We encourage you to browse these student reflections, centered around the 2014-15 theme of Cura Personalis - Care for the Whole Person.
Ben Franco, '18, is majoring in medical physics. Originally from Manila, Philippines, he has lived in Kansas City for about 7 years. Ben is involved in VOICES for Justice and is thinking about starting a club on cultural narratives and perspectives. He loves playing the guitar, writing poetry and stories, and cooking!
Perhaps the purest essence of human existence is our relationships with what surround us; our essence is the sum of our interactions with those that are intangible and tangible, the quantifiable and unquantifiable, in the world. To be human is to experience that which is around you, and affect it or be affected by it. As human beings, it is vital that we strive for positivity and helping and improving others.
This aforementioned strive contains Cura Personalis: the care for the entire person. This "care" does not only encompass things such as eating and sleeping properly, but also includes enjoying little simplicities: the smile that a beautiful woman or handsome man gave you, or the brief handshake that you greet friends with, or the even the first moment of awareness that you feel whenever you wake up. Cherish the little things.
While it is important to maintain and care for oneself, it is equally important to show the same mindset towards others. How we interact with others is the core of our existence; we are social creatures, only able to flourish with connections as deep as our souls allow. It is crucial to always help others, as it not only helps the person, but also oneself through self-reflection and discovery, and the fulfillment of essence.
However, it is necessary that we experience negativity, sadness, grief, heartache, and woe, for it is inevitable in our lives. Negativity can manifest from as little as being late to your 8 AM class, to breaking up with who you thought was your other half, to as significant as losing a loved one. But, experiencing negativity lies the beauty of being. These experiences allow us to discover and gain insight on the deepest corners of ourselves and our existence. It gives us the most important evolutionary ability that transcends time: to adapt.
Smile a little; cry a little; laugh a little. Breathe in the fresh air and marvel at its simplicity. But most of all, see the beauty in everything. See the beauty both in the day, as the Sun rises to brighten and warm the world, and in the cold darkness of the night as the Moon stares at us. See the beauty, and I promise you; the world will look a little more lively.
Molly McCune, '15, is from St. Louis and her majors are communication sciences and disorders and psychology. She is a member of ASA and participated in a service trip to the Dominican Replublic last spring.
It is safe to say that technology is here to stay. It is not going away, and it is not regressing. Technological advances have a positive impact on many aspects of our lives, one of the most prominent in our day-to-day lives being social. From high school to college and now soon to the next chapter of my life, technology allows me to stay in touch with people who are a thousand miles away as if they were right next to me. It is a beautiful, simple, and quick way to stay connected with people who are not currently nearby. However, when this becomes a hindrance is when we forget to be present in the current moment in our lives. To combat this, when I am with people, as much as I can, I put my phone away so I can be present with my current company. This simple act helps shape my idea of Cura Personalis by living with intention, more fully, and truly being present at where I am in the present moment, because I know that it is exactly where God wants me to be.
Thomas Spaedy, '18, is thinking of majoring in accounting and economics. He lives with his family on ten acres in Spring Hill, Kansas, with a horse, a dog, and exactly nineteen chickens. Thomas counts a mission trip to Peru last summer as one of his most enjoyable life experiences to date.
Just a few weeks ago, I was privileged to be part of the March for Life in Washington D.C. for the first time as part of Students for Life here on campus. I see the March for Life as an excellent avenue to express the value of Cura Personalis for it proclaims the inherit human dignity of all persons. Not only did the students from Rockhurst show their support for the unborn, but we were united with 750,000 others, many of whom were college students, for the same reason.
I think one important aspect of Cura Personalis that became clear to me on this trip was the importance of getting in those basic human needs: eating, sleeping, and showering. Truth be told, after twenty hours on a bus, it was readily apparent that showering is pretty essential. It reminded me not to take these blessings of daily life for granted.
When we are discontent with our life, I think it is vital that we step back and look at just how much very much we have been given by God, especially in the small things.
As St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, "For as with the human body which is a unity although it has many parts -- all the parts of the body, though many, still making up one single body -- so it is with Christ. We were baptised into one body in a single Spirit, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as free men, and we were all given the same Spirit to drink." Just as we are called to improve the aspects of our lives, we are also obligated to concern ourselves with the well-being of our brothers and sisters.
