Benefits of attending a small, liberal arts college
Five students share their take on the college experience at Loyola—a university large enough for countless opportunities, but small enough to provide meaningful relationships and mentorship
“Stepping onto Loyola’s campus, a prospective student wouldn’t know the endless opportunities that await them. I certainly didn’t when I arrived for my first campus tour,” Michelle, ’22, a writing major from Mount Laurel, N.J., reflects.
“After spending three years here, it’s obvious how much everyone at Loyola—faculty, staff, my peers—is dedicated to helping you flourish.”
Loyola prides itself on deploying the university’s full resources to ensure that a transformative experience is available and accessible to every student, wherever their hearts and minds lead, from the day they arrive on campus to the day they set foot into the world after graduation.
“A small student population and dedicated faculty and staff help students achieve any possibility here—whether it be academic, social, extra- or co-curricular, research, scholarships, independent study, and study abroad, among so many others,” Michelle explains.
Opportunities for academic enrichment and internships
For Michelle, individualized attention and care from professors, staff, and mentors fostered her transformation into an individual who is confident in herself and her ability to strike into her desired career path after graduation.
From the Honors Program, I’ve developed into a person who looks past the surface level to grab at deeper meanings and grown confidence in critical thinking and advocating for myself and my ideas.
“It was a difficult process to apply to colleges and choose the right fit as a first-generation student who didn’t have much help from my parents in the process,” she explains.
When she visited Loyola for an Open House for accepted students and attended an information session led by Joe Walsh, Ph.D., professor of Classics and history and director of the Honors Program, he provided the first nudge that she was on the right path.
“Dr. Walsh spoke with unbridled passion about the humanities at Loyola, and I remember laughing at the ridiculously long list of reasons he presented for pursuing the humanities at Loyola. He didn’t finish the presentation because he didn’t have enough time. It was clear to me from that moment that these were the kind of professors I’d have at Loyola: passionate, dedicated, and slightly humorous.”
Dr. Walsh later reached out to Michelle about the Honors Program. He said there were spots left and, from reviewing her application, he thought she might be exactly the kind of student who would be a good fit. “This was my first opportunity for growth,” she says, adding that she has never regretted her decision to apply after Dr. Walsh’s email.
Through the Honors Program, Michelle attends classes with 10-15 other students. Honors courses are seminar-style and designed so that students actively engage with their peers and professors in discussion. “We are consistently challenging each other to push ideas further.” From the Honors Program, Michelle says she has become a person who looks for deeper meaning—and she has grown confident in critical thinking and advocating for herself and her ideas.
Beyond her classes, Michelle has discovered opportunities for academic and professional growth through several different internships. “There are so many internship opportunities here in Baltimore or a short train ride away in D.C., and the professors and staff at the Career Center can help students prepare, find, and apply for them,” she shares.
Since her first year, she has held four internships. Her internships have allowed her to develop not only her writing skills but her interpersonal and leadership skills, and they have provided critical opportunities to apply her education to a real-world context in her field.
Opportunities for involvement and personal connections after transferring from a large college
Since transferring to Loyola in her sophomore year, Angel says Loyola continues to exceed her expectations.
Loyola has prepared me for a life of continuous learning and service to others in the spirit of the Jesuit core value of service, rooted in justice and love. Serving Loyola and surrounding communities through the Center for Community, Service, and Justice has fueled my desire to give back and do all things with love.
At her previous university, Angel, who grew up in Miami, Fla., says she found herself becoming “another number, getting lost in the crowd” at a school ten times the size of Loyola’s undergraduate student population. Now she loves making personal connections with her professors. She feels fortunate to engage with them regularly for advice or a quick chat.
A biopsychology major on the pre-med track and an African American Studies minor, Angel has become an active member of the campus community. By seeking out the endless opportunities to get involved, she had found her home at Loyola. She is an intern and tour guide with the Office of Undergraduate Admission, a role through which she hopes to help prospective students find a home on the Evergreen campus as she has; she serves as vice president of equity and inclusion for the Greyhound Ambassadors. She is also co-vice president and treasurer of Doctors Without Borders and is an Evergreen Orientation Leader.
