Lessons from My Sophomore Year

The semester is finally winding down, and my second year at Loyola is coming to an end. I’ve definitely learned a bunch in my classes, but it wouldn’t be a school year at Loyola if I hadn’t learned some life lessons along the way…

While I learned Greek and read Paradise Lost, I learned how to be silent. While I wrote countless research papers and tried to learn physics, I learned patience. I met countless wonderful people and reunited with old friends.

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So, what have I learned this year that won’t receive a grade?

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Exploring Baltimore

I have to admit that it wasn’t until recently that I truly started to take advantage of the multitude of activities and attractions Baltimore offers…

I have been trying to get off campus and find out for myself if the phrase that many of the benches in the city have engraved on them, “Baltimore: Greatest City in America,” is true.


Now that the warm weather is *officially* here, it seems like the perfect time to do some exploring before I am completely swamped with final exams and end of semester commitments and work.

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An Open Letter to All High School Seniors

Euphoria. Freedom. Responsibility. Stressed. Under-prepared. Torn. Contemplative. Excited. Nervous. Joy.

These may be some of the emotions you’ve experienced this school year, first as college acceptance letters start to roll in… then as you started visiting campuses… and especially now, as you prepare to make “the big decision” and enroll.

I remember my senior year of high school vividly, despite being two years past that point in my life. I remember being so anxious for the year to end, but also dreading the end of my high school years. It’s a weird combination of joy and sadness, stress and freedom… but I’m sure you’re quite familiar with this unique emotional flurry caused by the college search process.

You’re in the middle of deciding where you want to spend the next four years of your life.  It’s a big decision.


Since coming to Loyola, I’ve also been a part of the other side, thanks to my involvement with the Classics department and being a Messina Evergreen.

I’ve volunteered to work with a few offices and departments during events for accepted students, answering questions about programs and courses and life at Loyola. I’ve explained the core more times than I care to recall. I’ve answered countless questions about almost anything you could think to ask about a school, and probably even a few you’d never fathom asking.

I’ve seen the stress in a student’s eyes and the excitement in parents’ eyes, coupled with the hesitation and concern that come so naturally to parents. (Sidenote: Be patient with your parents. This is a stressful time for them, too. They’re going to miss you so much!)

As someone who has gone through the process before and has experienced the other side of it, I have a few words of wisdom for any-stressed out senior. And remember, I’ve been in your shoes.

Never be afraid of asking questions. It doesn’t matter how many times you think it may have been asked or how awkward it may be, if you have a question about something at the school you’re visiting, ask it. Don’t be shy; if something is important for you to know, then it’s important to ask questions about it. Ask what it’s like to take a class here. Ask whether or not the food is actually good. Ask about the social life on campus. Ask what the rooms look like if you have’t already taken a tour, physical or virtual. Heck, ask about the height of the beds if you’re curious as to how much stuff you can store under them. If you’re even considering living and learning somewhere for four years, you shouldn’t walk away from a visit with unanswered questions.

Reach out to faculty. If you’re interested in a certain department, reach out to the chair of that department to see if you can arrange a meeting with a professor. There’s no better way to get a feel of the department than to meet one of the people that could be teaching you during your career at that school. There’s no better way to learn more about a major you’re interested in than to talk to a professor in that department.

I was able to arrange a meeting with Dr. Walsh the summer before my senior year, and his passion and excitement about Classics was one of the main reasons I came to Loyola.

Take this process seriously. This is a major decision. You’re theoretically choosing what your life is going to be like for the next four years.. and, not to scare you, but far beyond that. (Ask any Loyola graduate who ended up living in a different place than where they grew up. I would bet nine of out ten times, they did not foresee making a life in that place before their path led them to Loyola!)

To use a Jesuit term, this is a time of discernment. It’s important to weigh all the pros and cons of each school you’re considering. Take the time to research each school. Follow the university’s social media or reach out to current students to get an idea of what life is like at that school: in the classroom, in the residence halls, on the weekends.

