The bells of Madonna della Strada
By: Anastasia Busiek
The Lake Shore Campus is about to get more musical. Loyola is having four bells cast and installed in the Madonna della Strada Chapel, thus completing the vision of James Mertz, S.J.
Each of the bells will be inscribed with a dedication to an individual or group who is an important part of the history of the chapel.
The first and largest bell, the Ignatius Bell, is a gift from Charles A. Whittingham, a 1951 graduate of Loyola (read about him on page 13).
The Cecilia Bell is a gift from those who will celebrate their wedding at Madonna della Strada.
The Joseph Bell is a gift from Loyola’s Jesuit community and is dedicated to Saint Joseph Mary Pignatelli, S.J., on the 200th anniversary of the Restoration of the Society of Jesus.
Loyola is seeking support from the Madonna della Strada community for the James Bell, which will be dedicated to the leader behind the original construction of this iconic chapel, Father Mertz.
These bells will forever enhance Madonna della Strada, recently voted one of the most beautiful college chapels in the world.
Shedding light on darkness
By: Jenny Kustra-Quinn
Susan Candiotti(BA ’76) has had a front seat to history for the past 20 years, interviewing current and former presidents and playing a significant role in covering some of the most important and memorable stories of our time.
As a CNN national correspondent, she has helped viewers make sense of tragedies that have reverberated throughout the country and beyond—from the Oklahoma City bombing to 9/11 to the Sandy Hook shootings.
Candiotti, who specializes in terror cases and law enforcement reporting, says she always has gravitated toward stories involving crimes or tragedies, not just to report the events, but also to give a voice to those affected.
“When you cover these kinds of stories, there’s the horrific event, but there’s also the people who suffer from it,” she says. “There are victims whose stories need to be told.”
And when a big story breaks, Candiotti is aware that viewers can be hanging on a reporter’s every word.
“You have to take your role very seriously and make sure you get it right, because people are counting on you,” she says.
In spite of how difficult it can be to continually be part of people’s worst moments, Candiotti says she is doing the work she was meant to do. She grew up in the 1960s during the Civil Rights Era, and she believed that the TV reporters who covered the events of the day were fortunate to witness history in the making.
“They were trying to make a difference by telling me what was going on in the world around me. I remember thinking that was what I would like to do,” she says.
Candiotti was born in Long Island, New York, and grew up there and in Cleveland. She attended high school in Altoona, Pennsylvania, and then went to Loyola to pursue a degree in communication arts mass media.
She was part of the honors program and spent a year at the John Felice Rome Center.
She’s thankful to her parents for giving her these opportunities, which provided the foundation she needed and taught her to communicate with different kinds of people in different settings.
“Loyola helped instill a sense of the world around me and helped me see how each one of us can make a difference,” she says.
After graduating, Candiotti spent four years in Binghamton, New York, where she learned firsthand how to be a TV reporter. She then worked at a station in Buffalo, followed by two local stations in Miami.
In 1994, CNN came calling, and she took a job in the network’s Miami bureau.
During her 15 years in that bureau, Candiotti covered earthquakes, hurricanes, political conflicts, economic issues, hostage takeovers, and plane crashes in Florida, Central and South America, and the Caribbean including Cuba. She traveled with US troops on a mission to Kuwait in 1998.
On 9/11, Candiotti was in Miami. She quickly learned from her law enforcement sources that the hijackers had been living in the area, and she was the first reporter to break that part of the story. She spent weeks investigating who they were and how they trained. A month later, she was sent to Washington, DC, to cover the Justice Department’s 9/11 investigation.
In 2002, Candiotti’s CNN investigative team received a National Headliner Award for continuing coverage of 9/11, one of several journalism honors throughout her career. In 2008, she transferred to the New York City bureau.
She was the first CNN correspondent on the scene of the 2012 Sandy Hook School shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.
Candiotti says she tried to do her part, “by honoring those who were lost and talking to brave parents who wanted everyone to know what their children meant to them.”
Candiotti says these stories stay with her long after they are regular fixtures on the news. She doesn’t try to avoid emotion while covering a story.
“It’s normal to be sad. You can’t help but feel someone’s pain,” she says.