This is of course, much more difficult to carry out in practice. We are often too caught up in our own daily struggles and suffering to even comprehend that a friend or acquaintance may be fighting their own harsh battle. Our own issues always seem to take precedent over the problems of anyone else. We become so consumed with our own anxieties that we simply look past the others who are struggling to stay afloat in their own tumultuous waters.
This world is tough on everyone. We have all been weak from time to time. We all fail at some point. When this happens, we find ourselves overwhelmed, even drowning in our fear and anxiety. It is at this point where we need the care of others. No one person can be strong indefinitely. This week, take some time to reflect on friends and family and the trials they may find themselves going through. Allow yourself to attend to the needs of the ones you love as well as your own. As you will be strong for them, they will in turn, be strong for you.
Brianna Kelly, '17, a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan, having lived in St. Louis her whole life. She is a sophomore psychology/pre-occupational therapy major and has loved her first year as an RA in McGee Hall. Brianna has also enjoyed being a biology I SI and participating in clubs like VOICES for Justice and choir. She really loves to sing, play the piano and go hiking as much as possible.
At the end of every day, I reflect on my actions towards others that day. Some of the things I think about are what I did wrong, what I did right, and if I had really thought about God's plan for me that day. Did I do things that pleased God or did I do things that made me look better in the light of society or those things that didn't inconvenience me?
One lesson that has really stuck out to me this year, because of the Cura Personalis value, has been that while I need to take care of myself in every aspect of my life, I also need to make sure I am doing so for others. When I carry out an action, am I thinking of how it will help others or am I thinking about how I will be affected? By taking care of a person's whole self and authentically caring for exactly who the person is meant to be, we are in turn taking care of ourselves completely.
The Cura Personalis reminders around campus are beautiful cues to care of ourselves fully, but also to care authentically for our friends, family, classmates, faculty, staff, etc. in our daily lives.
John Randall, '16, is from St. Louis, Missouri. His majors are economics and accounting. In addition to academics, John also thoroughly enjoys playing basketball, golf, adventures and especially food. A few organizations with which he is involved include the Student Ambassadors, Pi Kappa Alpha, Student Senate and "best of all" the Frosh-Get-Away Retreat. One interesting fact about John is that he can rap just about any Eminem song out there. (Feel free to see if he is up for the challenge!)
Prompt: What aspects of being human are delightful to you? What aspects can be burdensome?
Humanity: the quality of being human. The ability to feel.
Imagine for a moment you have everything you ever could dream of? Your wants become nonexistent, and life is ideal in every sense. Sounds appealing perhaps, not having any imperfections; yet, with this comes a cost. Where are the dreams to chase, the adventures to explore, the goals to achieve? We envision lives where no cares exist, no worries are had, and each day is more wonderful than the previous. We seek to make our worlds ideal, without such flaws. We detest change, and fall into routine. This truth, heartbreaking in itself, is the burden of a generation.
These dreams, adventures, and goals make us human. Embracing our imperfections allows us to embark on the most important endeavor: self-discovery. A perfect world means there would be no challenge, no heartache, no tears, and no pain.
But this is the paradox of humanity: we are both titans and dwarves at the same time. To be strong, yet vulnerable is to be human. The challenges we face today, the heartaches, the injuries, the pain, give us insight into our own humanity, into ourselves. To be human is to feel, whether that be happiness, elation, sadness, fury, trust, weakness, or strength. Taking risks, rolling the dice, enjoying a meal, admiring the little things: this is humanity.
I invite you to simply look around, wherever you are right now and take it all in. You are here, in the now. Isn't it incredible? This life is a phenomenal thing - all of the pride, the pain, and the passion that comes with it. Life is beautiful, and never forget that.
For college students I believe that Cura Personalis is one of the more difficult core values to nurture. From the moment we arrive on campus we are thrown into a world of new friends, involvement, schooling and work. Balancing all of these and staying sane can prove to be pretty difficult.
