For Kiera “Kiki” Cabrera (’20), a criminal justice and Spanish major from Waterloo, Iowa, Loras College means community.
In fact, Loras represents many communities for Cabrera. In addition to playing as a midfielder/forward on the Duhawk women’s soccer team, she was an orientation leader this past summer for first-year students, is a member of the Breitbach Catholic Thinkers & Leaders Program and a resident assistant in Beckman Hall.
Watch the video above to hear Kiki Cabrera (’20) talk about how important her connection to campus is and how thankful she is to the generous donors that make her Loras education a possibility.
“No matter how many groups you are in, you are going to be immersed,” Cabrera said. “I can go to soccer practice and have my community there. We relate in different ways than I would with my Breitbach community. I like how each community I am involved with has its own unique, positive experience.”
Started in 2007 with a $15-million gift from Paul (’60) and Frances Breitbach, the Breitbach program puts Catholic teachings into action and invites up to 15 students to join its ranks each year. The 60 students who are in the program engage in academic work and servant leadership and are encouraged to discover how they can share their talents to meet the needs of the Church and world. Breitbach students take several courses together — including an Italy J-term paid for by the program — and earn a Catholic Studies minor. Through the program, students attend monthly dinners with speakers on faith and leadership, plan and attend retreats and events and serve the community.
“It has been such a rewarding scholarship,” Cabrera said. “I am blessed to be part of it.”
Having such an opportunity made Loras an natural choice for Cabrera, who didn’t truly consider other colleges after she graduated from Columbus Catholic High School.
“I knew after I graduated that I wanted to continue my Catholic education to share and explore my faith with myself and others,” she said. “I knew I wanted Catholic, soccer and smaller, so it was kind of a no-brainer when I chose to come to Loras.”
At Loras, she said, she has been influenced by many people, but especially Dr. Kate McCarthy-Gilmore, an associate professor of Spanish. “She’s been like my second mom on campus. She has welcomed me with open arms. I can go to her with literally anything,” Cabrera said. “She is just an email or a message away. She is always willing to meet and talk.”
The one community at Loras Cabrera wishes she could get to know better consists of the donors who give to the college, creating opportunities for students to learn and explore career paths that might not have otherwise been available.
“It might not be professional, but I’d definitely give them a big hug,” she said. “What they do in their generosity is amazing and it really does change students’ lives and gives them the opportunity to afford something they might not have been able to do before.”