“There hasn’t been a single club or leadership role I felt like I couldn’t sign up for. I quickly realized it all starts with me just putting myself out there and showing up.”
As a student of color, Angel found that Loyola offers many resources to create a supportive environment where students of color can succeed. She has made connections and received guidance from many students, faculty, and staff in the ALANA (African, Latinx, Asian, Native American) community.
One of the things she loves most is seeing herself “represented in spaces on campus, particularly in the club Sister to Sister. I have truly enjoyed getting to join in on sister circles and engage with other women of color to talk about our experiences on campus—no matter how challenging or rewarding they might be.”
For Angel, her Jesuit education dares her to challenge herself and encourages self-exploration through discernment and reflection, “constantly inspiring me to live a purposeful life.”
“Serving Loyola and surrounding communities through the Center for Community, Service, and Justice has fueled my desire to give back and do all things with love,” she says, adding that Loyola has prepared her for a life of continuous learning and service to others in the spirit of the Jesuit core value of service, rooted in justice and love.
Opportunities for research and professional skill development
Whitney, ’21, says she knew when she was looking at colleges that she wanted research to be a part of her academic program, and she was initially drawn to larger schools for their research opportunities for engineering majors. She is majoring in mechanical and materials engineering and minoring in mathematics.
The STEM community at Loyola is open to discussion about the issues that women in STEM face every day and are willing to stand with us as we fight against sexism and misogyny in our daily life as scientists, biologists, engineers, and mathematicians.
When she discovered Loyola offered several of the same quality research opportunities for engineering students as a larger university—but with the individualized attention that comes with smaller class size—she knew Loyola was right for her.
Through her courses, the Annapolis, Md., native has gained practical, applied engineering experience through labs like physics, circuits, and senior design—experiences that affirm she has made the right choice for her career.
For six weeks during the summer between her sophomore and junior year, Whitney was a Hauber Fellow working with Suzanne Keilson, Ph.D., associate professor of engineering, to design an original research project with Sinai Hospital which used Leap Motion to track the angles of hands to assist physical therapists with their work.
Whitney says she specifically chose a project that assisted others while allowing her to learn a new skill—coding—that pushed her beyond her intellectual comfort zone. And she wasn’t alone in this process, she says, because Dr. Keilson along with other professors helped her throughout the experience. She emerged from the project with valuable skills, confidence, and field experience.
As a woman in STEM, Whitney says she has found innumerable opportunities for personal and academic growth through community and female mentorship. In addition to Dr. Keilson, she is grateful to Raeinta Fenner, Ph.D., associate professor of engineering, faculty advisor for the Society of Women Engineers Club. At Loyola, Whitney has discovered a STEM community that includes both professors and students who are “open to discussion about the issues that women in STEM face every day and are willing to stand with us as we fight against sexism and misogyny in our daily life as scientists, biologists, engineers, and mathematicians.”
The community and support Whitney found at Loyola “has allowed me to grow… because I know there is always a friendly and helpful face to turn to.”
Beyond mentorship and research, Whitney has found a wealth of opportunities for leadership, community engagement, and hands-on experience in her field. She serves as president of the Society of Women Engineers and vice president of Greyhound Ambassadors—roles that foster critical skills like working with a team toward a common goal. When she wanted to engage with the Baltimore community through service, Loyola provided opportunities to work with female middle school students interested in STEM and to serve with local engineering organizations.
Opportunities for spiritual, athletic, and leadership development
The Jesuit tenant of cura personalis has been at the center of Faith’s life since she came to Loyola from Williamsburg, Va. This concept of investing in the care for the whole person made her realize she had neglected certain areas in herself before coming to Loyola. Now in her third year, Faith credits the university with providing her with an abundance of opportunities to grow athletically, academically, spiritually, and personally.
