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.

IMG_6179 - 1

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

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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…

Continue reading

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).

Continue reading

Light City: Celebrating Baltimore through Art, Music, Innovation & Community

Light City is happening in Baltimore next week!

You may have heard about Light City, either by word of mouth or signs on Loyola’s campus. Or if you’re like me, you first saw something advertised on the napkin dispensers in Boulder Cafe and Iggy’s. Greyhounds, keep this on your radar for when you come back from Easter break.

The first large-scale, international light festival in the United States, Light City “will provide a backdrop for the celebration of ideas, ingenuity and creativity through art, music and innovation.”

Translation: Baltimore is hosting a really cool art festival that features visual and performance art throughout the city, along with a conference series discussing social themes such as justice, equity, innovation, and sustainability.

The festival, which runs from March 28 through April 3, is going to be a major event for the city AND for Loyola, because Loyola is one of the sponsors.

This is going to be an amazing opportunity for Baltimore to come together and celebrate the arts, innovation, and community that is Baltimore, so make it a priority to get downtown for this festival when you can. A few things you definitely won’t want to miss…

  • The festival opens on Monday, March 28. If you’re already back on campus from Easter break that afternoon, the opening parade starts at 7 p.m.

There will be live music, floats, drum lines, and stilt walkers. I recommend planning to be back on campus as soon as you can, so that you can head downtown for this opening ceremony. Loyola students will be marching in the parade to kickoff the week’s events, and it should be really cool.

  • More than a mile of incredible light art installations: all free and open to the public every night.

From the south shore of the Inner Harbor to Harbor East, festival -goers can explore 1.5 miles of world-class installations.


Loyola shuttles will be transporting students downtown in order to participate in this amazing festival celebrating the city all Loyola students call home (at least, our home away from home).

This is a chance for Loyola student to get off campus on a spring night and to do something cultured, something original. Light City Baltimore is the first festival of this kind in America, so it’s bound to be something you’ve never seen before. What better thing to come back to school after Easter break than a major art and music festival downtown?!

Details on Loyola Night can be found here!

  • Check out Light City’s performance, light, and music schedule for more details about what is going on each night.

Roller ballet. Dance. Human dioramas. Concerts. Music fusion. Live performance painting. Choreography around LED exhibits and fire. Yes, fire. A giant illuminated interactive puppet show. Do I need to go on?

  • You can also get more involved with the events by volunteering.

What better way to contribute to this festival than to volunteer? Light City needs a ton of volunteer help, and this is sure to be a rewarding experience.

If you can’t make it downtown for the festival, fear not…

  • Many individual neighborhoods are also participating in the magic of this event, including Hampden. So even if you can’t get all the way downtown, you can head over to Hampden or any of the other neighborhoods participation.

Check out the profiles of the different neighborhoods to see what amazing things are being done by different parts of the greater Baltimore community.

For more information on the event, visit the Light City website. Follow Light City on Facebook (event), Twitter, and Instagram. And learn how Loyola is involved with Light City!

About Messina

I still remember the excitement rushing through my veins as I opened a folder labeled “Loyola University Maryland,” wondering whether my fate was sealed in a single brief letter from the office of admission.

“Congratulations!” I read, continuing to skim the letter, “I am delighted to offer you early admission to Loyola University Maryland.”

My heart rate accelerated. Body heat escaped. Vision blurred. I stood with the letter in my hands, attempting to figure out next steps.

As a high school senior, I thought, “I’ve made it!” All I needed to do now was confirm my acceptance, purchase books, and register for classes…

Continue reading

A Day in the Life: Vitaliy



5:26 a.m.
Yes, I’m up before the sun. Hard for many of my fellow Greyhounds to fathom, I’m aware.

But that’s precisely why I’m writing this, to tell you about a day in the life of a first-year commuter student at Loyola…

Once I’m up, I like to embody a simple Englishman, you know: a cup of green tea (no extended pinkie, though) with an electronic version of morning news. I get my fix of politics, culture, current events, and other highly entertaining stories that run through my mind for the rest of the day, feeding me energy.

My schedule this semester has mostly morning classes, which works well for me because I have work in the afternoon.

Let’s get it started [insert the rest of The Black Eyed Peas lyrics here]

Jacket zipped, scarf around the neck, a Washington Capitals beanie on, and here I go, stepping out into the real world.

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

Theatre Thrives at Loyola

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.

You’ve probably heard this quote from Shakespeare’s As You Like It at least a thousand times.

For many students and faculty at Loyola, their world really is a stage.

Housed in the DeChiaro College Center, the heart of the theatre department is McManus Theatre. Students from any major or minor are more than welcome to participate in any show, but the theatre majors and minors really drive the department. They serve as student directors, stage managers, stage crew, work studies, and, of course, as actors. And while faculty and staff have participated in the past, in recent years, the casts have been solely comprised of students.


Cabaret performed by the Evergreen Players in February 2014; directed by Natka Bianchini, Ph.D., associate professor of theatre

Continue reading