Prepare, Engage, Reflect, Research – Global Scholars in the Making

Maiju Lehmijoki-Gardner, Director of Pre-Health Programs, shares about The Jennings Family International Summer Research Scholarship, which offers every summer four to five undergraduate students an opportunity to engage in a global internship and research.

El Salvador, Dominican Republic, India, Bolivia, Chile, South Africa, Turkey, Ghana – these are a few of the destinations where Larry and Katherine Jennings International Summer Scholarship has taken Loyola students since summer of 2014. Larry and Katherine Jennings have generously created an opportunity that blends spirit of independence and adventure with responsibility toward the global community. Once again, I had the privilege to experience vicariously the sense of wonder and joy when I received the travel pictures and update from Alyson Forgione,’19, Marisa Gochie,’19, Marie Louis-Charles, ’19, Sierra Quimby, ’18, and Jillian Skerchak,’19. Alyson volunteered at a special education school in Thailand, Marisa learned about renewable energy in Costa Rica, Marie focused in photojournalism in Nepal, Sierra practiced her speech-pathology skills in Ghana, and Jillian learned about health care in Nepal.

I have had the privilege to mentor three generations of Jennings scholars through their entire cycle of learning that peaks at the summer travel experience itself but is surely not limited to it. In fact, I have come to discover that a genuine engagement with one’s experience calls for intentional planning, for reflection, and, as Jennings scholarship has it, for research. I have found that Jennings scholarship uniquely prepares the students to grow in their awareness of their personal and professional goals as well as in their knowledge of prominent issues that shape the twenty-first-century world. These scholarship winners head out on their own to join an internship program of their choice. They have the freedom to choose their destination and their program, and in their application they articulate personal and professional reasons behind their choice. Dr. André Colombat, Dean of Loyola’s International Programs, and I, work with students to make sure that the programs are of high value to the student and trustworthy. Over the years, the Jennings students have placed with such programs as Child Family Health International, Global Crossroad, CIEE, and Projects Abroad.

A careful deliberation of one’s motives and goals creates a foundation for the students to begin their journey before their plane departs for its distant destination. Importantly a mindful preparation deepens the student’s commitment from adventuresome exploration to ethically rooted engagement with the host country and its people. Nearly all programs that students use require pre-boarding training in ethics and cultural competence. Additionally, all Jennings scholars with a pre-health background complete University of Minnesota’s training, Global Ambassadors for Patient Safety. The motto of Child Family Health International captures the wisdom that Jennings scholarship also aims at: “Let the world change you.” It has. Students come back with stories of children and adults whose kindness has amazed them and several have made fast friends with their home-stay families. One of the Jennings Scholars of summer 2016, Rachael Martines, even returned to celebrate the New Year with her Guatemalan host family and has plans to see them soon again.

This year’s Jennings scholars have now met with me to reflect on their experience and we are preparing a slideshow to share over the dinner with Larry and Katherine Jennings. This will be an opportunity for Alyson, Marisa, Marie, Sierra, and Jillian to learn from each other and the Jennings family, experienced travelers themselves. We have already moved to the research side of the experience, for the scholarship also calls for a submission of a presentation or poster proposal for Loyola’s Undergraduate Research Colloquium in April. This year’s topics will range from emissions trading in Costa Rica to barriers in early autism intervention in Ghana. Previous years’ projects have provided insight to telehealth in Bolivia, physician shortage in India, and Turkey’s presidential election in 2014. One could say that intentional reflection supports the students in their personal growth through the global encounters, whereas the research project helps them to deepen their professional capacity and purpose.

Global fellowship and cultural competency is built upon a long-term cultivation of one’s engagement with new cultures and people of the world. Just as I have done in the past years, I have already asked this year’s Jennings students this question: “How about you apply for a Fulbright scholarship as your next step? Would it not be great to do research or teach English abroad for a whole year?” Many of the past Jennings students have already said yes and many more have returned to deepen their understanding of their international experience in their graduate school applications and graduate studies.

Why Loyola is Welcoming Elizabeth Smart to Campus

Guest blogger Julie Jensen, Class of 2020, shares her thoughts on the upcoming 2017 Sister Cleophas Costello Lecture. Julie is a double major in Elementary Education and Spanish. She is quite an active student as an Evergreen, sophomore co-chair for Relay for Life, and co-president of the newly formed School of Education student club, Teacher’s Lounge. Julie also works as an Office Assistant in the Study and in the Education Dean’s Office.

