Student leader bursts “bubble” on campus

By ethan Nichols, Staff writer

We often hear about the “Xavier Bubble,” yet most students don’t think much about it. But senior Economics and Philosophy, Politics and the Public (PPP) major Tom Grandon has decided to try and change that. 

Grandon was chosen to partake in the Arrupe Leaders program, which selects certain outstanding graduating seniors each year. The fall semester is spent on discernment and reflection, while the spring semester is spent creating and launching a senior legacy, or capstone, project.

The program, named in honor of Fr. Pedro Arrupe, seeks to “help students understand the idea of vocation; the combination of values/interests, skills, and world need.”

Fr. Pedro Arrupe, a Spanish Jesuit priest, said, “What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends.”

Grandon said that “too many students spend their four years here at Xavier without ever getting off campus and getting to know our neighboring communities.”

Grandon’s project, titled “Pop The Bubble, XU,” is intended to showcase local businesses, restaurants and other shops. The project’s Instagram account, @popthebubblexu, was launched at the end of March. The account launched and showcased three local shops: Cafe Mochiko, Brown Bear Bakery and The Comet. 

Senior Philosophy, Politics and the Public (PPP)  major Clare Burke Ravizza submitted The Comet, a bar and restaurant in Northside. Burke Ravizza said, “The Comet is a great place to discover local music artists and plug into Northside, which is my favorite neighborhood in Cincy. It’s a super low-key place to catch up with friends, and they have the best burritos.”

Grandon remarked that “A lot of students’ image of Cincinnati after these four years might just be The Banks, Over the Rhine (OTR) or Mt. Adams. This is encouraging them to get to know the city a little more than just a Saturday night in Mt. Adams or a Sunday afternoon in OTR.” 

This isn’t the first time Grandon has focused on engaging new communities and seeking to “pop the bubble”. Grandon is a Community Engaged Fellow, participating in a program run through the Eigel Center for Community Engaged Learning. 

According to Xavier’s website, the Community Engaged Fellowship program was established in 1989. It was started to reward incoming first year students who excelled in service and chose engagement as part of their undergraduate experience. 

Recipients of the fellowship also receive a scholarship and are required to perform 10 hours of service each week during the course of their college careers, while serving as role models for other students and promoting Jesuit ideals on campus.

When reflecting on what made his four years at Xavier so special, Grandon said, “Community engagement was at the cornerstone of that.” 

Any student interested in learning more about the project, or who wants to suggest a local restaurant or shop to be featured, can follow along on Instagram, @popthebubblexu.