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Engineering alumna shines as a student, athlete and mentor

During Loyola University Maryland’s 2020 Commencement, the Natural and Applied Sciences academic division awarded for the first time the Choudhury Sarkar-Dey medal to an outstanding graduating senior who has shown remarkable commitment to diversity and community service during their time at Loyola.  We are proud to share with you the reflections submitted by the finalists, nominated by their faculty and departments, in this series of posts.

Reflection from Loyola engineering major Ann Ernst, ’20 on the importance of community and growth through giving and receiving support from others.

Ann Ernst, '20In reflection of my life at Loyola, I recall nothing but positive experiences. Loyola was not what I perceived as a “perfect fit” university when I committed to attend. I never could have predicted how remarkable and treasurable my experience was going to be.

What makes my Loyola experience so unpredictably special is the range of supportive communities that I found myself in. One of the things Loyola prides itself on is cura personalis, which encourages the care and attention to the whole self and to the needs of others. Loyola has an established culture that is focused on well-being in all aspects possible, and this was demonstrated to me so many times throughout my years here. I have enjoyed support from leaders and advisors in every aspect of my Loyola life – from my professors, inside and outside of my major, from my coaches and the support staff in athletics, from my fellow students, from the dining staff, from Residence Life & Housing, from the counseling center, from my supervisors in my on-campus job, and in several more aspects of my Loyola life. This supportive community helped shape me into a human being that I am excited to be and helped guide me to give back, both within my Loyola community and to the Baltimore community as well.

Within the Loyola community, I am dedicated to bettering the environment we create for ourselves. I have participated in multiple Open Houses and enjoyed being a student representative for both the fine arts department and the engineering department. It has been easy to share such a positive experience of self-growth and discovery with prospective students. As a member of the Green and Grey Society, I worked with fellow students and administrators to make Loyola a welcoming community for everyone. This has included working to reduce the incidents causing bias reports and working to find an inclusive place for our non-Catholic members of the community to practice their worship. Through Loyola Engineering, I have been an active mentor to young engineers, and through athletics, a mentor to young athletes.

At Loyola, I have also been granted opportunities to extend my community involvement outside of campus boundaries. Through the fine arts department, I have participated in an off-campus showcase at the Rawlings conservatory. Through SAAC, I have had the privilege to participate in several community service events including the York Road Initiative, one of my favorites. The York Road Initiative also connected me with a pen pal at a nearby elementary school where I have been able to form a connection and help to inspire the next generation. And, because of Loyola’s guidance, I take these ideals with me whenever I leave campus, and I continue to give back to my community at home in Chicago, with activities including donating to food pantries and guiding younger generations of inner-city volleyball players to achieve their goals.

When I committed to Loyola, I never could have predicted that my college experience would have reached such diversity in my network and in my support, both giving and receiving. It would have been easy for me to be only the jock without any connections beyond my team, but Loyola has gifted me and opened the doors to all kinds of opportunities to extend my relations beyond what I knew and was comfortable with. I am so grateful for all the growing experiences I have had at Loyola and all that I learned about myself and others in my time here.

Professor Rob Pond, chair of the engineering department, writes, “Ann Ernst exemplifies excellence in spirit, mind, and body directed toward making a better world. A diverse student, she is an active beacon for other prospective students.

Ann was also selected as Loyola’s nominee for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award.  Read more about this prestigious honor here.