As I entered into my sophomore year of college, I found myself extremely overwhelmed by all of the commitments I had made. I quickly learned that I was spread way too thin and, in order to enjoy many of the smaller moments that I was missing out on, I needed to simplify my life. I thought about the things that I truly cared about and where it was important that I invest my time. I made the time that I spent during the day very intentional. I've learned that finding what you care about in college and letting that fill your days can be one of the most exhilarating things as long as we are able to find balance.
Caring for the whole person can always be a challenge. There is never enough time in the day to really focus on all of the things we would like. Finding the things that we love and that make us grow and thrive will help us realize how we want to spend our time. In the words of Fr. Pedro Arrupe "what you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything."
Emily DeVore, '15, transferred to Rockhurst in fall 2013 from Hutchinson Community College. She is from Lyons, Kansas, and will graduate in May with a degree in biology. Her involvement on campus includes being an officer for Rockhurst Transformation Alliance, Service-Immersion trips and service opportunities.
As I consider, for my life, what it means to implement Cura Personalis, I found it is deeply about balance. How does one balance the joys and sorrows of life? The delights and burdens?
I wrote a list (well, two lists), one of life's delights and one of burdens. It started a bit shallow - I love snow but hate cold - that sort of thing. But then I found that often the burden was the means to the delight. I hate to study but love learning; nonetheless, without the studying I would never get to the learning. What's more, I found that sometimes the delight and the burden were the same. I find both delight and burden in the act of seeking peace; there is delight in the feeling of peace but there is burden in finding it daily. Perhaps if there were no burdens, I would never find my delight.
There is a great need for balance of delights and burdens. I believe that through Cura Personalis one works to achieve balance. When I care for my mind and soul I keep life in balance. To balance my burdens and delights is caring for myself.
Simon Clark, '15, is a native of St. Louis and and pursuing a degree in mechanical rngineering. He is a member of Alpha Delta Gamma who enjoys running, cooking and computer-programming. Simon has four siblings: one brother and three sisters.
One of the most common questions I get from people when asked about the Rockhurst/UMKC joint engineering program is:"Why didn't you just go to UMKC?"
It's certainly a reasonable question. I could have saved a lot of time and effort if I decided to take all my classes at UMKC. In addition, I wouldn't have had to take any Theology or philosophy classes. Sure, I could have taken my education elsewhere. I could devoted my college experience solely to difficult math problems and designing complex machines, but given the choice again and knowing what I know now, I wouldn't trade my Jesuit education for anything.
By the time an engineer graduates from the joint-program only 71 of the required 140 hours are completed from Rockhurst. That's barely over 50%. In addition, the required 140 hours is approximately 25 more than what is required to graduate from a state school. That means that a measly 25 credits separate me from KU or Mizzou engineer. But it's the extra 25 hours that make me incredibly thankful that I chose Rockhurst. Philosophy and theology made me think. They were the classes that allowed me to grow in ways which for so many years I remained stagnant. It was because of these classes that I was able to develop a part of my mind that was not used often. This problem-solving, number-crunching, engineering-oriented brain of mine branched out and tackled other important questions like, "Why am I here?", "What does God want from me?" and "How do I become the best I can be?".
Rachel Franklin, '16, is an economics major from Overland Park, Kansas. She participates in Rockhurst Unity and assists with organizing the Yom HaShoah memorial service. Rachel practices Reform Judaism.
In spring 2012, I was cured of severe chronic illness that had stopped my life and caused me to miss two years of education. My high school told me it would take three years to graduate, and without needed accommodations. The counselor recommended I drop out, take the GED, and enter college.
I toured campuses late in April, with no GPA and no accomplishments. Some area colleges treated me like a nobody. They were the same as medical professionals that had rejected me when I didn't have a diagnosis. I worried that if I became sick again, these schools wouldn't care enough to help me.
At Rockhurst, my admissions counselor, having herself dealt with similar health issues, fought for my case. She explained that because of Cura Personalis, the university saw me as a person, not a statistic. I knew Rockhurst was where I needed to be.
Now, though I've been healthy for years, I still appreciate the emphasis here on looking at individual challenges in service. To develop Cura Personalis myself, I study healthcare economics so I can help fix the American healthcare system. I'll always be grateful for the chance Rockhurst took on an unconventional student.