Many of the high-profile events that Candiotti has covered have changed the world. But when asked to name the most important stories of her career, she recalls a lesser-known assignment from her first job.
While she was working at the TV station in Binghamton, a fire claimed the lives of all the children in one family. Candiotti was asked to interview their mother. She says she still remembers how difficult it was to approach the woman, who eventually was able to share her feelings about the loss.
Candiotti says this early experience shaped the way she views her role as a journalist.
“To this day, I look at these situations as giving people an opportunity to remember and honor their loved ones,” Candiotti says. “In a way, this enables all of us to help them heal.”
Candiotti repeatedly has been inspired by people pulling together to help others in the aftermath of misfortune. And she has learned how resilient the human spirit can be. Many people get stronger in the face of great obstacles, perhaps even to the point of becoming activists, she says.
This past summer, the University honored Candiotti at the annual Founders’ Dinner. She received the School of Communication’s Damen Award, recognizing her as a distinguished alum with leadership in industry and the community, as well as in service to others.
Candiotti hopes to continue to make a difference as a trusted source of news and information.
Newsgathering is evolving, she says, and it’s an exciting time to be in the industry, even though no one knows exactly what the future will bring.
One thing that will not change: “There’s a thirst for knowledge that will always be there,” she says.
Candiotti feels lucky to be in the position to share people’s personal stories with the world, whether triumphs or tragedies. And she’s always ready for the next big story. She has a bag packed at all times, in case she needs to jet off in pursuit of the facts.
“I look at every day as an adventure,” she says. “Anything can happen at any time. I never know what a day will bring.”
Cardboard with a cause
By: Anastasia Busiek
Eduardo Barrientos (MBA ’13) was planning to open a microbrewery—it was his capstone project at the Quinlan School of Business.
A friend introduced him to Monika Wiela, a marketing executive who agreed to help him set up the brewery’s website and online store.
As the two became friends, Wiela mentioned an idea she had for a new business. She had been walking down Michigan Avenue when she saw a homeless person with a sign asking for shoes.
She had access to women’s stilettos, but those wouldn’t do. She brought men’s shoes to the same place the next day, but couldn’t find the man she had seen.
Frustrated by her inability to match her resources with a person who needed them, she came up with Give Back Box.
“I was like, this is amazing,” Barrientos says. “It’s gonna fly.”
The microbrewery fell by the wayside.
Give Back Box, in which Barrientos is now a partner and advisor, provides online retailers with prepaid addressed mailing labels. When a consumer buys something online from a participating retailer, the retailer sends a label along with the box received by the consumer.
The consumer can then fill the box with goods to donate, put the label on it, and mail it free of charge via UPS.
“I’m thrilled about this, because now what I’m doing professionally aligns with what I want to do with my life,” Barrientos says. “This is such a simple concept, but I think it can make a sustainable social and environmental difference as more than 10 million boxes are shipped by retailers daily in the US. Loyola planted the seeds for social responsibility in me, and I’m grateful to have a way to use my degree to that end.”
Leader of the pack
By: Anastasia Busiek
Shane Davis (BA ’03) was 23 years old when he took over as head coach of Loyola’s men’s volleyball team. He had just graduated with a degree in marketing.
“I said I wasn’t that interested in it,” Davis says. “I didn’t know if I wanted to coach. And I had no idea what I’d be doing if I did. I said I’d take it for a year until they could find someone qualified to do it.”
This year, after 11 consecutive seasons as coach, Davis led the Ramblers to win their first-ever NCAA championship—in their home stadium, no less.
It wasn’t the first time a change of plans had worked out pretty well for him.
“My first love was football,” Davis says. “I come from a small town in Iowa. The whole town shuts down to watch a game. I played every sport, just so we’d have enough players to make a team, but I really wanted to play football. And I was pretty good.”
Colleges started recruiting Davis, but he became interested in volleyball and thought he might have a brighter future in that sport.
He redshirted at Loyola his first year and then played for the Ramblers for four years.
When he took over as head coach, he had three years of experience as team captain under his belt.
“The AD said, ‘Here are the keys. You know where the office is,’” Davis recalls. “I unlocked the office and sat on the other side of the desk. In front of me was the chair I sat in for many years as a player. The old coach had given me a running list of what I should be doing and getting together and planning, and I jumped in.”
