The Saint Mary’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI) has opened its application process for the fourth session of SPARK, an eleven-week entrepreneurship training program for women in the greater South Bend community. SPARK 2013 will take place from March 5 to May 16, and participants can choose between morning and evening classes, which run for three hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays. “Since we started in 2011, the SPARK program has really grown,” WEI project director Martha Smith said. “We started with just one session a year and then moved up to two. Inaugurating the evening classes will allow more women to apply for the program. This way we can help spark more businesses.” The program is dedicated to assisting low- to middle-income women in the community gain more business knowledge on how to become entrepreneurs, Smith said. Each woman applies for the program with a business idea and if accepted, she expands her business plan so it can become a reality. Juli Turrell, who works as a realtor with Kaser Realty in South Bend, is one of this year’s applicants. Turrell said she wants to open an alternative therapeutic center in the community. “A friend told me about the program and it seemed like a perfect fit,” Turrell said. “I would like to be an entrepreneur, but there is just so much that I do not know. I hope to be accepted into this program so I can get my business up and running within the next six to nine months.” The SPARK program is modeled after a San Francisco non-profit called the Women’s Initiative, Smith said. Both programs include intense training sessions on topics like marketing, break-even points, mission statements, business plans, stress management, networking, record-keeping and loan information. “SPARK has three phases,” Smith said. “First we begin with the screening sessions, and then we move to program acceleration or the 11-week training sessions. “However, we do not stop there. The third phase is ‘rekindling the flame’. Participants must attend monthly meetings and we provide mentorship for up to a year after the training sessions are finished.” Smith said the greater South Bend community has played a significant role in funding the SPARK program. The main sponsors for the program are First Source, PNC Bank, NIBSCO and Key Bank, as well as small donors from the community. “The beauty of this program is that it’s Saint Mary’s College facilitating a program sponsored by a group of members in the community,” Smith said. “It is from the community and for the community.” Since its first session in 2011, Saint Mary’s has collaborated with the Notre Dame Clinic Law Center to help participants have a better grasp on the legal aspects of owning their own business. Clinical professor of law James Kelly oversees his third-year law students at the center, helping to draft and review contracts, advise and represent clients on leasing, employment and other regulatory compliance obligations. “While we represent both nonprofits and for-profits, the small business clients referred to us from SPARK are a highly valued part of our client base,” Kelly said. “The women receiving business training and mentoring from SPARK are starting interesting and exciting new ventures that benefit greatly from the legal advice and representation that our certified law interns provide. “The center is very proud to support SPARK’s mission of making our local economy more inclusive and fostering the creative energy of the women of our community.” Smith said she is thankful for the clinic’s work and believes this collaboration will only improve the program’s 55 percent success rate. “Our SPARKlers have been very successful,” Smith said. “They have started bilingual daycares, catering services, fitness centers and those are just to name a few. Not only do they leave with the spark to start their own businesses, but each woman blossoms and leaves with increased self-confidence.”
Tickets for student government “Big Board” and Class Board elections at Saint Mary’s were in full campaign mode Thursday following Wednesday’s student body president and vice president campaign speeches, assistant director of Student Involvement and Multicultural Services Graci Martsching said.“Elections are a vital part of the Saint Mary’s experience,” Martsching said. “Nearly every aspect of a student’s Saint Mary’s experience is impacted by the people who are elected to the Big Boards, which include Class Boards, Student Diversity Boars, Student Activities Board and Residence Hall Association.”The students elected to each position will choose campus events, the students’ educational experiences and the initiatives to push in residences halls, Martsching said.Current student body president Kathleen Sullivan said voting will officially take place from 12:01 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. Wednesday. She said each ticket must win a majority vote, and the candidates-elect will be notified of results next Friday.