Tag: ACE

How Do I Fit In?

How Do I Fit In?


2017 thus far, has been a roller-coaster already (and it has only been 32 days into the year!). Whether it has been the effect of the start of new classes in the semester or the new presidential transition or other things, I think it is agreeable that last month has been quite interesting.

Identity is critical at this point in time. We must have pride of who we are and the roles we play in society. Especially at Loyola University, we strive for equality in all realms, regardless of any backgrounds (faith, ethnicity, orientation, income…).


This is a link to Dr. Rooney’s message regarding this:



As you begin your new journey here at Loyola this fall semester, I want to personally tell you that you can feel comfortable here, you will have resources that can help you, and you will be able to live that “college life” free from the other things in the outside world. Ultimately, we SUPPORT you!


If you are a male, minority, low-income, commuter, or first-generation student (any or all!), this blog post can give you more insight into what to expect as you make your transition to Loyola in the future.

This my personal insight. It might not be accurately relatable, but it may give you another perspective to what others such as myself see things.

Male:  There is slightly a larger percentage of females than males. For me at least, I wouldn’t mind this! There has not been nothing substantial to discuss about this; gender is not a huge problem around LUC. We all get along well together.

Minority: According to the Freshman class (2015) statistics, 44% of the students are of color. This means that there are 56% of other students who still make up the class population. Sometimes, I do feel a little different than the others, especially since I come from a Vietnamese refugee family, but I luckily found support from Achieving College Excellence (ACE) to help support and guide me through my years at LUC.

Despite that being the case, the majority of the students do have interest in studying-abroad and/or participate in cultural events or ethnic clubs. It is visible to see that LUC students have an open-mind and sense of adventure to explore different cultures and customs.

Low-income: In all honesty, I believe that I was very fortunate to attend a private, Catholic, and non-profit school. I could have attended a community college and saved money, but because of my academic achievements and scholarships I was awarded, LUC education became affordable. Of course, there are sacrifices– I commute instead of living on campus, I bring lunch from home, I rent books or borrow from the Chicago Public Library instead of buying, etc, I take out loans, apply for federal aid assistance, and so much more.

Altogether, in the 2015 Freshman class:  97% of freshmen received need-based financial assistance &  95% of freshmen received institutional grants/scholarships.

Commuter: If this is you, I give you a high-five! I have made 2 blog posts specifically on commuting and again, I’ll say this again: You are truly a warrior and you have courage! I do not want to discourage anyone from the commute life, but Chicago weather is more unique than most cities and public transportation (CTA) is quite interesting.  Nevertheless, you have SUPPORT! We have an amazing resource for you (that I use too): Commuter and Off-Campus Student Life. They are an amazing group of people, you get free coffee and tea, food discounts ONLY for commuters, etc. Ultimately, for me, I save money by traveling instead of dorming.

First-Generation Student: This section, I feel most passionate about. As I have said previously, I come from a Vietnamese refugee family. The support I receive from them is different to the kind of support non-first-generation students get. My family may not understand what American higher-level education is like and might not have higher connections to help me in careers and such. Personally, I also have other responsibilities at home that require my help, either translating things, managing paperwork, etc.


I’ll end this with a good quote for you all that may be a little nervous about this new transition to college:

“Promise me you’ll always remember that you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” -Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh

Achieving College Excellence

Achieving College Excellence


Achieving College Excellence...what a wonderful, fancy. and scholarly title for a blog post, right? Hopefully I got your attention! For this week, I am directing my focus to all of you first-generation, low-income, and/or minority prospective LUC students.

Achieving College Excellence, or ACE, is an amazing nationally recognized and funded TRIO program that puts emphasis and attention to students who need additional help to catch up with other students who may be more fortunate and/or more able to get by with their lives.

TRIO- the root TRI pertaining to the number 3- is what makes up this specific student body: (1) first-generation (2) low-income (3) minority. If you fit into any or all of these requirements, then you may qualify to become an ACE scholar. I, myself, am an ACE scholar, fitting in all 3 categories, and because of this group, I am proud to be all 3 of those things


Why am I proud? Even though all 3 of these categories are, in a way, limiting my opportunities that I can do in my life, they give me something that others more fortunate don’t have.