My personal growth has been fostered through the unyielding kindness and willingness of our fellow staff and advisors, who ensure that in addition to our studies, we have the opportunity to explore areas we would like to further grow into.
A member of the Greyhounds swimming and diving team, Faith aims to invest the same attention to her sport and courses as she does with her spirituality—while also making space for things like her newfound passion for Italian culture (she serves as vice president of the Italian Club).
“My development has only been further fostered by the unyielding kindness and willingness of the staff and advisors at Loyola, who ensure that in addition to our studies, we have the opportunity to explore areas we would like to grow into.”
Outside of the pool, Faith is involved with several areas of campus life. A Jesuit university, Loyola offers the opportunity for students to engage with their faith in myriad ways; Faith serves as a Eucharistic Minister with Campus Ministry weekly at the Sunday morning Mass.
She is also a tutor at the Study and is actively involved with Hounds athletic mentoring and academic interest clubs such as the Pre-Health Society and Women in Pre-Health Society. Last year during the pandemic, Faith founded a new club for Loyola students, like her, seeking research internships and opportunities.
A biology major with an English minor, Faith is on the pre-medical track through Loyola’s Pre-Health Programs. She is grateful for the valuable field experience and professional training she has gained through her work as a medical scribe in the emergency department of Riverside Doctors Hospital in Williamsburg, Va., during the summer months and throughout the academic year, during breaks from Loyola.
This spring, Faith conducted semester-long research alongside Derek Kendig, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology. “In Dr. Kendig’s lab, I’m developing imperative skills to enhance my higher-level thinking that will be tested when I take my MCAT,” says Faith, who plans to attend medical or graduate school—possibly both—after Loyola and aims to eventually teach students at a teaching hospital and continue research.
Opportunities for mentorship and meaningful experiences to serve the community
When Matthew, ’21, arrived on Loyola’s campus for Accepted Students Day as a high school senior, he immediately “felt a sense of belonging” that he hadn’t felt at an institution before. Since then, the international business major from Columbia, Md., has dedicated his time to searching for why Loyola “was such a magnet for me.”
Through my experience, I learned to hold myself and others accountable when I witness inequality and injustice. I’m confident in my ability to be an agent for change.
Now a college senior, he says, “My Loyola education has been one of the best investments my parents and I have made” in part because the resources Loyola provides students are extensive. The university hosts programs and courses designed for students to apply the skills they learned in the classroom into meaningful experiences for the Baltimore community.”
One of his meaningful experiences came from the France-Merrick Foundation Scholarship, which allowed him to spend his first two years serving at any service site that compelled him in partnership with the Center for Community, Service, and Justice. At the end of his two years, Matthew found his experience so fruitful that he continued his involvement as an intern. “Coming away from this internship, I have learned to hold myself and others accountable when I witness inequality and injustice. I’m confident in my ability to be an agent for change.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Matthew interned with HOGAN, which allowed him to gain experience in the commercial real estate industry, the field he will launch his career in after he graduates in May. He conducted market research and went on site visits with his supervisor, learning more than he would or could have through classes alone.
Matthew values the relationships he has built during his time at Loyola and shares this advice with fellow Greyhounds: “Find a mentor you can trust, someone who has a wide variety of experiences throughout their lifetime and is willing to invest their knowledge in you.”
One of his mentors is Rev. Scott Adams, assistant director of Campus Ministry. “He once told me, ‘You have never seen an apple tree consume itself. The sole purpose of that apple tree is to provide nourishment for others to grow.’” Sort of like a good mentor, he says. “Good mentors create a lasting impact in the lives of their mentees, and in turn, their mentees will soon become mentors for others.”
As graduation nears, Matthew reflects on his education and experience at Loyola and believes that this university is “the best place for a Jesuit liberal arts education simply because of the people in our community. [At Loyola, you’ll find] some of the best professors in the nation. They are passionate about Loyola’s values, which motivates and inspires students.”