“It is interesting observing these elections because I can tell that all candidates are passionate about the positions they are running for,” Sullivan said. “My advice to these candidates is to keep the fire burning. Your passion for Saint Mary’s is electric. If you’re excited about what you’re doing, chances are the student body will be excited as well.”Sullivan said she has loved working with an organization of almost 50 members while helping contribute to the betterment of the College during her time as student body president.“I’m very proud of the work we have done this year, and I look forward to seeing what future administrations accomplish,” she said.Lauren Osmanski said she and Tori Wilbraham, candidates for president and vice president of the class of 2015, promise to give back to Saint Mary’s by serving both their class and the campus community as a whole.“Saint Mary’s has given us so much,” Osmanski said. “We love the class of 2015 and believe that we can make this year our best year yet.“We want to unite our senior class in creating memories for year to come. This is something the both of us have wanted to do for a long time, and since it is our last year we want to seize the opportunity.”Osmanski said a main goal for her platform is to involve and integrate the class of 2015 in every decision made under her and Wilbraham’s leadership..“As the voice for our senior class, our main goal is to take the traditional events and make them personal for our class,” Osmanski said. “We want to embrace all the relationships that have been made and create events to celebrate these special bonds.”Also running for the president and vice president of the class of 2015 are junior nursing majors and roommates Chloe Deranek and Emily Getz. Deranek said she and Getz saw a need for change in how every student is represented in her class.“We wanted to run because we saw a need for a change, and we really want to give every single person in our class a voice and also keep events down to a minimum cost-wise,” Deranek said. “We saw a need for it in our class, a need to make a change and have a good senior year.”Sullivan acknowledged the importance of addressing a variety of issues and initiatives on campus and said she looks forward to seeing the candidates’ plans come to fruition.“It’s important for students to realize that they have a voice,” she said. “As a student body, we chose who represents Saint Mary’s.”Tags: elections, saint mary’s, Saint Mary’s College, SMC, student body
Two Saint Mary’s alumnae and one student representative have joined the College Board of Trustees, who will host their next round of meetings Oct. 9 and 10, director of media relations Gwen O’Brien said.The Board of Trustees is responsible for governing the College and consists of no less than 26 and no more than 35 trustees, according to the governance manual. Members meet four times a year in October, February, April and June.The board includes College President Carol Ann Mooney, Alumnae Association president Kelly Anne Walsh, one faculty member and one student body member, Victoria Wilbraham, O’Brien said.During the board’s spring meeting earlier this year, alumnae Angela McDonald-Fisher was elected as a trustee, O’Brien said. Wilbraham was appointed to her position as student representative, Walsh assumed her position because she is president of the Alumnae Association Board of Directors.M. Suzanne Sherer Calandra (class of 1972), Elizabeth R. Culligan (class of 1972) and Notre Dame president emeritus Fr. Edward “Monk” Malloy were all re-elected to the board for their third three-year terms, according to a College press release. William W. Cushwa, Gretchen A. Flicker (class of 1993), Patricia Wiedner Purcell (class of 1969), Sister Agnes Anne Roberts (class of 1951) and David L. Taiclet were elected to second terms.Serving as president of the Alumnae Board of Directors since 2012, Walsh is a 2001 graduate, O’Brien said. She earned a bachelor’s degree in statistics and actuarial mathematics at Saint Mary’s and a master’s in business administration from Notre Dame. Walsh is also an executive with CNA Insurance, where she has worked for her entire career, O’Brien said.Walsh said she is eager to be involved and apply her real-world experiences to the future vision of Saint Mary’s.“I’m excited to work with such an impressive group of Trustees to advance the mission of Saint Mary’s College,” Walsh said.McDonald-Fisher, a 1991 graduate, earned her bachelor’s degree in communication studies before pursuing a law degree from the Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington, according to the College press release.An active Saint Mary’s alumna, McDonald-Fisher served on the Alumnae Association Board of Directors from 2012 through this past spring, when she vacated the position in order to join the Board of Trustees. She said she looks forward to joining the diverse group of both people on the board.“I consider it an honor and a privilege to serve the College in this capacity, ” McDonald-Fisher said.Wilbraham will graduate this spring with a history and religious studies degree and a minor in gender and women’s studies. She joins the Board for a one-year term as a full voting member in addition to serving as the director of community involvement for The Smart Girls Group, a national girls empowerment movement.Wilbraham said became interested in the student position last year when the board application was available.