Take a moment to really reflect on what you want in a school, and see which schools fit your needs and your wants best. And be honest with yourself. If you want a small, friendly, liberal arts school near a major city (hey, that sounds a lot like Loyola…), then you probably should avoid giant state schools.

Stay calm and carry on. Even though choosing a college is a major life decision, it’s important not to fall into a stress spiral over it. If you’re honest with what you want from a school and earnestly research the schools you’re considering, the choice will be much easier. If one school really speaks to you as the right choice, go with your gut!

To paraphrase something I overheard a professor say, there’s no wrong choice. No matter where you end up, you’re going to be all right.

This is certainly a time of stress, but this should also be a time of excitement and celebration. I hope that you enjoy the remainder of your senior year… and I not-so-secretly hope that you choose Loyola as your home for the next chapter of your life.

Celebrating Light and Life in Baltimore

We got off the bus, not really knowing what to expect, and as we walked towards the Inner Harbor, we were overwhelmed by the crowd, the music, and the lights.


My friends and I trekked down to the Harbor for Light City on Thursday night, so we weren’t expecting too many people. It was a school night and a work night, after all. We thought we might bump into some other Loyola students, since it was “Loyola Night.”

To our surprise, there were thousands of people walking around the Inner Harbor enjoying the festival. I’ve never been so happy to see so many people in one place, all celebrating Baltimore…

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Taking a Stab at Honoring History

Each year, Loyola’s Classics students celebrate the Ides of March (March 15) by stabbing Julius Caesar on the Quad.


Well, not quite. We reenact scenes from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in an attempt to remember this major turning point in Roman sociopolitical history, while also reaching out to the larger Loyola community.

Let me make very clear that no one gets stabbed during this reenactment (although there was a bruised knee this year).

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A Day in the Life: Kelly

Loyola student bloggers offer a glimpse into the day in the life of a Loyola student— which, like our students, is anything but typical.


8:15 a.m.
My alarm goes off. Waking up this early is always a struggle after sleeping in during the winter break, but it’s time to face the music, so I tumble out of bed to get ready.

I dress warmly for the walk across campus and head out the front door of my apartment in Seton Court.

Seton Courtyard

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The Ultimate Guide to a Successful First Year: Part II

We live in what can seem like a stressful and competitive world. The tendency is to work hard and play harder, or to burn the candle at both ends until you’re exhausted and can’t do either. Sometimes it seems there aren’t enough hours in the day to do the things we need to do, let alone the things we want to do.

This post is part two of a post in which I share what I have found to be methods to help first-year college students like me have a productive and enjoyable experience…

(You can find Part I of my Ultimate Guide here.)


Even homes is putting some hours in - but is he doing it right?

Let’s be honest: Every college student dreads studying. I can’t think of one person who doesn’t despise the hours spent in the library, taking notes and staring at pages until our eyes glaze over.

More than being prepared for a test, success in life is defined by knowledge, and you will never be able to hold an intellectual conversation without a base of appropriate information.

The most effective way to keep the information locked within your conscience is to study. Here are my top four ways to engage with information while studying…

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Memorializing the Jesuit Martyrs

If you’ve walked by Loyola’s Quad recently, you’ve probably noticed the crosses lining the path near Maryland Hall and Sellinger.

Every year, Loyola remembers the Jesuit martyrs who surrendered their lives for their faith during the civil war in El Salvador.

On Nov. 16, 1989, at la Universidad Centroamericana in El Salvador, uniformed men gunned down six Jesuits, their housekeeper, and her 16-year-old daughter. These men and women lost their lives in this act of violence.

Over the next couple of days, the Loyola community will honor these men and women, along with many others who gave their lives in service to individuals experiencing poverty. Among those honored by Loyola are Ignacio Ellacuría, S.J., Ignacio Martín-Baró, S.J., Segundo Montes, S.J., Juan Ramón Moreno, S.J., Joaquín López y López, S.J., Amando López, S.J., Elba Ramos, Celina Ramos, Barbara Ford, Stan Rother, and Sr. Dorothy Kazel.


