By Deanna Howes Spiro, Director of Communications, AJCU


For nearly 500 years, Jesuit colleges and universities have made it their mission to educate students of all economic, social and ethnic backgrounds. Several of these institutions were founded specifically to educate immigrants, and continue to provide a home for them today. In light of last week’s announcement on the DACA rescission (which will affect a number of DACA students on our campuses), “serving the under-served” is a timely theme for this month’s issue of Connections.

You will learn about a young woman who escaped war-torn Benghazi and found a home at Georgetown University through the Georgetown Scholarship Program; under-privileged students in Chicago who are now able to obtain a college education through Arrupe College at Loyola University Chicago; and an innovative leadership program at Regis University that helps young, at-risk Denver students prepare for high school and college.

In addition to these stories, you will learn about the many AJCU conferences and Jesuit alumni events taking place across the country this fall. Of note, the number of locations for the Jesuit Alumni Mass weekend has more than doubled over the past few years; click here to find out where you can attend one near you next month.

We anticipate a busy fall here in Washington as we prepare for our annual Federal Relations conference and bi-annual Congressional breakfast next month. These events will provide significant opportunities for AJCU presidents and government relations staff to interact with members of Congress and key staff from House and Senate education committees. You will learn more about these events and the latest news from Capitol Hill in Cyndy Littlefield’s federal relations report.

Once again, we are pleased to share this issue of Connections, which speaks to the heart of Jesuit education. We wish you a great start to the academic year, and look forward to supporting our students of need together.

By Cynthia Littlefield, Vice President for Federal Relations, AJCU


DACA Is Rescinded

One of our biggest worries came to fruition last week, when President Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The DACA program, initiated by President Obama in 2012, protects students who entered the United States as children, with their parents. These undocumented students are classified as Dreamers because they meet the requirements of the “Dream Act,” proposed legislation that would give these students or graduates a path to citizenship (DACA only extended their stay in the country for two-year intervals). President Trump punted DACA to Congress, giving the House and Senate six months to resolve the issue before the proposed March 2018 deadline for a full rescission of DACA.

Shortly after the announcement of the rescission, AJCU issued a statement expressing deep dismay over the Administration’s decision to strip the nation’s 800,000 Dreamers of their DACA status. The full statement can be found here on the AJCU website. The American Council on Education also issued a statement, as did the presidents of 26 U.S. Jesuit colleges and universities.

Nearly 800,000 students and young professionals across the country will be affected by the DACA rescission; they are uncertain of their status and whether the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will deport them to their country of origin. Residents in medical school would be particularly affected as they have taken out substantial loans to attend medical school and are dependent on the DACA work agreement. Jesuit institutions have been particularly supportive of Dreamers by giving them scholarships and financial support to attend college.

There is a concerted effort under way to push for passage of the Dream Act through Congress. Sixteen years ago, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced the Dream Act, which later failed to pass through the Senate (it was shy of just five votes). Senator Durbin (a graduate of Georgetown University) recently hosted DACA students from Georgetown and met with students from Loyola University Chicago.

On September 13th, President Trump hosted a dinner for the Democratic leaders of Congress, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), to discuss the future of DACA. Although the reports concerning a potential deal are unclear, we are hopeful that it may signal a potential agreement that Congress may consider in the coming weeks. In addition, Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are co-sponsoring a companion piece in the Senate: S.1808. Seeking passage of DACA and the Dream Act is a high priority for AJCU; we will work on this until our DACA students are protected.

Perkins Loan Program Set to Expire on September 30th

It is bad enough that DACA is to be rescinded but the Perkins loan program is set to expire at the end of this month as well. In December 2015, the Perkins Loan Extension Act, H.R. 3594, extended the undergraduate program for two years. Unfortunately, the graduate Perkins loan program expired in December 2016; without reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), the undergraduate program may not be renewed after September 30th.

Efforts are being led by Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), John Duncan (R-TN), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) to extend the undergraduate program. House bill H.R. 2482, re-introduced by Representatives Stefanik and Pocan in this session of the 115th U.S. Congress, has 187 bipartisan co-sponsors thus far, which indicates strong support for continuing the program.

Currently, nearly 500,000 students across the country utilize the Perkins loan program. Sixty-seven percent of Perkins loan recipients are dependent students from families whose incomes are $30,000 or below, and twenty percent of recipients are independent students with incomes of $20,000 or below. The Perkins loan program has been in existence for five decades, and has provided financial support for hundreds of thousands of American students to obtain their college degrees.

AJCU Federal Relations activities have included working on the Perkins loan extension for many years. All Jesuit institutions are encouraged to contact their members of Congress to save this vital loan program for needy students.