“Even though I am currently a student, I hold a full voting position,” Wilbraham said. “The Board of Trustees makes important decisions that affect every person in the Saint Mary’s community.”Wilbraham said she hopes to bring the perspective of a current student to the board.“It is quite an honor to have such a position as a senior in college,” she said. “I have been fortunate to have experienced many different aspects of life here at Saint Mary’s. I thought that my experiences and perspective would make me a valuable member.”The board is a combination of both women and men who work in many different professions, bringing with them a great variety of ideas, Wilbraham said.“Working with so many professional and successful people has been really inspiring,” she said. “Saint Mary’s does a great a job of keeping a diverse board.”Mooney expressed confidence in the board’s newest members, noting their professional experiences and their commitment to Saint Mary’s, she said.“I always look forward to working with our new trustees,” Mooney said. “The three women joining our board this year are all highly qualified and will add their own life experience and professional expertise to our discussions and decisions.”Tags: Alumnae Association, Board of Trustees, Saint Mary’s Board of Trustees
At about 10:30 a.m. Thursday, a small fire in the chimney of Reckers Cafe caused an approximately hour-long evacuation of South Dining Hall.At the scene, University spokesperson Dennis Brown said there were no injuries and no damage to the dining hall building, though there may be some damage to the restaurant’s pizza oven.“There was a fire in the chimney shaft above the Reckers restaurant,” Brown said. “There’s a pizza oven in there. The fire was contained. [There was] a lot of smoke, but no damage in the building itself.”The Notre Dame Fire Department (NDFD) also called in the South Bend and Clay fire departments for support.“They assisted with a large ladder that allowed us to get up above the shaft to find out what was going on,” Brown saidThe cause of the fire could not be determined immediately, Brown said, but the incident is under investigation. Reckers remained closed after the fire for the day, while the rest of the dining hall reopened. About 65 dining hall employees were held outside the building until shortly before 11:30 a.m., when NDFD allowed them to re-enter. Tags: fire, Notre Dame Fire Department, Reckers, South Bend Fire Department, South Dining Hall
Australian-born architect Donald Gray has been named the 2015 recipient of the Rafael Manzano Martos Prize for Classical Architecture and Monument Restoration, an annual award presented by the Notre Dame School of Architecture and the Richard H. Driehaus Charitable Lead Trust.According to a Notre Dame press release, Gray is a Spanish citizen and works out of La Alpujarra. Some of his notable architectural work includes the Urbanización La Virginia in Marbella, Spain; Las Lomas del Marbella Club, a city hall in Pitres, Spain; and the Hotel La Tartana in Granada, Spain. According to a separate release from the Notre Dame School of Architecture, his work is generally referenced as the “Marbella architectural ensembles” and has contributed greatly to “the enrichment and recovery of Andalusian architecture.”“Donald Gray began his career at a time when appreciation for traditional building was at one of the lowest points, and he has succeeded in creating new spaces that inspire and celebrate the traditions of how we live together and how we build,” Michael Lykoudis, the Francis and Kathleen Rooney Dean of Architecture, said. “His story is one of heroism as he persevered undaunted by the popular infatuation with the avant-garde and the often castigating eye of the architectural establishment.”According to the press release, the Manzano Prize honors architects “who defend and preserve vernacular architecture and reinforce Spain’s architectural heritage.” Architects “of any nationality, who submit works that respect the landscape and urbanism of Spanish cities, can be candidates for” the prize. The award is named in honor of Rafael Manzano Martos, a Cadiz-born architect who spent his career working towards “the preservation of the architectural and urban heritage of Spain through both the restoration and design of new architecture based on this heritage.”The origins of the Manzano Prize formed in 2010, when Manzano received the Richard H. Driehaus Prize from Notre Dame and met with Driehaus in Chicago. Dreihaus, according to the press release, was named by Barron’s magazine as one of the top 25 influential financiers of the twentieth century. He has been named an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando “in recognition of his work to preserve the Spanish heritage and his outstanding patronage.” He is the eighth recipient of that title and the first U.S. citizen to receive the honor.According to the press release, Gray will receive 50,000 euros in award money and a medal during the prize ceremony, which will take place on Oct. 28 in Madrid. The Manzano prize is known as “the most generous in Spain in terms of its prize money.” Additionally, the prize establishes a two-day seminar to be held at a later time. This year’s seminar, “Architecture and Humanism,” directly addressed architects and encouraged them to use their occupation as a means of enhancing the quality of life for those they serve, a relevant theme in light of Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, “Laudato Si.”