First of all, Merry Christmas! I hope you and your family have a wonderful and joyous holiday. This is a great time of the year and I always use it to reflect on what has been and what has the potential to be.
Obviously, our nation – the whole world is, really – is grieving over what happened last week in Connecticut. I would say that prayer, reflection, and love are the only things I can think of to help all of us make sense of our world at times. My prayer is that love finds its way into every heart. Peace on Earth is a very real hope of mine, and, I’m sure, billions of others. These, to me, are the finest gifts and promises of Christmas.
Last week, I happened upon this very thoughtful piece about Jesuit education at a website called The High School Graduate, and I wanted to share some excerpts with you. As you know, Loyola is a Catholic and Jesuit university, one of 28 in the U.S. This is an editorial authored by George C. O’Loughlin, who is the Manager of Information Services for the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. Enjoy and we’ll see you in the new year:
What Sets a Jesuit Education Apart?
With over 4,200 colleges and universities in the United States today, students planning to pursue a degree in higher education may face a difficult decision in finding the right school to fit their needs. Prospective students need to choose a school that gives them the experience and education necessary to be successful and lead fulfilling lives. With a tight job market and more and more people going to college than ever before, students must consider their options and decide what school will set them apart in the end.
For over 450 years, Jesuit education has been a model of academic excellence. Jesuit colleges and universities in the U.S. and around the world have managed to attract and nurture some of the best and brightest students and are committed to their mission of educating the whole person — intellectually, spiritually, socially. With 28 schools in 19 different states there is a Jesuit college and university that can meet every student’s needs.
Jesuit colleges and universities emphasize the importance of rigorous academic study and spiritual growth and have strong programs in liberal and professional studies committed to service. Jesuit colleges and universities prepare graduates to lead successful lives. For example, numerous political leaders who have graduated from a Jesuit college or university. In the 109th Congress alone, 47 members graduated from a Jesuit college or university. There are six alumni in the U.S. Senate and 41 alumni in the House of Representatives. Out of these 47 alumni, 30 received graduate or professional degrees from Jesuit Universities. Georgetown University, the first Catholic college in the U.S. (est. 1789), boasts the most graduates, with 21 alumni currently in the U.S. Congress. Jesuit graduates include former President Bill Clinton (Georgetown University) and 2004 Presidential candidate John Kerry (Boston College).
The Jesuit Community
Many prospective students and their parents have concerns about going away to school even if it doesn’t necessarily mean going too far. Parents and students want to know someone will help them in a time of need and want to know that they are being looked after and cared for. A college campus becomes a second home for students, and faculty, staff and peers become one’s extended family while in school.
Students at a Jesuit college or university not only become a member of their Jesuit campus community, but of the nation/world-wide Jesuit community as well. The nation-wide community includes nearly 200,000 enrolled students, 19,000 faculty members, and roughly 1.6 million living alumni.
International Initiatives and Jesuit Collaboration
In keeping with the Jesuit mission to teach social responsibility, Jesuit colleges and universities encourage students to take part in activities that foster the development of an open mind and heart in the service of others. Through study abroad and faculty exchange programs available on five continents, immersion trips that combine intense intercultural exchanges with spiritual reflection, and a wide variety of domestic and international service opportunities, students develop a better understanding of the world around them.
Some examples of highly successful immersion programs include the undergraduate immersion/study abroad program in Beijing, China, as well as the Casa de la Solidaridad immersion program in El Salvador. Through these international efforts, students and faculty members develop a better understanding of their surroundings, which ultimately leads to a fuller life, and a richer education.
While each Jesuit institution is separately chartered and legally autonomous under its own board of trustees, many collaborative efforts exist between the schools. One such collaboration that has been growing since its creation in 1999 is the Jesuit Distance Education Network (JesuitNET). Through JesuitNET, students take courses online, which allows students to take advantage of the strengths and course offerings of their sister institutions, as well as foster an exchange between the institutions, which also builds nation-wide relationships. Currently, there are over 300 online courses available for Jesuit students through JesuitNET.
With so little space, it is impossible to mention the individual strengths of our institutions, so we hope you take the time to look over the many academic, service and international programs available at our 28 Jesuit colleges and universities. Jesuit colleges and universities are committed to their mission of educating the whole person and helping students realize their full potential. We hope to see you soon on one of our campuses.