By Samantha Wolk, Georgetown University ’18

Amina Gerrbi

“Bullets are flying in every direction. Explosions shake my house…I take a step back, close my eyes, and cannot believe where I am. I am in Benghazi, Libya during the Arab Spring in 2011, and the Revolution has just begun.”

This quotation is from Amina Gerrbi’s speech at the 2016 Georgetown Tedx Conference. The conference’s theme was The Tipping Point, giving speakers the opportunity to share their stories of how critical moments in their lives forced them to change for the better. Undoubtedly, tipping points are incredibly challenging, forcing rapid, groundbreaking change in our lives. However, a more common and often equally difficult struggle lies in their aftermath as we try to retain that internal dynamism, self-reflection, and drive to affect positive change that tipping points inspire.

In the following interview, Georgetown Scholarship Program (GSP) graduate Amina Gerrbi (Georgetown University ’17) shares her journey from the chaotic streets of Benghazi during the Libyan Revolution to graduation on Healy Lawn this past spring. Furthermore, she elaborates on how her Jesuit education helped her discover her passion for serving others and how she is pursuing that call as an alumna.

Samantha Wolk: Starting from the beginning, how did you find yourself in Libya during the Revolution?

Amina Gerrbi: My parents are from Libya, but I was born and raised in Ashburn, VA. We moved back to Libya in 2009, which was my freshman year of high school. The Revolution began in 2011. Even though I was only a sophomore in high school, my friends were excited to support the cause. I protested, burned state propaganda, and even became one of the first female radio show hosts for the only English-speaking station in Benghazi. I also got to be part of a non-profit organization called United Libyan Women that transported the injured to bordering hospitals.

I think it’s important to understand though that while the rallies and civic activism were highlights of the Revolution, there is a darker side of the story. There was so much violence going on at the time – murders and rapes during the war – and I saw things that I never thought I would see. I consider myself very lucky because even though I feared the violence going on, nothing like that ever happened to me. But other people weren’t so lucky.

I can’t imagine experiencing those fears at just 16 years old. Was that your tipping point?

Actually, my tipping point wasn’t even due to the Revolution exactly – it had to do with not getting into college, as small of an issue as that seems in comparison. By 2012, I was able to move back to the United States to stay with family I had in Virginia. I returned as a junior, and even though I was behind academically (due to curricular differences and missing so much school during the Revolution), I had to complete my junior and senior classes in one year because I thought I might have to return to Libya. I struggled a lot at first, but I worked hard and managed to get straight As. However, my grades from Libya had to be averaged into my overall GPA, which brought it down to a 2.9.

My school in Libya had closed for most of the Revolution, but it reopened so that we could try to quickly finish our classes. Since there was no time for exams, we received grades that weren’t representative of our individual work and that brought my GPA down further. Thus, I was devastated when despite all my hard work, I didn’t get into any universities. My only option was community college, and that was my tipping point.

Of course, my tipping point was deeper than not getting into any universities. The root of it was feeling like all my hard work was pointless. To put this in perspective, just a year earlier, I was so scared for my future and depressed by all the violence occurring around me in Libya. Now, I was safe in the U.S., dealing with what was just a temporary failure in comparison to my situation in Libya, yet I felt the same desperation. How could it be possible to feel the same level of depression in wartime as in peacetime?

I needed a deeper purpose in my life, and I found it by returning to Islam. Finally, I realized that I was healthy, safe, and still getting an education. It was my duty to make the most of the situation I was in. Community college gave me a chance to restart, and I decided that no matter how unrealistic it seemed, I would transfer to a great school and get a full scholarship. They gave us a goal sheet at the beginning of my first semester of community college, and I wrote that I wanted to transfer to Georgetown.

Why Georgetown?

I had heard about the kind of people at Georgetown: intelligent, ambitious people who literally want to change the world. Everyone is constantly challenged, wondering and brainstorming, and I think that environment is naturally contagious in the way that it forces out the best version of yourself. People told me I shouldn’t even apply because they doubted that I could afford it or even get in. But I decided that as unrealistic as it seemed, I would make it happen. I did everything that I could: internships on Capitol Hill, community service, straight As, and even letters of recommendation from my college’s president and my Congressman.

I remember the day I got my acceptance letter. I didn’t even tell anyone because I knew I deserved to get in but I couldn’t afford to go. However, a few weeks later, I received another letter saying that between my Pell Grant and Georgetown Scholarship Program (GSP), my tuition was completely paid for. I was convinced I misread it. I even called GSP to confirm! When I realized that it was real, it was honestly the best moment of my life. I believe in the law of attraction, and getting a full scholarship to Georgetown confirmed for me that you can really do anything if you put your mind to it.