“The ceremony will be held at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando,” MaryBeth Zachariades, communications program director for Notre Dame’s School of Architecture, said. “The ceremony will include remarks from prize juror and [Notre Dame] alumna Melissa DelVecchio, on behalf of Dean Michael Lykoudis, juror Léon Krier, Richard Driehaus and Donald Gray.”“As a classical architecture school devoted to the idea of humanism, we believe in and teach the enduring values that traditional architecture and urbanism embody,” Lykoudis said. “Mr. Gray has made an extraordinary contribution to the idea of the inseparability of urbanism and architecture. His work embodies the Vitruvian values of beauty, utility and durability — all of which are necessary for the cultivation and sustainability of the built and natural environments.”Tags: Donald Gray, Rafael Manzano Martos Prize, Richard Driehaus, School of Architecture, spanish architecture
Breen-Phillips Hall’s (BP) 33rd annual meal auction, when the Notre Dame community will have an opportunity to donate to charity by participating in raffles and silent auctions of a variety of items, gift baskets or meals with “campus celebrities,” is set to take place Friday afternoon. Proceeds from the auction benefit two charities: Meals on Wheels, a local program that delivers meals to those who cannot prepare them themselves, and CURE Childhood Cancer, an organization dedicated to funding research of childhood cancer.Meal Auction commissioners sophomores Kara Shannon, Grace Garvey and Claire Hagerstrom are the main organizers of the event.“This year we have adopted an ‘honorary Babe,’ Cecilia, the daughter of a BP alumna,” Shannon said. “She is battling childhood cancer, so we are donating 25 percent of the meal auction proceeds in her name to CURE Childhood Cancer, [and] 75 percent of the proceeds will go to Meals on Wheels.”Shannon said this year’s theme is “BP Meal Auction 2017: Give for Gold” in honor of gold being the color of childhood cancer and to honor the Dome.“People can participate in the Meal Auction by stopping by, telling their friends and bidding on all the auction items that we have,” Shannon said. “Even stopping in for a few minutes to get some tickets and put names towards baskets is a great way to get involved.”According to the event website, the raffled or auctioned items include box tickets to a Chicago White Sox game, tickets to a Chicago Cubs game, signed sports equipment from Notre Dame athletes, Ray-Ban sunglasses, $100 gift cards to stores such as Urban Outfitters and Lululemon, themed baskets filled with a plethora of prizes and much more.The auctions also include opportunities to dine with “campus celebrities” such as head football coach Brian Kelly and head basketball coach Mike Brey. Other prizes include a private yoga class from Steve Krojniewski, founder of True Balance Yoga, a behind-the-scenes look at the new Student Center led by vice president of student affairs Erin Hoffman Harding and meals with many other professors or faculty members.“We really have something for everyone,” Garvey said. “The Meal Auction brings together people from all over campus and unites them with a common goal, and we love that some professors have given meals every year.”Students can pay for auctioned items or raffle tickets with Domer Dollars, Venmo, cash or checks. Though most items will be sold through a silent auction, competitive items will go up for live auction at 8:30 p.m.“Of course the goals of the auction are to raise money for Meals on Wheels and CURE Childhood Cancer, but also as a dorm we hope to just inspire BP spirit and get everyone excited for all the fun auction items that we have,” Shannon said.Free food and drinks will be provided at the event, which will feature campus brand representatives Coca-Cola and Rockstar and performances by a cappella groups Halftime, Harmonia and the Undertones.“We definitely hope that it’s packed,” Garvey said. “We even booked two rooms this year since last year got so crowded.”Tags: BP meal auction, Breen-Phillips Hall, Brian Kelly, cure childhood cancer, Erin Hoffman-Harding, meals on wheels, Mike Brey