Many of Davis’s players were also his former teammates, but the transition wasn’t as difficult as one might think.
“These guys were my best friends, and now I was coaching them,” Davis says. “I did have to create some separation. I moved out of the area. I didn’t spend time with them off the court. But I was a three-year captain, so I was used to leading. That didn’t change much. Giving them instruction, telling them how to do something, finding the right wording—that came naturally.”
What didn’t come naturally was recruitment. Davis, who had been immersed at the college level for years, was unused to evaluating high school players.
“It wasn’t what I was used to,” Davis says. “I thought no one was talented. I couldn’t believe where people were going. That was the biggest challenge. And when I did get kids on campus, and their parents are sitting across the desk from a 23-yearold, that was another challenge.”
But he got the hang of it. He talked to other coaches. He watched more kids play, and got a better sense of what to look for. He watched old recruiting tapes from previous coaches, remembering where those players eventually went and comparing them to what they looked like then.
Davis, and the volleyball program, grew stronger.
Last year’s team advanced to the national semifinals. This year’s team went all the way.
“I knew we were good,” Davis says. “I knew we had a shot. My moment this year of grasping it was the first weekend when we played UC-Irvine, BYU, and USC. We lost to USC, but I knew if we kept improving, we’d be tough to beat. It was all part of the plan, from 2011 when [senior associate athletics director] Carolyn O’Connell put the bid in to host the tournament. All I had to do was get the right guys.”
The Ramblers played a great season, and on May 1, the tournament kicked off in Gentile Arena. \
“Being there in the Final Four—it was one of the best moments of my life,” Davis says. “It was a wild week.”
Assistant Coach Mark Hulse was named Assistant Coach of the Year. Davis was named Coach of the Year. The Ramblers beat Penn State in the semifinals, and went on to drop Stanford for the championship.
Two days later, Davis’s wife Andrea gave birth to their second daughter.
“I tried to name her Natty Champ,” Davis jokes.
It didn’t fly. The couple, who met playing volleyball at North Avenue Beach, named their daughter Jordyn, joining her older sister, Sydney.
For Davis, there’s no complicated formula for success.
“Win,” he says. “And not just on the court. Be the best in the classroom or at whatever you’re doing that moment. Do volunteer work and community service.”
Naturally, success is a team effort. Davis is quick to praise his players, assistant coaches, and staff, in whom he places the same confidence that allowed him to thrive in his role as head coach.
“From day one, I’ve been afforded a tremendous amount of responsibility and freedom in doing my job despite not having the longest coaching résumé,” says Assistant Coach Mark Hulse. “That’s putting a lot of stock and trust in potential, but I imagine someone felt the same way about Shane when he was offered the head coaching position 12 years ago. Sometimes the best way to learn is just to dive in headfirst.”
And, of course, there are the fans. “We couldn’t get it all done without the support of our fans and administration,” Davis says. “We appreciate it.”
On the heels of victory, Davis is gratified and excited for the next season. “Every once in a while a great team comes along. You win a national championship,” Davis says. “It takes a while to get back to that, but we’ve reloaded. I don’t see us taking steps back. We’re trying to build a sustainable powerhouse.”
Around the world: ‘Something I was meant to do’
Jeffrey Bulanda (MSW ’04, PhD ’08) knew he wanted to work in sub-Saharan Africa. But he didn’t know where.
“I started contacting universities, and it was challenging,” Bulanda says. “Many universities don’t have a website or e-mail. It was by chance that I found out about Sierra Leone—the university there was starting its first-ever social work program.”
Bulanda received a Fulbright award to spend the 2013-2014 academic year teaching the subject, although that’s only part of what he ended up doing.
Sierra Leone, located in West Africa, emerged from a civil war in 2002. Social work education and policy, focusing on mental health and violence prevention, are in their formative stages.
“It was a great experience in that social work isn’t yet defined there, so we got to have a small part in defining it,” Bulanda says. “Working with students to see what they want it to be and what they need—putting together knowledge and understanding—it was great.”
Teaching conditions at the university, however, presented some challenges. There were no textbooks and no electricity. Class was sometimes held outside.
“Many students had poor writing skills,” Bulanda says. “Class sizes were large—the smallest class I taught had 60 students. A lot of students weren’t computer literate.”