What did you study at Georgetown, and what does being Jesuit-educated mean to you?

I majored in International Political Economy and Business in the McDonough School of Business. And actually, one of the reasons I chose Georgetown’s business school is because of the Jesuit tradition. To me, being Jesuit-educated is like being educated from the inside out rather than the outside in. Most universities adopt an external approach, asking you what career you want and then teaching to that. At Jesuit universities, education begins internally. Who are you? What is your purpose? The emphasis on self-reflection and finding purpose is really helpful for staying focused in both life and in your classes.

Sometimes people ask me what it’s like to be Muslim at a Jesuit college, and I actually love it because a lot of Jesuit values are core values of Islam too. Personally, I think that women and men for others is the most influential Jesuit value in my life.

Since graduating in Spring ’17, where are you working? What are your plans for the future?

I’m currently a technology consultant at Oracle. But I’m also starting an organization called the Muslimah Society to create a networking platform for women to empower other women through mentorship, storytelling, and social impact initiatives. I feel like my purpose is to help others, so looking forward, I would love to get into social entrepreneurship. Nothing would make me happier than helping others 9-5…or 9-9 more realistically!

Samantha Wolk is a senior at Georgetown University and an intern at AJCU.

Arrupe College graduate Carlos Luna (photo by Loyola University Chicago)
Arrupe College graduate Carlos Luna (photo by Loyola University Chicago)

By Anna Gaynor, Erinn Connor & Evangeline Politis, Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Chicago’s Arrupe College was a last-minute decision for Ramatoulaye Diallo. Originally from the West African country of Mauritania, Diallo spent some time living in Paris before moving to Chicago with her mother in 2012. In high school, she decided she wanted to go to Loyola after graduation, but her ACT score wasn’t quite high enough. “We share the same values—care for self, others, and community,” Diallo says of Loyola.

When she didn’t get in, she gave up on applying to schools. “In my head, I was just going to go back home and study,” she says. “And then my advisor calls me one day and says, ‘Have you heard of Arrupe?’”

Diallo’s advisor explained that Arrupe was part of Loyola, that she’d be a part of the first class, and she might be able to transfer to Loyola after graduating. That call came at the end of her senior year.

Now, as a member of the inaugural graduating class, she is planning the move into Bellarmine Hall on Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus with four of her Arrupe classmates. And like many of her fellow Arrupe graduates from the class of 2017, Diallo will receive a continuum scholarship from Loyola to cover the costs of her tuition and housing. “I can’t stress it enough—it helps a whole lot,” she says.

Arrupe College graduate Ramatoulaye Diallo (photo by Loyola University Chicago)
Arrupe College graduate Ramatoulaye Diallo (photo by Loyola University Chicago)

Arrupe was established as a two-year Associate’s degree program to provide a rigorous liberal arts education to motivated students with limited financial resources and an interest in later attending a four-year institution. The College is one of the cornerstones of Loyola’s strategic plan and directly supports its priority to continue extending access to education for those from under-served communities.

In 2015, Diallo was among nearly 160 Chicago teenagers who started taking classes on Loyola’s Water Tower Campus. On August 12, 2017, 52 percent of the inaugural cohort (82 students) received their degrees at Arrupe’s first commencement ceremony. The graduation rate is noteworthy, as it far exceeds the national average reported by Complete College America—only five percent of full-time community college students earn an Associate’s degree within two years. In addition, another 16 percent is on track to graduate in December 2017.

“I’m grateful particularly to this group of graduates because they took a risk to pioneer this with us,” says Rev. Stephen Katsouros, S.J., dean and executive director of Arrupe.

Arrupe offers small class sizes, one-on-one time with faculty and advisors, and the resources to thrive and earn an Associate’s degree. In his two years at Arrupe, Carlos Luna became involved in student government, started the Dreamers and Allies Student Organization, and was awarded Loyola’s President’s Medallion. For him, Arrupe provided the chance to get on the path toward Georgetown University where he will be matriculating in the fall.

When in high school, Luna originally focused on applying to schools outside of Chicago, primarily the East Coast. “It was decision after decision of being denied or wait-listed, so that was really tough on me,” he says. But now he will make the move from Chicago to Washington, D.C., with plans to major in government and minor in either Mandarin Chinese or philosophy. “What I had hoped for in the beginning,” Luna says, “has come true.”

Arrupe graduate Blanca Rodriguez, who will be heading to Dominican University, echoes this sentiment.

