Monthly Archives: June 2015

Alumni Feature: Patricia P. Underwood

Patricia P. Underwood is a recent graduate of IPS and has big plans for the future! Patricia completed her degree later in life than expected, but she isn’t letting that slow her down. In fact, she is more dedicated and passionate than ever to join forces with like minded people and make lasting, positive changes in the world.

Get to know more about her passion and spirit below and feel free to contact her to continue the conversation.


What were your studies focused on at IPS?
I started out in Pastoral Studies and switched to Contemporary Spirituality.

What was your favorite class and why?
Truthfully, I cannot say that I had a favorite class because all of my classes were very interesting. However, I will say that my World Religions class with Dr. Heidi Russell was very informative as it gave me a look at the five world religions which I had briefly studied at Ohio Dominican for my Bachelors degree in Theology. The difference was that in Dr. Russell’s class we had to visit and interview someone from the different religions. This is where I interviewed a man from Africa who practices the Islamic religion. That interview was very enlightening as he shed some light on a lot of misconceptions about the Muslim religion that the Media tends to exploit and in turn creates fear against a very peaceful religion.

What was your greatest accomplishment while at IPS?
Graduating! Seriously! After working for many years I decided at the age of 52 to return to school and finish my bachelors degree that I started in 1972. I began at Ohio Dominican University, where I got my Associate Degree in Theology, returned to ODU and went on to get my Bachelors degree in Theology, and then decided to go for the Masters of Arts at Loyola and now graduating at the age of 60. So I have been in school a total of eight years straight. Whew! So graduating with a pretty darn good grade point average has been a great accomplishment for me at this point in my life.

What was your greatest challenge at IPS and how did you overcome it?
I would say that my greatest challenge was not academic, but more of a spiritual challenge. Staying true to my personal spiritual beliefs and being open to learning new religions and spiritualities. Before returning to college I was very active in the Native American spiritual traditions which included a strong belief in God and the Bible.

My undergraduate school was Catholic and Loyola is Jesuit and these two denominations were different from my spirituality at the time of my return to education. However, I was very familiar with both the Catholic and Jesuit traditions. My parents raised us in an Episcopal church and I attended a Catholic church with one grandmother and the A.M.E. Church (African Methodist Episcopal) with the other grandmother, so I have always had a variety of religions in which to observe.

The challenge as I said before was to open heartily engage in listening and learning the Catholic and Jesuit traditions in more depth than attendance of a Sunday morning service.

What are you doing post graduation?
Currently, I have been accepted into the Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics. I will be pursuing another Masters of Arts in Bioethics and Health Policy. Also, I would like to teach online at LUC or any other college in the field of religion, theology, or humanities classes. I would also like to pursue some writing projects, which would include my masters thesis topic of Black American Female Spirituality. I quickly learned during the research for my paper that not a lot of books or articles exists on this topic for academic purposes.

My thesis paper addresses some of the issues that Black Americans, male and female, possess about fair treatment within many areas in America, and due to the mistreatment of their ancestors many Black Americans are despondent and afraid that they will not get quality healthcare or medical treatment.

The ugly history of the Institution of American Slavery, the Tuskegee Experiment and the present day welfare system are some of the instances that has left some deeply rooted scaring on many Blacks in America that needs to be remedied and soothed. This is why I want to pursue the Bioethics degree to help change the myths and unlearned thinking of many Blacks and help them to better trust medical doctors and hospitals to give the fair treatment and medical care that they deserve.

How has your education from IPS prepared you for your new role/projects?
Wow! The IPS department at LUC has prepared me to be more confident in my conversations about God, the Church, and religion. All of my classes, the ones in my direct curriculum and including the ones out of my direct curriculum such as human development, psychology, and community development, were so essential to understanding the role of a pastor as well as a lay person and the purpose of the Church.

The IPS department has some great professors who encourage out of the box thinking and teaching that allows students to get the pertinent information, process that information and use the information as needed in a mannor that can be used on a daily basis to help individuals understand the ever changing world we live in today and how to stay rooted in the words of God and HIS covenant with humankind that never goes out of style.