Bulanda taught social work courses two days a week and held office hours three days a week.
“Holding office hours there was different from what it means here,” Bulanda says. “It meant teaching them how to write and how to set up e-mail addresses. I wanted to offer them guidance and support, but I also had to be firm. I said, ‘I understand your struggles, but if you want to work at UNICEF or Save the Children, you’re going to need to know these things.”
In addition to his teaching duties, Bulanda conducted research on mental health needs of university students and how war impacts their educational trajectories. He also created a youth empowerment program, Pikin Padi, which means “friends of the children” in Krio, a local language.
Among other things, the youth of Pikin Padi Network conceptualized and created a documentary on child labor. In exchange, Bulanda paid their school fees (required for secondary education). He also worked at an elementary school.
“I really felt like it was what it meant to be a social worker in the purest sense,” Bulanda says. “You develop programs where you see need and empower people to impact their community.”
During his time in Sierra Leone, Bulanda lived in a village outside of Freetown, the capital city.
“There was electricity about 5 percent of the time, and everyone walked far for water,”
Bulanda says. “I prepared myself for challenges, but living next door to people in utter poverty—you never get used to that. I had neighbors living in rusted-out metal structures. During the rainy season, I would walk down the street and people’s roofs were blown off during the night. People had 25 cents a day to eat. It certainly transformed the way I think about what I spend five dollars on.”
Bulanda returned to the United States in July of this year and is now teaching at Aurora University, but his work in Sierra Leone is ongoing.
Bulanda is an adjunct professor at the University of Sierra Leone, advising students as they write their senior theses. He continues to serve as the executive director of Pikin Padi and is sponsoring the educations of a number of students. He oversees two interns from afar.
He remains in touch with many of those he worked with while in the country. The proprietors of the elementary school at which Bulanda volunteered renamed the school after him—Jeff Bulanda International Academy.
Bulanda hopes to visit Sierra Leone in December, although that is contingent on the status of the Ebola crisis. Regardless, he will spend May and June of 2015 there.
“I’m looking forward to going back,” Bulanda says. “My work there is something I was meant to do. It’s who I am.”
Life in the fast lane: Charles Whittingham’s journey from Loyola to LIFE magazine
By: Aaron Cooper
Charles (Chuck) Whittingham (BS ’51) built an illustrious career in publishing, eventually becoming the publisher of LIFE magazine, traveling the globe, and meeting some of the most famous people in the world.
But before all that, he grew up in Rogers Park and attended Jesuit schools, including St. Ignatius Grammar School and Loyola Academy, all within a few blocks of his home.
Whittingham attended Loyola University Chicago on a full athletics scholarship to run track under the guidance of former Olympic champion and coach Alex Wilson.
Thanks to Wilson’s coaching, Whittingham set a school record in the 100-yard dash that still stands today. Whittingham majored in English and credits his interest in publishing to the guidance of Professor James Supple.
After graduating from Loyola with honors in 1951, Whittingham joined the Navy and served on the USS Salem, the flagship of the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean.
He served for three years, moving through Greece, Turkey, France, Italy, and other countries, recalling the rare treat of dancing with Grace Kelly in Monaco. After returning home, Whittingham remembers standing on the corner of Sheridan and Kenmore in front of Mundelein College, watching General MacArthur come back from the war in his open motorcade.
Whittingham’s magazine career launched in 1956, when he went to work for Redbook. Three years later, he moved to Fortune magazine, where he stayed for the next 20 years. It was at Fortune—a publication at the pinnacle of its field—that Whittingham earned his self-described “business degree,” as he learned the ins and outs of the business world and rubbed elbows with top-notch business journalists like MaxWays.
During his tenure as associate publisher at Fortune, LIFE (both magazines are owned by Time, Inc.) had won the 1967 National Magazine Award, published a feature on America’s mission to the moon in 1969, and received great accolades. It was among the best-loved and most famous magazines in the world.
But like Colliers, the Saturday Evening Post, and other major publications, LIFE couldn’t maintain its large circulation base because they were all competing with television viewership.
The weekly magazine, as it was circulated at the time, published its last issue in 1972. For the next six years, the magazine produced fewer than a dozen intermittent “special” issues to preserve its copyright.