“I feel like Arrupe has given us that chance,” says Rodriguez. “You can do it—it doesn’t matter where you come from, what culture you are from, or what your background is. You can go to whatever school you want to and succeed wherever you want to go.”

This fall, seventy-three graduates of the Class of 2017 are pursuing further education to earn Bachelor’s degrees at colleges and universities across the country, including Loyola University Chicago, Regis University, Loyola University New Orleans, Georgetown University, University of Illinois at Chicago, Dominican University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and more.

In addition to celebrating this historic milestone and these students’ successes, the University also announced earlier this month that it had received a $6 million gift to assist Arrupe students and graduates in their individual pursuits of higher education, specifically students who do not qualify for state or federal aid because of their immigration status.

Photos from Arrupe College’s inaugural commencement ceremony can be found here:

Loyola’s Health Sciences Division Launches Science Sisters Day

students on Science Sisters Day (Photo by Loyola University Chicago)
students on Science Sisters Day (Photo by Loyola University Chicago)

Loyola is also bridging the gap for an even younger population. In May, Loyola’s biomedical graduate students hosted the first Science Sisters Day, a full-day event that brought 30 middle-school girls from local schools—Stevenson Middle School in Maywood and Irving Middle School in Melrose Park—to the Center for Translational Research and Education on the Health Sciences Campus. The day’s activities ranged from educational science experiments to learning about women science pioneers.

“Interest in science drops off at this age, so we wanted to target these girls and hopefully help keep up their interest in science as they get closer to high school and college,” says Abby Cannon, one of the Science Sisters Day organizers.

Cannon and Anya Nikolai, both immunology graduate students who also founded the Women in Science group at Loyola, wanted this event to address the underrepresentation of girls pursuing education and careers in the sciences.

Research from the U.S. Department of Education shows that girls lose interest in math and science some time around middle school. A report from the National Research Center for College and University Admissions found that only 20 percent of women intend to major in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) field.

“This event gave young girls hands-on experience with the types of biomedical research we do at the Health Sciences Division and taught them about successful female scientists with the hope that these students will realize they too can aspire to careers in science and medicine,” says Leanne Cribbs, Ph.D., associate dean for graduate education at Loyola’s Stritch School of Medicine and an associate professor in the department of cell and molecular physiology.

students on Science Sisters Day (photo by Loyola University Chicago)
students on Science Sisters Day (photo by Loyola University Chicago)

The event was funded by the University’s strategic plan along with support from BioLegend, a lab supply company.

“I’m so proud of our biomedical graduate students who are sharing their enthusiasm for science with these middle school girls from our surrounding community,” says Margaret Faut Callahan, CRNA, Ph.D., FNAP, FAAN, provost of Loyola’s Health Sciences Division. “Their commitment and passion is what makes these biomedical programs a shining example of outreach on our Health Sciences campus.”

Cannon and Nikolai are planning more events with their growing Women in Science organization, including seminars and lectures hosted by prominent female scientists in many different fields.

“We really want to see what we can do to keep our female scientists interested and invested in their career and moving up the ladder into leadership positions,” says Nikolai.

By Dan O’Connell, Loyola University Maryland ’76

Five members of Team USA train together under Coach Brian Loeffler, ’91, at the Mangione Aquatic Center at Loyola University Maryland: (pictured left to right) McKenzie Coan, ’18, Cortney Jordan, M.A.T. ’16, Elizabeth Smith, Loeffler, Alyssa Gialamas, ’18, and Navy veteran Brad Snyder and his service dog, Gizzy (photo courtesy of Loyola Athletics).

Just weeks after watching Katie Ledecky and Michael Phelps make swimming history at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil, Brian Loeffler, head coach of men’s and women’s swimming and diving at Loyola University Maryland, found himself at the same pool in Rio.

Loeffler, a 1991 graduate of Loyola, has been coaching Team USA in the Paralympic Games for nearly a decade. He accompanied five athletes who trained together at Loyola for the 2016 Games: seniors McKenzie Coan and Alyssa Gialamas, Cortney Jordan, M.A.T. ’16, Navy veteran Brad Snyder, and Elizabeth Smith.

“We had nine swims a week,” Gialamas said, describing the 11-week training program before the team left for Rio. “Each of our sessions was two hours long, and we swam twice a day on Tuesday and Thursday. We also spent time in the Fitness and Aquatic Center working out.”

Gialamas has a disease called arthrogryposis that causes congenital joint contractures. She started swimming at age 3. While competing in the 2012 Paralympics in London, she met Loeffler for the first time. He was coaching for Team USA and worked with Gialamas during the event. When she re­turned home to Somerville, IL after the competition, she decided to look into applying to Loyola.

