Sr. Norma Pimentel shared reflections on her work at the U.S.-Mexico border as the executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley during the 2016 Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice hosted by Ignatian Solidarity Network in Washington, D.C.

BY ISN STAFF | September 29, 2017

On Tuesday, September 5, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration would end the DACA program within six months.

The Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University Chicago has been on the forefront of support, admission, and matriculation of DACA medical students, and in 2014 became the first medical school in the U.S. to admit DACA recipients, welcoming seven students with this status into the class of 2018.

In a sign of solidarity with their peers who are DACA recipients, numerous current Stritch School of Medicine student organizations published a public letter in support of Loyola University Chicago’s commitment to accepting undocumented students.

Students at Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine show their support for the Dream Act of 2017, legislation that would provide conditional residency and a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, including over 30 students studying medicine at Stritch.

“It is inspiring as an educator at Loyola to see how the Ignatian ethos resonates with the students, “ said Mark G. Kuczewski, professor of Medical Ethics, chair of the Department of Medical Education, and director of the Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics & Health Policy at Loyola University Chicago. “They genuinely seem to find God in each other and naturally reach out in solidarity with those threatened by marginalization.”

Letter from Stritch School of Medicine Student Organization Leaders:

The Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine was the first medical school to openly welcome undocumented immigrants with DACA status to apply and matriculate as students. The recent removal of DACA threatens the future of our 32 colleagues (the most of any medical school in the United States) who have already invested so much in their efforts to improve the health of our country. They have overcome immense barriers, and competed on a level playing field to be members of our academic community. We find it necessary as student leaders to call for support of the bipartisan Dream Act, which would ensure protection of the future and safety of undocumented youth across the United States.

Loyola is a Jesuit institution; our mission is founded upon the principles of social justice and service to humanity. In pursuit of this mission, the training of a diverse physician workforce is paramount—people of all backgrounds should be admitted not only to promote equal opportunity, but also to deliver more culturally competent care across the socioeconomic spectrum of patients. Furthermore, our nation is experiencing a profound shortage of physicians, specifically those working in underserved communities—data has shown that underrepresented minorities go on to practice in these settings at significantly higher rates.

Contrary to persistent efforts made to portray them as criminals or freeloaders, 91% of DACA recipients are either employed or enrolled in school, even though they don’t qualify for federally subsidized student loans. Eligibility for DACA status requires that an undocumented immigrant arrive in this country prior to the age of sixteen and have been in this country at least five years without a criminal record. These individuals are contributing, tax-paying residents of the United States, the only country most have ever called home. In our own medical school and across the country, they make us a better society.

It is time for us to be advocates for our patients as well as our colleagues. This should not be a partisan issue; both liberal and conservative-leaning classmates of ours widely support the rights of our undocumented peers. They are the neighbors, classmates, and co-workers that make our communities strong. The Dream Act is a permanent solution for these undocumented individuals which gives them both a path to legal status, and more importantly, protection from deportation. We call upon leaders in the medical community, alumni of Jesuit education, and Americans of all walks of life to seek justice for our peers of DACA status. Now more than ever it is imperative to make our voices heard.


Rana Alcheikh
Society of Women’s Health, Co-President

Lexi Riopelle
Society of Women’s Health, Co-President

Elizabeth Southworth
Building the Next Generation of Future Physicians (Academic Medicine), Co-President

Christian Perez
PSYCH MIND, Co-President

Kyle Wieschhaus
Viva La Familia, President

Elizabeth Southworth
PULSE- Pipeline program, Co-Coordinator

Brittany Watchmaker
Pediatric Interest Group, President
PULSE- Pipeline program, Co-Coordinator

Jenny Lee
Building the Next Generation of Future Physicians (Academic Medicine), Secretary
PSYCH MIND, Vice President

Jacquelyn Dang
LUC Mentors, Co-Director
Mission of Our Lady of Angels, Leadership Board

Dylan Douglas
Quinn Community Center, Secretary

Maria Poonawalla
Students for a National Health Program, Co-President

Laura Burns
Oncology Interest Group, President

Brandon Trac
Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association, President

Yo Sup Kim
Radiation Oncology Interest Group, President

Jazzmyne Montgomery
American Medical Women’s Association, President

Taylor Petrusevski
Emergency Medicine Interest Group, Secretary

Eric J. Magnetta
Students Curious in Outrageous Pathology Experiences, President

Lauren Steinberg
Oncology Interest Group, Vice President
Jewish Student Association, President

Diamond Stevens
Student National Medical Association, Vice President

Kathryn Swain
Cardiovascular Interest Group, Vice President

Jennifer Shieh
Ultrasound Interest Group, Vice President

Naveen Kanji
South Asian Medical Student Association, Co-President
LUC Mentors, Co-Director
Health Career Academy, Co-Director

Boss Povieng
ATC Health Coaching, Co-Coordinator

Eda Akyar
Community Health Primary Care Clinic, Clinic Coordinator

Sarah Lloyd
Family Medicine Interest Group, Vice President
American Medical Women’s Association, Vice President-Mentorship