Tags: engineering, graduate, Math, Notre Dame College of Engineering, science, STEM, Welcome Weekend 2017 Notre Dame College of Engineering will welcome ten Saint Mary’s students into its graduate program this year. Saint Mary’s is one of two women’s colleges in the country to offer an engineering program.Students can earn their first bachelor’s degree from Saint Mary’s and then a second bachelor of science in engineering from Notre Dame during a fifth year of study, according to the College’s website. College alumna Kaleigh Ellis, who will earn a degree in chemical engineering at Notre Dame, hopes to pursue a career in research and development for chemical products. Ellis said in an email she decided to partake in the dual degree program because she wanted both a technical education and a liberal arts education.“ … I wanted to learn more about the elements that make up our world but also about the large-scale products designed from those elements,” she said. “I enjoyed the challenges of all my classes and loved how I could still have a technical education along with a strong focus in liberal arts. I like having a well-rounded education, and I believe the skills I have learned from both schools will propel me into a successful career.”Shelby Lem majored in computing and applied mathematics at Saint Mary’s and will study computer science at Notre Dame. Lem said in an email she has always loved math and problem solving but was not sure she would like engineering. “When I decided to go to Saint Mary’s, I knew I wanted to pursue a mathematics degree,” she said. “When I was visiting, I had heard about the engineering program, but I wasn’t exactly sure if I would like engineering or which type of engineering I wanted to do. My sophomore year, we took the [introduction] to engineering course, and I fell in love with all of the programming we got to do in that class and quickly realized I wanted to pursue computer science.”Adrienne Bruggeman majored in chemistry at Saint Mary’s and will pursue an environmental engineering degree at Notre Dame. She said in an email she chose her major because it allowed her to engage in two of her passions: science and engineering.“I think this program catered to my indecisive nature,” she said. “I have always loved learning, and this allowed me to pursue both science and engineering wholeheartedly without having to choose one over the other. I didn’t realize until well into the program that lots of people see no need to combine science and engineering, but I’ve seen the benefit of the overlap.” Patricia Hale will study computer science at Notre Dame and pursue a concentration in cyber security. She said in an email she decided to pursue the dual degree program because she developed an interest in a major and area of study that was not offered at Saint Mary’s. “I wanted to get a degree in computer science and study cyber security, and it was not offered at Saint Mary’s,” she said. “I am super excited to take classes in computer forensics, [which] should be offered in the Spring.”Lem said she does not think transitioning into her fifth year of schooling will be difficult. “I have been going to classes with all of the Notre Dame students in my major for the past three years,” she said. “Other people [who] have gone through the program have told us that their fifth year was their easiest year yet. This is mostly due to our fourth year being so challenging.” Bruggeman said she thinks the transition into her fifth year of education will be seamless. “I am a fully integrated member of my engineering class after the last three years of classes in the program,” she said. “I think the biggest challenge through this transition is missing my friends who weren’t sneaky enough to steal an extra year at Saint Mary’s or Notre Dame.”Lem said she is most looking forward to taking web applications and software engineering classes, as she wants to pursue work as a software developer after college while encouraging more young women to do the same. “After graduating, I hope to work as a software developer, preferably for a clothing or retail company,” she said. “In the future I would also love to start my own company making mobile apps and web services.”Progress is to be made in regards to leveling the gender gap in STEM fields, Lem said.“While the number of women joining the tech world is growing slowly, I believe there is always more we can do,” she said. “Young women need more role models who they can see themselves in. If I can be a role model for at least one young girl, I would feel accomplished.” Bruggeman said she is looking forward to taking some elective classes, as she has not had a chance to do so since her first year at Saint Mary’s.“I’m especially looking forward to my first elective since freshman year, The Chemistry of Distillation and Fermentation,” she said. “I hope that the class will be one of those fun senior year electives that I didn’t get to have last year, and it’s nice that I get a second chance in this respect.”Ellis said she thinks the only difficult aspect of her final year at Notre Dame will be continuing on without the Saint Mary’s professors she has come to know and love. “The one thing I will definitely miss is having classes at Saint Mary’s and all the wonderful professors we have,” she said. Hale said she will miss all her peers who earned degrees in fields unrelated to engineering.“The hardest part of the transition for me will be being without my fellow Belles [who] are not studying engineering,” she said.
