(BPT) - One hundred years ago, the poet Carl Sandburg famously called Chicago the 'hog butcher of the world,' and the 'nation's freight handler.' The character of the city has changed with each decade, and throughout the years.
Chicago has established itself as an educational hub, with world-class research universities, robust community colleges and ample opportunity for people to earn degrees and get ahead in life.
A force of change
During uncertain times, Chicago's colleges and universities have stood as a guiding light for the city, signaling hope, change and opportunity.
In a city that has long had neighborhoods underserved and marked by economic hardship - one university has had a particularly strong impact on the community and the city as a whole: St. Xavier University (SXU).
For more than 170 years, a mission to serve the community and inspire future generations to succeed and make a difference has guided the university.
As the city has changed, this core mission has adapted to serve students in the 21st century. Through the dedication of students, faculty and staff, the university has been acknowledged as a source of growth in the community in the following ways:
* Ranked No. 4 in Illinois for helping underserved students overcome barriers to complete their bachelor's degrees, according to the Illinois Education Research Council's 2017 report.
* Stable and optimal student-to-faculty ratio of 14-to-1.
* Two-thirds of the student body are the first in their family to attend college.
* As part of the university's mission, SXU directs academic programs and units to partner with local, national or international nonprofit, public, private or faith-based organizations to provide opportunities for engagement, scholarship or service/service learning for students, faculty and staff.
Degrees that open doors
While Chicago's universities and colleges are the pride of the city, the question on almost every parent's and incoming student's mind is: What will I get out of the financial investment?
The School of Nursing and Health Sciences at SXU offers top-ranked programs in the high-demand fields of nursing, speech pathology, exercise science and more. The job market for certified nurses is expected to grow by 16 percent during this decade.
This combination of high-ranking programs in growing career fields has led U.S. News and World Report to call SXU one of the best-value schools for students.
St. Xavier University is a strong example of how universities are reviving the city of Chicago and opening doors for those who may have thought those doors were closed.