Maggie Bernard, '17, will graduate in May with a degree in secondary education and Spanish. She is a member of the Education Honors Society, CLC and choir. She especially wants to thank the other volunteers and Fr. Rafael-without their efforts the experience would not have been the same.
This semester, I had the opportunity to spend every Sunday in September and October teaching catechism to a community of migrant farmworkers in Lafayette County with an awesome group of volunteers from Rockhurst and St. Francis Xavier. Just as we served the community, I whole-heartedly believe that they served and taught us too. As I look back on this time, I am beset by images of caring.
I see volunteers playing basketball with the kids, sometimes letting them win, sometimes egging them into improving. There's a joyful Mass in a cafeteria, and many people grateful for its existence. A student responds to the question "why do we do this?" with the most beautiful answer, "because it makes us happy." A man sweeps up the floor without being asked, simply seeking to help. Lunch is donated by SFX parishioners, and families bring bushels of apples to share with the volunteers. I, and other teachers, struggle to adapt to the knowledge of our students. A sick baby falls asleep in my arms during class. Teachers joke with children during lunch, teasing them, developing a connection. A child and I light a candle as a prayer of thanks at the Sacrament Mass. A picture of pure joy is captured as a child is baptized.
These images roll through my head as I look back at this service opportunity. Difficulties existed. My students knew less about their faith than I assumed. Class discussion was hard to develop. Sometimes the kids refused to settle down. However, as I think back, the joy far outweighs. In seeking to serve the mind, body, and spirit of this community, we allowed them to serve us in return.
When I first came to Rockhurst last fall as a freshman, I had many questions and uncertainties. Living on your own for the first time is a huge responsibility. Fortunately, I was blessed with many great friends that helped me make the transition. At Rockhurst, my friends have ignited in me a new flame of faith. Whether it's in mass, the cafeteria or the classroom I am inspired to live a faith-filled life as Christ lived. Being around these great people makes me want to be the best person that I can be.
Oftentimes in our society being alone is viewed as a sign of loneliness. However, I have found that spending some quiet time with God every day is a great way to allow the Spirit to be present in all that I do. By trying to be everything God created me to be, it is now easier to try and help others do the same. When a friend is having a tough day or needs help, I try to help them stay positive and reiterate that it is all a part of God's great plan for us.
Shelby Kenkel, '17, is from Joplin, Missouri, who is majoring in elementary education and Spanish. She is involved in Gamma Phi Beta, her CLC and Campus Ministry and finds pleasure in reading books while relaxing under the sunshine.
Recently, I was blessed with the opportunity to participate in the Disaster Relief Service Project. Thirty students and three staff members traveled to my hometown of Joplin, Missouri, to help with the rebuilding of a house which was damaged by the tornado that ripped through Joplin in 2011.
When preparing for this project, I expected to see a group of Rockhurst students and staff showing care for the family living in the home through our labor and our prayer. While this definitely did happen, I experienced so much more. Not only did the group demonstrate Cura Personalis in their care for the family, they showed it for each other as well. I experienced Cura Personalis through people who took time to teach me new skills that I wanted to learn, through sharing things about myself and listening to things about other people during prayer and reflection, and simply through meeting new people and forming bonds.
Through this experience, I have realized that Cura Personalis can be present in any interaction that I have with someone. By simply being more aware of the ways that I can care for every aspect of a person, I can improve the ways that I engage in Cura Personalis.
I am a perfectionist and a worrier, so naturally as a freshman pre-med student schoolwork has encompassed my semester thus far. I felt like I was caring for myself; I was studying and keeping up with school, yet I didn't realize that I was lacking Cura Personalis and the effects it could have on my life.
Recently I have found myself letting go more, laughing more, and really enjoying Rockhurst more. After reflecting on what changes I had made, I believe it has come from my emphasis on simply doing. I am not worrying about timing and planning; I am letting God's plan fall into place. Trusting and doing have allowed me to care for more aspects of me than just academics. Finding how Cura Personalis can shape my life, by letting go and trusting God, has given me a freedom to live and share my smile with others.
