Senior Michael J. O’Brien has been named valedictorian of the 2012 Notre Dame graduating class and will present the valedictory address during the May 20 Commencement ceremony, the University announced in a press release Friday. O’Brien, a political science major and philosophy minor from St. Charles, Ill., will graduate with a 4.0 grade point average and will also be awarded an International Business Certificate from the Mendoza College of Business. O’Brien is editor-in-chief of “Beyond Politics: Undergraduate Journal of Politics,” and serves as president of the Notre Dame College Democrats and vice president of service for Notre Dame Circle K. He is also a fellow in Notre Dame’s National Security Program and has participated in small-group discussions with national security scholars and experts. Under the direction of political science professor Sebastian Rosato, O’Brien developed an original theory on the influence of the structure of unipolar international systems on the foreign policy behavior of the unipolar state. He has also researched religious freedom, regime composition and Islamic political movements in Muslim-majority countries. This summer, O’Brien and Rosato will co-author an article on the durability of U.S. primacy, which will be published by the Nobel Institute in Norway and an American journal of international relations. A finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship and the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, O’Brien will enter the University of Chicago Law School this far on a full-tuition merit scholarship. Senior Ashley K. Logsdon, a double major in biological science and theology from Pickerington, Ohio, will give the Commencement invocation. She will graduate with a 3.99 grade point average.
This weekend, Saint Mary’s will welcome men from all over the country as fathers arrive on campus for Senior Dads Weekend, a three-day long event that encourages fathers to reconnect with their daughters through both organized and informal activities. Senior Sarah Huser said she is looking forward to sharing her college experience with her father for a few days. “It’s not something most college students get to do. I feel like the Saint Mary’s community extends beyond the student body and the professors;, it encompasses each person’s family,” she said. “I’m excited to let him experience first-hand why I love Saint Mary’s so much.” Senior and Elkhart native Mara Scott said she plans to give her father a personal tour of campus as well, even though she sees her parents about once a week. “It’ll be fun to show him around and literally walk through my daily schedule with him,” Scott said. “He’s not as involved in my college life so it’s nice to involve him in it on my own terms.” Scott said she is also interested to meet the male role models who have influenced her peers. “I’m so used to talking with my friends’ moms and having them talk to my mom, but I haven’t even met most of my friends’ dads. I’m not sure what to expect. It will be a good environment because we’re doing manly things, like the beer tasting,” Scott said. “I plan on tailgating and then going to a screening of the football game in Vander Vennet Theatre.” Senior Maggie Galvin said her father hasn’t visited Saint Mary’s since her older sister’s graduation two years ago. “I seriously just got off the phone with him about [this weekend],” Galvin said. “He loves spending quality time with me. I’m definitely daddy’s little girl.” The weekend’s official events include evening entertainment in Noble Family Dining Hall, “The Secret Garden,” a game watch and a Mass. “I’m pumped for the beer garden,” Galvin said. “I think my goal of the weekend is to make my dad feel like he’s back at school and living it up with his frat.” Scott said she is most enthusiastic about the hypnotist featured in the Dining Hall Friday night. “I’m hoping it’s the one that they’ve had at ND. I’ve been to three shows over there and it seems so fun and unusual,” she said. “I want my dad to be hypnotized!” In comparison with her Moms Weekend experience, senior Nicole DeRoche said she anticipates a more laid-back, “carefree” weekend with her father. “I would probably shop with my mom, whereas my dad and I will most likely go to the Football Hall of Fame, out to eat and then out to bars,” DeRoche said. “My dad’s a Notre Dame alum, and he’s eager to return to his old stomping ground and show me where he used to party.” While Senior Dads Weekend is a privilege for Saint Mary’s students, it also marks the beginning of the end of their time at the College. “It’s one of the things that I’ve looked forward to since freshman year,” Galvin said. “So it’s almost surreal for both me and my parents for me to be in my last year of school. When I started college [my dad] told me it was just going to fly by and here I am … approaching an event that already marks the end of it.” Huser said her father is apprehensive about her impending graduation. “Honestly, the weekend is probably more important to him than it is to me. I’m excited about being a senior and he isn’t,” Huser said. “I’m moving out of the house officially in six months and as much as he respects the person who I have become, there’s no doubt he’s missing the little girl who always ran up to him in the driveway when he pulled in on his truck.” For DeRoche, this weekend represents a unique father-daughter bonding experience. “We’ll definitely be having a lot of ‘what’s happening next’ conversations,” DeRoche said. “It’s a special time for my father because it will probably be the last organized event we’ll ever do together, besides the father-daughter dance at marriage.” Contact Rebecca O’Neil at [email protected]