What are your future goals and how do you see yourself going to “set the world on fire?”
My first thought to this question is the world is already on fire enough. What we need to do now is put out a few of these fires that are beginning to burn out of control. There are literally fires burning peoples homes and causing mental and emotional strife, and there are racial and gender fires burning  that need to be extinguished. There is hunger and disease in the United States and world wide that needs to be addressed. The food supply in the United States is under attack as well and it is attacking our bodies, our health, and the health of our children. So you see we as Christians and as followers of Jesus Christ need to focus on helping to put out some of these fires.

I will be on fire searching for people who feel as I do, who are looking for more positive media coverage of those people who are already working to solve these burning issues. We are constantly  being bombarded with the negative in the world but there are many of us who are working hourly and daily to help in all of these situations and I hope to become more active as well.

Any additional information:
I would like to add to my fellow older sisters and brothers who are considering and perhaps already working on furthering their education that the IPS department at LUC is a great place to get your graduate education.

The online degree is a great way to get your education, especially if you are working and have young children to take care of or if you are older, or if you have a medical condition or may be you are taking care of your elderly parents, or if you just don’t feel like doing the brick and mortar class room scene. You can relax at home and go to class in your pajamas if you feel like it. The classes are great! You still interact in live class discussions and even get to know your classmates to make lasting friendships and your professors are always available to meet with you and advise you and help you achieve you educational goals.

If you wish to connect to Patricia Underwood, you can email her at


Join the conversation by following @BrianSchmisek on Twitter and @LoyolaIPS on Instagram! Also, network with the Loyola Chicago IPS community on LinkedIn.

Faculty Profile: Felipe Legarreta-Castillo

IPS has had so much success with the Hispanic Ministry efforts of our Parish Leadership and Management Programs that we are expanding our efforts. As part of the expansion, we have been fortunate enough to hire Felipe Legarreta-Castillo, Ph.D. as the instructor for the Spanish language Bible Study program, which will add other parish ministry sites to that currently operating at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines.

Legarreta-Castillo has been a student, adjunct faculty member and most recently, a chaplain at Loyola University Chicago. As he continues his work at Loyola IPS, we ask your help in welcoming him to our IPS family as a full time faculty member.

Get to know a little more about him in the Q&A below.

Felipe Legarreta-Castillo

Hometown: Chihuahua, Mexico

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? Sports: Triathlons, Basketball, Kayaking

What is a fun fact about you?
Well, I have a pet, a bilingual non-German speaking German Shepherd called Apache who came from Mexico, and now has an identity crisis.

You know several languages (ancient and modern), which one has been the most difficult to learn?
German, I studied the language, but I still do not understand why it takes several pages to write one sentence. By the time I get to the next page, I forget what I read on the first page.

*For those curious, he knows: Biblical Hebrew and Greek, Ecclesiastical Latin, Spanish, English, Italian, French and German.

What about Loyola makes you want to continue to be a part of it?
It is a Catholic Jesuit University with the highest academic standards seeking God in all things to the service of all, especially the underprivileged. AMDG!

What are you looking forward to most about being the instructor for the Spanish Biblical Theology courses?
Transforming peoples and communities through the reading, interpretation, proclamation and celebration of God’s salvation as found in the Scriptures in order to form one Community, the children God.

What previous education or experience has best prepared you for this role?
My studies at Loyola and teaching Bible here in Chicagoland and before in Mexico.

Do you have a mentor(s) or experience(s) in your life that helped shape who you are today?
God’s people, every community I have served and worked with. They have revealed to me God’s love and compassion in a humble and pristine way.

What do you consider your biggest accomplishment so far (personally or professionally)?
Every accomplishment has been simply another step forward in my journey of service and love. Thus, we really never “complete” loving and serving: it is a journey until we meet our Creator, our Father, then all will be accomplished in Christ.


Join the conversation by following @BrianSchmisek on Twitter and @LoyolaIPS on Instagram! Also, network with the Loyola Chicago IPS community on LinkedIn.

The Human Powered Nebulizer – “Bringing Life and Breath”

Loyola IPS’s Dr. Therese Lysaught has been a part of the Human Powered Nebulizer (HPN) project for six years.

“I got involved in this project through an undergraduate immersion trip in 2009 when I taught at Marquette. I was invited by Chris Hallberg (who was then an undergraduate) to accompany students for a Spring break reverse-immersion trip to El Salvador. Another professor on that trip was a colleague of mine in engineering, Dr. Lars Olson. He had invented the HPN, but needed a team to help him move it from the lab to the world. That’s where Chris Hallberg and I came in. Once we had a team, the project really began to move forward,” said Therese.

