‘No dream is too big,’ says Loyola grad, Miss Universe contestant

Photo from Loyola Alumni Twitter account.

Photo from Loyola Alumni Twitter account.

By Lauren Hames

As a young girl, Wendolly Esparza — as well as many other little girls — dreamed of being crowned the pageant queen in the Feria Nacional de San Marcos, an annual fair in her home state of Aguascalientes, Mexico.

This particular dream never became a reality, but instead was a stepping stone to a much larger goal. Though she didn’t win the fair’s pageant, her performance was still impressive enough to earn her a spot in two state and national pageants, both of which she won. Esparza, a 2013 Loyola graduate, will now compete in the Miss Universe pageant in January.

“I’ve learned that no dream is too big,” Esparza told the Loyola Student Dispatch. “I never would’ve thought I was going to represent Mexico in Miss Universe, but hard work, determination and a little bit of luck will take you places you once thought were impossible to reach.”

Esparza lived most of her life in north suburban Waukegan, Illinois. She majored in journalism, with minors in Spanish and Latin American literature. She decided to attend Loyola with the help of the Cristo Rey scholarship, and lived on campus all four years.

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Remembrances planned for Loyola student killed in robbery near campus

Plans are underway this weekend to honor the life of 23-year-old Loyola University Chicago student Mutahir Rauf, who was shot and killed in a robbery near the Lake Shore Campus Friday night.

In an email sent Saturday to the Loyola community, university officials condemned his killing as “a senseless act of violence, and one that has absolutely no place in a civil society.”

The 23-year-old from Pakistan was walking with his brother in the 1300 block of West Albion when an assailant pulled out a gun and demanded their money, according to Ald. Joe Moore’s post on EveryBlock and the Loyola Phoenix student newspaper.

Moore said the student mistakenly thought the gun was a toy and reached for it, and that it went off in the struggle. He was shot in the head and chest and pronounced dead at the scene.

Saturday’s email from university officials also described resources available to the Loyola community, and relayed plans to honor Rauf this weekend:

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Alderman: Loyola student killed in robbery near Rogers Park campus

A Loyola University Chicago student was shot and killed near the Lake Shore Campus Friday night during a robbery after mistakenly thinking the stickup gun was a toy and reaching for it, Ald. Joe Moore said, according to news website DNAinfo:

“Tragically, a Loyola Student from Pakistan was killed in an attempted robbery on the 1300 block of Albion this evening,” Moore wrote on EveryBlock. “He was walking with his brother when an unknown assailant pulled a gun and ordered them to turn over their money. The young victim allegedly believed the gun was a toy and reached for it. During the scuffle, the gun went off and the assailant fled. I’m afraid that is all the information I have at this point.”

Police said the man killed in the shooting was 23.

Read more at DNAinfo Chicago’s website.

Chicago Police spokesman Officer Thomas Sweeney told The Loyola Phoenix student newspaper that there was a “struggle for the weapon,” which resulted in the victim getting shot in the chest and head. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Vice President for Student Development Jane Neufeld also wrote to the Loyola community Friday evening. saying:
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Vic Mensa performs homecoming show at Metro

By Nikhil Sequeira

This past Friday, Metro hosted Chicago’s very own Vic Mensa who performed to a sold out crowd. Mensa, a hip-hop recording artist, performed four new songs which will only be released in his upcoming extended play “Streetlights” set to release in July next year.

As part of the hip-hop group SAVE MONEY, Mensa brought out fellow rappers to perform songs with him and after the show, he was kind enough to sign posters and meet with his fans for nearly two hours.

A mere 21-year-old, Vic Mensa caught the attention of Virgin EMI Records and signed with the record label in 2013. Not only is he an emerging artist on the hip-hop scene, but he also has his own clothing line.

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VIDEO: Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus filled with holiday decorations

By Nader Issa

Loyola University Chicago put its students into the holiday spirit last week with the addition of holiday decorations around the university’s Lake Shore Campus.

Tree lights, Christmas trees and red and green spotlights can be seen all around campus as part of Loyola’s preparation for the holiday season.

The campus’s biggest Christmas tree can be found in the Damen Student Center, which happens to be the most decorated part of the campus. Lights line all the trees that surround the student center and red and green lights can be seen shining on the building from across the campus.

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LUC students organize demonstration in support of Ferguson protesters

By Sydney Cross

Monday afternoon, a coalition of Loyola students organized a demonstration in support of the protests going on in Ferguson, Missouri.

Since a grand jury decided two weeks ago not to indict Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown, many citizens across the nation have been in an uproar.

To show their solidarity with the demands for the end of police brutality, the militarization of the police force and the long history of institutionalized racism, about 70 Loyola students gathered on the East Quad located in front of the Information Commons on Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus.

One student demonstrator explained why attending the protest was important to him:

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Rogers Park to host Chicago’s first Polar Palooza winter festival

1By Kathleen Luka

Chicago’s turning cold front is pushing Rogers Park community members indoors, making outdoor adventures and excursions less and less appealing. To combat the gloom of winter Loyola has paired up with Rogers Park Business Alliance, and Alderman Joe Moore of the 49th Ward to host the first ever Polar Palooza.

Loyola Plaza will transform into the winter wonderland Polar Palooza on Dec. 6 from noon to 10 p.m. and Dec. 7 from noon to 9 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to donate canned food in place of admission fees to support Edgewater’s Care for Real Food Pantry.

Live music, local food vendors and shopping will be rolling all weekend. Activities and attractions are available for all ages including synthetic ice skating, holiday movies at the 400 theater and a cocoa bar. Small holiday crafts, face painting, cookie decorating, and character meet-and-greets spread the holiday cheer and give everyone the opportunity to create a memento of the festivities.

The two day Polar Palooza is expected to attract hundreds of community members and organizers hopes it becomes an annual tradition in Rogers Park. For more information visit on Polar Palooza, visit LUC.edu/communityrelations.