2014: Going, going, almost gone

Reflecting on a year with Loyola magazine

By Brigid Hamilton

Why is it that when the month of December rolls around, the passage of time seems surreal?

As we unpack familiar Christmas ornaments and trim the tree, as we update our Christmas card list with friends’ addresses and hunt for family cookie recipes that we still haven’t committed to memory, so often we stop during this time of year and think, ‘Wow, the past 12 months have come and gone in the blink of an eye.’

This happens every year.

But I have to tell you that this year in particular has flown by.

My first day at Loyola University Maryland was a freezing cold day in December 2013. I met some of my future colleagues and was welcomed with a Christmas ornament (now on my tree at home) and a candy cane pen (sitting in the mug on my desk as I type).

The first article I wrote for Loyola magazine was published on January 6.

That all seems like it was years ago.

And maybe if I share with you a snapshot of some of the highlights of last 12 months, you’ll understand why…

January brought Baltimore snow, freezing rain, and more snow. It was the perfect time to get myself up to speed with all that had been going on at Loyola University Maryland since I had last been acquainted.

The Brian F. Linnane, S.J., Alumni House (above) opened its doors, and I got a first look at the beautifully restored house on Cold Spring Lane that serves as a gathering place for alumni and a location for alumni events. It also houses the offices of alumni relations, advancement events, and donor relations.

In February Loyola named a new vice president of academic affairs. Amy Wolfson, Ph.D., who came to Loyola from the College of the Holy Cross, assumed her role in July.

Loyola celebrated the one-year anniversary of the installation of Pope Francis in March, with the “Pope’s” tour around campusCardinal Seán O’Malley, OFM Cap., visited the Evergreen campus to lead a panel discussion on “The Francis Factor” featuring Rev. Thomas Rosica, Helen Alvaré, Rev. Matthew Malone, S.J., and Kerry Robinson.

In April, I had the pleasure of speaking with Miss America Nina Davuluri before her keynote lecture for Asian and Pacific Islander Awareness Month. (A key takeaway from our interview: Never go to bed still wearing makeup.)

And I saw my first issue of Loyola magazine go to press, wherein we celebrated the University’s Bright Minds, Bold Hearts campaign and all the Bright Minds and Bold Hearts that make up the stories within it—and the Loyola community.

May was busy. As the spring semester came to a close, the Greyhounds brought home three Patriot League Championship trophies (men and women’s lacrosse and golf), a triumphant and remarkable finish to the University’s first year in the conference.

Loyola celebrated the 162nd Commencement Exercises on May 17—the same day as the Preakness Stakes (more on that here)—with an address delivered by Mark K. Shriver, senior vice president for strategic initiatives and senior advisor to the CEO of Save the Children. I shook his hand as I told him that my father too was also a Holy Cross alumnus (I was nervous!) before he took the stage.

Our magazine staff had the distinct privilege of speaking to several members of the graduating class before they received their diplomas about their experiences at Loyola, their hopes and plans for the future, and what their Jesuit education has meant to them.

My last name changed in June after I married a fellow Loyola graduate on May 31 in the Alumni Memorial Chapel.

Also in June, Loyola was designated an accredited arboretum by the Morton Register of Arboreta for the University’s dedication to nurturing and preserving dozens of tree species on the Evergreen campus.

July in Baltimore is hot. Many days consisted of writing and research for stories in my air-conditioned Timonium office. Several days consisted of sipping an iced coffee from the Starbucks in the Andrew White Student Center as I listened to Loyola’s Hauber Fellows present research they were conducting for 10 weeks alongside faculty from the department of natural and applied sciences.

I’ll admit I did not know many of the terms the students used to describe their research (have I mentioned that I was an English major?); but I am always impressed at the passion for and commitment to spending their summer vacation in a lab, working together through high-level scientific theory.

In August I watched this amazing mural project by the York Road Initiative, the local community, and artist Iandry Randriamandroso take shape with birds of different species popping up on the sides of local businesses along York Road, including Loyola’s own Safety and Transportation building. The project was completed in October.

With September came the start of the fall semester and the return of students to the Evergreen campus.

Loyola received news that it would receive a $3.2 million gift from an anonymous donor to build a state-of-the-art, 8-court tennis facility at Ridley Athletic Complex, named in honor of Head Coach Rick McClure and scheduled to open this coming spring.

There were many, many memorable moments in October, but my top two were carving these and meeting Piper Kerman of Orange is the New Black fame and having her sign my copy of her book.

November was, as it always is, a month to be grateful. Campus Ministry asked members of the community to recognize those who they are thankful for and shared them via a campaign aptly named #Gratitude.

To help us prepare for the coveted meal, Teddy Mosher, 16, one of our fantastic student bloggers, challenged us to rank and debate the food that comprises the traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Loyola’s A Hound’s Life blog.

Oh, and we published another issue of Loyola magazine (my second!), which features inspiring stories from alumni and faculty members who have overcome adversity or helped others overcome it, and sometimes even sought it out.

If you haven’t already read your copy cover to cover, I encourage you to read more about some of the incredible people who we had the pleasure of interviewing for this issue online (here, here, here, here, and more here).

This month started with a bang when I returned to my desk after Thanksgiving weekend on December 1.

Our #ChristmasatLoyola website has been getting everybody in the holiday spirit (join us as we count down to Christmas!). Students are in the midst of final exams, but that hasn’t stopped them from decorating residence halls and celebrating Christmas on campus with various bake sales and service projects and Loyola’s annual Lessons and Carols and Chordbusters events.

Last week the magazine staff took a trip to the North Pole to hand deliver the latest issue to Santa.

We caught up a bit, and he asked me to deliver a message (and he says you know who you are): Please don’t forget the milk with the cookies this year. It’s important to hydrate during the all-night delivery process.

As I wind down my first year as a Loyola employee, I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to you, our readers, whose willingness to read, share, and give feedback make my job possible; to my colleagues, a group of extremely talented people who work every day to further Loyola’s mission—and who make our office a fun place to work, create, and learn; and to my husband, whose encouragement, support, and wonderful listening skills have helped me transition to this role and be a better writer and woman for others.

Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year.

I look forward to all that 2015 has in store!

P.S. In case you missed them, we’ve compiled a list of the hottest stories of 2014 accordingly to you, our readers.

P.P.S. Take our home survey! It’s fun. It will take about five minutes. And it will provide an intermission from the last-minute holiday shopping you’re doing online at work right now.

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