If that special someone has yet to text you back, don’t panic. It’s probably just a problem with the cell phone service. Students using AT&T and Verizon — the two main service providers on campus — have recently experienced problems due to increased capacity, Steven Ellis, director of Integrated Communication Services, said. “We really do care. We feel your pain and pass it on to [the cell phone service providers] as best we can,” Ellis said. AT&T and Verizon account for 90 percent of cell use on campus and both have experienced problems this year as they adjust to increases in traffic. AT&T saw their use double since last year and Verizon has experienced a significant increase as well, Ellis said. “Imagine all the cars on campus. If next year the number of cars doubled, it would have an impact,” he said. “People would want parking garages. Both Verizon and AT&T have had to add capacity.” AT&T has had more trouble than Verizon and is preparing to provide a new frequency on campus. The new frequency is expected to greatly improve service, but will not be available for a few more months. On-campus cell phone service is mainly provided by small antennas placed around campus, Ellis said. The University contracted with a company called NextG to construct these small antennas and to place them so that they provided optimal coverage while remaining out of sight. Ellis said the University made sure the antennas did not affect the aesthetics of campus and went to extra lengths to keep the antennas camouflaged and out of view. After these small antennas were constructed, they were made available to service providers. AT&T signed on first, followed by Verizon, and recently Sprint. T-Mobile expressed no interest in using the antennae and relies on off-campus towers, Ellis said. Aside from problems adjusting to increased traffic, there are also “in building” problems, which include certain buildings or areas where service is inconsistent or lacking, Ellis said. These problems arise because the small antennas are less effective at penetrating buildings and new construction changes the arrangement of buildings on campus. “The new frequency should help with this, but it is something we’ll continue to work on,” he said. “We are in the process of identifying any buildings the new frequency might not reach.” As a possible solution to “in building” issues, Ellis offered the option of using devices called femto cells, which can be placed by a window and provide supplementary service for an area a bit bigger than a dorm room. These devices are offered by both Verizon and AT&T, he said. After installing femto cells in dorm rooms, there is a waiting period, which AT&T says takes up to 90 minutes. But Ellis said in his experience, it can take up to four or five hours. “The installation process is onerous, burdensome and difficult to do, but it is an option,” he said.
The Office of Information Technology’s (OIT) Academic Technologies Lab (AT Lab) is helping to bring the latest technologies to both the students and classrooms of Notre Dame. “A lot of what we do is learning about new and upcoming technologies and seeing how we can apply them toward education,” Jessica Choi, coordinator of the open house, said. The AT Lab hosted an open house Friday to introduce some of the technologies available for use by the University. The lab displayed several of its current projects, including small motion-sensing computers, panoramic imager robotic mounts (the GigaPan) and the Amazon Kindle. Choi said AT Lab employees follow the latest technology news and conduct research to identify potential projects. “We do a lot of testing, and then once we think it’s appropriate, then it becomes a full-launch project toward education,” she said. “Testing can vary depending on the technology. For a lot of our eReaders, we see if we can implement that. Instead of buying textbooks, we can use a Kindle.” One of the AT Lab’s most successful projects was researching iTunes U, an application that enables educators to distribute video, audio and books, Choi said. Several University departments utilized iTunes U to distribute course and promotional material. Choi said if a technology is approved for campus-wide use, the lab’s employees recommend it to faculty members that might benefit from it. “We’re working with the architecture department a lot with the GigaPan because it takes 3-D panoramic photos,” she said. Freshman Joey Copp said the Microsoft Surface program, a computing platform that enables users to manipulate digital content by touch, would be especially helpful in a biochemistry classroom because it can project a 3-D representation of a protein structure. “I actually think that … if you attach it to a projector … this would be really helpful in my [biochemistry] class right now,” Copp said. Students and faculty are encouraged to visit the AT Lab, and they can borrow some of the Lab’s technology such as microphones to record class lectures. Choi said the Lab is continuing to discover which cutting-edge technologies would be most useful to the campus. “Our current projects that are still in their initiation phases are the Siftables, Apple TV [and] Kindle,” Choi said. “We’re still working a lot with GigaPan, and the Kinect is something that’s just been initiated.”
