Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor: A Plea to Loyola Students to Put Themselves First

Margaret Bronec, 21, is the former president of Loyola's student government.

Margaret Bronec, 21, is the former president of Loyola’s student government (SGLC), she resigned Oct. 5 along with former SGLC Vice President Erla Dervishi. Bronec is a Fall 2021 graduate of Loyola, majoring in environmental policy.

It’s December now and this message feels far away. I originally wrote this in October while processing my recent resignation and a flurry of shame and blame. It’s my hope in sharing this letter that my friends, past colleagues, and fellow Ramblers take brave action to care for themselves and others. It’s my hope that we all begin to talk about our mental health, really, because this pandemic (and the effects we all so deeply feel) is not going away. It’s also my hope to share this story to show how deeply student leadership can impact individuals’ wellness, and how support systems need to be created and cultivated on a peer to peer and professional basis at Loyola. I’ve gone through this alone, and I hope future ramblers don’t have to.

A Letter to the Editor, October 29th, 2021

When I ran for President of the Student Body in March of 2021, I was earnest about my mental health experiences. For years I prepared for leadership with tools to cope with panic disorder and OCD. Each week of my term I sat down with a professional and discussed where I could grow in my leadership and how best to show up for the student body. This all was not without effort.

I chose to quit my dream job for my mental health and safety. Hoping, in doing so, that other students would care for themselves, too.

I am glad to report that I am doing okay. I am graduating in December and just began a new full-time job. Most of all, I am here. I am okay. That is because I made the difficult and brave decision to put myself first.

I am sure as I grow, I will understand that this was just a chapter. We are all relatively new people on this planet. I made mistakes and failed forward. I was, and maybe still am, exhausted.

In this post(mid)-pandemic world, I would love to ask for grace and will award it to myself when it is not offered to me. I will do the best I can. I will put myself first and expect that of those around me.

I catch myself saying I failed, saying I am a failure. I catch myself forgetting the work I put in as media, rumors and whispers as I walk through Damen took over my quiet moments alone.

Then, I remember the moments of joy in March and April of 2021 as I began my term. The moments I felt the Loyola community was proud of me, liked me, even. I also remember the “I am proud of you for putting yourself first” conversations I had with my close circle of friends that led to this decision.

I will be proud of you when you put yourself first.

Maybe I am writing this to prove something to myself, or to you. Maybe this will get lost in the sea of media. “We are all just catapulting,” my professor would say. I am the publicly elected Undergraduate Student Body President of Loyola University Chicago in 2021. In the seven and a half months I served in my role, I made changes that will continue to impact students for years to come. I made the strategic decision to resign to take care of myself and my mental wellness. I am okay, and that is what matters.

When we say things like “this is not worth your mental health,” we need to back that up with our actions. If we truly are for and with others, step up. You being here and part of this community matters more than any grade, any co-curricular and any temporary (yet real) stressor. You matter, your voice matters and I really hope you stay around to set your world on fire.

I keep replaying this line from my convocation speech to the first-year class, “To be a Loyola Rambler this year is to be resilient.” I’d add this, “it’s also to be lonely, to be fearful of the unknown, to be exhausted and to be brave. To be a Loyola Rambler this year is to be so many things, none of which we were expecting, all of which we have become.”

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