Loyola University Chicago New Student Convocation
August 26, 2016
New students, welcome to Loyola! This is an important day, one which you will remember the rest of your lives. It is the beginning of your Loyola Experience and signals the beginning of a major new stage in your life. In a real sense for our new freshmen, much of what has come before–your 12 years of schooling and the support and guidance of family and friends–is a prelude to what is now about to happen. You are moving into a new and more independent phase of life. You will determine how you spend your time, who you get to know, what courses you take, how much focus and dedication you will bring to your classes, and how you will balance your academic pursuits with social, athletic and other interests. If you are late to class…if you don’t have any clean socks to wear…or if you realize at midnight that you forgot to eat dinner and the dining halls are now closed…you will be reminded that, yes, you are now more independent.
But you are not alone…..far from it. You will build community with many new people, people from backgrounds and with experiences quite different than your own, which will enrich your college experience beyond measure. You will be able to experiment with new courses and explore new interests, eventually selecting a field of study. You will pursue that field and make it your own, and contribute to the world that has already provided you with so much and made it possible for you to be here.
At Loyola University, we will do all that we can in our classrooms, on our quads, in our research labs, and on our immersion trips to help you discover who you are and to recognize all the unique talents and gifts you have been blessed with that will prepare you for your career and reaching your life’s greatest potential.
As we have just heard, you come from many states and many different countries outside the United States. Almost 40% of you have been raised Catholic, while the other 60% identify with over 37 different faith traditions, including Protestant, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, and Eastern Orthodox. Almost 11 percent of you are the first generation in your family to attend college. And students of diverse ethnic backgrounds comprise 40 percent of the class. This confluence of diversity is what makes Loyola such a special place for you to learn and grow, and which we all embrace as our community.
You have already achieved a great deal academically, and have set the bar high. Among you are an impressive number of National Merit finalists and Presidential Achievement Scholars and more than 80 percent of you won merit scholarships for academic achievement. Some of you have already determined your choice of profession and course of study, but many others want to be able to explore the broad range of study areas and discover your areas of passion and career.
At Loyola, we are prepared to help you excel in the years ahead by challenging you to think critically about the world, and to be inspired to make the world a better place by being of service to it, and most especially, to the vulnerable and marginalized members of our global community. We endeavor for you to become men and women who are transformed by the education and opportunities here at Loyola to make a difference in the world.
Who we are as a university community is reflected in the Loyola University seal. The major elements of the seal are taken from the family crest of the Loyola family, a 15th century Spanish family of nobility whose son, St. Ignatius Loyola, is our namesake and the founder of the Jesuit Order. He and his college companions founded the Society of Jesus more than 450 years ago. On our crest, you see the date of the founding, 1870, our motto and our colors. But, it also includes an important symbol taken directly from the Loyola family crest. I am referring to the two wolves gathered around a kettle that is suspended from a chain. We have a sculpture in front of the Norville Center of these two wolves which reminds us and inspires us as members of this Loyola community.
The image was selected by the 15th century Loyola family to convey ABUNDANCE-–the abundance of their farmlands in the Basque region of Spain—and the GENEROSITY that this abundance made possible. Even the name “Loyola”, has been traced in the Basque language to words indicating “abundance” or “profusion,” a reference no doubt to the rich soil found in this part of Spain.
Rich soil and good stewardship provided the Loyola family with enough for themselves and their household, with plenty left over for others—for the people and the animals that lived within and even beyond the castle walls. For us here at Loyola University in the 21st century, our seal is an expression of our commitment and pledge that we will forever be men and women who gratefully receive what God has given us and who share these gifts with the world around us.
After you have spent your years among us, and graduate, we hope you will think of Loyola as a community that nourished you and challenged you, a community that fed you and encouraged you to move beyond your present level of generosity to a deeper and more selfless one.
Beginning today, may Loyola be a place where you always find community and connection, where you learn and grow, and where you are inspired to go forth and set the world on fire.
We welcome you, and we embrace you with open arms. May today be the start of a fantastic year ahead.