Saint Mary’s College hosted 2014 Fulbright Women’s Re-entry Seminar this past week.The seminar, held April 9-13, included about 45 female Fulbright graduate students from Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the Saint Mary’s press release. In the seminar, students examined the difficulties they may face in their re-entry into the professional communities of their home countries.The Saint Mary’s Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership (CWIL) focused on the re-entry process and women’s leadership, Mana Derakhshani, associate director of CWIL, said.“The seminar is focused on helping the women with the transition back to their home countries. Workshops deal with reverse culture shock, leadership styles, women’s issues globally and practical skills such as networking, grant-writing, problem-solving and conflict resolution,” Derakhshani said.In addition to sessions led by CWIL faculty and staff and Saint Mary’s political science and English professors, the press release said five participants from the local community were invited to engage as part of a panel discussion.“Each of the women on the panel of local women leaders shared with the participants their personal leadership journey and talked about challenges they had faced and ways that they had overcome them,” Derakhshani said.The panel members included Kathryn Schneider, executive director of St. Margaret’s House; Linda Baechle, president and CEO of the YWCA of North Central Indiana; Andrea Popielski, executive director of Hannah’s House; Jesusa Rivera, Mexican-American community activist and bilingual case manager for Proteus and Yully Ortega, a Hispanic quality expansion specialist for the Indiana Association for Child Care Resources and Referral, the press release said.Another local, retired director of bilingual services for the South Bend Community School Corporation, Maritza Robles, was the seminar’s keynote speaker.Derakhshani said the seminar schedule was very intensive, although some events were planned to provide social interludes.“Events of note were the visit to the Amish community for a specially prepared Amish meal in an Amish home and a tour of the Menno Hof museum, the panel of women leaders followed by the opportunity to visit the organizations that they represented, dinner and an evening at a local family’s home and attending ‘The Wiz,’ a musical theater show at the South Bend Civic Theater,” Derakhshani said.At the end of the seminar, the women will complete their studies, according to the press release.Derakhshani said the women attended from universities all across the country.Although the application process to host the seminar was highly competitive, Derakhshani said Saint Mary’s had a well-established involvement with the Fulbright Program.“Saint Mary’s has hosted Foreign Language Fulbright Teaching Assistants in Arabic and Chinese for the past few years,” she said. “Saint Mary’s faculty have obtained Fulbright grants for research or teaching abroad [and] students have obtained Fulbright grants to go to graduate school … or to teach English in another country.”She also noted the similarity between the seminar’s mission and the College’s.“While we have never hosted this specific event before, Fulbright’s goals for the participants … are closely aligned with Saint Mary’s mission of preparing women to make a difference in the world,” Meyer-Lee said.“Through this event, we hope to shine a light on Saint Mary’s College as a place that prepares women to become global leaders. We also knew that having 35 to 40 young women from overseas on our campus would widen our horizons if only a few days,” Derakhshani said. Tags: Fulbright
The Notre Dame football team suffered a tough loss to Arizona State University (ASU) on Saturday as the Sun Devils scored 28 points off turnovers on their way to beating the Irish, 55-31, at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.Senior John Doran, the Leprechaun mascot for Notre Dame, cited the injuries on defense and multiple turnovers as major contributing factors to Notre Dame’s poor performance.Karla Moreno “We spotted them a bunch of points, and it’s tough to come back from that,” Doran said. “I think we showed in the second half that we could move the ball, but it was too late.”The Irish also faced a noisy stadium full of loyal ASU fans looking to support a Sun Devils team trying to prove its place in the top 10.