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channel in Aguascalientes, Mexico. This led to a next role as a news production assistant and later as a tech reporter for a segment called Cónectate. In 2013, Esparza left her job at Có-

nectate when she won Nuestra Belleza Aguascalientes, or the equivalent of Miss Illinois. Esparza went on to win at the national level and captured the title of Nuestra Belleza Mexico, or Miss Mexico, in fall 2014. Part of her responsibilities as Miss Mexico this year include being a weekly host on a seg- ment for the television talk show HOY. Esparza explains the similarities she

finds between her journalism career and beauty pageant involvement: “Both offer a huge opportunity to influ- ence others by demonstrating positive values,” Esparza says. “The golden rule in journalism is to always speak the truth, and with this new role, my goal is to always be myself and represent Mexico with integrity, ethics, and discipline. “I use investigative skills to learn as

much as I can about Mexico to be able to share with the world the beauty of my roots and culture. I work hard to break the stereotypes and show young girls that intelligence and self-respect are what make a woman truly beauti- ful. I continue to tell a story, this time through the voice of my country.”

AN INHERITANCE OF EDUCATION • Growing up, my parents always told me that school was my only job. As the oldest of three, it was my responsibility to set the example, and our educa- tion was always a priority. At home, I learned the importance of discipline and hard work. My parents were Mexi- can immigrants. They were small busi- ness owners, and because they didn’t have the opportunity to go to college, they worked to always provide a good education for my siblings and me. They cultivated our love for school, because as my dad always said, education is the best inheritance. My parents no longer live in the US: my mom moved back to Mexico, and my father passed away.

I became a Cristo Rey Scholar be-

cause I always knew I wanted to attend Loyola. I remember telling my dad how much tuition was, and although it was out of his budget, he never discouraged me. My entire life I had gotten good grades and been actively involved in school. As part of the Cristo Rey network, I was able to apply for the Cristo Rey Scholarship. I was fortunate to have great mentors in high school who believed in me and always mo- tivated me to step out of my comfort zone in search of growth and success.

FINDING A HOME HERE • I chose Loyola because it felt like home as soon as I walked on campus during a tour I took my senior year in high school. The school’s values seemed closely intertwined with mine, and it was the perfect place for me to grow spiritually and professionally. I felt a sense of hon- esty, empathy, and commitment from campus leaders. As a first-generation college student, I faced many chal- lenges, and although my family was very supportive, I sought guidance on campus. I joined a learning commu- nity my freshman year, and that gave me the chance to live and learn with people who shared similar interests. I also became very close with other Cristo Rey Scholars and my classmates when I studied in Rome. Professors and even students taught

me so many lessons about persever- ance and goodwill inside and outside of class. Chicago has so many neighbor- hoods and cultures; it’s a great place to embrace diversity. Leading an extraordinary life means

cultivating your passion and helping others find their purpose, too. The Rambler community has shaped the woman I am and want to be. Choosing Loyola was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It will always be my home, and I treasure the memories I have. I truly feel that I am living a life of faith and leadership thanks to the wonderful people I met during my four years at Loyola.



Transforming the Rome Center

In 2009, Loyola purchased the current Monte Mario property in Rome for the John Felice Rome Center. This kicked off a strategic plan and fund- raising campaign to transform the Rome Center and ensure its future for generations. Avanti!, the second phase of the campaign, is a five-year endeavor that includes ambitious plans for a new building, student scholarships, real-world experiences for students, and growing the Rome Center’s endowment to expand its program.

“ The JFRC is tremendous as it is, but in the future I’d like for it to be ‘the’ state- of-the-art study-abroad program—the place to aspire to. If you want to study in Italy, then you want to go to the JFRC. And I’d like for the Rome Center to be dynamic for generations to come.” —MARK RUSSO, JFRC FALL ’87

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