She and the HPN team want to bring a life saving device to cities around the world where there is a high number of respiratory problems, but where the people are poor and often do not have immediate access to electricity.

The solution: an innovative, low-cost nebulizer that does not require electricity. The HPN will get its power from a hand crank on the side of the device. Just like any other nebulizer, the HPN converts liquid medicine into a mist that can be inhaled deep into the lungs.

Human Powered Nebulizer
Human Powered Nebulizer

Respiratory problems are a major cause of death and disability throughout the world. In fact, lower-respiratory infections (LRIs), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and tuberculosis (TB) account for three of the ten most prevalent causes of mortality. In addition, asthma and other respiratory problems account for a substantial and growing number of hospital visits each year. These diseases also differentially affect the poor, killing more than HIV and malaria combined.

This project could not have come at a better time for Therese, as she had recently began researching health issues like the ones above that affect people in countries around the world.

“I jumped at the chance to work on this project because a few years prior to this, I had begun to shift the focus of my work from standard issues in medical ethics (which Paul Farmer refers to as “quandaries of the rich”), to focus on the issues that plague most of the world, namely, lack of access to even the most basic care and more. So by 2009, I had been working on questions of global health and global medical ethics, and I was grateful for an opportunity to work with a team of people with a real world solution,” said Therese.

The HPN team has held focus groups, conducted clinical trials and continues to work closely with community health workers in El Salvador. Immersion into the culture is crucial to the project. For instance, the first design of the HPN was powered using leg muscles and resembled a bicycle. However, once tested, the team learned that this model was too heavy for easy transport through the villages and was not producing enough power. Some women in the community suggested using the arm muscles for power since the people use their arms for manual labor every day in that culture. This recommendation eventually led to the easy-to-carry, hand crank model it is now.

Previous HPN model
Previous HPN model

Not only does the HPN team want to make it physically compatible and efficient, but also medically. It is important that the HPN works just as effectively as an electric nebulizer. After a clinical trial in El Salvador, the results showed no statistical differences. In addition, the HPN addresses multiple respiratory conditions, unlike most global health interventions that only address one disease or condition.


Throughout the course of working on this project, there has been both challenging and rewarding moments for Therese.

“The most challenging parts of the project have been having to cultivate the virtue of patience and the cross-cultural education that such work necessarily entails. When one works on issues that involve poor people, without an intention to profit off of them, it can be a challenge to get grants and funding. Our project is low-tech, ‘appropriate’ technology that lacks the glitz and glamor that major funders like. So we have had to work much more slowly and patiently than Americans are accustomed to.

It’s also been a great challenge and privilege to work continuously in another country, to learn about that country’s cultural habits (and strengths and weaknesses) because they really teach a person about one’s own strengths and weaknesses (particularly the weaknesses). Also, repeatedly coming face-to-face with the impoverishment of a place like El Salvador—which is like much of the world—is repeatedly sobering.

This latter ‘challenge’ has also been a great reward. Probably the greatest reward, however, has been the deep gratitude of the community health workers and other front-line health care workers who have given us the great gift of working with us on our research. They are SO grateful for the HPN; they thank us over and over; they want more of them so that they can make a real difference in the lives of real people who are eking out a living in really remote areas. But every time they thank us, I know that it’s WE who should be thanking THEM, for the work they do (which is much, much harder than the work we do) and for their assistance with the project.”

In the end, the team’s goal is to produce a device that will last for 10 years and cost less than $50. “The HPN is designed to be used primarily by community health workers. The World Health Organization estimates that there are about 1.5 million community health workers in the world. We would love to put an HPN in the hands of every community health worker,” commented Therese.

As a personal goal, Therese would like “to continue to be challenged by these amazing people we get to work with in these developing countries, to continue to learn from them, to continue to work with them, and hopefully to eventually be fluent in Spanish!”

For more information on the project, device, history and more, visit and like it on Facebook.


Join the conversation by following @BrianSchmisek on Twitter and @LoyolaIPS on Instagram! Also, network with the Loyola Chicago IPS community on LinkedIn.