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A group of people in various religious garments standing outside a building.

A group of people in various religious garments standing outside a building.

Jesuit? More like Jesu-lit!

Do you feel committed to social justice and community engagement? Do you want to be attuned to the world with its human incompleteness and failures? Do you enjoy accompanying people in challenges and opportunities? If so, a Jesuit education is for you!

There are 27 Jesuit Catholic universities in the United States, but only one in the Silicon Valley—and that’s Santa Clara University. Whether this is the first time you’re hearing the word “Jesuit” or you have gone to a Jesuit high school since 9th grade, we’re here to tell you what exactly it means to go to a Jesuit college and how that plays a role in your experiences and opportunities at Santa Clara.

A Jesuit education is a complete, well-rounded education. The Jesuit tradition, which dates back almost 500 years, is about educating the whole person—mind, body, and soul—and preparing students to be people for others and make an impact. Jesuit institutions encourage students to look beyond themselves and to participate in a world that could benefit from their talents. Santa Clara’s mission statement is to “build a more just, humane, and sustainable world,” and that’s closely tied to our Jesuit values.

What does it really mean for me?

You would be part of a unique tradition in education that values critical thinking, social responsibility and personal development for the betterment of all. You’ll be challenged to think outside the classroom and contribute to your community through experiential learning, immersion trips, or study abroad. You’ll be expected to understand the moral and ethical implications of your academic work and to bring your creativity to diverse real-world evolving problems, like immigration, housing and homelessness, mental health, or artificial intelligence.

Who are the Jesuits?

There are 30+ Jesuit Catholic priests at SCU who work on campus in various faculty and staff roles and live off campus in the Jesuit Residence (nicknamed Jes Res, for short). You’re lucky if you ever get invited to lunch with the Jesuits in their home! A few of our SCU Jesuits:

A man in a plaid shirt smiling outdoors.

Fr. Jack Treacy: Fr. Jack is a Bronco and graduated in 1977 with a degree in History. Now, he works as the University Relations Chaplain at SCU where he spends most of his time with alumni and donors, although he still loves working with students, especially because he spent many years as director of Campus Ministry (at SCU, University of San Francisco, and Seattle University). Fr. Jack is a native Californian, born in Monterey and grew up in San Diego. While deciding between law school and the priesthood, he actually worked for a year as a flight attendant with Pan Am!

A clergyman smiling with a white background.

Fr. Kyle Shinseki: Fr. Kyle is the Faith Formation and Intercultural Minister for Campus Ministry. He’s been at SCU since August 2019. Fr. Kyle is originally from Kauaʻi, Hawaiʻi and became Catholic when he was in college at MIT. He worked in the nonprofit and private sectors prior to entering the Jesuits. He loves music: Hawaiian, country, and Latin pop are his favorite genres!

What makes the Jesuit education at Santa Clara different?

SCU has special programs and centers where students can find unique and fun experiences, classes, research, conversations, and community. Here are a few below:

The Ignatian Center: The Ignatian Center is known for its transformative programs and trips where students work with local or global nonprofits, like the Arrupe Engagement, Thriving Neighbors, the Jean Donovan Fellowship, the Ignatian Fellowship, and Immersion experiences. Most of these are designed, in the words of Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, "to let the reality of this world into their lives, so they can learn to feel it, think about it critically, respond to its suffering, and engage it constructively." Click here to read stories from students who have participated in these programs!

Campus Ministry: Whether you are looking to find a community, practice your faith, question what you believe, nurture your wellbeing, or learn about others' experience, there are so many ways to get involved in Campus Ministry, including religious student organizations, candlelight yoga, our Interfaith Council, and retreats. Everyone is welcome to participate in Campus Ministry programs; there is a place for you here even if you are not Catholic or have not felt welcome in the religious tradition previously.

Core Curriculum: All students take a core curriculum set of classes that encourage you to explore different topics and issues in safe, inclusive spaces led by a professor. They include, among others, three theology classes, an Experiential Learning for Social Justice (ELSJ) class, and a diversity class. A couple of the most popular courses include “Magicians, Athletes, and God,” “Theology, Sex, and Relationships,” “Witches, Saints, and Heretics,” and “Film & Judaism.”

A historic mission church with blooming flowers in the foreground.

Mission Church: Did you live in California in 4th grade and complete a missions project or report? The Historic Mission Santa Clara on our campus is the center of religious and spiritual life. Students who want to pursue their Catholic faith at SCU can get involved in many ways, including the popular student-led mass on Sundays at 8pm. We recognize that the missions, including Santa Clara’s, can represent a dark history of colonization and repression. SCU sits on the land of the Ohlone and Muwekma Ohlone people, and we work closely in partnership with the active Native community members to honor their Elders and all Ohlone people, past and present. 


Above all else, a Jesuit education is a way to fully develop every dimension of your humanity, regardless of your religious or non-religious background. Do you feel committed to social justice and community engagement? Do you want to be attuned to the world with its human incompleteness and failures? Do you enjoy accompanying people in challenges and opportunities? If you said yes to any of these questions, then SCU could be a good fit for you!


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About the author
  • Santa Clara University Alumna & Former Admission Counselor