“The Arizona State crowd was also impressive,” Doran said. “The crowd was loud, and the band did a good job of leading their ‘A-S-U’ chant. As it was really our second true away game, it was second only to FSU so far in loudness.”Lorraine Sedlacek, a devoted Notre Dame alumna who has attended at least one football game in most of the years since her graduation in 1978, said she traveled with her family from their home in New Jersey to see the game.“The atmosphere in the stadium was electric,” she said. “The ASU fans were pumped, and there were tons of them. There was lots of tailgating, a large, packed, vocal student section and proud alumni and fans. There was a sea of gold shirts in the stadium. The band was a big and active part of the crowd much like our band. The reaction to the big plays was pandemonium.”Despite ASU’s distance from Notre Dame, the Irish managed to attract a considerable fan presence in Tempe.“The Notre Dame fan base out here was terrific,” Doran said. “We have Friday night pep rallies with the local alumni clubs when we are on the road, and this was one of the best ones. Hundreds of Notre Dame fans and alumni came out to see our pep rally. John Huarte, Reggie Brooks, Troy Niklas and John Carlson all spoke at the rally. I had a lot of fun doing that.”At the game, Sedlacek said the stadium contained two large sections of Notre Dame fans.Doran and Sedlacek both attested to the fans’ loud enthusiasm during Notre Dame’s brief turn-around in the second half, but Sedlacek said at the end of the game, Notre Dame fans could hardly believe what they had seen.“The ND fans reaction to our abysmal performance was complete shock and disbelief,” Sedlacek said. “It was the same disbelief I felt while sitting at the BCS Bowl against Alabama. For me, I couldn’t believe this was the same team that played against FSU. [The third quarter team] was the ND team we expected to play the whole game. I just feel bad for the team. They are better than they played.”Some supporters found positive takeaways.“At the end of the day this team showed that they will always keep fighting,” Doran said. “We have a solid, young team, and we still have a great opportunity to do big things this season and in the future.”The loss drops the Irish to a 7-2 record with a home game against the Northwestern Wildcats on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.Tags: Arizona State University, ASU game, football, Sun Devils
The 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Student Leadership Symposium, an annual three-day seminar focused on strengthening the bonds between the 15 schools in the ACC, will take place Friday through Sunday at Notre Dame.Keri O’Mara This year’s theme, “Inspiring Inclusion, Creating Community, Launching Leaders,” implemented by symposium co-leads and seniors Stephanie Klotter and Juan Rangel, aims to unite ACC schools through activities and programs focused on promoting academics and athletic opportunities.“The conference is a chance for five student leaders from all ACC schools to get together and discuss issues of social change that may affect the campuses of ACC universities,” Klotter said.By promoting connections among student leaders from all the ACC schools, the symposium creates networks, Rangel said. The leadership training formation sessions specifically provide students with the necessary tools to implement programs for inclusion at their respective institutions.“We thought the issue of inclusion would allow us to connect to issues that Notre Dame has been talking about, especially for the last four years that we’ve been here,” Rangel said. “It’s been a subject of controversy sometimes and just general discussions other times, and we know that we’re leading in some respects and also failing in others.”The conference is also an opportunity to promote exchange of ideas and develop strategies to confront campus issues, an effort which Rangel said he hopes can occur as attendees learn from other schools and analyze proposals for change.Student leaders will accomplish this through a variety of scheduled events, Klotter said.“The conference consists of keynote speakers, workshops, community service trips, team projects and fun activities for the delegates coming,” Klotter said. “The conference concludes with each team project group presenting on an issue of inclusion and how it can be addressed on ACC campuses.”Delegates will be randomly placed in groups upon arrival in order to discuss topics such as religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and gender, Rangel said.“Their task the entire weekend is developing a presentation that allows for them to discover what the obstacles are in contemporary times for their chosen groups as well as what are some possible strategies that they can [use to] confront those obstacles,” he said. “They’re not required to implement those strategies at their institution, but we hope that just by developing these ideas and seeing what all the other students come up with allows them to start brainstorming.”Ninety individuals are scheduled to visit Notre Dame for this event, which Klotter said is a great opportunity for the University to show the ACC what Notre Dame has to offer.