The Rev. Stephen Katsouros, S.J., founder and dean of Arrupe College, underlined the importance of giving everyone a chance to access higher education during the third annual Bernardin Lecture, sponsored by The Francis Project. His March 15 lecture, titled “Come to Believe: How Jesuit Education is Being Reinvented at Arrupe College” explained the legacy of Jesuit education at Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago.
Arrupe College is a new community college, affiliated with Loyola University Chicago, that offers underprivileged students in Chicago an affordable higher education and the chance to earn an associate degree in two years. Students of color make up 97 percent of Arrupe’s student body, undocumented students form 20 percent, and 62 percent of students work 30 or more hours a week.
“Arrupe prepares its graduates to continue on to a bachelor’s program or move into meaningful employment,” the mission statement of the college reads. Like Georgetown, the students follow the Jesuit lesson of becoming “men and women for others.”
“We are very intrusive, very directive here,” Katsouros said. “The students are ambushed, but they are also responsive to intrusive advising.”
At Arrupe College, 46 percent of the students earn their associate degree in two years, while the national average for the same period of time is five percent.
Katsouros said that the students often struggle with sense of belonging as the environment they are used to is very different from the one of the school. The college aims to teach them they can be successful by showing them positive role models of graduate students that used to be in their same situation.
“This is the opportunity for them to build a community,” Katsouros said. “Our students are coming to believe in themselves as college students.”
The idea for Arrupe College comes not only from the Jesuit tradition but also from the need to make higher education more accessible. More schools designed specifically for underprivileged students opened in the 90s when a Jesuit school called Cristo Rey was founded in Chicago. In Cristo Rey, the students worked to pay their tuition and graduate without loans. The school served as the model to create 32 more Cristo Rey schools all over America.
According to Father Katsouros, Arrupe College is a model for other institutions and can be adapted for settings outside Chicago.
Ever since its founding in August 2015, the numbers of applicants at Arrupe College has increased from 600 applications for 450 seats to 1200 applicants for only 200 seats for the next school year. Arrupe provides an undergrad experience and aims to build a network to help the students in their future achievements.
“Arrupe addresses a very real and important set of needs,” Audrey Fangmeyer (NHS ‘17), said. “And has a holistic attempt to help [the students that go there].”
The Bernardin Lectures are sponsored by The Francis Project, in honor of the legacy of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, a pro-life advocate who discussed issues from abortion to arms control and the death penalty.
“Georgetown has a wide range of student groups that address human dignity and life issues,” Justine Worden (COL ‘17), event coordinator for The Francis Project, wrote in an email to the Voice. “The Francis Project hopes to support these groups and address life issues in creative ways on campus.”
The organization gave a contribution to Arrupe College to help continue the work that they feel honors the legacy of Cardinal Bernardin.
“Arrupe College provides accessible, affordable, and meaningful education to some of the nation’s most vulnerable and marginalized students,” Worden wrote. “We feel that Fr. Katsouros and his work at Arrupe College demonstrate one of the best ways to practice a consistent ethic of life.”
Editor’s note: The article previously stated that education at Arrupe College is free. Arrupe College charges tuition but offers a variety of programs to ensure that students graduate with little to no debt.