Hi there! My name is Frances, and I am a first-year student at Loyola University Chicago. I am studying Environmental Policy, with a double-minor in Catholic Studies and Music. Everyone who applied to and enrolled in Loyola University Chicago has their own experiences and reasons for why they chose to go to this institution — each of them equally as valid as my own! Here are my own reasons for choosing to attend Loyola University Chicago:
1. The Campus
Although Loyola University Chicago has three campuses (Lake Shore, Water Tower, and the Retreat and Ecology Campus), I spend the majority of my time at the Lake Shore campus. Although the campus houses 11,079 undergraduate students and it’s located in the city of Chicago, Loyola’s campus is very similar to that of a small school’s campus. For me, personally, this was an important factor in deciding to enroll at Loyola. The other top two schools on my list were between 3,000-7,000 undergraduate population, with the same size campus. Being given the opportunity to attend a school of the same size geographically as these other schools, but with a larger student body, challenged me to immerse myself in a student body that is more diverse and interesting than other schools that I applied to.
As well as this, Loyola’s campus is incredibly beautiful! As an individual who values green space and being surrounded by nature every now and again, I greatly appreciate Loyola’s dedication to providing a naturalistic environment for their students in the city of Chicago — especially with it being located right by Lake Michigan! Who needs the ocean when you have a massive body of freshwater in your backyard?
2. The Honors Program
Although I was very excited and grateful to have been accepted to Loyola back in November, I kept asking myself, “Ok, but what else do they offer? Will I be challenged here? Or will life be really easy and will I get bored?” With these questions running through my mind, I decided to apply to Loyola’s Interdisciplinary Honors Program. After being accepted into their honors program and visiting Loyola in April for Loyola weekend (where they had a wonderful event at the Field Museum for all students accepted into the Honors Program and an informational session about the program) I knew that Loyola was definitely the place for me.
Thus far, the Honors Program has not only provided me with new perspective on classic pieces of literature, but also a new perspective on life. The freshmen in the Honors Program all live in Campion Hall. Campion has provided me with a new level of camaraderie that I had never experienced before in an academic setting. The professors on the staff for this program are absolutely incredible. They are always willing to meet with me for office hours. And I know that I am valued by them whenever I have an interaction with them. This affirmation continuously consoles me as I move forward this semester.
3. The Institute of Environmental Sustainability (IES)
Upon applying to Loyola University Chicago, I had initially applied as a Sacred Music and Theology double-major. However, back in December, I essentially had an internal crisis. I had this horrible feeling that I wasn’t supposed to pursue music as a career/major field of study. Instead, I felt that God was calling, or rather “nagging”, me to study Environmental Policy in order to educate Catholic communities about the importance of sustainable lifestyle practices. And to teach them about people in our world who are marginalized by environmental crises — especially those impacted by mountaintop removal and the coal industry in Appalachia. With this stark contrast in fields of study, I was at a loss for what to do. Music had always been a passion of mine, but I knew that I had the ability to develop the skillset necessary to pursue Environmental Policy as a major field of study. After a few weeks, I began exploring Loyola’s webpage for the Institute of Environmental Sustainability. I instantaneously fell in love with all of their programs and facilities. It’s essentially an environmental science nerd’s dream come true.
After a few more months of discernment and actually accepting God’s plan and will, I decided to change my major to Environmental Policy with a double-minor in Catholic Studies and Music. Even though it’s only two weeks into the semester, I can say without a doubt that the IES feels like home to me. Not only are the facilities amazing, but the courses and the professors are impeccable! With class sizes of less than 30, I feel comfortable visiting my professors during office hours to ask them questions or to simply just say “hi”! Similarly to the Honors Program, each time I speak with one of the professors, it is evident that they value me as a human being — which is especially evident in my relationship with my IES advisor.
4. Jesuit Spirituality and Mission
In my college search and application, attending a Catholic school was a very important factor in my decision-making process. In the past few years, I have begun to delve deeper into my faith and what it means for me personally, as a Catholic, to live out my faith through a specific spirituality. Two years ago, I took a quiz online that revealed that I had an Ignatian spirituality — or, rather, a Jesuit spirituality. I didn’t really think a lot about this in my decision to attend Loyola, but I realized afterward that it is an essential part of my identity as a human being — hence why it was necessary for me to attend Loyola and why I was so drawn to it. Although I knew a little bit about the Jesuits, I did not realize their dedication to social justice and education until this past summer when I worked at a Catholic non-profit called Bethlehem Farm.
It is here that I learned that the director of the Farm and his wife actually graduated from Loyola University Chicago. They are very dedicated to the Jesuit mission and vision in their daily lives. Not only did this witness enlighten me on Loyola’s mission, but also the witness of my fellow co-workers and the volunteers who came from the Farm. Bethlehem Farm still feels like home to me, but the spirituality of the place with its dedication to living out the Gospel has carried over into my experience at Loyola – allowing me to also feel at home here.
5. The Endless Opportunities
When I say endless opportunities, I actually mean it. I’m the type of person who likes to get her feet wet and dig deep into anything and everything that I am passionate about. These passions include Catholicism, environmental advocacy, sustainable agriculture, music, leadership, feminism, and serving others. What if I told you that I have the ability to be involved in organizations and activities that fulfill all of my passions? That’s right! It’s possible to pursue all of your passions here at Loyola with over 250 organizations here on campus.
Different organizations that I am involved in include Work Study, Music Ministry, Campus Ministry, Student Environmental Alliance, the Grower’s Guild, Loyola’s Composting Initiative, Emerging Leaders Program, and Women in Leadership — as well as being an intern for EarthShare Illinois under their managing director, volunteering at the Loyola Farmer’s Market, and volunteering for the campaign “Clean It Up, Tyson!” Yes, I know it sounds like a lot (and I think I’m going to realize that I need to further discern my commitments), but this just goes to show that Loyola truly has allowed me to put myself out there and pursue my passions to any extent that I choose to do so! Not only do these opportunities fulfill my desire to pursue my passions, but they also allow me to begin networking as a freshman and make connections with people for the future!