Soon after visiting the University’s Baltimore, MD campus, she fell in love with the school. “Loyola is my home away from home now,” she said.

At the Rio Paralympics, Gialamas swam the 50-meter backstroke, finishing fifth. She also competed in the 50-, 100-, and 200-meter freestyle events.

“I was a much better swimmer in Rio than I was in London,” she said. “In 2012 I was very young, and my goal was just to get there. This time, I wanted to be competitive—and I was.”

Coan snapped a selfie during the Opening Ceremonies in Rio in September 2016 (photo courtesy of Loyola Athletics)

A Swimmer’s Path to Loyola
Coan’s swimming career started with aquatic therapy in 2001 following her diagnosis with osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease).

She too competed in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London—and, like Gialamas, it was there that she met Loeffler. When it came to college, Coan decided to attend Loyola and swim under his direction.

When Coan and her teammates arrived in Rio, no one had any idea how much their lives were about to change. Loeffler told her there was a possibility she could win a gold medal or two, but Coan wasn’t sure that could happen. It didn’t take long for the Clarksville, GA, native to experience her greatest moment.

Competing in the 50-meter freestyle, Coan said she only had hopes of finishing among the leaders. She won the gold for the event—and broke the Paralympic record with a time of 32.42 seconds.

“When I won the race, I was pretty surprised and happy,” Coan recalled. “Then I looked at the scoreboard and saw that I broke the record. I was stunned! I kept looking up there to see if there was a mistake.”

Coan would go on to secure two more gold medals over the next few days, in the 100- and 400-meter freestyles—as well as earn a silver for her part in Team USA’s 100-meter freestyle relay.

“Each of the gold medals is special to me,” Coan said. “I can remember each gold medal ceremony clearly.”

Teammate and training partner Jordan, who earned her Master of Arts in Teaching from Loyola’s School of Education in 2016, swam alongside Coan in the 100- and 400-meter freestyles, claiming silver in both events—in addition to the silver and bronze medals she won for the 50-meter butterfly and the 200-meter medley, respectively.

“It was really cool to be swimming in the same venue as the Olympics. We were all joking that Michael Phelps warmed up the pool for us,” Coan said. “The reception we received in Rio was amazing. No matter who was competing, the crowds were very enthusiastic and supportive. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before.”

Coan’s remarkable performance in Rio made her a local celebrity when she returned to Maryland. With Snyder, she threw out the first pitch at a Baltimore Orioles’ baseball game and attended a White House reception where she met then-President Barack Obama.

A Whole New World
Team USA claimed 40 gold, 44 silver, and 31 bronze medals at the 2016 Paralympic Games. Of those medals, Coach Loeffler’s swimmers took home six gold, six silver, and two bronze.

“It was a very rewarding experience for all of us,” said Loeffler, who was honored in 2014 as the National Paralympic Coach of the Year by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

“I will always be grateful for the opportunities that he has given me,” Coan said of her coach. “I think Coach Loeffler is one of the best Paralympic coaches in the world, and I know that I would never have been so successful without his guidance. He has also provided Alyssa and me with the chance to compete on a Division I swimming team. We owe so much to him.”

Loeffler is excited about the future for Paralympic swimming. He noted that the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC), a regional athletic conference, is interested in organizing a Paralympic championship competition after its regular championship meet—and he hopes that the NCAA will broaden its championships to add similar competitions.

Loeffler said, “Due to our success, Loyola is being seen as a diverse university that provides opportunities for everyone, and we are proud of that.”


By Tim Linn, Public Relations Specialist, Rockhurst University

Photo by Rockhurst University
Photo by Rockhurst University

More than ever, getting a college degree has become a prerequisite for future financial security and career success.

But higher education costs continue to rise. And those two trends have forced many families and aspiring college students to make tough choices when it comes to making tuition payments.

Last month, Rockhurst University launched a new program in partnership with the Hummel Family Foundation that seeks to help those students who would not otherwise be able to attend Rockhurst. The Hummel Family Scholarship is an annual scholarship program and philanthropic gift plan that could eventually become the largest in University history, with a total of $500,000 awarded to approximately 20 first-time freshman and transfer recipients in its first year of existence.

One of those students, incoming freshman Caleb Lagemann of Blue Springs, MO, said that receiving one of the scholarships represents more than a boost — it will allow him to focus on excelling in class instead of worrying about tuition and expenses.

“When I first got the news that I received the Hummel Scholarship, I was very excited and also really surprised at the amount of [funding],” he said. “The Hummel Scholarship will help me tremendously when paying for college and I am really grateful to the Hummel family for making that possible for me.”