This year’s Sister Cleophas Costello lecture is being presented in partnership with the Mount Saint Agnes Alumnae Association and Loyola’s School of Education. The lecture features Elizabeth Smart.

Now, what do any of those names mean?

Until 1971 Loyola was an all-men’s college. At that point Loyola joined together with Mount Saint Agnes College for women and became the coeducational Jesuit institution we know today. The late Sister Mary Cleophas Costello, RSM, was the last president of Mount Saint Agnes College, but she was not just that. As a woman, as a future educator and just as a person, Sister Cleophas embodies many of the traits that I hope to one day attain. This woman was remarkable, she had a lifelong will to learn, an admirable character, worked towards enlightening others in thought and endeavored to strengthen justice and humanity.

When the two colleges came together, many of the values that Sister Cleophas held true came with her and are still represented in many of Loyola’s core values. These values and characteristics are what guided our committee as we began the selection process of choosing someone to speak at the lecture honoring her name, which was not an easy process. Countless hours and meetings with students, Mount Saint Agnes alumnae, Dean Smith’s office, and Alumni Relations have gone into selecting a speaker for this event. Women such as Misty Copeland, Melinda Gates, and America Ferrara were all noted as women who uphold the attributes we looked for. However, Elizabeth Smart stood out undeniably to all for this year’s event.

Elizabeth Smart is an American child safety activist, specifically for children and families who have suffered from abduction, as she herself was a victim. On June 5, 2002, she was taken from her family’s home and kept as a prisoner until March 12, 2003. Through her experiences, she has founded the Elizabeth Smart Foundation to work as an advocate for change related to child abduction programs and legislation, such as the AMBER alert system. Her work impacts all people; whether a parent, a child, a grandparent, or anyone who cares for someone else.

Which is why we hope you can join us in welcoming her to our campus, on Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m. in McGuire Hall, to celebrate the wonderful women leaders that came before us here at Loyola and Mount Saint Agnes—as well as encourage the ones who are emerging today and every day in the world around us.

Across our campus we are welcoming her in various ways as well. The Loyola Women’s Center will be holding a book club to read the Elizabeth Smart Story, an autobiographical text about the adverse conditions she has faced. The bookstore is lining their shelves in preparation with that same book.

We invite you to visit our website, Facebook, and Instagram for more information on the event. If you are on the Evergreen campus, please check out the bookstore or stop by the Women’s Center. Don’t forget to use our hashtag #cleophas2017 if you’re bringing us to social media! Complimentary tickets are available to all members of the Loyola community and are being held at the Box Office in the Boulder Atrium for you to pick up. Your family and friends can purchase tickets too!

For more information, visit the 2017 Sister Cleophas Costello Lecture website: Overcoming Adversity featuring Elizabeth Smart.


Assuming the good will of the other

Welcome to Chalk Talk, the Loyola University Maryland academic affairs blog! Today’s inaugural post focuses on a teaching of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. Our university was founded in 1852, but the Jesuits and Jesuit universities have existed for over 450 years. Throughout their history, the Jesuits have valued civil discourse through intellectual conversation and debates.

The enduring Jesuit charism permeates our campus in innumerable ways, including through our mission, values, and new strategic plan. More on all of this as the year unfurls, but today, I focus on the new beginnings that the start of an academic year promises.

Among the many lessons from St. Ignatius, perhaps the one most important to me, is that each of us is to begin with an assumption of the good will of the other. This assumption of good will is part of what is called the “presupposition” in the annotations to St. Ignatius’s famous Spiritual Exercises.

In interpersonal interactions where competing interests quickly surface, assuming the good will of the other can seem impossible; yet I believe it is not only what I am called to do, it is what will result in the best outcome not only for me, but for all. Presuming good will means one begins with authentic listening, uses encouragement, and is aware of the importance of context, asking questions rather than making assumptions As we begin the 2017-18 academic year, I invite you to consider how St. Ignatius’s presupposition could enrich your academic and personal experiences.

Perhaps you have your own take on this teaching, perhaps you have other quotes from St. Ignatius or other Jesuits that inspire you. I invite you to join the conversation by leaving a comment below or writing to me at

~ Amanda M. Thomas, Ph.D., interim vice president for academic affairs