“As newcomers to the conference, it is important for the University to form this relationship beyond the sporting fields, and this is a great first step,” she said. “… The work that is going to be done by the issues that are going to be addressed are ones that could spark conversations not only [for] those attending the conference, but also [for] other student leaders at Notre Dame.”Two keynote speakers, comedian Amanda Seales and adjunct instructor of management Christopher Stevens, will address symposium attendees Friday and Sunday, respectively.“[Stevens] really exemplifies leadership in every sense of the word,” Klotter said. “… Professor Stevens also has unbelievable past leadership experience through being on the Notre Dame basketball team, to founding Keurig, to investing in many different startup companies, to now teaching the management and MBA classes.”Stevens exemplifies the values and spirit that Klotter said she hopes the delegates can employ to become inclusive and inspiring leaders. Overall, forming connections with other leaders is the goal for the attendees, Rangel said.“I hope that the delegates are able to learn from the workshops, lectures and all the formal activities that we have planned for them, but also, informally, learn how to develop networks and relationships with other student leaders,” Rangel said.Tags: 2015 ACC Student Leadership Symposium, Christopher Stevens, Creating Community, Inspiring Inclusion, Juan Rangel, Launching Leaders, Stephanie Klotter
Loyal Daughters and Sons (LDS), an annual student performance of stories about gender issues, sexuality, relationships and religion at Notre Dame, will begin Thursday in the Hesburgh Library.The production, sponsored by the Gender Studies Program, features skits and monologues based on anonymous interviews with students. The performance is meant to tell those students’ stories, many of which involve sexual assault or discrimination based on sexual identity, co-producer and senior Monica Daegele said.“We all know the statistics about how many people report [sexual assault],” Daegele said. “We all know the statistics about how many people suffer from discrimination because of their sexual orientation. Our main goal is to give the student body the ability to really pay tribute to those experiences and to understand their impact.”The theme of this year’s performance, sponsored by the Gender Studies program, is “Victim:Survivor,” which co-producer and senior Michael Nolan said reflects an ongoing process of healing.“We want to highlight the path someone might take to leave identifying themselves as a victim and move on to identifying themselves in a more powerful way, as a survivor,” he said.The performances depict a variety of scenarios and viewpoints, senior and LDS director Zachary Wendeln said.“It’s an attempt to balance perspectives,” he said. “We’re not getting the same perspectives or the same issue repeated. There’s one monologue given by a priest about his take on sexuality and his understanding of it.”Preparations for LDS began last semester, when Daegele and Nolan conducted interviews and gathered written submissions of students’ stories and thoughts. Over winter break, they put together the material for the show, and they and Wendeln held auditions rehearsals in January and February.While each skit or monologue is based on true stories, the way the interviews are incorporated into the production depends on the nature of the interview and the theme of the LDS production. Nolan said this year’s production includes stories performed in previous years, as well as 10 new stories based on interview material from this year and past years.Daegele said some stories are based on a single interview. Other stories combine several interviews, or a single interview could be the basis for several stories.The interviews are often a “cathartic process” for the interviewees, Daegele said.“We had a series of questions that we can ask them, so some individuals want to go through the questions and answer the questions, and for others, they’ll just talk,” she said. “It’s definitely just a way to talk about their experience in a safe environment with a third party with anonymity and confidentiality. It’s extremely helpful and cathartic for those individuals.”Daegele said the point of the production is “to raise awareness and to witness the experience of the individual.”“It’s a profound tool for empathy,” she said.The show’s actors as well as the audience are encouraged to understand and empathize with the stories shared, Wendeln said. “One thing that I’ve stressed with the actors is that it’s not actors or acting, so much as immersing yourself into these experiences and treating them with the respect and dignity and truth which they deserve and from which they come,” Wendeln said. “It’s all coming from a place of truth and reality.”Sophomore Victoria Velasquez said she got involved in LDS this year after participating in Show Some Skin, a monologue show about differing identities.