Another student, Natastia Carnes, said she loved Rockhurst when she first visited, but that the Hummel scholarship made the decision to attend a reality.

“After visiting and speaking with others who attend or attended Rockhurst, I found that Rockhurst is a place where I could make my own path to achieve my dreams,” she said. “The Hummel scholarship is what made it possible for me to attend a university where I can follow the path I have set out before me.”

Photo by Rockhurst University
Photo by Rockhurst University

The new scholarship fund at Rockhurst is one of five established through the Hummel Family Foundation, founded by Dr. Robert C. Hummel, co-founder of Animal Health International (one of the largest animal health distributors in the nation), and his wife, Carole. Hummel’s children chose to support higher education institutions that have made a positive impact on their lives. The founder of Rockhurst’s scholarship, Robert C. Hummel II, is a 1993 graduate of the MBA program at Rockhurst’s Helzberg School of Management, and a successful Kansas City, MO area business leader.

The scholarships were founded with a simple goal: “The Hummel family has expressed their hope that that these scholarships will help students in need and provide a path to a better, more fulfilling life,” said Robert C. Hummel II.

Financial support for education does much more than give students peace of mind — it can shape the rest of their lives. Research indicates a significant correlation between economic status and degree attainment. According to the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, only 15 percent of students in the lowest quartile of family income earn a Bachelor’s degree within eight years of their expected high school graduation, compared to 60 percent in the top quartile.

Matt Ellis, Rockhurst’s associate vice president of enrollment, noted that similar trends can be seen at Rockhurst and across the country. He said, “When you look at our first- to second-year retention rates, the two biggest factors in students not returning are academic preparedness and unmet financial need.”

The Hummel Scholars program is aimed at eliminating affordability from the college-decision making process for top students. It is the main criteria in the application process, though there are other qualifications such as GPA, an essay, and an evaluation of each applicant’s leadership and commitment to service in his/her community.

Ellis said that institutions typically have a range of tools at their disposal to work with students and their families to make affording college feasible. Before the launch of the Hummel Scholarship, there were already a number of similar need- and merit-based programs available, in addition to newer programs like mission grants and Kansas City Scholars (a regional partnership among higher education institutions) and the Kansas City-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation aimed at increasing the number of degree holders in the metropolitan area.

What makes the Hummel Family Scholarship unique is its design — it can plug gaps in existing financial aid and give qualified full-time students the opportunity to finish their degree when the costs of higher education might otherwise put that goal out of reach.

“We had a portfolio of existing scholarships and aid available that do a great job of getting students close to where they need to be,” said Ellis. “Approximately 99 percent of incoming Rockhurst students receive some kind of financial aid. But this gift from the Hummel family is going to serve as a catalyst to move in this direction of providing college for more students who are highly-qualified but have unmet financial needs.”

Photo by Rockhurst University
Photo by Rockhurst University

Jesuit colleges and universities have built a global reputation on offering a value-driven, service-oriented, and rigorous educational experience. But the Jesuit tradition of education is one founded on the idea that education is a form of ministry, something that should be available to as many people as possible. Opening that opportunity to more students is a way to move closer to that mission for the foreseeable future.

“Rockhurst University is extremely proud to be partnering with the Hummel family on this scholarship,” said Rockhurst President Rev. Thomas B. Curran, S.J. “This unprecedented gift will give generations of future students access to the life-changing opportunities that can come with a degree from a Jesuit institution.”

In the future, Ellis said that he sees the Hummel Scholars becoming a community of their own, the prestige of the award forging a unique connection among recipients. The hope, he said, is that as the number of Hummel Scholar alumni grows, so does their camaraderie and sense of identification as part of a prestigious group.

“I can’t wait to watch how they support each other and take leadership roles,” said Ellis. “I’m really excited to see how this goes as we expand at Rockhurst [and see] how the students transform campus and each other.”

By Angeline Boyer, Assistant Director of Media Relations, Saint Peter’s University

A Saint Peter's adult learner takes a study break in the Mac Mahon Student Center (photo by Saint Peter’s University)
A Saint Peter’s adult learner takes a study break in the Mac Mahon Student Center (photo by Saint Peter’s University)

“A sight to humble and inspire Saint Peter’s students may be seen on Tuesday and Thursday evenings here at the College. People of all ages from 18 to 74, from all walks of life, longshoreman and nun, steamfitter and actress, patrolman, butcher, undertaker, laborer, teacher… all flocking to Saint Peter’s Adult Education Courses.” 

This quote was taken from an article published in the Pauw Wow, the Saint Peter’s University student newspaper, on February 13, 1953. It references the then-College’s first Adult Education Program, which opened in January 1953 with 445 students enrolled.

