Ask any student of speech-language pathology why they entered the field. Some will mention the promising career opportunities, others the fascinating science behind their work. But one thing they all have in common: strength of compassion and unyielding desire to help others.
In all speech-language pathology programs, you’ll learn how to provide such care. But only at a school like Loyola University MD, with its strong Jesuit roots, can you deeply explore why.
What is a Jesuit, Anyway?
Ignatius Loyola (1491–1556) was a Basque aristocrat who suffered injury during war with France. As he lay recovering, he read about Christ and the saints, reflected deeply on his own life, and made a commitment to abandon court and follow Jesus instead.
His path brought him to the University of Paris, where he challenged friends and fellow students to consider the best use of their talents and gifts. Once they graduated, the group stayed together with a mission to help others, following the example of Jesus and his disciples. They were ordained Catholic priests and, in 1540, the Pope gave approval to name the group "The Society of Jesus." Later critics scornfully called them "Jesuits"—and the name stuck.
Loyola, founded by Jesuit priests in 1852, still embraces the Jesuit ideals of academic excellence, the importance of liberal arts, and cura personalis, which means “care of the person.”
Care of the Person
Cura personalis lies at the heart of Ignatian spirituality. It’s a principle that acknowledges the diversity of the world and encourages us to have consideration of individual needs and respect for people’s unique experiences.
For a speech-language pathologist, cura personalis requires that practitioners do their best to provide care within the context or life experience of their clients, meeting them where they are as a first step to taking them to where they need to be.
For faculty at Loyola, cura personalis requires that they do their best to provide an education within the context or life experience of their students, also meeting them where they are while attending to cognitive, emotional, and spiritual growth.
Here at Loyola, your teachers will get to know you and your world—your goals, your challenges, your strengths, your fears—and how they affect your learning. They’ll work with you to create the best conditions for absorbing material, thinking critically, and combining your own knowledge and experience to continue to grow and help others as emerging speech-language pathologists, and people in the world.
Listen, Reflect, and Respond
In a Jesuit outlook, we look for learning and meaning in everyday, mundane activities. Or, as St. Ignatius said, our life experiences happen “so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily.”
This means striving in every moment to be attentive to what is happening, reflect upon its meaning, and discern how we should respond. We each have a freedom to choose our action; therefore careful decision-making is core to our way of moving through life and something to be practiced daily.
At Loyola, instructors foster such discernment by engaging students in skills and opportunities for reflection. Using memory and understanding, combined with insight and feelings, students and faculty address not only the techniques of speech-language pathology, but also how our work affects ourselves, our clients, and the greater society.
That goal is that your education here, and later your work in society, will help you take small steps toward bringing justice, peace, and love to the world.
Those who have learned through the lens of Ignatian spirituality are sometimes called “contemplatives in action.” At Loyola, you’ll be encouraged to be reflective and use your talents in service to others. It’s an active spirituality, which you can bring everyday to your clients, family, home, and community.
In your speech-language pathology courses, you’ll still engage in the usual exams, papers, and projects to evaluate your academic mastery; but in addition, your teachers will also observe and participate in your growth toward generosity, humility, and compassion; in other words, your growth as a whole person.
This service is the kind of generosity that Ignatius asked for in his most famous prayer:
Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will.