How a Selfie Changed
My Life

A transformative moment with Fr. Jon Sobrino, S.J.

By Kelsey Cheng, Junior at Loyola University Chicago

As a college student, I’ve taken my fair share of selfies.

Most of the images — from dinner with my roommates to a relaxing afternoon at the beach — document small moments in time with my friends. But one selfie captured the most transformative experience of my life thus far — meeting Father Jon Sobrino, S.J.

Before coming to Loyola University Chicago, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you who Father Sobrino was or why his telling of “la verdad” would serve as a constant source of inspiration to be a person with others.

In fact, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you who Father Sobrino was after I’d spent a year at Loyola. I wrote an essay for my Introduction to Christianity class about liberation theology, and don’t think I mentioned him once. To this day, I’m scared to look back at that paper and see how my unknowing-self tried exploring liberation theology. (I’m also sorry my professor had to read it.)

By last November, however, you couldn’t get me to stop talking about Father Sobrino, who was a featured guest during Loyola’s Ignatian Heritage Month. You also couldn’t get me to stop talking about my time at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice, the upcoming Alternative Break Immersion trip, my plans to study abroad in El Salvador, and the Christian Life Community I hoped to join.

My first semester of college was not kind on my GPA. I was a biology major because I thought that was “practical.” What I inherently learned at the end of the semester was my passion could become practical when it fills me with joy.

So I decided to get a degree in something I loved — fine arts. I began studying visual communications and developed a deeper understanding of design principles, a connection to human nature, and a love for pantone colors.

But that didn’t work out either.

This go-around, I changed my major because I saw my potential to connect with people through conversations and stories, not graphic design. The Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice, a three-day conference hosted by the Ignatian Solidarity Network in Washington, DC, introduced me to the concepts of consolations and desolations, pushing me beyond my comfort zone with faith. The conference also helped me understand the impact my Jesuit education unknowingly had on me — and led me to discover my passion for connecting with people in a creative manner.

I’m currently studying advertising and public relations with minors in Latin American studies and studio art. I can attribute the discovery of the disciplines I’m studying to the Jesuit education I am receiving.

We all have a story to tell, a story to be heard, and a story that is not yet finished, but my aspirations of a career in public relations give me the potential to do all of the above.

This fall, I will be leading a Christian Life Community on campus, and in the spring, I will be studying abroad in El Salvador. These two things, among many other co-curricular involvements, are key moments in my Loyola experience.

While the selfie with Father Sobrino is a fun way to showcase a transformative moment, it truly is the time when I appreciated the value of a Jesuit education. And for this, I am eternally and unbelievably blessed.

Kelsey Cheng is a junior at Loyola University Chicago.

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