The article goes on to say, “Numerous reasons were advanced as to why they were taking such courses…One man declared he was attending particularly as an example for his children. A young woman stated that she attended upon realization of how much there is to learn in comparison to what she knew, although she is considered well educated.”

Since its inception in 1953 (under the direction of Rev. Arthur Clarke, S.J.), the program has evolved into what is now the School of Professional and Continuing Studies (SPCS). The program has moved from offering two nights of classroom instruction to more than 100 classes at night and multiple courses online. But one thing that has not changed is the diversity of the students in the program and the reasons why they enrolled.

Today’s students in the program reflect the rich diversity of the University. Most are working, single parents ranging in age from 22 to 60, but the program has actually graduated students well into their 70s! They choose to further their education for a number of reasons including family, career and a passion for learning. According to Elizabeth Kane, dean of the SPCS, “My job is the most rewarding at the University because we are truly the school of second chances for adults who could not obtain a traditional degree.”

To Set an Example for My Family
The main reason why Ameerah Dunn ’17 enrolled in the SPCS program at Saint Peter’s was her children. As a single parent raising two sons, Dunn not only wanted to provide a better life for her boys, but also to help them understand the importance of education. She says, “I wanted my sons to know that they can set any goal in life and achieve it. I excelled in the SPCS program at Saint Peter’s because I was driven to exceed my expectations. My dedication and perseverance paid off because I was able to make the Dean’s List every year. Last week, one of my sons wrote me a letter telling me how proud he is of me not only because I achieved my goal, but because I showed him how I was able to balance family and education.”

Dunn graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in business management and a minor in criminal justice. While the program benefited her professionally, it made a personal impact on her as well. She says, “I waited until my senior year to take theology…I didn’t really want to take it but it was mandatory for graduation. In the course, I was given an assignment to write a paper on an inspirational teacher and I chose Mahatma Gandhi. One of his quotes that stood out to me was, ‘The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.’ I always thought I was a strong woman until I read that quote. It motivated me to reconnect with my aunt after many years. It was like a weight lifted off of my shoulders.”

To Advance My Career
When Barbara Armstrong ’09 came to Saint Peter’s in 2005 to pursue a degree in the SPCS public policy program, she was already working as a resource specialist for Easterseals, a nonprofit organization that provides opportunities for people of all ages and levels of ability to achieve their full potential. She worked with the Easterseals Senior Community Services Employment Program, which provides job training and employment opportunities for senior citizens. While she had a genuine passion for helping seniors in need, she sought to enhance and enrich her knowledge of the industry.

In 2009, Armstrong graduated from Saint Peter’s with a Bachelor’s degree. Not only did she increase her salary by nearly 50 percent (and later became director of her division), she learned the tools needed to make an impact in the communities that she serves. She says, “Saint Peter’s prepared me to help these seniors. My experience there changed my life dramatically. I always think of the SPCS program as the turning point in my career. I went from having a dream to making it my reality.”

To Feed My Passion for Learning
Donna Furina ’06, ’11 is not only a graduate of SPCS, but she currently serves as the assistant dean and advisor for the program. Furina was hired at Saint Peter’s in 2001 for a secretarial position and had a total of 27 college credits toward her Bachelor’s degree. She always loved school and desired to complete her degree, but needed an accommodating program that would work with her lifestyle as a full-time working mother of three children. She says, “The SPCS program offered me that flexible environment I needed to complete my degree. I loved the program and my professors.”

Furina graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2006 and went on to obtain her MBA at Saint Peter’s in 2011. The most valuable outcome from her experience in the program was that she was able to move out of secretarial jobs to administrative positions. Enrollment in the program not only helped Furina to advance her career, but it also provided her with a unique perspective for working with students in the program today. She says, “I can empathize with the students because I have been in their situation. I become very close to them and celebrate their milestones such as changing jobs or having babies. I always am very emotional around commencement because it is such a bittersweet time.”

Information and archived documents referenced in this article were provided by Saint Peter’s University archivist, Mary Kinahan-Ockay.

The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) sponsors over 30 conferences (affinity groups) within the AJCU Network. The conferences provide a forum for the exchange of ideas, information and best practices; support the professional development of their members; and present opportunities for AJCU representatives to discuss collaboration and challenges in Jesuit higher education.