In 1978, Time, Inc., selected Whittingham as the founding publisher of the “reborn” LIFE magazine, which returned as a monthly publication.
During his tenure at LIFE, Whittingham was surrounded by some of the most celebrated writers and photographers of the day.
“At LIFE, when I walked out into the halls each day and went down to the editing floor, I was surrounded by some of the most famous photographers in the world. . . . There was no job like it,” Whittingham says.
“We held a lunch event one day featuring Tom Wolfe, whom I consider a good friend. He wrote an article for LIFE on the ‘70s that was one of the best written, most fabulous things. People were fighting to get in the door of the Four Seasons Restaurant to listen to him here in New York. It’s that type of thing—whether they were photographers or writers—I was surrounded by these people.”
Whittingham was acquainted with people famous outside of publishing as well. In the late 1970s, he hosted a lunch honoring Sophia Loren, who asked him to take her on a tour of Studio 54.
“Studio 54 was probably the most famous place in the world at that point,” Whittingham says. “Nobody could get in unless you had special connections. So I took [Loren] there, and you have never seen a scene like that. At LIFE, stuff like that happened every week.”
Right before he left Time, Inc., after three decades of service, Whittingham helped organize LIFE’s 50th anniversary party in Radio City Music Hall, attended by Muhammad Ali, Bob Hope, Sophia Loren, representatives from the families of Ernest Hemingway and Martin Luther King Jr., and many more.
The celebration was broadcast as a two-hour TV special on ABC and hosted by Barbara Walters. Whittingham has maintained his friendship with Time, Inc., during retirement. He just finished producing a book for family and friends called Life Legends Revisited, which highlights the 50th anniversary of the magazine.
Early in retirement, he served as the senior vice president of the New York Public Library, and he has collaborated on several TV documentaries about the library and American presidents.
Whittingham is also a lifelong supporter of Loyola. In the 1980s, he hosted gatherings of alumni at his Time, Inc., offices in Rockefeller Plaza. In recent years, he set up the Charles A. Whittingham Endowed Scholarship Fund, supported Loyola’s Center for Textual Studies and Digital Media, and designated a bequest for the University.
Whittingham also recently supported the bell project at Madonna della Strada Chapel and was present at its groundbreaking.
“I have nothing but wonderful things to say about Loyola and a liberal arts education, and the campus today is exquisite,” he says.
In 2010, Whittingham received the Damen Award from the College of Arts and Sciences at the annual Founders’ Dinner. In addition to monetary support, he donated to Loyola’s library a valuable collection of first-edition rare books from Chiswick Press, a Londonbased publishing company founded in the 18th century.
In 2012, Whittingham was asked to deliver the keynote address at Loyola’s track and field banquet in front of 200 student athletes and supporters where he recounted his glory days of running for his alma mater. At the close of that address, Whittingham told the audience:
“The great treasure you will take from your days at this marvelous university is of course your records and your performance in your sport. But really the education you receive here and for which your parents have sacrificed will be your real treasure. It will be with you all your life wherever you go and whatever you may do.”
Whittingham and his late wife, Jean, are the parents of four children and grandparents of five grandchildren. He lives in New York City.
Mind, body, and spirit
By: Anastasia Busiek
For soccer referees, participating in the World Cup is the pinnacle of achievement.
Only three referees were chosen to represent the United States during this summer’s World Cup in Brazil. Eric Boria (MA ’02, PhD ’06) was one of them, going as a reserve assistant referee.
It was the culmination of years of training and study, including three years of FIFA training that specifically develops prospective World Cup candidates.
Boria’s path to the World Cup started at the age of 13. He took classes with his father, an avid soccer fan, to become a referee.
“Soccer’s been in the family for a long time,” Boria says. “We followed the Italian league. A game at 3 in the afternoon in Italy was at 8 in the morning here. We’d travel to Stone Park, IL, [from Hammond, Indiana] where a radio station had a satellite feed. We’d sit in the technical room in the back and watch the game on a little black-and-white screen.”
Boria continued playing and refereeing soccer through college, at which point he became a professional ref and had to forgo playing—it was too easy to get injured. About seven years ago, he decided to get more serious about his refereeing career, so he applied his academic research skills. He studied the physical, mental, and sociological aspects of the game.
