Graduating Greyhounds 2015: Mary Ellen Koontz

By Brigid Hamilton  |  Photo courtesy of Mary Koontz, '15

Spotlight on

Mary Ellen Koontz


York, Pennsylvania


Political Science

Campus involvement

Spring Break Outreach Site Leader, Chapel Choir, Rendezvous: Haiti Co-President, Catholic Relief Services Campus Ambassador, Loyola Voice Program, Soccer without Borders, and Refugee Youth Project

Plans after graduation

I’ll be moving to Washington, D.C., in August to resume my position with Church World Service as the Policy and Advocacy Fellow for the Immigration and Refugee Program.

In the meantime, I will be back in Pennsylvania, working and hanging out on my parent’s mini-farm (at least until the chickens start attacking me).

How I chose my path

I had always participated in community service growing up, but Loyola really opened my eyes to social justice, particularly in regard to refugees. The kids I work with at Soccer without Borders and Refugee Youth Project continue to inspire me every day. Participating and leading Spring Break Outreach has allowed me to learn about the world outside my typical experiences. I think it’s safe to say that the Center for Community Service and Justice has left me “ruined for life.”

Favorite Loyola memory

I can’t remember a time in my life that I wasn’t singing, so Chapel Choir has been a great outlet to do so the last four years. Despite starting the music in October, Lessons and Carols has become my favorite Loyola tradition that signifies the start of the Christmas season (and end of the fall semester!). This year was particularly special for me, as I soloed the French rendition of “Oh, Holy Night!” and a favorite carol of mine.

The professor who had the biggest impact on me and why

Professor Moira Lynch in the Political Science Department has had a huge influence on me. Her International Politics class was my first upper-level course in the department and really solidified my major. Since then, I’ve taken all the classes she offers and probably spent way too much time in her office.

It wasn’t until I handed in her Transitional Justice final and walked out of the classroom for the last time that graduating really hit me. Dr. Lynch has been a great mentor to me, as well as a role model as a researcher, professor and woman. Thanks for always asking the tough questions.

*Special shout out to Dr. Franz, whose Political Pathology of Terrorism class initially terrified me; and to Dr. Schmidt, who has provided endless insight. I should have listened to you more my first year.

My strong truth/how the Jesuit college experience shaped me

The last few months have made me realize just how important community is at Loyola.

My grandfather passed away from lung cancer the week of Relay for Life. Friends and faculty rallied around me and honored his life that weekend.

When Baltimore’s late April protests turned violent that Monday night, Loyola joined with the larger community to clean up, continue peaceful protesting, and participate in community service projects throughout the city.

The sense of community here runs deep, and I will greatly miss that upon leaving the Evergreen campus.

Shout outs to…

My parents, John and Linda. I couldn’t do half the things I do without the constant love and support of my parents, who will drive hours to see me sing for 10 minutes. They’re my backbone and always pushing me to “make it work.”

My roommates, Laura, Elaine, and Lauren, who all have to deal with my crazy schedule and neuroticisms on a daily basis. Any second I’m with my three roommates (and best friends), we’re laughing. Whether we’re talking about James Joyce, new immigration policies on the Hill, or psychology, we push each other to learn more and think outside the box. I’m going to miss cramming into Lauren’s room to talk about our lives, or spending all of Friday night eating popcorn and watching crappy TV when we promised ourselves to start working on papers hours ago.

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