“I’m really passionate about gender issues, so when I saw information about LDS, I thought it was the perfect way to apply what I’d learned in Show Some Skin and do the same thing as I had done in Show Some Skin, but strictly related to gender issues,” she said.Velasquez said she auditioned for the production with “Touchdown Jesus,” an LDS monologue about a student who was raped by a football player.“Just hearing that made me very emotional, knowing that someone you could be sitting next to in the dining hall has gone through such a horrible experience,” she said.For this year’s show, Velasquez will give a different monologue, which she said she believes is a word-for-word submission, though because the source material is confidential, she can’t be certain.She said working with student actors and producers has been encouraging.“I’m really passionate about talking about inequality amongst genders, but there are a lot of things I see on campus with my friend groups that I just ignore because it’s just the norm here,” Velasquez said. “I feel personally there’s not much I can ever do to change the gender relations on campus, but I think it’s great that there’s a group of people that’s willing to put in so much time and effort into bringing awareness to these issues.”Nolan said the show provides a safe space to talk about gender issues, relationships and sexuality.“A lot of people go through issues like these at Notre Dame end up hating Notre Dame, or feel they don’t belong because the institution hurt them in such a bad way,” Nolan said “… This show tells them that there are people here who listen to you, who empathize with you, who feel the same things you feel. It’s okay, it’s a place for your story to be, and it will be heard.”The performance will take place in the Carey Auditorium of the Hesburgh Library at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $3 for Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross students and $5 for non-students.
Caitlyn Jordan Students pause to examine a display in O’Shaughnessy Hall Monday. The display is part of a three-week exhibit titled “Germany’s Confrontation with the Holocaust in a Global Context.”For the next three weeks, students and faculty walking through the Great Hall in O’Shaughnessy Hall will be able to view an exhibition entitled “Germany’s Confrontation with the Holocaust in a Global Context.” Notre Dame will be hosting lectures, gallery talks and a film series in coordination with the exhibit, and this collaborative effort is entitled “Remembrance: The Holocaust in a Global Context.” Monday afternoon, William Donahue, professor and chair of the department of German and Russian languages and literatures, presented the opening talk for the exhibition. Donahue said Eric Santer, a Germanist at the University of Chicago introduced the term “post-Holocaust” into academic discourse in the 1990s. “It is meant to displace and challenge the more commonplace moniker ‘postwar,’ by depriving us of one of the most oft-repeated excuses for the atrocities, especially as expressed by Germans unwilling to face up to the distinctive targeting and murder of a civilian and defenseless population,” he said. “The German phrase one reads in memoir after memoir, and hears again and again in documentaries is, ‘Es war ja Krieg’ — ‘It was, after all, war.’ This way of thinking invites us to dismiss the unprecedented organized mass murder as a casualty of war. War is terrible, and these things just happen.”Donahue said he wants students to grasp the meaning of “post-Holocaust,” which he defined as “the understanding of the way our present world is a product of the Holocaust.” “Yet, while understanding the Holocaust as prerequisite to grasping the modern world, it is also necessary to understand the way in which atrocity wants almost immediately to be ameliorated and softened in the hearts and minds of those charged with its very memory,” he said. “It is frequently just too much to bear. So even while we practice memory, we make serious concessions to ‘Holocaust exhaustion,’ sometimes even confusing the two.”Rather than dismissing the reality of the Holocaust or falling victim to “Holocaust exhaustion,” Donahue said he urges students to fully realize the severe reality of the Holocaust.“My wish for you as you look at this exhibit over the next several weeks is that you allow it to touch you and surprise you, even if much of it will strike you as familiar,” he said. “And please don’t try to take it in all at once. Do what Brecht said every smart reader should do when reading great literature: talk back to it, ask questions, make objections and, when appropriate, learn to say no. But learn also to ask yourselves why you are moved to respond in the manner you do. Notice what offends you, attend to what troubles and puzzles you.”Donahue also said he was asked by the exhibition organizers to comment upon the large crucifix that hangs on the wall of the Great Hall. The comment was particularly relevant because of the outrage that was caused years ago when Polish nuns included a crucifix as part of a memorial near Auschwitz. He said