JC’s Declassified School Survival Guide: Goodbye Edition


Photo credit: Jc Canicosa

Jc Canicosa

In a university full of SoundCloud rappers, eccentric professors and Zoom classes, JC Canicosa— that’s me—and The Maroon try to do the impossible: create a guide that will help you survive Loyola.

*cue theme song*

Ah, graduation. Just how I pictured it. Sitting in my living room. Alexa playing “Pomp and Circumstance” (otherwise known as, “The Graduation Song” to you non-band folk) from my laptop. Eagerly waiting for President Tania Tetlow to drop the Zoom link and give a life-changing commencement speech.

And all I can think is, “Hmm, I guess the convention center doesn’t seem so bad anymore.”

Wolf Pack, while it’s no Superdome graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020, the virtual commencement is something I have been looking forward to since we got moved to online classes.

And that’s because I know Loyola’s president’s office has put in a ton of time and effort into giving us the best consolation prize YouTube has to offer — along with planning an actual in-person commencement while many other universities have just straight-up cancelled theirs (looking at you, Tulane).

And that’s really been the story of my Loyola experience. We make the best out of unideal situations. We’re the welcoming foil to Tulane University. We got each other’s backs when things got tough.

So it’s my honor to share one last batch of unpractical, unusually Loyola specific advice to help the next generation of the Wolf Pack find their way through our paradoxically very Catholic, very liberal, very New Orleans university.

1. Try everything

No matter who you were when you came to Loyola and were sung at by Krewe Leaders during your first orientation, Loyola changed you. How it changed you and by how much is entirely up to you, but you can’t know that until you’ve tried everything. Seriously.

Are you into everything that’s trending and popular? Go to Gasa Gasa or The Howling Wolf and listen to some local, underground New Orleans bands no one knows about.

Are you the kind of person who doesn’t really get modern art (which no one can blame you for)? Spend the day in the New Orleans Museum of Art or go to the New Orleans Film Festival next year.

Hate Greek Life? Rush Greek Life — literally half my Greek friends have told me, “Yeah, I came into college hating sororities/fraternities, I would never have joined one if I wasn’t at Loyola.”

The point is, Wolf Pack, that you can never know what you want out of college until you’ve gone out and done it. Learn as much as you can about what you like and don’t like.

2. It’s okay to not know who you are yet

Cliches like “Love yourself” and “Be your own No.1 fan” have become mantras that self-help gurus and Katy Perry use to sell you back your own self esteem, but don’t let them.

You know what it’s called when you’re in college, full of self-doubt and seemingly drowning every other day? Being a 20-year-old.

Odds are, you’re not the most confident, self-actualized version of yourself yet. That takes lots of time and effort.

You’re probably going to look back at Snapchat memories from you in Biever Hall and cry laughing at half of them and absolutely cringe at the other half. But the more time goes on, the more you’re going to find yourself laughing at everything you used to cringe at.

3. Embrace the city

Honestly, this one isn’t much of a tip because it comes so naturally to many of us. It’s easy to fall in love with New Orleans.

I literally can’t imagine a better city to spend your college years in.

We have a 24-hour public train (sorry, “streetcar”) right in our front yard that magically takes us downtown or a touristy Beignet spot. We have football teams and basketball teams that we ride and die with every year. The lows are heartbreaking (How did none of the refs throw a flag at that?) but the highs are euphoric (Will anyone ever forget what Bourbon Street was like the night LSU won the title?). And we have a month-long. City-wide party. Every. Year.

And I didn’t even mention the music festivals, Southern food and endless night life.

There’s so much to love about New Orleans. The city invites community and something about The Crescent City makes you want to always root for it, like an underdog.

I couldn’t imagine a better city to spend the last four years of my life in. New Orleans will always be a part of me.

4. Take care of her

Listen, COVID-19 is going to have a huge impact on Loyola financially—just when we have finally gotten off financial probation. From giving students a refund on housing and meal plans to an expected much smaller number of new enrolled students next year to layoffs and reduced hours for many of the campus’s food service workers, Loyola and many of the school’s students, faculty and staff are going through or are about to go through some of the toughest parts of this pandemic.

We’ve already lost a beloved member of our community, in law professor James Carriere, to COVID-19.

But here’s the good news: We already know how to fight our way out of tough positions, we’ve done it before.

Getting out of financial tough spots isn’t exactly new to us, and neither is trying to find normalcy after a natural disaster (seriously, go read some archived stories from The Maroon about the first semester back after Hurricane Katrina, they’re amazingly hopeful, especially in a time like this).

Odds are, your next year or two at Loyola are going to be vastly different than my previous four, but that means it’s on you, the next generation of the Wolf Pack, to take care of Loyola. For the sake of future generations and the ones leaving Loyola behind, it’s your job to support her through this extremely difficult time.

That care and support can come in many different ways. Some people have donated some of what they have to Iggy’s Cupboard. Others have planned community events through Zoom when no one asked them to; they just knew people needed to see other people.

And some have droned on and on in a column for their college newspaper because that’s the only way they know how to say goodbye to a community that’s had such a big impact on them.

No matter how you do it, you have to understand how much Loyola needs your support. From the upperclassmen in Cabra Hall to the cooks behind the grill in the Orleans Room to the work-study students in the University Sports Complex, every part of Loyola needs your care, concern and Cura Personalis more than ever.

So take care of her, Wolf Pups. And seniors, I’ll see you in a couple months.