In an age where we need to care even more for those around us—and especially for those experiencing poverty—remembering the actions of those who went before us in order to follow their selfless example is more important than ever.

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The Ultimate Guide to a Successful First Year: Part I

For most, the college experience is characterized by what you learn (academics and experience) and who you meet, forge relationships with, and go on to call life-long friends (social life). But beyond attending classes, studying and preparing for those classes, and making friends and having a social life, there are many other ways to fulfill a successful university experience. I am discovering more with each passing week here at Loyola: recreational opportunities, clubs, service, lectures, events on campus.

We live in what can seem like a stressful and competitive world. The tendency is to work hard and play harder, or to burn the candle at both ends until you’re exhausted and can’t do either. Sometimes it seems there aren’t enough hours in the day to do the things we need to do, let alone the things we want to do.

So I’ve started to pay attention to the following methods and behaviors to help me stay on track—and I’ve found a great improvement in my lifestyle when it comes to balancing my busy schedule, my responsibilities, and my schoolwork…

This post is part one of a two-part series in which I will share what I have found to be methods to help first-year college students like me have a productive and enjoyable experience.

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Silent Mind

JFDKSLAJFKDLSJFKLSDJAKFAs a junior at Loyola University Maryland, I have come to understand the Jesuit ideals of service and social justice, and the notion that it is all of our responsibility to create a better world.

St. Ignatius Loyola set out to create a world where men and women would be “contemplatives in action,” where we would observe, notice, and take creative action.

The study abroad experience is many things: exciting, inspiring, fun, challenging, eye-opening. It also brings forth tremendous responsibility.

When traveling from place to place, it is easy to get caught up with the adventure in it all. It is easy to only notice the most well-known landmarks. But each destination has its own complicated problems that need to be addressed by and exposed to the rest of the world.

Walking and exploring the beautiful sights of Paris, I noticed dozens of women and children begging on the streets. Passing each of them, I wanted to know their story, how they got there, and if they could be anywhere else, where would they be?

The image of these children and women has stayed with me and led me to much reflection.

Why was I given this opportunity and not them? What can I do? How can my Loyola education help? How can I make a difference?

I wrote this piece for them, attempting to give them a voice.


The Silent Mind

She sits on a mattress, a child in her arms, burying its face into her breast, sleeping. Her weary back leans against the cold Pont Des Arts Bridge. Her hands shake back and forth as she holds the cup before her. Back and forth, the ringing of the three euros in the cup resonate only in her ears. Around her everyone notices her, a quick glance, a second of pity, but they just keep walking.

A herd of tourist, all wearing red “I love Paris” T-shirts come closer. One lifts a camera, points it towards her, and flashes. Her eyes overwhelmed with whiteness and tears.

She is blinded from the world around her. Her heartbroken brown eyes gaze up at the sky, seeking contact with God. A dirty sheet covers her bruised legs. Love locks surround her and the unknown baby. Irony of Love, from the world to their own world on the mattress.

Her mind begins to wander, envisioning the mattress as a magic carpet, just as Aladdin’s. Now she can escape. She flies on the magic mattress across the Eiffel Tower. Her hand reaches out to touch the top of the shimmering metal tower. She flies onward, over the breathtaking mountains of Interlaken. Switzerland. Then the Great Pyramid of Giza. Then Hagia Sophia. Then the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Then the White House.

She keeps flying, running away, observing everything about the world below her. The people resemble ants, she mashes them with her shaking hands. Squishing them on the grounds of the affliction and the pain they have permanently caused her. Now. Away from her fear. Away from her pain. Away from the tourists and their flashing cameras. Away from the hunger. Away from the humiliation. Away.

Another camera flash explodes in front of her brown eyes.

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