Senior Andrew Grose has always loved languages.This love started in his hometown of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where he trained for the national spelling bee as a middle schooler. After making it to the national stage twice, he discovered a passion within himself — studying language.“The most I got out of that [spelling bee] experience was understanding how words come together to create a meaning that goes far beyond the language itself,” Grose said. “And so you can say I’m somebody who deals in that business primarily.”And now, as the class of 2018’s valedictorian, Grose will be employing his love of language in a new way to give the Notre Dame valedictory address May 20 at the commencement ceremony.A double major in pre-professional studies and Spanish, Grose will be graduating with an overall GPA of 3.997. He was also a member of the Glynn Family Honors Program, an early inductee into the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, a four-year member of the Dean’s List and has been the recipient of various service and pre-professional studies awards.“I try not to think of [being valedictorian] as something that has a lot of pressure associated with it,” Grose said. “I think of it not so much as my telling my story, but rather an opportunity to tell the stories of other people I’ve engaged with over the past four years. They’ve been my voice, really.”Grose said he was initially drawn to Notre Dame because it was the only school that advertised “a more social message” in terms of applying what was learned in the classroom.“Ultimately here at Notre Dame it’s not about simply learning information, it’s about how you apply that information to help the neighbor,” Grose said. “For me that’s — that can seem like a very simple statement, but it’s really not if you consider how committed to the concept of discipleship a school like Notre Dame really is.”Though he wasn’t initially able to “find the dialogue” between his majors, Grose said his professors helped him re-define his educational experience and put both of his academic disciplines under the Notre Dame vision of education and social justice.“I certainly would not have the stance that I have now on how medicine can be an agent for social change if I had not taken Spanish here,” he said. “Because that was where I really learned to apply all facets of my education, through the department of romance languages — it’s definitely I think one of the University’s best-kept secrets, if it is a secret.”Grose was also a four-year member in the Marching Band drumline and two-year member in the Liturgical Choir. Grose’s band experience, he said, was “unbelievable” and was the first activity that made him feel comfortable at Notre Dame.“[Band] made me an ambassador for the University without even knowing what the University stood for,” Grose said. “It gave me more confidence in representing a place, a culture like Notre Dame’s. … It’s really cool to just see all of us going in defined directions, much more defined than we would’ve thought when we were having conversations about our education three years ago at this point.”An enormous turning point in his college career, Grose said, was studying abroad in Toledo, Spain the summer after his sophomore year and doing a international summer service learning program in El Salvador the summer after his junior year. “Each of them was so important for me in terms of my educational and my personal formation,” he said. “I’d been studying [Spanish] since grade school, but I’d say here is where I really started to learn it and apply it.”His El Salvadoran experience was much more than language immersion, Grose said, because of its medical and Catholic Social Teaching orientation. It also contributed to the focus of Grose’s senior thesis, which was a profile of El Salvadoran poet Roque Dalton and a close-reading of his poetry.“For me, [the Notre Dame experience has] really been finding a voice with which I can speak about, discuss, debate and further exploit issues that matter to me,” he said. “And it’s not necessary that you know what issues those are before you start developing those skills, which is why I’ve really enjoyed having the mentors I’ve had here … the issues kind of fell in place for me in terms of Latin America, US-Latino experience, healthcare in general and public health.”Grose found service opportunities through his extracurriculars, as well — he was a volunteer at La Casa de Amistad, a South Bend Latino community center where he said the idea of transnationalism became visible to him. He was also a mentor in ‘Bandlink,’ a band program that provides music lessons to kids in the South Bend area. “I think it’s been incredible to grow from a very scared freshman — I didn’t even know how to march at that point — into somebody who is teaching people how to do that,” Grose said. “And how to uphold the traditions that our University represents. … I mean none of that would have been possible without the people guiding me through it all [the last] four years.”Some of the most important guidance he received, Grose said, was from the advising groups and professors in both pre-professional studies and Spanish.“All of them have given me so much to think about whenever I’ve come to them with a question on anything, really,” he said. “How to go about interpreting a poem, how to put a sociological term in context, how to make sense of what I could possibly do with my life. They’ve been such amazing multi-dimensional mentors in that sense.”Being around a group of people who have “so much energy” in the undergraduate atmosphere and are so service-minded is amongst the top things Grose said he’ll miss most about Notre Dame.“I think Notre Dame has a special kind of draw to people who are pulled by their desire to really put the information they’re learning in the context they’ve engaged in into action and ultimately for some higher purpose, whether it’s equity, justice, anything,” he said. “That’s something that so many of my friends here really deeply care about and it’s something that really defines the student identity here, that I’ll miss for sure.”This isn’t the end of Grose’s Notre Dame journey, however — he said he will be returning next fall to pursue a master’s degree in Iberian and Latin American studies.“My ultimate goal is to find some sort of role where I can balance public health, worker and physician roles and national and international roles,” he said. “If anything, though, the thing that’s been on my mind ever since I left my service-learning experience last year is finding a way to get back to Central America because that is where I met people who really moved with a purpose unlike anything I’d ever seen in any discipline I’ve explored throughout my time at Notre Dame.”Tags: 2018 Commencement, Andrew Grose, class of 2018, Commencement, valedictorian
