Major: MBA, International Business
Class: 2014 • Hometown: Chicago
At 6-foot-8, Joe Smalzer is literally a big man on campus. He towers over most of his fellow students and his professors in the Quinlan School of Business.
But it’s on the volleyball court that Smalzer really stands out. The reigning Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association’s Player of the Year, Smalzer is a key player on Loyola’s nationally ranked men’s volleyball team.
Here, he talks about balancing athletics with academics, the importance of giving back to others, and why he’s always up for a good game of Quidditch.
What’s your favorite Loyola memory?
Living on campus my freshman year. My first-year experience was more than I could have ever asked for. The social environment in my freshman residence hall taught me how important it is to establish relationships early in life and has blessed me with many lifetime friendships.
Talk a little about a professor or mentor who inspired you.
Father Stefano Del Bove, S.J., in the Athletic Department has taught me that reflecting on our selfless actions is important. But when it comes to self-growth and reaching our full potential, understanding the reasoning behind our selfish actions is where we make the most progress.
You’re one of the top college volleyball players in the country. How do you juggle school and athletics?
For me, attending school and playing volleyball is the only way I would be able to even get through college. They are such complements that I would be lost if I only had one. School allows me to apply myself intellectually—and when I need to shut off my brain, I have my team and volleyball to fall back on.
How has your involvement in student organizations or service work helped shape you as a person?
Having the opportunity to be the first vice president and founding father of Sigma Chi fraternity has shown me that I want to lead and innovate. Being in the Cooking Club has shown me that I love to be creative in the kitchen. Quidditch Club has shown me that I still have my childhood imagination. And volunteering as a coach for the women’s club volleyball team has shown me the importance of giving back. None of these are greater than the other, and they are all now ingrained in my character.
What do you think differentiates Loyola from other universities?
One of the main reasons I came to Loyola—and what I think differentiates it from other universities—are the opportunities that Loyola offers its students. The Quinlan School of Business is located in the middle of downtown Chicago, which opens up immense opportunities, especially for someone like me who is studying to get an MBA.
And finally, what do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?
I hope to be applying all I have learned from Loyola in my career and personal relationships to be able to give back to a university that has given me so much mentally, physically, and spiritually. I will surely miss Loyola!
About the weekend
Four years ago, when Loyola celebrated its first Weekend of Excellence, hundreds of students took part in the three-day event. This year, more than 1,000 Loyola students were featured—and the event ran for four days.
It’s a testament to how far the weekend has come in such a short time.
Created as a way to honor and celebrate student achievements, the Weekend of Excellence showcases the academic, civic, and extracurricular work that Loyola students have conducted over the past year. This year’s weekend, which ran from April 10–13, included presentations and performances, as well as student award ceremonies and induction into the Maroon & Gold Society.
To accommodate the growing number of participants, this year’s undergraduate and graduate research symposiums were held in two different locations on the Lake Shore Campus.
“We made intentional schedule and location decisions so as to focus greater attention on the various research in which students are engaged,” said Ann Marie Morgan, co-chair of the event. “This should result in greater exposure for all students.”