Experience is one of the biggest things that make ACE scholars unique. We come from all different backgrounds- ethnicity, personal hardships, and so much more. Our lives are different, yet unique, compared to others who may be more fortunate; we have experiences that have molded us to be the people that we are, whether it is being first-generation and having parents who do not know English or being low-income and living a more simplistic, raw lifestyle. Experience separates us from those who are aware of this struggles and hardships from those who physically live it everyday.

Thus, people who have experienced these type of things surely have some humility in them. As ACE scholars, we can connect with one another better because we live similar lives. We do not complain nor boast about what kind of lifestyles we live; rather, we are here as a community to support one another and make sure we are on the right path to success as LUC students.

Self-discipline is one of the most challenging things, in my opinion, that is an outcome of being in ACE. The main goals of being in ACE, is to help students succeed in their academics and ultimately obtain a bachelor’s degree diploma. ACE provides several services and it is up the the student to take advantage of it for example, advising, tutoring, and fulfilling other ACE membership requirements. It may sometimes be hard to make sure everything is on track, especially when there is a lot to balance.

This fall semester is my first official year being in ACE and after 7 months of familiarity, I can only say great things about this group. I wish I knew about it and joined it my freshman year, so here I am writing to all of you who qualify for this group, to take advantage!

For more information, please visit the LUC ACE site:


Farewell: A Final Reflection of My First Year of College

Farewell: A Final Reflection of My First Year of College


When I was looking for schools, I thought about my future, what kind of person I would become, how I could possibly fit in with everyone, and if the prestige and academic standards were too high for me. Nonetheless, I went with my guts and chose to attend Loyola. Still to this day, I have no regrets about that decision.

From the very beginning, every new student was required to go to an 2-day and 1-overnight stay at Loyola. Even then, I was incredibly nervous. I knew nobody and my social skills weren’t so good. Plus, I have never been in a dorm before nor have I slept elsewhere besides my own room. Anyways, on the first day of orientation, I was put into a small group of 10 other students and to this day, I still know 5 of them very well. We are close friends! That evening, night, and next day flew by so quickly because I had people to talk to which made everything else much more bearable for me.


When school started, I had to adjust to extended school hours (some classes ended at 3:46PM and others at 5:30pm for me). With that, I had to learn how to use my free time wisely. Never in my life did I have so much independence. I used my free time for getting school work completed, visiting teachers during their office hours, going to mass, eating outside in the quad, and more.

Commuting! Especially for commuters, things can and will get rough and challenging. Weather conditions can get in the way (mostly in the winter) and because you live at home, there are home obligations in addition to the academic obligations.  If you would like to know more about this, I have two blog posts on my commuting experiences on my page.

From January onward, I hit a personal barrier. A family situation had come up and it affected my academic performance and physical and emotional state. Despite that, I sought out help through my academic advisor, psychologist from the Wellness Center, Dean of Students, and Financial Aid Director. I am happy to say that things are slowly getting better for me and hopefully by the start of fall semester, I will be completely up on my feet and ready to start anew.

Throughout the school year, I was a part of the American Medical Student Association, Vietnamese American Student Association, and Off-Campus Commuter Life group. It helped get me active within the Loyola community and along the way, I made more friends! I plan to continue joining all these groups next school year in addition to A.C.E., a group that pertains to students of low-income, first-generation, and more.

As I conclude this final blog post of this school year, I want to thank all of you readers for wanting to read my blog posts and go through my Loyola journey. Also, hopefully you had the opportunity to learn more about me, my hobbies and interests, and more. It was a privilege to blog and represent Loyola and I hope I have the wonderful opportunity to resume Rambler’s Pie: A Fresh Slice of Loyola starting next semester.

All the best,



(being eaten by a dinosaur at Loyola’s Scholars Night at the Field Museum)