Regina Bowgierd Scholarship - The Lira Ensemble
Background on the founders and artistic staff of the Lira Ensemble.
Iwona Puc, Lucyna Migala, Mina Zikri, Alice Stephens
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Dr. Regina Bowgierd with Lech Walesa
Dr. Regina Bowgierd with Lech Walesa



Lira supporter, the late Dr. Regina Bowgierd, funded a new scholarship at Loyola University Chicago, specifically for the Loyola Polish Studies Program.  Regina Bowgierd was born in Brzesc, Poland, to Józef and Anna née Kontor during the German occupation of Poland on November 17, 1942. She received a degree from the Medical Academy of Poznan, Poland, and began a residency in General Surgery and Urology before coming to the US in 1971. Following a one-year internship in surgery at Metropolitan Hospital of New York Medical College, Dr. Bowgierd did a three-year residency in psychiatry with the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry at Roosevelt Hospital. After moving to Chicago in 1978, Dr. Bowgierd spent 20 years working as a psychiatrist at city mental health clinics, mainly at the Lakeview Mental Health Clinic. She also spent 28 years as a consultant for the Social Security Administration, ensuring the quality of decisions in disability cases.  She was respected as an Independent-minded, adventurous, gregarious, generous professional, dedicated to her profession. Dr. Bowgierd, age 76, died after a long, painful illness on May 16, 2019, in Chicago.

The Lira Ensemble has been Artist-in-Residence at Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus since 1995 and helped create the Polish Studies Program, so we are delighted to announce the first two winners of the Dr. Regina Bowgierd Scholarships.

They are two students of Polish ancestry who are currently studying at Loyola University Chicago:

Emily Ciolak – a junior with a major in Biology and minor in Polish Studies.

Daniel Waszczuk – a senior with a major in Biology and minor in Polish Studies.

The Lira Ensemble extends heartfelt congratulations to Ms. Ciolak and Mr. Waszczuk.  You may enjoy reading their short statements why they deserve the scholarship, which are offered below:

My entire life I have been surrounded by Polish culture and language. My dad came to the U.S. from Poland as a refugee from communism in the 1980s, and my mom came to the U.S. from Poland in the 1990s. Ever since I was little my parents worked hard to instill Polish culture and language in my brother and I. Polish was my first language, and we spoke it at home and with our friends and family. I went to Polish Saturday school from kindergarten to eighth grade. I disliked it at first, having to wake up early on Saturday mornings to go to school while my American friends could sleep in. It wasn’t until later in life that I began to truly appreciate being able to speak and write in another language. The Polish literature UCLR class that I am currently taking helped reignite my curiosity for Polish history and language. It is because of this class that I decided I would like to learn even more about my country. I have been to Poland before, but I have never been to Krakow, despite it being the second largest city in Poland and its rich history. I want to study at the Jagellonian University in Krakow because I want to learn more about my language, history, and culture. Even though Polish is my first language, I no longer speak it as well as I do English, and I struggle with spelling (Is it rz or ź or ż?). My knowledge of Polish is minimal, and I would like to learn more about it. I want to immerse myself in Polish culture and be able to experience it firsthand while studying at one of the oldest universities in Europe.

Emily Ciolak

A little over a month from today, I will be applying to medical schools in hopes of pursuing my dream career. Although the application process is long and stressful, it will also be the pinnacle moment of my stay at Loyola. Completing the application required me to look back at what I’ve done over the past three years. Many pre-med students have competitive GPAs and good standardized test scores, but what sets us apart is what we’ve done outside of school. I’ve tried to step outside of the typical pre-medical checkbox, and focus on what I personally enjoy. I’ve done a lot of work around my passion for fitness and Polish heritage. Taking countless classes pertaining to Polish culture as well as being an active executive board member of the Polisn Student Alliance allowed me to reconnect with the culture I’ve missed ever since I moved to America. Attending many events across Chicago such as seminars for Polish pre-professional students allowed me to find mentors that help put me on the right track. This is something that I’d like to continue doing as a doctor one day, helping other first generation students succeed. I’ve also focused on the field of nutrition and fitness, I’ve worked as a personal trainer and co-founder of the Nutritional Outreach club at Loyola. Our goal is to reach out and support the nearby Rogers Park community. I spent this past semester at Shirley Ryan as a physical rehabilitation intern. Here I first got to experience what a career in physical medicine looks like. All of my experiences make me a well rounded student. They will transfer into my future medical career as a cardiologist or physiatrist, while making me a strong applicant for medical school as well as Dr. Regina Bowgierd’s Scholarship.

Daniel Waszczuk

For more information about the Loyola University Chicago Polish Studies Program, please visit:

Lira’s Future is in Your Hands