Aaron Perlow
M1 Class Board 2021, President

Deena Kishawi
Muslim Medical Student Association, President
Physicians for Human Rights, President
Orthopedic Surgery Interest Group, President

Weston Terrasse
Business in Medicine Interest Group, President
Otolaryngology Interest Group, Vice President

Andia Mitri
Community Health Primary Care Clinic, Fundraising Chair

Grant Van der Voort
Community Health Primary Care Clinic, Fundraising

John Wagner
New Life Volunteering Society Free Health Clinic, President
Veteran Health Partners, President
Housing Forward, Co-Coordinator

Tanesha Beebe
Stritch Pride, President

Hollie Schaffer
Otolaryngology Interest Group, President
Community Health Primary Care Clinic, Fundraising Comittee

Yaeji Park
Vascular Surgery Interest Group, President

Patrick Kramer
M4 Class Board, Class of 2018, President

Brandon Carlos Karcher
Latino Medical Student Association, President

Blake Murphy
American Medical Association SSOM Chapter, President

Andrea Grillini
Community Health Phlebotomy Clinic, Co-Coordinator
Bioethics Interest Group, Vice President

Khalil Boussi
Back On My Feet, President

Vlad Didorchuk
Ophthalmology Interest Group, President

Mitra Mossaddad
M3 Class Board, Class of 2019, President

Matthew Kroll
Jewish Student Association, President

Gabrielle Matias
Neurological Surgery Interest Group, Co-President
Community Health Primary Care Clinic, EMR Chair

Bria Murray
Student National Medical Association, Treasurer

Charles Wu
Community Health Primary Care Clinic, Treasurer

Kimber Sable
Ophthalmology Interest Group, Vice President
Student Wellness Advisory Group, Co-President

Jamie Neelon
PRIDE, Vice President
SCIPEC, Co-President
Surgery Interest Group

Sahand Ghodrati
M2 Class Board, Class of 2020, President

Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published as part of the Ignatian Solidarity Network News From the Network series.

BY ISN STAFFOctober 3, 2017

In response to the Tuesday, September 5 announcement that the Trump administration would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Jesuit colleges and universities across the U.S. will participate in a Dream Action Week from October 9-13, 2017.

Focus will center around the Dream Act, a bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate. The bill outlines a three-step pathway to citizenship “for people who are either undocumented, have DACA or temporary protected status (TPS), and who graduate from U.S. high schools and attend college, enter the workforce, or enlist in a military program.” This is a critical legislative opportunity to protect people who strengthen U.S. communities.

The action week, which was initiated at Loyola Marymount University, will invite administrative and student leaders at all Jesuit campuses to urge their campus communities to advocate for the Dream Act by calling their Senators, utilizing an action alert created in partnership with the Ignatian Solidarity Network. Each campus will plan additional educational, awareness, and advocacy events.

A card designed to promote Dream Act advocacy efforts on Jesuit campuses during Dream Action Week.

Last week, the student body presidents at all twenty-eight Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States released a letter in support of undocumented students and their allies, uniting as leaders on their campuses in response to the recent DACA decision and in anticipation of Dream Action Week.

Public Letter from Jesuit Student Government Association Presidents
September 28, 2017

In response to the recent announcement of the removal of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), the student body Presidents of the twenty-eight Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States publicly stand in solidarity with our undocumented students and their allies. We, as a collective unit, acknowledge that this is a human issue that will impact over 800,000 members of our nation. Immigrants have played a crucial part in the foundation of this nation and have dreams and aspirations like any other person; these dreams should be preserved and kept sacred just as any other.

As colleges and universities rooted in the Jesuit traditions, our students are called to engage in the discourse and advocate for a more just and equitable world. In the face of injustice, we are challenged to practice a high level of discernment and allow our knowledge and experiences to inform our actions of being with and for others. It is important to emphasize that our unifying mission underlines the commitment to all people, regardless of national origin and documentation status. Any action and policy that seeks to divide and tear us apart should never be accepted and thereby calls for our total resistance to such.

With that being said, the student body Presidents of Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States will:

  • Work on behalf of our constituents to start the chain of calling our representatives.
  • Orchestrate educational efforts for students to learn more about the topics of immigration and DACA and how it relates to our Jesuit mission.
  • Strive to engage our students in dialogue and/or demonstrations that denounce the removal of this program.
  • Promote action off-campus to stand with the rest of the country in creating a greater understanding of the need for DACA and garnering more support of Congressional legislation.
  • Remind students of the appropriate resources on our respective campuses that support the spiritual, psychological, and emotional well-being of our students in order to uphold the value of cura personalis (care for the whole person).

With this statement, we encourage all students to treat this recent announcement of the removal of the DACA program as a call to action to stand with and contest this decision alongside those at the margins. We would like to highlight the importance of becoming educated on the matters at hand, participating in public protest, and communicating with your respective legislators to enact change. The understanding of our privilege must be utilized to realize our roles as higher education institutions in catalyzing social change in our contemporary world. We urge our peers across the country to stand together and for our undocumented students.

Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published as part of the Ignatian Solidarity Network Voices for Justice blog series.