The Benefits of Attending a Jesuit College
A Canisius Student's Experience at Oxford University
This letter was sent to us by an alumna who attended Oxford University and found that a Jesuit education carries benefits across the globe. We hear stories like this a lot, and we’re thrilled every time we do.
I graduated from Canisius College with a bachelor’s degree in history and political science, and have just begun graduate studies at the University of Oxford in England. I want to share a recent experience that makes me proud of my Jesuit education.
On the first day of classes at Oxford, our lecturer wanted to get a sense of where we were from and what we planned to study. We were asked in typical fashion to go around the room and say our name, our previous university, and our intended course of research. As one would expect, there were quite a few students who hailed from Oxford, Cambridge, Columbia and other very prestigious and well-known institutions.
When it came time for me to say where I was from, I made a point of saying I came from a small Jesuit school called Canisius College, and that I would forgive them in advance if they had not heard of it. After I finished my introduction, my lecturer clarified what a Jesuit school was for those who were unfamiliar with the concept. She explained that coming from a Jesuit school, I came from a very rich academic tradition that embraced cross-disciplinary study and had a very distinctive identity that was instrumental in shaping the course of my undergraduate education. She commented on how involved the Jesuits had been historically in education and how the Jesuit records are still considered impressive even today. To my great surprise, she even mentioned that she had been in contact with another American Jesuit university, Fordham, to access their archives. She concluded by expressing her disappointment that a Jesuit education is not an option in England and that the education system would be better for it.
In that moment, the Jesuit tradition and the excellence associated with a Jesuit education superseded the name recognition of some of the world’s most prestigious universities. It linked me to a tradition of excellence that crossed continents. But most importantly, it reminded me personally that I had just as much a right to be in that room as those from Cambridge, Oxford and the other institutions that had originally intimidated me.
I am eternally grateful to Canisius College not only for the incredible education I received, but for inviting me into a legacy of rich academic and intellectual tradition. I am noticing more and more how my perspective is different from my colleagues because it has been shaped by a plurality of ideas that have stemmed directly from the diversity of the Canisius core curriculum. My identity has been shaped tremendously by the Jesuit values I was exposed to as a student. I know that I would not have been accepted by Oxford had it not been for the help I received from the incredible faculty at Canisius, including Ray Barker, Ph.D., adjunct professor of history; Julie Gibert, Ph.D., associate professor of history; and professor emeritus of English Frank Riga, Ph.D. I am also grateful for the number of opportunities I received over the course of my education at Canisius.
I felt compelled to share my experience abroad because while it initially surprised me, it reminded me that not only am I able to identify as a proud Canisius alumna, but I am also part of the legacy of the strong and rich Jesuit tradition.
Lindsey Lauren Visser
University of Oxford