“I started studying nutrition, physiology, and how to improve physical performance while lowering the risk of injury,” Boria says. “I studied the game and how it’s played in different countries. Knowledge about a culture and how people use gestures is very helpful. I’ve also been studying psychology of players and referees. That’s helped me just as much as studying the game and physiology.”
In 2012, Boria was identified as a World Cup referee candidate. This began a program of intense physical and mental training and assessment.
“We were assigned a fitness trainer who gave us a training plan to be completed daily,” Boria says. “We reported back our heart rate monitor data showing that we completed the exercise, how we felt, and any treatments. FIFA contracts a clinic in Zurich [Switzerland] where a doctor monitors our progress, status, and health.”
The idea is to increase aerobic capacity so that the referee peaks in time for the tournament.
In training, Boria studies every aspect of his athletic performance.
“I use a heart rate monitor during both workouts and games. I use GPS to get distance data. A lactic acid test shows how well I’m recovering. A sweat test shows your level of electrolytes,” Boria says. “By putting all that information together, you can adapt your training so that during the game you never really get to that level of fatigue. Because when your body’s at a high level of fatigue, the first thing that goes is the thought process.”
The thought process is the part of the job that truly fascinates Boria. A good referee, Boria says, knows how to be in the right position to get the most data, knows how to interpret that data, and also knows what extraneous data to push aside.
“You have to know whether the data you input into your head are trustworthy or untrustworthy,” Boria says. “There’s the moment you hear contact with the ball, and the moment you see it. But there are also other data that you don’t want to focus on. There is sun in your eyes. On May 9, in Denver, we had a game in the middle of a snowstorm. You have to focus through the snow, not on it—on the shapes moving through it.”
Boria uses computer programs that are specifically designed to improve concentration and focus. One program tests peripheral vision and awareness by testing recall of a letter and object that are flashed onscreen for only a tenth of a second. He also watches videos with simulated game situations where he has to make a decision in real time.
“What happens is that the subconscious can process a whole lot more information than the frontal lobe can,” Boria says. “Referees talk about having a feeling for the game. You can feel a foul, feel it’s a red or yellow card—and that comes from being in the right position. Your subconscious tells you what the right answer is. But it takes a lot of training to get that feeling clear.”
Boria also credits meditation with helping him to clear out non-useful information and focus on what he needs to in a game.
“There are some times where we have a very close call,” Boria says. “I’m looking at it, and I say, ‘He has to be offside.’ I’m telling myself that. But my body is running with the play, and I become aware of my body running. I tell my mind to quiet down and I keep going with it. In cases where I am in the right position and my feeling conflicts with my thought, in reviewing a play, usually my feeling will be right.”
A third aspect of Boria’s study is his academic specialty—sociology.
Understanding and navigating the ways that people from different cultures interpret the rules and gestures of soccer is a crucial part of being an effective referee.
“One thing I’ve been doing is studying the league in each country and what they consider fouls,” Boria says. “For example, African countries often make strong tackles, even stopping the ball with their cleats. However, if you jump through a tackle with high cleats in Latin America, players take exception as that is not normal play for them. Even though, as referees, we apply the laws the same to all teams across the planet, you have to work with players who may, in the same game, interpret the laws differently. This requires knowledge of cultural differences in styles of play and only comes with study and hard work.”
During the World Cup, Boria was on the field for four games as a reserve assistant referee. “It was a great experience to work with and learn from the best referees from all over the world. And it was a proud moment as well to be there when Mark Geiger, Sean Hurd, and Joe Fletcher became the first USA-based referee crew to advance to the round of 16.”
Boria plans to continue his career as a referee and hopes to continue teaching. He spent last year teaching many classes, including the history and sociology of sports at Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois.
“That was a fantastic year of teaching,” he says. “I got to put all the personal research, experience and study I’ve been doing into the classroom.”
Boria is grateful to have had the learning experience of the World Cup, but now he is preparing for upcoming matches.
“I have the same goal I did before the tournament: I want to improve every single game.”
The stories she tells
By: Anastasia Busiek
For Lucia Mauro (BA ’86, JFRC ’85), all roads lead to Rome—and to Loyola.
