Jessica Leu ’19
Major: Theological Studies
Minor: Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies
Next Step: Master’s Degree in Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University
Jessica Leu ’19 has loved learning about and studying different religions since she was young. “I grew up with the recitation of biblical stories at bedtime,” says Leu. “I was fascinated by the world in which the stories of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus took place.”
Leu arrived at LMU as a psychology major, but was quickly reminded of her true passion after taking some theological studies courses. “I realized I was just in denial because I thought theology was a less ‘practical’ road,” said Leu. “I’ve learned now that so long as you love what you do and you work hard, doors will open for you. In reality, my path here at LMU has given me everything I needed both personally and academically.”
Leu has focused her coursework on World Religions, specifically researching and writing about Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam, and Latinx Folk Catholicism. Her wish to deepen her understanding of different spiritual perspectives and religious traditions, led her to apply to LMU’s Theological Studies Graduate Program. She was accepted, awarded a scholarship, and will begin studying to get her master’s degree in theological studies, with an emphasis in comparative religion, this fall.
At LMU, Leu has honed in on her academic writing skills, and nurtured her creative writing voice as well. Leu is a fourth-generation writer and poet, and her LMU mentors have encouraged her to be creative in her academic work. The Theology Department awarded her with the “Best Paper” honor this semester for her work titled “The Path of Devotion: Religious Ecstasy in Hindu and Christian Mystics.”
Leu has been engaged both within and beyond the classroom. She started the Interfaith Alliance at LMU, attended an Interfaith Trip to the Holy Land in Israel, volunteered for the Institute of Religious Tolerance, and worked in Campus Ministry. She says the Jesuit education she received at LMU helped her not only in her studies, but in her commitment to activism as well. “LMU has my heart and is the source for my current love for academia, social justice, and the betterment of humanity,” said Leu. “I was nurtured here by the Jesuit values, social activism on campus, and most importantly my mentors in the Theological Studies Department and Campus Ministry.”
During her time in graduate school, she hopes to teach religion or work in ministry at a local parish. She also hopes to continue her academic and creative writing. “Creating ‘Men and Women for Others’ and the education of the ‘whole’ person resonate very deeply with me, and are two principles of Ignatian spirituality that I will carry with me in all of my future endeavors.”
Seniors at Loyola Marymount University have been preparing for life after LMU all year. In our Beyond the Bluff series, liberal arts seniors reflect on their post-graduate next steps and the experiences that shaped their career plans.