that if one views the cross as a depiction of “ethnic pride” or if one would plant a crucifix “in the way that some plant a flag,” then there is no place for such artifacts near a Holocaust exhibit.However, Donahue said he interpreted the crucifix’s juxtaposition with the exhibition as a demonstration of solidarity in suffering. “But if you see the Cross of Christ as a scandal, as a mystery of undeserved, and indeed shocking, suffering and perhaps also as an arrestingly honest depiction of the fragility of the entire human condition, then perhaps you will find it a useful way for framing this exhibit after all. My beloved undergraduate advisor wrote a little book that has left a lasting impression on me. It is called “Jesus, the Compassion of God.” And so this is how I view this crucifix: as a profound, and indeed divine, sign of solidarity in suffering,” he said. “Solidarity in suffering — what better way to frame an exhibit on the Holocaust?”The Department of German and Russian Languages and Literature is sponsoring the exhibit in coordination with the Department of Theology, the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, the program for philosophy, religion and literature and the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts.Tags: Center for Civil and Human Rights, department of german and russian languages, Holocaust, ISLA, Kroc Institute, Nanovic Institute, Theology
Saint Mary’s alumna Molly Bell, class of 1997, will host the third annual Bloom Seminar, in which middle school-aged girls and their mothers will participate in two workshops — “Love Your Beauty” and “Confidence: A Journey” — to develop the girls’ confidence and self-esteem. The Bloom Seminar will run July 10 in conjunction with the fine arts and sports camps at the College this summer.According to Bell, the idea for the seminar stemmed from her role in advertising. She said she knew young women could be affected by the media, and when she had a daughter, she felt compelled to do something to help young girls during a critical time in their growth.“‘Love Your Beauty’ is really talking about, ‘Is beauty what you see on the outside or is beauty from the inside?’” she said. “Even though everything around them is inundating them and telling them that outer beauty is where they’re supposed to put the most emphasis, and that’s what defines them, when you really step back and think about the women that you love in your life and the women you look up to, the things that really matter come down to your inner beauty.”Bell said this workshop focuses on educating young girls about issues surrounding female beauty, such as objectification, while “Confidence: A Journey” focuses more on confidence in a more realistic sense.“Confident isn’t something we just decide we’re going to be,” Bell said. “It’s actually a state of being that is in flux. With girls, we always tell them, ‘We want you to be empowered and we want you to be confident,’ but for a lot of young girls, it feels daunting.”According the Bell, this workshop will show girls that confidence comes from bravery.“We gain confidence by fear and overcoming fear,” she said. “When something tragic happens in our lives, the confidence comes from getting back up. That confidence is not just this pretty, white thing that grows on a tree and you grab it. It’s actually kind of dirty. We have to go through pain and hardship to get to confidence.“Confident women are usually women that have a story.”In 2013, Saint Mary’s published “The Status of Girls in Indiana,” the first comprehensive study on the health and well-being of girls done in Indiana.“Saint Mary’s was really feeling strongly that they wanted to respond to some of these statistics, one of which that high school girls seem that they have more of an incidence of depression and they feel this pressure for perfection,” she said. “By doing that report, [the College] sent the message that [it is a] part of Indiana and part of wanting to make sure women’s health is addressed as a whole.“Not only just the women that are students but for young women in their state. My program also speaks to that — that Saint Mary’s is invested in young women and women’s health.”The seminar is targeted at girls in fifth through seventh grade because they are on the verge of puberty and are trying to find who they are, Bell said.“They’re trying to assert themselves and to find their place in the world,” Bell said. “I felt it was important to meet with them and to have an experience with them almost when they’re on the cusp of [puberty] and before they hit it because I think they’re still rooted in their moms, and their mom has been through that. I wanted to have an experience where mom and daughter could maybe talk about some issues before they’re in the throes of it.”Bell said the focus of the mother-daughter relationship throughout the seminar serves to empower both mother and daughter to work through some of the self-esteem issues faced by young girls.