A second generation Italian American, Mauro has always been drawn to the culture and history of Italy. She studied the language for four years in high school, and the Rome Center was a big part of why she chose to attend Loyola where, in addition to her English and communication majors, she studied art history and the Italian language and literature.
Her time at the Rome Center cemented her love for the place.
“That sent me on my journey. It really shaped my life,” Mauro says. She went on to become an arts writer and a theater/dance critic, writing for Chicago magazine and the Chicago Tribune, among others, but she also wrote a lot about Italy.
She wrote for TravelAge magazine and for Fra Noi, an Italian-American newspaper, and published two books of her Italian photography.
Mauro has visited most of Italy and has traveled there many times since she attended the Rome Center. It was a chance encounter in Rome in 2009, in fact, that inspired her latest endeavor.
“I was standing in front of the obelisk in St. Peter’s Square waiting to meet a film colleague,” says Mauro. “A young American man leaned against the railing near me. We struck up a conversation, and I noticed that he was wearing a pair of shoes that didn’t fit him properly and were practically torn to shreds—as if he had walked halfway around the world in them.”
Mauro asked what had brought the man to Rome.
The answer so touched Mauro that it stayed with her for years.
The young man’s brother was a Marine who had been killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. He had hoped to backpack with friends through Rome, but died before he had the chance.
“So [his brother] took it upon himself to fulfill that dream,” Mauro says. “He put on his brother’s favorite shoes, which were too tight, and vowed not to take them off until he visited all the sights his sibling would have wanted to see in and around Rome. I was so moved by this encounter, I felt compelled to share this man’s story.”
Mauro recently wrote and directed a short film, In My Brother’s Shoes, based on this chance meeting.
The film’s main character, Danny—a part written for stage-screen actor Danny McCarthy—dons his brother’s combat boots and travels to Rome, where he processes his grief and better understands his own capacity for sacrifice through the diverse people he randomly encounters.
A crucial scene was shot just outside the JFRC’s entrance at the foot of its iconic tree.
Mauro’s husband, Joe Orlandino, encouraged her to pursue screenwriting, and eventually produced the film, as part of Atlas Media Group, together with Polymyth Productions.
It took several years after meeting this man for Mauro to make the film. She was immersed in other projects. In addition to her arts writing, she taught dance history at Loyola, and also taught at the Rome Center.
But in 2012, Mauro was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and her life changed.
Mauro received treatment from Ronald K. Potkul, MD, FACS, FACOG at Loyola.
“He saved my life. I love this man,” Mauro says. “Loyola is pivotal in my life. I just can’t speak enough about the care and the compassion and the professionalism of Dr. Potkul and the nurses and his staff.”
As Mauro went through treatment and recovery, she couldn’t stop thinking about the man she’d met in Rome.
“Certain things were on hold,” Mauro says. “I couldn’t really teach at that point. My own experiences were filtering in. I said, ‘When I get through this, I’m making this film.’ That’s what sustained me through my treatment, just thinking about it.”
In spring of 2013, Mauro decided to return to Italy.
“When you go through something like that—surgeries and chemo, you get nervous about a 10-hour flight,” Mauro says. “But I needed to challenge myself. I took this trip and I was ok. I never got sick. When we travel, when we walk around and take trains, we meet people, and we will most likely never see them again, but they stick with you. That happened to me. From my own journey, I was able to build the story and other characters around Danny. The truth of the matter is that Danny is the brother of the fallen Marine, but he’s also me, moving on with my life.”
Because of the subject matter of the film, and because of her own challenges, Mauro wanted to do something beyond the movie.
Proceeds from the film will benefit veterans’ organizations, including the Pritzker Military Museum & Library’s Veterans Information Center, through a nonprofit, also called In My Brother’s Shoes, Mauro created.
Mauro is now screening In My Brother’s Shoes and submitting it to major film festivals. A screening at the Lake Shore Campus is planned for this fall.
She is also working on a film about Anita Garibaldi, the wife of Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi and a revolutionary in her own right—from the perspective of an interview with American journalist Margaret Fuller. The film was inspired by Anita’s statue on Rome’s Janiculum Hill.
“We never quite know where life is going to take us,” Mauro says. “Loyola and Rome have been constant influences in my life and career, and my life keeps circling back to both.”