Interested in sharing your own experiences about searching for mental health and wellness resources while at Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s or Holy Cross? The Observer wants to hear from you. Fill out our form here to get in touch.Tags: counselors, Health and Counseling Center, Mental health, [email protected] Editor’s Note: This is the first article in an investigative series on the accessibility and effectiveness of mental health resources available within the tri-campus community. On Oct. 21, Saint Mary’s announced via email that Health and Counseling Center director Elizabeth “Izzy” Fourman would resign in order to take on a position at Notre Dame. While the College has detailed a plan for the Center in the interim between hiring a full-time replacement, many students still feel uncertain about many health and wellness resources on Saint Mary’s campus. Seniors Grace Erving and Jillian Dani are enrolled in the social work courses Research Methods and Statistical Concepts I and II. Through these classes, they have advocated for increased accessibility of mental health resources on campus through a study of online mental health resources and whether those can supplement student mental health needs. Dani said mental health is often stigmatized, which prevents those who suffer from issues with their mental health to feel as though they are able to reach out and seek the resources they so desperately need.“Mental health seems to be stigmatized and tends to lack the proper attention really needed to help individuals,” Dani said. “We felt that even though there are resources available on campus, the idea of there being more options and more flexibility could benefit the students of Saint Mary’s.”In 2019, the College launched “[email protected]’s,” a digital health and wellness provider that can provide students with resources which can help supplement counselor visits. Students can access the program from anywhere with internet access. Erving has looked into the [email protected]’s program in order to assess its potential impact on Saint Mary’s students. She said she found the program to be helpful in providing students with personal resources. “When Jill and I researched online mental health resources, we did find that personal research can be a form of strength for those experiencing mental distress,” Erving said. “So, I would categorize [email protected]’s as a type of program which can connect students to personal resources, but does not provide concrete mental health intervention.” The program works by surveying students and connecting them with specific articles that can help them better navigate the plethora of resources available online, Erving said. “They offer three or four ‘reality checks’ where you can go through and answer questions in a survey to get a feel for areas where you’re thriving or struggling in life,” she said. “Once you complete the reality checks, the program will offer you articles and connection to resources that can further be of use.”Erving said she feels that [email protected]’s is a “step in the right direction,” but feels that the College requires “a leap in the right direction,” not a step. “Mental health is often not prioritized until it’s too late, and having only three counselors available for a school of 1,600 students is unacceptable given the need,” she said. “Saint Mary’s trumpets having small class sizes … so in what way is a 533:1 counselor [to student] ratio acceptable?”Claire Kopischke | The Observer Vice president for student affairs Karen Johnson said in an email that the College, which authorizes the hiring for the Health and Counseling Center, has no plans to hire extra counselors, even though, as Erving stated, the Center employs only three counselors who each conduct 45 to 50 minutes counseling sessions with students. In September, the Observer interviewed Fourman on the state of the Health and Counseling Center. Fourman said in an email that, inevitably, students will often wait up to a few weeks to see a counselor. “Between high utilization and class schedules, it often takes a couple weeks to get in with a counselor,” Fourman said. Johnson said the College has “made adjustments” to make the waiting period between appointments shorter. She said students generally wait 10 days after making an appointment to see a counselor, which is “shorter than the average on a college campus of our size.” Saint Mary’s employs more counselors per 1,000 students than the average college, Fourman said, but female students tend to have a higher need for counselors. “The national average tends to be about one counselor per 1,000 students,” she said. “We have three for 1,500; however, you have to take into account that we are all female and our demographic tends to utilize [counselors] at a higher rate.”Often, Fourman said, sessions are scheduled around the urgency of student need. “If someone is in urgent need of a counseling appointment, they need to make us aware so we can work them in sooner,” she said. “That said, we are not a crisis center, and if someone is truly in crisis, they need to call 911 or go to the emergency room.” Fourman said there is a session limit of eight counseling sessions per semester for students, but the Health and Counseling Center will make exceptions only if the student has an increased need for more visits. Of the counselors, Fourman said they are a confidential resource, which means information shared with the counselors is protected by federal and state laws and cannot be shared without permission. While the counselors can be a beneficial resource for students, Fourman said there are certain circumstances in which students would be recommended to see an off-campus healthcare provider. “There are a few situations where students would be better served by an off-campus provider,” she said, “whether for specialty care — severe eating disorders, addiction specialists — or if we simply cannot accommodate a need for more frequent or higher acuity sessions.” Fourman said she recommends students seek out counseling services early, before they are in crisis. “Don’t wait until you are in crisis to seek support,” she said. “If you feel like life is getting out of control, reach out.”All in all, Erving and Dani hope their study will help bring positive and tangible change to the College’s campus.“Jill and I really hope that at the end of this study we can hand our work to the administration, showing them concrete needs of students and what they can do to fix it,” Erving said.