“As much as we don’t think we need [mothers] when we’re in middle school, your mom is your biggest advocate whether you like it or not,” she said. “To have a powerful experience with your mom in a day where you’re just focusing on each other, that is something that you can tap into in those moments when you feel like your whole world is coming down. To have both of you on the same page and holding hands through it, it helps in those times when you want to push your mom away.”Bell said she hopes her seminar helps girls create conversations about issues regarding confidence and self-esteem.“First and foremost, I hope they have a fun, empowering day together,” she said. “Hopefully, they can take just one thing away from that day and go forth and either share it with each other or share it with others. I don’t think you can solve all these problems and find answers to them in one day, but my hope is that it gives them some tools that as they leave the seminar, they feel like it continues.”Tags: Bloom Seminar, saint mary’s, The Status of Girls in Indiana
The Law Enforcement Education Program awards $2,000 scholarships to exceptional students every year in hopes of encouraging students to pursue law enforcement and public safety-related careers. There were only eight students who received this scholarship this year and Sydney Bleich, a first-year at Saint Mary’s College, was among the eight. Bleich is in the dual degree in engineering program, pursuing a degree in computer engineering from the University of Notre Dame and applied mathematics from Saint Mary’s. Bleich said she knew what she was going to major in computer engineering and applied mathematics the moment she talked to admissions counselors. “I just went to the admissions office and I talked to them and said I want to be in the dual degree engineering program,” Bleich said. “They looked at what I had [done in] high school, and they looked at my experiences because I was the lead programmer of my robotics team in high school, I started a robotics team in middle school, I did a presentation at a Michigan security conference and talked to Dr. Jared Demott, who is a world-renowned doctor of programming and hacking. That was pretty cool.” Bleich hopes to become more proficient in programming through the experience gained from both Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame, she said. “I think the scholarship will help me achieve my goals for the future and hopefully I’ll be able to learn more programming languages than I already know,” Bleich said. “So here I’ll be able to expand my knowledge on Python, which is what we study. And at ND, I’ll be able to expand my knowledge of C++ since I’m on the robotic football team and I want to join the Bellebots here. It would be cool to work on all these different programs. I am really excited about the program. I think my hard work will pay off.”Bleich said she does not know she wants to do with her degree, but she will keep her options open unlike she used to. “I originally wanted to work in the FBI, but I don’t really know quite yet what I want to do,” she said. “I have six internships lined up currently. Some of them are with places that program computers and certain softwares. Some of them are for hacking industries. I want to go into forensics basically. That’s my end goal: going into the forensics of hacking and programming and working on software.”Bleich attended a cybersecurity conference in Michigan, and said she remembers the feeling of being not only one of the youngest in the room, but also one of the only females. “When I went to the Michigan cybersecurity conference, it was kind of cool, there were about seven females but there had to about eight hundred people,” Bleich said. “I mean these are all businessmen and they were all from business companies and I was the only high schooler there and I was one of the very few females. So it was kind of intimidating. That was one of the coolest experiences ever.”Bleich said she met one of the prominent figures in her field. “I got to meet all of these companies and I met with one of the presenters named Dr. Jared Demott,” Bleich said. “He is a founder of one of the main security companies now. He was a former NASA security analyst. He has a CTO in binary defense. I actually got to talk to him, which was really cool because there were about 300 security companies and management companies waiting in line just to talk to this guy. It was a really cool experience.”Bleich said she hopes that other girls at Saint Mary’s can experience the setting of a STEM-related conference just as she did. “I think it would be really cool to have Saint Mary’s girls go to conferences because that’s a once in a lifetime chance,” she said. “We’re trying to get girls in the STEM field. It’s just so many guys in the STEM field and you can even tell from the older generations and the new generations coming up.”Bleich said she hopes scholarships like the one she received will help women become more involved in STEM majors and careers. She said she hopes that men will understand that being a girl does not make girls less smart. “Sometimes guys will give you a hard time or they will be very biased especially because you’re a girl in the field,” Bleich said. “It’s a ‘guy’s field.’ Some of them are really sexist, but you have to kind of get over it and be like, ‘Hey, just because you’re a guy and I’m a girl doesn’t mean that you’re smarter than me.’” Receiving the scholarship is a testament to how much girls and women can do, she said. Tags: Dual Degree in Engineering, law enforcement education program, saint mary’s, scholarship
