Loyola University Chicago


Achieving College Excellence

ACE Scholar Highlight

Ana Cardona

Ana Cardona is a current student at Loyola University Chicago. She is currently majoring in both Criminal Justice and Spanish. Besides for being involved with ACE, she is involved with the social Latino-based co-ed fraternity Alpha Psi Lambda, and has recently became an external vice president.

How has being involved in ACE shaped your college experience? 

I have been involved in ACE since my freshman year and ACE has shaped my college experience in various ways. ACE was the first place where I was able to find my niche. Not only have I met great individuals and staff, but I have acquired a lot, if not most of leadership skills through ACE because of several leadership positions that I have had, such as ACE retreat leader, ACE summer transition program leader, and ACE scholar mentor. ACE has definitely had a significant and positive impact in my college career and I am proud to be an ACE scholar.

What is your favorite memory from ACE?

My favorite memory from ACE is one from my freshman year. A group of us with a former graduate intern for ACE, Demico, went to ten pin to go bowling. It was such a fun evening/night because it was my first time at ten pin, but more so because I got to meet other ACE scholars and bond with them that day. Also, when Demico was leaving ACE there was a small celebration and me and other ACE scholars made a thank you/goodbye video for him. It was really nice. Additionally, I always enjoy the fall and spring banquets because it is nice to be able to come together and see fellow ACE scholars be recognized for their accomplishments.

What is your advice to students who are looking into studying abroad?

My advice for students looking to study abroad is to not be hesitant about monetary costs because there are plenty of study abroad scholarships that are available, especially if you identify as a first generation student, low income background student, and/or student of color. One scholarship that is specifically for these type of students is Gilman Scholarship. I am a Gilman Scholar and the scholarship actually covered most of my study abroad trip in Costa Rica. Another, piece of advice that I have is that when it comes to writing personal statements or other type of essays for study abroad scholarships I would strongly encourage to have a family member, peer, mentor, etc. look over your essay(s) because you want to make sure that you are answering all the questions that were posed. I strongly suggest this even if you are doing the essay(s) last minute!

What is your favorite memory from your study abroad experience?

I have several favorite memories from my study abroad experience, but by far my favorite one is when me, my roommate and another friend went to this place in the Northern Caribbean side of Costa Rica called Tortuguero. We got a great package deal and stayed in a really nice resort for two days. Not a lot of people get to go to Tortuguero because it is expensive and the only mode of transportation to get there is by boat, but I am so glad we got to go because we got to experience a lot. We got to visit the village, go on a tour on the lagoon and gain knowledge of the animals that live there, we kayaked, ate delicious food at the resort, and went on a tour through mud. We also got to explore San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, a bit more because we had to stay there before getting picked up to go to Tortuguero. It was all really cool! It was an awesome relaxing trip.

What are your plans after completing your undergraduate career?

After completing my undergraduate career I plan on applying to be a Chicago police officer. I’ve always wanted to be a police officer because I want to become a detective. At some point though, I do plan to return to school and pursue a master’s in criminal justice.

What do you hope to contribute to the ACE organization, and other TRiO organizations once you graduate from college and begin your professional career?  

When I graduate from college and begin my professional career I hope to be able to come back to ACE and share about my life as an alumni with a professional career, whether it is by being part of a panel or facilitating a workshop. 


(This interview was conducted by Daniel Collazo, Freshman ACE Scholar and Social Media Assistant).