In a statement released Friday the Notre Dame Black Student Association (BSA) called members of the University community to action in regards to racial injustice. The statement was signed by members of the BSA, Africana Studies Club, Black Business Association, Black Cultural Arts Council, Frontline, Multicultural Pre-Medicine Society, National Society of Black Engineers, Shades of Ebony and Wabruda.The statement identified six main areas for improved action, the first being amongst campus and local policing. In addition to annual extensive racial bias training, the statement requests the University inform the student body about instances of racial injustice that occur in the greater South Bend community.“We currently receive emails about thefts that happen in the area so there is a platform for which this action can occur,” the statement said. “Acknowledging a loss of life does not require a political stance and would further bridge the divide between Notre Dame and South Bend.”In regards to boundaries and challenges in student life, “Black students also face additional burdens as they interact with peers and faculty on campus,” the statement said.BSA implored the administration to recruit more students of color in an effort to make the student body more representative of the United States population.Additionally, the statement asked the administration to “reiterate the University’s intolerance to any act of discrimination and increase transparency when situations arise,” and for all students to strive to create an inclusive environment. In regards to mental health, the statement requests that the University pay better attention to the mental health of Black students as racial trauma prevails in daily life. The statement acknowledged virtual resources available from the University Counseling Center (UCC) regarding racial injustice, but stated that they were not adequate. “These responses are insufficient in terms of providing the correct form of help to its Black students who may experience an increase of anxiety and depression and overall uncertainty, during this time,” the statement said. The statement outlined three calls to action including the addition of more Black counselors to the UCC staff, the inclusion of mental health related questions to the Inclusive Campus Survey and for a more thorough plan of action for students to deal with situations, much like the current one. In regards to professors and staff, the statement asked the University to require professors to take diversity training and a cultural competency test prior to teaching in order to combat against professors who engage in problematic behavior that harms Black students.“Black students have made note of professors who allow other students to overstep boundaries, professors who force Black students to speak on subjects about Black struggles, or professors who make racist/prejudiced comments or allow other students to make them,” the statement said.The students urged the administration to commit to hiring more Black professors and administrators in every school and major in the University, as the lack of diversity makes it difficult for Black students to connect to their processors. In addition, the statement pointed out a retention issue for the few Black professors employed by the University, and asked the administration to provide more Black professors with an avenue for tenure. “Black professors have varied bodies of knowledge that are not only reflected in their research but the way that they structure their classes,” the statement said. “Even if they are not teaching subjects about race, Black students will still feel more comfortable contributing in class and going to office hours if their professors look like them.”While the Moreau First Year Experience includes units on privilege and cultural competency, the statement said these components “often fall short because of unfamiliarity from both students and instructors.”The statement urged all students to participate in these conversations rather than simply depending on students of color to contribute and offered structural changes to the course to make the units more effective. The statement suggested a cultural competency and privilege component to the end of semester capstone project for the fall and spring semesters, respectively, and proposed dedicating five classes to discussions regarding cultural competency, diversity and inclusion.Pointing to Notre Dame’s commitment to the principles of the Catholic Social Tradition (CST), the statement argued that the University “often fails to uphold these principles with respect to all aspects of human life and dignity.”While solidarity is one of the themes of CST, the statement said solidarity is “impossible when the largest stakeholder group of students in our community are not equipped with the ability and desire to fight against injustice.”As the majority of the University’s population is white and the median household income is among the highest for students around the country, a large portion of the student body is not equipped to understand the effects of socioeconomic inequality and racial injustice, the statement said. To combat this issue, the statement suggested professors in all schools incorporate discussions regarding racial justice into their curriculum and mandate students take at least two classes on race, social justice or multiculturalism.The statement also asked the University to support other pro-life events like Black Lives Matter marches in the same manner in which it supports the March for Life.To conclude the call to action, the writers thanked the University for the prayer service held in honor of George Floyd’s murder but asked Notre Dame to the continue to acknowledge social injustice and combat racism.“While we recognize and appreciate Fr. Hesburgh’s great contributions to the Civil Rights Movement, his legacy is so much more than a single picture,” the statement said. “It should inspire us to create new images of resistance and resilience instead of holding onto the past as proof of commitment.”Tags: Africana Studies Club, Black Business Association, Black Cultural Arts Council, Black Student Association, Frontline, Multicultural Pre-Medicine, National Society of Black Engineers, Racism, Shades of Ebony, Wabruda