Meet Some ACE Scholars
Read about how current and past ACE Scholars have worked with our staff to succeed at Loyola University Chicago!
Name: Jenny Par
Major: Environmental Science
Class Year: 2017-2018
Jenny's Exciting Summer:
The Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at the University of Michigan (DDCSP UM) seeks to increase diversity in the conservation workforce by recruiting, engaging, and inspiring diverse cohorts of 20 undergraduate scholars each year for a two-year research and experiential immersion program that incorporates minority history, culture, and experiences into their understanding of conservation practices.
In the course "Conservation and Sustainability of Neotropical Ecosystems” with Father Mitten, I have learned so much about conservation. Since the class is coupled with a ten day trip to Belize, I got the chance to actually witness what is happening in these tropical ecosystems due to climate change. This trip really sparked the passion in me to protect the environment. Leaving Belize, I felt a new desire to learn more about conservation and how it can use to save our planet. I found the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program through the emails Dr. Peterson usually sends with many internship opportunities available to Environmental Science students. I applied to this program in hopes to further my involvement in the movement to save our planet. I want to expand my knowledge in conservation so that I could use everything that I have learned to help save our environment.
Name: Laura B.
Class Year: 2014-2015
"When I first became a student at Loyola, one of my goals was to study abroad and explore different cultures. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, I did not have that opportunity to do so. Through Loyola University Women of Color (LUCES), I was able to find the Alternative Break Immersion (ABI) program, which to me felt like a 'mini study abroad' because I could visit places that I had never visited before, but was able to experience, enjoy, and learn from the communities I visited.
My first ABI was with LUCES. With LUCES I was able to take my first trip to St. Louis, Missouri. There, I was able to work with young middle school girls, motivating them to continue their educational careers and eventually attend and graduate from a college or university. During my time at St. Louis I was able to better understand the importance of building community with others. It was through this trip that I was able to create strong relationships with the young girls at the middle school and with six wonderful young women from Loyola who attended the trip with me. I can truly say that the relationships I built on this trip and the experiences I had with the young middle school girls had a very positive change in my college career and the perspective and outlook I have now in life.
Because of the impactful and positive experience that I had on my first ABI, I decided to attend a second ABI. My second ABI was to the Mexico and US border in El Paso, Texas. This experience was one of the best experiences I have had at Loyola. It was through this trip that I was able to truly find inner peace, tranquility, and reassurance that the career path I have chosen of becoming an immigration attorney and working to advocate for others is the correct one for me. Living simply, building community, and faith were a very big part of this experience. While these three aspects might seem very different and difficult to accomplish, they somehow became very simple and second nature the moment I arrived in El Paso. They became so simple to follow that I continued to follow them once I arrived home from my ABI experience. The memories and lessons that I learned in El Paso are things that I cherish and am grateful for.
Both ABI experiences taught me valuable lessons through the obstacles and challenges that I faced. I learned different things from each person on each trip, but overall, they both gave me a sense of belonging, support, calm, and purpose to my education and plans for after graduation."
Name: Angee S.
Major(s): Psychology and Criminal Justice & Criminology
Class Year: 2015
"My parents came from Poland with nothing but a dream to live a life of freedom and success. With that goal in mind, they worked hard to bring my sister and me to where we are today. They have given us the opportunity to continue to dream this dream by pursuing a college degree and beyond. A strong sense of culture and togetherness fills my home, leading me to always put my family first and to stay connected with my roots. That is one of the biggest reasons I chose to attend Loyola. Coming from the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, I am close enough to my family to be able to go back home whenever we need each other, but far enough to be able to grow and develop independently.
And this is exactly where ACE came into the picture. As a first generation college student, the transition from high school to college was way more challenging than I expected it to be. The amazing staff and resources of the ACE program have helped me overcome several obstacles and create a home away from home at Loyola. With support and encouragement, I have been able to find my passion for pursuing a dual degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology, explore the various cultures and beauties of Europe through studying abroad, as well as challenge myself as a scholar, mentor, volunteer, and leader on campus.
College is extremely overwhelming in many aspects, and it is very easy to get caught up in the mix of it all. Just remember where you come from, discover who you are, and give back to those around you. If there's one thing that I learned, it's to embrace uncomfortable situations with a courageous heart and an open mind, and to never be afraid to ask for help. The ACE program, as well as the university in general, is a community that is here to guide you in turning your dreams into your reality."
Name: Conrad S.
Major(s): Molecular Biology
Class Year: 2015
What was the first day/week/month like for you in adjusting to college, especially as a first generation and/or high financial need college student?
Well, the first few weeks of college were beyond exciting for me. I came into college thinking to myself that this will be my time to truly take control of my future and shape myself into the person I would like to become. I started jumping at every opportunity to be involved in the Loyola community and surrounding communities. But, I would be lying if I did not say that I had a rude awakening early on in my college experience. It turns out that being over-ambitious can sometimes be a bad thing! Also, being a first generation college student coming from a low-income family, I learned how to be self-reliant early on as I realized that while my family truly wished the best for me and supported me in numerous ways, they were unfamiliar to the American educational system and did not speak English. In reality, I have to say that I had to grow up very quickly during the first few weeks in college as I was trying to face college head-on by myself. Learning how to juggle school, extracurricular clubs, work, and some “me” time turned out to be much more difficult than I thought. But, that’s when ACE came in to save the day!
What tips would you give to incoming first generation and/or high financial need college students?
College is a BEAST! It can get difficult at times and truly put you down, but it is an extremely rewarding experience that builds character, educates, and is an absolute BLAST (once you get past all those late nights of studying). The most important advice that I can give to incoming first generation and/or high financial need college students is that do NOT, I repeat, do NOT, be embarrassed or contemplate whether or not you should go and ask someone for help with either school, work, or life in general. You are paying to go to this university - that means you have access to a lot of resources for free. Make sure you utilize all of the resources you are paying for! Do not give up if you hit a rough patch. Ask for help!
What have you been involved with outside of classes (jobs, clubs, etc)?
I do laboratory research at Loyola and have been researching for the past two years. I also am heavily involved with Catholic Charities and do a lot of social justice work there. I work for Ramble Outdoors as a Challenge Course Facilitator, volunteer as a Polish medical interpreter at the Community Health Clinic, and will be responding for Loyola’s EMS program starting this fall!
How have you benefitted from working with ACE?
I consider ACE to be a lot like the center point of a spider’s web. It is the hub of information for ACE students where one can go to for help, and if they do not have the resources you need, they know how to get you what you need and will connect you with the right person. The interconnectedness between ACE and available resources on campus is phenomenal! This was a blessing for a first-generation and high financial need college student like myself because I did not know who to turn to for help when I was struggling with my transition to college during my first semester. ACE provided me financial literacy classes to understand how I can best afford to attend this university, free tutoring, and mentorship from other students and faculty members. And if I needed assistance with something they did not provide through ACE (which is rarely the case), they directed me towards someone who can help!
What are your plans for after you graduate?
Well, I am applying to medical school this spring and will be taking a gap year after I graduate in May to hopefully work as an Emergency Room Technician while I wait to hear back from the medical schools!
Anything else you want to include?
“Follow your passion, be prepared to work hard and sacrifice, and, above all, don’t let anyone limit your dreams.”
– Donovan Bailey