My name is Kejai McNeal, I am a 1L Student Ambassador, and I am in my second semester of my 1L year. Here is a recap of a few activities I participated in during my first semester.
I participated in many volunteer opportunities with Loyola. The week prior to Halloween I served meals with fellow Loyola Students to the residents at the Lawson House. It is the YMCA across from the school off of State and Chicago. It was a pleasure serving the guests and talking with them. It was a nice break from my Law studies to care for the needs of others, while getting to know a little about them. I enjoyed it, so much so I participated again in November.
On Halloween, I participated in a shadow day at Loyola. The Black Law Students Association “BLSA” hosted a group of students from Harlan high school (an inner city school on Chicago’s Southside). The students accompanied members of the organization and various volunteers to their morning classes. After attending class, the students were provided pizza and an informal discussion with the organization’s volunteers and members. It was a bonding experience and very rewarding to hear the aspirations of young people so full of ambition. It was a warm reminder of how I was at that age.
Later that evening, I joined the University of Chicago’s BLSA group by participating in an event for neighborhood children at the YMCA on 62nd and Stony Island. There was a bouncing pin and big inflatable slide, arts and crafts, game tables, face painting, candy, line dancing and zumba (for the parents), and a haunted house. I worked the arts and crafts table during the night. I found the event rewarding in many ways, the first being I love children; that is where my passion lies. The second being, I was participating in something greater than myself, giving my time to serve children while providing a safe place for them to celebrate the holiday. I also colored several pictures while working the table, which I found very relaxing. It was an activity that didn’t require much thinking. It was a nice break from Law School work while placing my mind on something else.
In early November, I joined DePaul’s BLSA by participating in preparing and serving a meal at the Ronald McDonald House downtown. We prepared salad, chili, cornbread and brownies for the residents and their families. It was nice to serve sick children and to see their smiling faces. It was a reminder to be grateful for the life I was given and have led.
Shortly before finals, I participated in a bonding event with my section mates. We were originally supposed to have a progressive dinner, which is a dinner where each part of the meal is had at a different house (well in our case apartment). That proved to be a bit much, over thirty people traveling across the city for different portions of a meal. Therefore, one of our section mates volunteered to have it at her place. We all gathered at the selected place, each bringing different dishes and drinks. We laughed, played games, talked, and bonded. This proved to be very helpful as it made class less frightening and new friendships were discovered. It was as though it came with a realization that we are all in this together. We are all in the same boat, in the same classroom, trying to grasp the same information. It was quite possibly the best idea anyone could have come up with.
All in all, I had an amazing first semester and welcoming experience here at Loyola.