Most of the AJCU conferences host meetings at least once a year, and many of them facilitate regular communication among members through listservs. The following conferences and affiliated Jesuit programs and events will be held this fall:

National Seminar on Jesuit Higher Education
September 15-16, 2017, Fairfield University
Contact: Rev. Patrick Howell, S.J., Seattle University
(206) 437-4537,

Education Deans Conference
September 27-29, 2017, Marquette University
President: Dr. Vincent Alfonso, Gonzaga University
(509) 313-3594,

Arts & Science Deans*
September 28-30, 2017, Marquette University
Chair: Dr. Richard Holz, Marquette University
(414) 288-7230,

Click here to register online.

Graduate School Deans*
September 28-30, 2017, Marquette University
Chair: Dr. Douglas Woods, Marquette University
(414) 288-3769,

Click here to register online.

*These conferences will be held in conjunction with each other.

AJCU Federal Relations Conference
October 3-4, 2017, Capitol Hill, Washington, DC
Contact: Cynthia Littlefield, AJCU
(202) 862-9893,

Jesuit Graduate Enrollment Professionals (JGAP)
October 5-6, 2017, Xavier University
President: Maureen Faux, Loyola University Maryland
(410) 617-5817,

Click here to register online.

Chief Academic Officers
October 5-7, 2017, Santa Clara University
Chair: Dr. Stephen Freedman, Fordham University
(718) 817-3043,

Jesuit Community Rectors (HEROs)
October 6-7, 2017, John Carroll University
Chair: Rev. Greg O’Meara, S.J., Creighton University
(402) 280-2776,

Human Resources Directors
October 10-13, 2017, Saint Joseph’s University

Co-Chair: Sharon Eisenmann, Saint Joseph’s University
(610) 660-3336,

Co-Chair: Cat Bock, Saint Joseph’s University
(610) 660-1287,

Click here to register online.

Deans of Adult & Continuing Education (DACE)
October 18-20, 2017, Seattle University
President: Dr. Rick Fehrenbacher, Seattle University
(206) 220-8269,

Click here to register online.

Business Deans
October 22-24, 2017, Fordham University
Chair: Dr. Donna Rapaccioli, Fordham University
(718) 817-4105,

Nursing Programs
October 28, 2017, J.W. Marriott, Washington, D.C.
[Held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing]
President: Terran Mathers, Spring Hill College
(251) 380-4490,

Mission & Identity
November 1-2, 2017, Fordham University
East Coast Rep: Rev. William Campbell, S.J., College of the Holy Cross
(508) 793-2446,

Jesuit Association of Student Personnel Administrators (JASPA)
November 1-3, 2017, Xavier University
President: Jeanne Rosenberger, Santa Clara University
(408) 554-4366,

International Education
November 8-10, 2017, Universidad Alberto Hurtado, Santiago, Chile
Chair: Debbie Danna, Loyola University New Orleans
(504) 864-7550,

Theology & Religious Studies Chairs
November 16-17, 2017, Boston College
Chair: Dr. J. Patrick Hornbeck II, Fordham University
(718) 817-3240,

This fall, many Jesuit alumni events will be taking place across the country. Below is a full list that will be updated over the next few months. Questions or suggestions? Please contact AJCU’s director of communications, Deanna Howes Spiro: or (202) 862-9893.

Thursday, October 12: Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C. Loyola Club Fall Luncheon with Rev. C. Kevin Gillespie, S.J. (pastor of Holy Trinity Church)
Click here to register online.

Friday, October 13: Detroit, MI
Jesuit Alumni and Friends of Detroit Fall Luncheon with Bro. Guy Consolmagno, S.J. (director of the Vatican Observatory)
Click here to register online.

Saturday, October 21 – Sunday, October 22: Multiple Cities
Jesuit Friends and Alumni Sunday Masses (sponsored by Maryland and USA Northeast Provinces)
Click here for more information.

Saturday, November 4 – Monday, November 6: Washington, D.C.
Ignatian Family Teach-In For Justice 2017 (sponsored by the Ignatian Solidarity Network)
Click here to register online.

Wednesday, September 20: Chicago, IL
How the Jesuits are Reinventing Education (Again): Breakfast at the City Club of Chicago with Rev. Stephen Katsouros, S.J., Dean and Executive Director of Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago
Click here to register online.

Saturday, September 23: San Francisco, CA
Friends of Ignatius: Dinner & Speaker Series with Rev. Greg Boyle, S.J. (founder of Homeboy Industries)
Click here to register online.

Tuesday, October 3 – Sunday, October 15: Multiple Cities
Lampedusa: Concerts for Refugees Tour (sponsored by Jesuit Refugee Service / USA)
Click here for more information.

Thursday, October 5: Cleveland, OH
Cleveland Loyola Club Luncheon with House Chaplain Rev. Patrick J. Conroy, S.J.
Click here to register online.