Celebrating the Jesuit Tradition- Why it Deserves to Be Bragged About

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By Sara Silvestri

When asked in interviews “What sets you apart?” I know my answer without even having to think twice. In response I say, “ my Jesuit education.” Interviewers usually stare back at me with a blank faces replying with something along the lines of “ Wow, explain that further!” Unfortunately, this is the response I always expect. In the world of self-made millionaires and networking on steroids, where you pursue your undergraduate degree is often overlooked. I explain to my interviewers the values I hold near, the values that were used as tools to shape my education.

“Cura Personalis” or the Jesuit mission to care for the whole person is usually what I start with. Every institution cares for its students. This is usually displayed with million dollar libraries, lab facilities, or recreation centers. But what about emotional or spiritual well being? I explain that at Jesuit institutions all over the country these two often neglected aspects of the human persona are illuminated. Loyola not only encourages but pushes its students to grow in their spirituality; no matter what faith. The core curriculum requires multiple classes in theology and philosophy to make students eligible for graduation. Whether its Roman Catholicism or Introduction to Buddhism there are courses offered in virtually every faith to broaden students perspectives.  For the past four years I have been encouraged to attend to my spiritual life, invited to masses and retreats, as well as offered service opportunities rooted in faith. There is a push at the university I call mine to connect with a higher being. Unity of heart, mind, and soul has been integrated into all aspects of my undergraduate experience making me more just, kind, knowledgeable, and at peace.

Another noteworthy component of the Jesuit education worth mentioning is the concept of “Magis” which goes hand in hand with the motto of the Jesuits, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (AMDG)  translated to “For the Greater Glory of God.” Hard work is not an option for students attending Jesuit institutions, rather it’s expected. These higher learning institutions instill a unique work ethic in all of their students.  I have learned to work always to the best of my ability, but to never become self righteous. Magis translating directly to “more” or “greater”, is about freedom and a restless desire for greater things. To do better, to be better, to strive to be the best. To honor everyone and their hustle.

On top of everything my Jesuit education has taught me to always be a woman for others. Through my courses, extracurriculars, and time spent in prayer at Madonna Della Strada I have truly learned how to become selfless. I am eager to share my gifts with the world and to pursue justice. I yearn to help the poor and marginalized, to use my education to impact the world, to serve others. Us Jesuit educated persons place ethics at the forefront of our work. Nearly all Jesuit schools are in or near major cities, this is not a coincidence. The Jesuits set up their institutions this way, to be close to those most in need. Calling Chicago home for the past four years has not only given me the opportunity to become a scholar, but the opportunity to impact those in my community. During my time at Loyola I have been educated and shaped into a driving agent of change. My everyday has become challenging the status quo and reflecting critically on moral and ethical issues. Not only asking how, but asking why.

It's tough as you can imagine for me to relay all this information to my interviewer without talking for hours on end. I know when I answer the “What sets you apart?” question I exude passion and liveliness. I wouldn't have it any other way. So whether you’re Jesuit educated already or looking to go down the path of higher education, examine your values, see where you have the opportunity to grow, and if you so choose embrace everything a Jesuit Education has to offer. I’ll end with this, ladies and gentleman, as we say here at Loyola University Chicago: go forth and set the world on fire.