Andrew Ellwanger, '16, is from Magnolia, Texas, studying finance and accounting. He is a member of both the basketball and baseball team here at Rockhurst. He is also involved with SAAC, RAKERS and Campus Ministry.
Technology can be an amazing tool. However, I have found that many times all of our technological gadgets can hinder us from expressing care for others. When I look around while eating lunch all I see are cell phones. Instead of enjoying the fellowship of the people around them everyone is occupied by the technology in their hands. How are we supposed to be present to ourselves and, importantly, to the world around us if we do not look up? When I walk to class or back to the res hall everyone is buried in their social media. Please look up! Just a simple smile or "hello" can make someone's day. Show that you care more about the world around you than the social media and the technology at your fingertips. Most of us have grown up in a generation of technology and it will be hard to put it down. But just think of how much more fully and freely we could live if we lifted our heads! Think of how much more authentic we could be with our family, friends, teammates, and God! I challenge you to just LOOK UP!!!
Augusta Thacker, '18, is from Omaha, Neb., and her major is Nonprofit Leadership. She has been trampled by a horse but has never broken a bone.
There was a time in my life when I lived and breathed and dreamed horseback riding. By the time I was in the fifth grade, I was acting as a volunteer counselor at a summer camp, and for the first time in my life I had to care for other people. I had to worry about the happiness and the safety of others. But, I found interacting with two campers in particular especially challenging.
Cerebral Palsy had left both Alex and Sara wheelchair-bound. I had never been exposed to disabilities before, and I was petrified of doing or saying the wrong thing. I was struck by the fact that Sara and I were the same age. I looked at her and thought, "That could have been me."
Life had dealt us very different hands, and I felt blessed to have gotten the life that I did. But while I became hyper-aware of the differences between myself and Sara, I also became aware of our sameness. We both equally deserved to have the life that we wanted. Nothing about me made me superior to her, despite my ability to walk.
The final day of camp the campers were split into teams and each team was given a horse to paint. The Painted Pony Contest (where everyone was a winner) was my favorite day. If you have never seen a parade of horses painted with rainbow stripes you are missing out. That day I realized that joy looks the same on everyone.
Andrea Heinemann, '17, is a nursing and Spanish student from St. Louis, Mo. She is a Frosh Get-A-Way leader and part of Mission and Ministry committee. Andrea received third team all-conference last year for Rockhurst’s first women’s lacrosse season. This summer, she was a Lifeteen missionary in Haiti for 3 months!
Mother Teresa, my role model, once said “Intense love does not measure, it just gives.” This past summer I spent living in Haiti as a missionary. I was constantly giving of myself to Haitian kids, teens, prisoners and the poor. We carried rice up mountains to feed the locals and hosted many bible studies. I gave and gave and gave. I wanted to give these Haitians the best version of myself, but I realized I couldn’t until I had become the best version of myself. In order to give of myself, I had to give to myself first. For me, that meant quiet alone time to process my thoughts. It meant running on the beach to rejuvenate. I had to fill myself up before I could empty myself with the intense love I desired to give to the Haitians. By Cura Personalis and giving to myself, I was able to give back to others in the way I desired. I couldn’t give of myself if I had nothing left. Thanks to caring for myself with the quiet time and workout I desired, I allowed myself to be the best missionary in Haiti I could be.
Lauren Pennell, '16, is from St. Louis, Mo. She is majoring in mass communication and English and minoring in theology. Lauren is very involved on campus; she is co-captain of the dance team, vice president of the English club, secretary for Theta Phi Alpha, steering committee member of social mentors, general member of Alpha Phi Omega, Alpha Sigma Nu, honors program, and her Christian Life Community (CLC).
College is such a unique environment. This is the place where we grow in every single way: gain a higher education, make and strengthen bonds of friendship, discover reality, become independent, appreciate and develop our faith, form our own opinions and ideas, learn about ourselves.
But college provides such a large variety of opportunities that it can become overwhelming. It is easy to get so caught up in one thing that something else gets lost in the shuffle. Whether it’s foregoing church because it was a late night the Saturday before or losing track of valuable friendships because homework has taken on a life of its own, there always seems to be something that gets neglected as we try to do everything at once.
It is at times like these that we lose our grip on the value of Cura Personalis. Our personal values make up who we are and if we lose track of one or another, we fail to love and honor ourselves to the fullest extent. We must all strive to find balance in our lives so that we can take care of the things that matter most while still taking care of ourselves. If your friends, family, relationship with God and education are of utmost importance to you, my hope is that you’re able to give each the necessary attention, for cultivating those meaningful aspects of your life allows you to truly care for the whole person.
Janak Patel, '15, is a pre-med, a biochemistry major who will be attending medical school at KCUMB in the upcoming year. Janak is currently a Resident Assistant in the THV’s. A random fact about him is that he has his motorcycle license.
The previous year was the first time I had taken on a leadership role as extensive as being a Resident Assistant. I thought I knew what it meant to display Cura Personalis, but over the course of the year I was able to discover what “Caring for the whole person” really entails. As a part of my role as an RA, I was always making sure my residents were taking care of themselves physically, mentally and spiritually. This sometimes included making referrals to various departments on campus. In my mind, I knew they were being taking care of, yet who was taking care of me? I took a look back and realized that I had been in contact with multiple departments and individuals from Campus Ministry, Career Services, the Learning Center, and even Lionel who works in Corcoran. They all had one thing in common; they were there to make sure I was on the right path, succeeding and making sure I was taken care of. Cura Personalis is all around us and sometimes we forget where to find it, but at Rockhurst it is the fabric of who we are. I would like to finish off by adding a quote from the movie 2012. “The moment we stop fighting for each other, that’s the moment we lose our humanity.” Cura Personalis is just that, it is recognizing our shared humanity and, in turn, caring for each other and ourselves.
Katarina Waller, '16, is from Independence, Mo., and is double-majoring in English and secondary education. She came to Rockhurst halfway through her freshman year when she transferred from the University of Missouri in Columbia and has a mildly entertaining transfer story that she’d love to tell you if you ever wanted to ask. Since flying into the Nest, she has been a Retreat on the Rock leader, held two executive board positions in Theta Phi Alpha, become a writing tutor, as well as getting involved with other organizations.
Spring semester of last year, I discovered what my limitations were. Throughout the year, I had been piling extracurriculars onto my schedule and, by the end of the year, found myself struggling to find passion for the things I had joined. I found myself questioning what I was really passionate about instead of joining because it looked good.
During the last half of the semester, I realized that I was trying to take care of everything and everyone except myself. This wasn’t healthy for anyone. So I started focusing on the people and the organizations that I was most passionate about and that would also help me grow and feel fulfilled as a person. This is what Cura Personalis is about.
Here at Rockhurst, we are always challenged to live out our core values, including Magis where we are asked to give more. But it is impossible to keep giving more if we do not take care of ourselves. Experiencing growth and living fully does not always mean taking on more, but can instead mean admitting that you have limitations--and that’s okay. Sometimes taking care of yourself and others means stepping back and being gentle with yourself.
Helen Schultz, '15, is from St. Louis, Mo., majoring in elementary education and theology and minoring in Spanish. She is involved as an Orientation Coordinator, pianist in the Contemporary Music Ensemble, ASA sister and CLC member. She enjoys reading in her hammock, and the highlight of her summer was receiving a marriage proposal from a six-year-old boy.
Life is all about balance. Take the seasons for example. Summer is a time of relaxation, sunshine, swimming, and warmth, whereas winter has different things to offer: sledding, hot chocolate by the fire, Christmas. Likewise, my time at Rockhurst is filled with balance, as I juggle schoolwork, co-curriculars, work, prayer and sleep. I shouldn’t blow off school to go out every night with friends, but I don’t want to spend all my time studying in the library either. I love to eat pizza, ice cream and, my personal favorite, macaroni and cheese, but I also need to eat a colorful plate of wholesome food to nourish me. When my life gets off balance and one area takes precedence over others, I feel stressed and anxious. To maintain stability, I search for balance everyday as I work, play, rest and pray. Finding harmony in all areas of life is how I see and practice Cura Personalis. By caring for my whole person, I discover how to live more fully and freely as God intended.