When I was considering Georgetown, I repeatedly asked people to explain the meaning of cura personalis. The idea was simple enough, but I could not wrap my mind around how a university could live out “care for the whole person.” People would tell me that cura personalis means that chaplains-in-residence, faculty and fellow students look out for you and promote your academic, mental and spiritual well-being. Though this idea sounded good, I was convinced that it was just a nice thing people said on tours.

Cura personalis could not be real in practice. A university is meant to teach you the information and skills you need to get a diploma and a job. Where was this cura personalis idea supposed to fit in?

Though its motto continued to baffle me, Georgetown chose me, and I chose Georgetown. And thus began the journey of my understanding just how completely Georgetown, and the people of Georgetown, live out cura personalis.

Cura personalis is being asked in “Problem of God” during your first semester on the Hilltop how you make sense of the existence of evil in a world with an omnipotent and omnibenevolent god. Cura personalis is creating health-awareness campaigns to improve our peers’ well-being in “Health Promotion and Disease Prevention,” and letting that experience shape our paths and commitments to a future in the health field. Cura personalis is being constantly challenged in the classroom not just to learn, but to apply what we have learned to our lives beyond the gates. Cura personalis is using the privilege of a Georgetown education to improve the communities around us and become citizens of our world.

Before I arrived on the Hilltop, I was a huge nerd who loved peppering people with fun science facts. Now, four years later, I am still a huge nerd who loves science facts but who, even more so, loves to do stuff with that knowledge. Georgetown and cura personalis have made me into the person I never even knew I wanted to be. They have made it instinctive to always try to use the knowledge I have to do something real — to influence positive change in my own life and in the world around me.

Cura personalis turns “Early Childhood Education” into a springboard for understanding the perspectives of seventh-grade students in a Washington, D.C. public middle school. Cura personalis allows “Social Psychology” to present a framework for mitigating conflicts and encouraging our 50-person rowing team to work more cohesively toward our goals.

This mindset of cura personalis works because people here believe in its worth. Georgetown’s incredible professors create curricula that challenge us to open our minds to new perspectives and to make meaning for ourselves. They spend countless hours inside and outside the classroom talking with us about their areas of interest and inviting us to explore their passions with them. Professors, Jesuits and chaplains guide us, push us and encourage us to find and run with whatever it is that energizes us.

And in our four years here, we learn to do the same for each other. We grow to love searching for meaning and talking about things that matter. Conversations with classmates often become hourslong explorations into politics, global inequities, the meaning of life and our hopes and dreams. Our unique backgrounds inform our views, and we challenge each other to be open-minded and persistently curious. This school would not be what it is without those unplanned late-night conversations that teach us just as much as any library study session could.

These are what make Georgetown so special. Each year, the people and classes here guide and teach nearly 2,000 naive and excited teenagers to channel all our energy thoughtfully and productively. They challenge us each semester to slow down and ask hard questions of ourselves and of our worlds. They push us past our comfort zones, just so we can come to realize the boundaries we build for ourselves are negligible: What we can learn, know and achieve is often limited most by our own doubts.

This is what a Georgetown education means. This is what Georgetown gives us. Georgetown prepares us to, after four years, go out into the world as nearly 2,000 fascinating, passionate, world-shakers and world-shapers.

And this — this creation of unfailingly wise, innovative and persistent citizens of the world — is what cura personalis means, or at least what it means to me.

Christina Johnson is a senior in School of Nursing and Health Studies.

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