Innovating Hope.

Welcome to a new academic year at Loyola University Chicago and your journey through the School of Social Work to be this generation’s Innovators of Hope.

Innovation is not limited to the apples’, googles’, and the amazons’ of the world. The spirit of innovation is within each and every one of us. The ability to see a problem, think through solutions, and launch an innovative approach to solve problems…innovate. Hope.

Why hope? We all “hope”. We wake up every morning because of our belief in hope.

Hope that today will be a good day for me

Hope that my commute will be easy

Hope that I will meet my partner of a lifetime

Hope that my child will have a happy day at school

Hope that my parent will not worry about my future

And of course, hope that I will get an A grade in this course

Hope permeates everything and anything we do and so, why not innovate hope for the marginalized…the disenfranchised…the voiceless?

In a world of infinite imperfections, there is much hope for us at Loyola University Chicago for each and every one of you.

We hope:

You will be that person who will bring a smile to a child; food and shelter to the homeless; comfort to a parent grieving; fellowship to an elder socially disconnected; peace and reconciliation to a community traumatized through violence.

That is the power of hope. That is the power of our profession. That is Social Work.

Hope needs innovators. Innovators who will take calculated risks for creating abundant opportunities for those we serve through the myriad interprofessional offerings LUC provides to each and every one of you. And I am looking at the innovators of hope. Today. Here. At Loyola. At the School of Social Work.

So my “ask” of all of you:

  • Do not settle for the status quo. The talk of “Social Justice” is very easy. Nearly every university in the country does that. Discerning “injustice” is what we train for at LUC School of Social Work. If you do not name the “injustice”… It. does. not. exist. It is not measured. It is not attended to. So discern injustice and make things right in your transformation to be that innovator of hope.
  • Ask the tough questions and push us, faculty, staff, and your peers to the edges. Transformative education is a 2wo-way street. We need to learn from you about your realities… your world views.
  • Be curious about little things. It makes the big things easier to attend to. Curiosity always wins.
  • Choose assignments & projects that make you uncomfortable, which challenges you to open your mind to countless “what if’s”. Choosing “easy”, does not let you grow intellectually.
  • Be your best in all that you do, the way you carry yourself confidently, the way you dress appropriately, talk competently, and interact humbly. That makes you a formidable professional and a role model to those following you.

I want you to remember this quote as you go through our program and reflect on it this semester and in the years to come:

One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions – Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

At the end of the year, I will invite all of you to complete this sentence.

I will try to innovate hope for …

Have a blessed, fruitful year ahead. Welcome once again.

(Pic Courtesy: Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune)