2014-15

We encourage you to browse these student reflections, centered around the 2014-15 theme of Cura Personalis - Care for the Whole Person.
Simon Clark
Rachel Franklin

Maggie Bernard
Grant Otte
Shelby Kenkel
Abby Bergman
Andrew Ellwanger
Augusta Thacker
Andrea Heinemann
Lauren Pennell
Janak Patel

Katarina Waller 
Helen Schultz

Reflections

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.


Grant Otte, '17, is from Des Moines, Iowa, majoring in chemistry.  He is a member of the Rockhurst baseball team and VOICES for Justice.

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.


Abby Bergman, '18, is a pre-med student from St. Louis, Mo. She is a CLC leader, a Rockstar, a member of Student Senate and she finds happiness in puppies.  

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.