We had a great Jazz Brunch Open House this past Saturday, and we were very excited to host over 200 prospective students and their families.
In my opinion, the best thing any university can do at such an event is showcase the experience of one of its students. We did that in the form of Elena Doskey, one of our seniors, who gave one of our two student speeches. She delivered a passionate and incredibly articulate message. I’ve included it here for your enjoyment:
Good morning! My name is Elena Marie Doskey, a Psychology and Spanish senior from Dallas, TX, and on behalf of the student body, it is my pleasure to welcome you here to Loyola and here to the wonderful city of New Orleans. Before I begin, I want to let you know that I will be available after this talk to answer any of your questions y si quieren hablar conmigo en espanol, esta bien.
It seems like only yesterday I was in your shoes, navigating through the influx of information about colleges and deciding to which schools I ultimately wanted to apply. I was on top of the world in high school (or so I thought). I had been class president for the final three years, my SAT and ACT scores were above average, I maintained a high GPA, I served as a school ambassador, had a consistent community service commitment, and was actively involved in music and theater. And so I began my college search with the primary goal of either taking the more traditional academic approach or pursuing my love for music.
But that’s not to say that there were not other factors that guided my decision. I refused to apply anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon line, not because of being a proud southerner, but more so for my intolerance of cold weather. The West Coast was quickly eliminated, as was any school in a state west of Texas, because let’s face it, I couldn’t bear to be that far away from home and my family. Oklahoma was eliminated not because of the people or the state itself or the quality of higher learning institutions but simply because the burnt orange blood that courses through my veins couldn’t survive in a world of crimson and cream.
With all of that in mind, I narrowed my choices, seeking out schools where I could have seen myself for the next four years, where the level of education reached beyond the walls of classroom, where I would grow not only as a student, but also as an individual. I eventually applied and was accepted to the University of Texas in Austin as part of their Plan II Honors program; Texas Tech in Lubbock, TX; the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA where I was nominated for the prestigious Jefferson Scholarship (although I did not win; in fact, one of my best friends from home who attended a neighboring all-boys school was selected as Jeff scholar instead), St. Louis University in St. Louis, MO (we can discuss later if St. Louis is technically above or below the Mason-Dixon line), Tulane University right next door, a school from which my mother, father, four of my aunts, one uncle, one set of grandparents, and a first cousin graduated; and finally, Loyola University of New Orleans, where I was accepted into the College of Music, making my dream of pursuing music one step closer to very seriously being my reality.
April quickly came in the spring semester of my senior year, and I had narrowed my choices to the University of Texas in Austin and obviously, Loyola. Traditional academics in a honors program equal to that of an Ivy League education at UT or music in a renown program at Loyola in a city of which I have always been fond? My love for New Orleans, the intimate size of the campus and its student body, and the opportunity to perfect my craft in music, made the Loyola the choice for me. May 1 came and went and by then, my enrollment deposit sat in a bank somewhere in the Big Easy.
Needless to say, as you may have gathered from my introduction, being a music major ended up not working out for me. I changed my major within the first semester, turning my back on a path of which I was once so sure. I searched for my place the rest of that year, even entertaining the idea of transferring to the University of Texas in Austin. But all along, my home was at Loyola, surrounded by a campus community with students, faculty, and staff who strive for the magis, who strive for more, and all along, my home was in New Orleans, surrounded by a people whose spirit fills the streets and eventually, soaks deep into every fiber of your being.
So now that I’ve found my home, where does that eager, curious, but unsure high-school senior stand after almost 3 and a half years of life at Loyola? I’ve seen the Superdome reopen and been here to witness the Saints make it to the NFC championship, carrying the healing heart of a city on its shoulders. I’ve found a voice teacher in the college of music who week in and out reminds me that music is my love, even if it’s not going to be my career. I’ve sung in a contemporary ensemble, performing the tunes of Stevie Wonder and Neil Young to a crowd of supportive students. I’ve grown more than I could have ever imagined in my Catholic faith, becoming more aware of God’s role in my life. I’ve joined a sorority, learning that life is about respect and compromise and that your best friend may be hiding behind the appearance of someone you never expected. I’ve worked as a resident assistant, guiding freshmen who like me as a freshman, are just trying to find their way. I’ve fallen in love with Spanish, from navigating the words of Quevedo, Marti, Garcia Lorca, and Borges to living in Madrid for the happiest 6 months of my life where I perfected my language skills and fell in love with my heritage to in a little over a week from now, being able to present a 16-piece voice recital of Spanish songs as the capstone project to complete my Spanish major. I’ve delved into the world of psychological research, completing an internship at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas in Outpatient Pediatric Psychiatry; working with a psychologist in her private practice in Slidell, LA where I explored the realm of applied psychology, ranging from traditional behavioral therapy to equine therapy; and completing an internship at the world-renown St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital where I investigated the complexities of pediatric HIV/AIDS and learned about the vast world of pediatric cancers.
But most importantly, I’ve learned what it means to serve, not only through projects I have completed involving rebuilding homes, servicing schools, donating much-needed supplies to a battered women’s shelter, volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center, or translating at a non-profit medical clinic, but more so, through the individuals who have humbled me with their gracious service. I graduated from a high school whose motto was Serviam, “I will serve.” But more than I have served this community, they have served me, they, in their academic advising, their passion for their students, their dedication to justice, their warm smiles, their helping hands, and their words of wisdom, they have given to me.
Why Loyola New Orleans? Why here and not the school next door or the one in your hometown or the one with the all-star, division I athletic program? Because here at Loyola New Orleans, there is a call to action. This community is only as strong as its students, as the ones who come here looking not only to learn in and out of the classroom, but who also come here to teach us with their actions. Albert Einstein said, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” Let me assure you that here at Loyola New Orleans, something amazing is happening. Students and teachers alike are acting, spurning the apathy of which Einstein warned in favor of the call to action, of the call to seek the magis, of the call to achieve more. Wherever your college search terminates, be it here at Loyola or somewhere else, I hope that you answer the call to action. After all, without cost we have received and without cost we are to give.
Thank you so much for allowing me to spend this time with you this morning, and good luck in your application and eventual decision process!