A Fresh Perspective

Posted on: May 30th, 2012

By Elizabeth Sullivan – Class of 2015

I am no stranger to Jesuit institutions; both of my parents graduated from Georgetown University and my two sisters graduated from Boston College. It was practically a no-brainer that I would choose a university which fell under this same category. However, it wasn’t until I was on campus that I truly began to understand what the Jesuit label means within the Loyola community. It has been repeated time after time to us that one of the characteristics of our Jesuit education is engaging in “service that promotes justice.” But upon arriving at Loyola in August I had no concept of what this meant. Throughout my first year, though, I have come to learn that service, according to the Jesuit definition, has a much deeper effect and level of involvement. Social justice is a concept which drives every student here at Loyola to choose meaningful activities which promote community, equality, and respect.
I have been fortunate enough to become involved in a number of amazing opportunities to explore social justice through service both on campus and in the broader Chicagoland community. At the beginning of my first semester I became involved in a co-ed service fraternity called Alpha Phi Omega. With close to 100 members, and a strong emphasis on service and friendship, it is hard not to feel the sense of community that this group has built on campus. The range of service activities is broad: from writing letters to soldiers abroad to tutoring to working at 5k and 10k runs downtown. However different they may be, each opportunity presents a different way to achieve a sense of community whether it is on campus, in Chicago, or across the globe.
Another important feature of social justice is equality. One organization on campus which truly works towards this is the Jumpstart program. I joined the program as a Corps Member my second semester, and teach literacy skills to a group of seventeen 3-5 year olds. The goal of this program is to close the achievement gap and ensure that all children are given an equal chance to succeed in school regardless of the socioeconomic status of their neighborhood. Jumpstart not only engages students at Loyola to become involved in the local community, but also shows how socioeconomic and ethnic differences should not affect the opportunities that a person is afforded.
Lastly, I have learned a lot about respect in social justice through Loyola 4 Chicago (L4C). I worked as a tutor at Chicago Jesuit Academy, an all-male Jesuit middle school for students from low-income families. The amount of respect that these young men were shown was directly reflected in the amount they showed us. By treating these young men with the respect that they deserve, the faculty fosters an environment in which the students are able to achieve their best. I was so lucky to work at this school through L4C because I was able to see how far the effects a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T can take students.
As I finish up my freshman year, I think about how much I have changed since I arrived at Loyola. While my passion for helping others has always been the same, I now understand that serving others while promoting justice means creating a sense of community, striving for equality, and treating others with respect.

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