Natural Curiosity

Jose Cardenas (’23) wants to learn.

With a seemingly insatiable curiosity, the business administration and business analytics major wants to absorb as much knowledge as he can, whether from his studies or those who surround him.

“I want to learn so badly. If I don’t know something, I want to find out,” he said.

A native of Eugene, Ore., Cardenas has travelled a long way to find an opportunity to maximize his learning intake. His friend, Connor Fitzpatrick (’22), was attending Loras College and playing soccer for the Duhawks when he suggested that Cardenas might be a good fit for the team. One visit to campus and seeing how naturally he fit in helped him to make the decision to shift to Loras.

Jose Cardenas (’23)

Since transferring from a junior college in his hometown in 2020, Cardenas has put himself in the middle of a number of significant areas of campus. He is a diversity, equality and inclusion representative for the President’s Office; diversity chair for student government; and a representative on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). This fall, Cardenas shared his experiences as a part of a campus panel where he discussed his culture along with other Latin American students.

“That was great,” he recalled. “There was a number of us sharing our experiences and how we are different from other people even with similar backgrounds. Not every Latinx student eats tacos, you know?”

That panel underlines his desire to not only share about himself, but to know and understand more about his fellow students. “I really want to hear what other people think about different things, even politics. We may not agree, but I want to understand why they think the way they do and learn more about them. Not everything has to be an argument. If someone asks why I do things that are tied to my culture, I’m not offended. I am glad they asked so we can talk about it and I can find out more about them and their culture.”

Cardenas is just the third person in his extended family to attended college. While his decision to move to Dubuque was difficult, his experience as a first-generation student has fueled his efforts both in and out of the classroom.

“It was scary moving so far, but I am doing all of this for my parents, too,” he explained. “Every time I think, ‘I don’t want to write this paper’ or struggle to motivate myself to practice, I think about the opportunity I have here to make my parents proud and I push myself to keep working. I realize the great opportunity I have here, because of them.”

In October, Cardenas was selected by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) to participate in its ¡Adelante! Leadership Institute and talk with other Hispanic students and professionals about career opportunities.

“It was a good opportunity to learn from professionals and to get to see how their upbringing molded them and how they took things from their culture and applied them to what they do both in their lives and in business. I didn’t write a lot of it down because I just wanted to listen and take it in,” he said.

Despite growing up just five minutes from the University of Oregon campus, Cardenas believes his decision to go with a smaller school has led to more chances to quench his desire to not only learn, but to enrich his education with more meaningful experiences. “Loras has definitely provided the opportunity to find out more about myself and things in which I am interested. If I had gone to a larger school, I probably would have gone a different path in order to feel connected. Here, I feel like I have so many opportunities where I can not only be involved in a productive way, but I can use moving forward. I am very thankful for that,” he said.

About Loras College
Founded in 1839, Loras College leverages its historic roots as Iowa’s first college, the second oldest Catholic college west of the Mississippi River and one of the nation’s 10 diocesan colleges to deliver challenging, life-changing experiences as part of its residential, Catholic setting. In 2020, Loras was ranked the 16th Best Regional College in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report and one of America’s Top 200 Most Loved Colleges/Universities by Forbes Magazine for the fourth consecutive year. Loras students ranked No. 2 in the world as part of the global Peeptrade Investment Challenge while a second group ranked No. 4. For the 12th consecutive year, Loras Media Studies student-led television station (LCTV) was named the TV Station of the Year by the Iowa College Media Association (ICMA).