Saint Louis University

Students Kate Essig and Thomas Hanlon represented Saint Louis University and joined student leaders from Jesuit and other Catholic universities across the country Jan. 13-15 at the Ignatian Solidarity Network's second annual University Leadership Summit at the Mercy Retreat Center near San Francisco, Calif.

The Summit invites emerging social justice leaders to spend a weekend strengthening their capacity to effect positive social change, while deepening their understanding of the relationship between faith and justice emphasized in the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Students attending the summit represented the following United States universities: Boston College, Gonzaga University, John Carroll University, Le Moyne College, Loyola Marymount University, Loyola University Chicago, Loyola University Maryland, Regis University, Rockhurst University, Saint Joseph's University, Saint Louis University, St. Mary's College of California, Santa Clara University, Seattle University and the University of San Francisco.

Throughout the weekend, students explored the Social Change Model of Leadership, examined the life of St. Ignatius of Loyola and his call to become "men and women for others," engaged with fellow campus leaders, and with the support of experienced facilitators, developed personal action plans to translate leadership skills into programs on campus.

"ISN is committed to developing emerging leaders for solidarity and justice," said Christopher Kerr, ISN executive director. "The university students who attend the Summit each year bring tremendous passion and desire to be leaders. The Summit provides them a community of peers to gain energy from and stay networked with long after the program ends."

ISN provides support for students and mentors when they return to campus that includes regular conference calls and opportunities to share their efforts on campus via ISN's blog and publications.

Students who participated last year have returned to campus to engage their peers in a variety of issues from environmental education to the development of significant non-profit initiatives.

"Through my interactions with last year's summit attendees, it is clear that the opportunity to further form student's leadership skills grounded in spirituality and justice can have great impacts for their campus and beyond," said Kim Miller, ISN program director.

Andrew Lunetta, a Le Moyne College student who attended the 2011 Summit developed a program called Pedal to Possibilities in Syracuse, N.Y., that provides individuals who are homeless access to bicycles for transportation and exercise. Learn more about his program at the Pedal to Possibilities website.

The Summit was led by a diverse team of facilitators: Helen Alatorre, associate director of the Center for Student Leadership and Development at Loyola Marymount University; Jerry Cobb, S.J., provincial assistant for formation and higher education for the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus; and Michael Nuttall, program director for student immersions of the Ignatian Center for Justice Education at Santa Clara University. Cobb and Nuttall also served on the facilitation team in 2011.