Focused on Change

Mallory Gardiner (’22) loves to talk about the reason she chose to come to Loras.

Visiting as part of a Spiritual Life overnight event, it was a conversation during a majors fair that helped set her course to Loras College.

“Dr. Jake Kurczek told me about the Civic Leaders program and the opportunity to spend four years learning how to engage with the community you are in. It is also about how to be a civic professional as well and how you enact change through that,” she recalled. “I was inspired. It was in that moment that I thought, ‘yes, I am going to Loras.’”

A native of Monticello, Indiana, Gardiner’s enthusiasm for civic action radiates from her as she speaks. Already involved as a volunteer when she was a high school student, it has been her time at Loras that really showed her how to effectively work toward goals.

Since she arrived on campus, Gardiner has been a tour de force for civic change. A student in the initial Civic Leaders cohort, she has been involved both on and off campus, working toward effective change. The most significant impact the civic leaders program has had is the creation and facilitation of an equity and emotional intelligence training.

“We had no idea what it was going to look like when I first started. We just started talking about different things that interested us and we put it together. I think it is rare for an undergrad student to be a part of this from the very beginning. I couldn’t have had this experience anywhere else. It has been so rewarding,” she said.

Gardiner has not limited herself to the confines of the Loras campus. Despite being a student, she is serving as a liaison for the City of Dubuque’s Department of Equity and Human Rights and currently is chairperson of the sub-committee for housing rights and food access.

Not content with her existing duties on campus and with the city, Gardiner is also actively involved in sustainability efforts across campus. While working alongside Bev Wagner, environmental educator through Loras and the Dubuque Metropolitan Area Solid Waste Agency, she is collaborating for informational events and sharing ideas on attainable projects Loras could explore to improve the sustainability of campus.

“It is stunning to me to see what Mallory has accomplished as a student at Loras through her civic engagement with the City of Dubuque,” Maggie Baker, Loras service learning coordinator, said. “She has contributed in responsible ways to Dubuque, and her growth and progress have helped us realize the big goals and outcomes we set for ourselves in our Civic Action Plan are within reach.”

After graduation, Gardiner is planning to work with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps to work with poor and marginalized communities. As she looks toward her new pursuits, she knows the support she received the past four years has helped prepare her for whatever will come.

“No matter what you are passionate about, Loras has faculty and staff that are here to help you be an effective change agent. It also has a focus on being balanced between being a student and whatever else it is you want to be. I am such a better person because I chose Loras,” she said.