW

To tie up IAW, please join us at dinner to hear the wonderful guest speaker speak about a controversial Islamic topic and its effects on society today.

When: March 24, 2017 at 8PM

Where: Rambler Room

 

 

 

Loyola Wins The 2016 Climate Leadership Award

Loyola Wins The 2016 Climate Leadership Award

Climate-Leadership-Awards-300x199

 

Loyola University Chicago is humbled to have been selected as the winners of the 2016 Climate Leadership Awards by The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) and ecoAmerica’s higher education program (Solution Generation). This is due to Loyola’s ongoing commitment to sustainability and protecting the vulnerable, which predisposes them to address issues of global and generational inequality and how climate change will exacerbate social justice issues globally and locally. As a Catholic, Jesuit University, Loyola is guided by the responsibility to care for our world and for those who are suffering the most.

As a research institution, students and faculty of Loyola identify the impacts of climate change in their fields of study and believe “It is much more efficient to prevent problems than respond to catastrophes.”

“We are proud to provide our students with opportunities to work across our local and global campuses with the goal of making the world a more just, humane, and sustainable place.” Stated by President Rooney of Loyola

Loyola University has been putting effort for nearly 20 years but in 2012 was the launch of their Office of Sustainability and then the opening of our Institute of Environmental Sustainability (IES) building in 2013! Loyola’s action plan came about in 2015 which addressed climate change through 3 main strategies: the campus, curriculum, and community engagement.

The campus’ change in infrastructure allows the reduction of carbon emissions by 38% from its 2008 baseline as well as having the most green roofs of any university in the Midwest. Loyola’s IES has hosted three annual Climate Change Conferences which addressed the economics of climate. Loyola also offers 9 different degrees that incorporate sustainability and the undergrad core curriculum has been updated to promote foundational environmental literacy, Loyola Students have also helped develop a Climate Action Plan for the Edgewood neighborhood, as well as organizing a Sustainability Committee which helps nearby communities address pollution, reduce waste products and adapt to a changing climate.

The award received valued at $10,000 in which Loyola plans to use this to build out environmental justice efforts such as the Community Climate Corps. These group of interns will work with the University’s Office of Community Relations and develop carbon reduction and climate resiliency projects such as home weatherization efforts and storm-water management.

Lets give our university a shout out!!