Editor’s Note: Sister Spotlight is an effort by the Saint Mary’s News Department to shed light on the shared experience of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross and Saint Mary’s College students. We will be sharing the mission and stories of the sisters in an on-going series.Sister Eva Hooker, an English professor at Saint Mary’s, has been a Sister of the Holy Cross for 60 years. She entered the community of the Congregation of the Holy Cross after her sophomore year of college and, apart from a 20-year teaching position in Minnesota, has remained at Saint Mary’s ever since. However, her path to the convent was by no means traditional, she said.“For one thing, my family was Protestant,” Hooker said. “My father worked for the government and was often on assignment out of the country, so my sister and I went to a Lutheran boarding school. My mother became Catholic because she had an emergency and the hospital was Catholic. The priest visited her and one thing led to another.”Both of Hooker’s parents were baptized while she was in high school, and she said she was allowed to choose if she would enter the Church.“The priest who was guiding my parents was very wise,” she said. “He said that because my sister and I were teenagers, my parents couldn’t just force us into the Church. It was his suggestion that they put us in Catholic school. So we changed to Holy Cross Academy in Washington D.C.. I had to study religion just like everyone else, and I got hooked. I got baptized my senior year of high school, and my sister did, too.”Hooker said she first came in contact with the Sisters of the Holy Cross at Holy Cross Academy, and when she applied to college, she decided to go to Saint Mary’s.“My parents wanted me to go to a Catholic college and there were three very good Catholic colleges at the time — Trinity College, Manhattanville College and Saint Mary’s College,” she said. “I was already in Washington, so I didn’t want to go to Trinity. Manhattanville had just moved its campus, and I was wondering where all the boys were going to be. Well, I was told that everyone just goes down to New York, and I knew I wasn’t going to have the money to do that, so I scratched that option off. Saint Mary’s gave me a full scholarship to attend, and that made a huge difference. I still have Sr. Madaleva [Wolff]’s letter.”It was at Saint Mary’s that Hooker furthered her relationship with the Sisters of the Holy Cross and ultimately found her vocation, she said.“The sisters who worked in the college at the time — there were lots of them — were the most vibrant, intellectual women I had ever met,“ Hooker said. “I just wanted to be like them. I had them as real examples of the kind of teacher, sister and scholar that I wanted to be. They were active politically, they read everything, they loved art, they came up to Chicago for different things — their lives were full of 20th-century culture.”However, her path to the convent was not without obstacles, she said.“I had fallen in love with a young man from Notre Dame, and we had really thought about marriage,” Hooker said. “The thing that I really worried about was whether I was going to regret not marrying and having children. That was the piece. I think the sisters got wind of all this because the next thing I knew, Mother Rose Elizabeth, head of the Congregation at that time, sent me a note inviting me to come have a talk with her. I went in fear and trembling not knowing what to think. She was very charming. She really talked with me about religious life and presented it in a very positive way. Then, I don’t know why, I decided that I want to enter now. So I made that decision the spring of my sophomore year and entered the convent that fall.”While in formation, Hooker finished her degree in English from the College, went on to receive a Master’s degree in English from Notre Dame and later earned a Ph.D., also in English.Hooker said the intellectual vigor of the sisters that originally attracted her to the College, and which she tried to emulate today as a professor, ultimately stems from what she perceives as Wolff’s vision.“She was amazing,” Hooker said. “She was charming. You had a real sense of her intellectual power and she was a real example, along with the other wonderful teachers, of commitment to the intellectual life and to having an intellectual life that is woven with a spiritual life. And that’s no small task. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to become that person whom I dreamed of becoming, a sister who taught in college and loved a particular discipline.”Tags: Sister Eva Hooker, Sister Madeleva Wolff, sister spotlight, Sisters of Holy Cross