Fr. Michael J. Garanzini, S.J.
President and CEO Loyola University Chicago
- How did you decide that attending college was right for you?
I always wanted to go to a good university, and Catholic universities are what our high school promoted. I knew I wanted to teach, either high school or college-level. I ended up staying in St. Louis because the Jesuits offered me the best scholarship. There we have the River, no Lake. It was disappointing at first, but I ended up loving my time there.
- What role did your family play in that decision?
My parents had not been to college so they were not able to assist much. We looked at where I was admitted and made the choice based on the best offer since they could not afford to help me. My brothers and sisters were still in elementary schools (2) and high schools (2).
- Describe what the first day of classes was like for you?
They were very exciting and I was amazed at the diversity—not like my all-boys Catholic high school of 600 students. One thing I do recall was that the Cardinals were in the World Series and the home games of the series were in the afternoon when I had classes. (We skipped classes and snuck into the games.)
- What were the things that surprised you most about the college experience?
There was tremendous freedom, a great deal of activity, especially political (it was the anti-Vietnam era), and upper-classmen were very interested in recruiting us into their activities. But, most of all, the classes were interesting and challenging. I can remember most of my professors then. It’s interesting that I do not recall many other semesters as vividly as the first.
- During the school year, how did you manage your school work? How did you stay focused?
I learned that if I was not involved in things in a serious way, I would not manage my time well. My lowest grades were first semester, freshman year. I did not realize I had to better manage time. “Hanging out” wasn’t going to cut it. So, in the second semester I joined a fraternity and student government, and began focusing on studies. The free time thing got old. There is one big difference between my experience and here. We did not have a Lake to stare at. I don’t know if I would have ever finally concentrated on studies if I had the IC to sit in, where you can stare out at the Lake for hours. Maybe we need to move Loyola….or drain the Lake.
- If you could give first generation college students any word of advice, what would you tell them?
I don’t think my story is very unusual. Some people have a great capacity for knowing what they want in studies or in other areas in which they want to succeed. They may have a keen interest in a particular academic area, or in athletics, or politics, or in volunteering, or you may have a job, for instance. Whatever it is, learning to manage time, to do a few things well, giving each of these activities the right amount of attention, without slacking or neglecting other things, that’s the key. Then, there is the Lake----don’t spend too much time gazing out over the Lake.