Her residents battled skunk odor and dressed up like shepherds for her. She struggled with cancer, but she was always put her residents’ struggles before her own. And now Amy de la Torre, former Cavanaugh Hall rector and adjunct Spanish instructor, will be missed across campus, but especially among the past and current women of her dorm. De la Torre, who served as the Cavanaugh Hall rector from 2005 to 2011, passed away Thursday after a struggle with cancer. 2006 graduate Elizabeth Callahan served as a resident assistant (RA) during de la Torre’s first year as a rector in the dorm, and she returned to work as an assistant rector (AR) with de la Torre from 2007 to 2009 while earning her law degree. “The smaller things, I remember the most,” she said. “When the RAs do rounds, Amy always walked around and did rounds with them. That’s how she got to know [her residents]. She wasn’t just walking to walk. She would stop and talk. We would talk about TV, we would talk about classes, we would talk about boyfriends, we would talk about careers. “She gave great advice, and I think the girls really respected that.” Callahan remembered de la Torre as a good listener with a quick sense of humor. “She took the job really seriously, but she didn’t take herself seriously,” she said. “Being a rector, there are some things you have to laugh at.” When a skunk sprayed de la Torre’s chocolate lab Jackson on a late-night walk, Callahan said she remembered the rector laughing and wrangling the 90-pound dog in a shower stall and scrubbing the smell out with some of her residents. “That shows how much they loved her,” Callahan said with a laugh. De la Torre established the Christmas pageant that has since become a dorm tradition during Callahan’s senior year. The hall residents perform the pageant, penned by de la Torre, every year for a group of local elementary students and children living at the South Bend Center for the Homeless. “Every year, she had to rewrite it because more people wanted to join,” Callahan said. “We had more shepherds and angels, and the shepherds were more chatty. … She was always so excited about it that all the other girls bought into it.” 2011 graduate Holly Hinz also remembered the flurry of activity and excitement around the Christmas pageant. “She would always have a lot of fun with it, but she would also make sure we did it right because there were all these people coming,” Hinz said. Hinz became an RA during her senior year not only because she wanted to work on hall stuff, but also because she wanted to work with de la Torre. De la Torre retired at the end of Hinz’s junior year, but she said the dorm community the former rector established lived on. “She kind of just seemed like a mother away from home,” Hinz said. “When I came to Notre Dame, I really bought into this idea of your dorm being your home. I know of assumed all dorms were like that, but I think Cavanaugh had an especially strong feeling of that. That’s because of Amy.” Hinz said de la Torre said the Divine Mercy in the Cavanaugh Hall chapel every Friday afternoon. The collection of girls in prayer was always an eclectic one, she said, because de la Torre would grab whoever she found in the hallway and bring them along with her to the chapel. “She always had a really impressive faith,” Hinz said. Current senior and RA Meredith Kugar said the dorm will pray the Divine Mercy in the Chapel this afternoon and then visit the Grotto together in de la Torre’s memory. After they heard the news of the former rector’s death, a small group lit candles at the Grotto for her Thursday night as well. Kugar’s class entered Cavanaugh Hall as freshmen during de la Torre’s last year as rector. “From the very beginning, it was so apparent that everyone in the dorm loved her,” Kugar said. “The three grades above us were speaking so unanimously, saying, ‘We love her.’ That word was used so much to describe her. For a dorm of over 200 girls to pretty much unanimously love their rector, that’s special. “I think the love that everyone had for her, she gave that right back to everyone in Cavanaugh.” During that year, 2011 graduate Celia Johns was also an RA. When Johns was in trouble during her sophomore year, she said she was nervous to work with her rector, but she said de la Torre supported her as more than a disciplinary figure during that time. “It wasn’t just like she wanted to enforce those rules,” Johns said. “She asked about what else was going on in my life. “My interaction with that was so transforming, and when I was an RA, I took so much of that with me, the way she was able to handle problems and help people through problems without losing sight of who they were as a person, recognizing people for more than just the actions they had done.” When she became an RA, Johns said she worried again about the effect that incident would have on her chances to be hired for the job. “[Amy] said, ‘I’m hiring for who you are now, not who you used to be,” she said. “And that was really powerful that someone I admired so much was giving me permission to move on with my life.” Brian Coughlin, associate vice president for student affairs, said a funeral will be held for de la Torre in Florida, where her father lives. She has three children, two of whom are both Notre Dame graduates. “I know that the women in Cavanaugh absolutely adored her,” he said. 2011 graduate Melissa Truitt, another former RA in Cavanaugh, echoed Coughlin’s sentiments. “She’s pretty much the reason I got involved with my dorm community to the extent that I did,” she said. Truitt described hearing the news of de la Torre’s death as “just overwhelming sadness.” “She was such an amazing woman,” she said. “No matter who you were, you knew Amy cared about you.” Contact Megan Doyle at [email protected]
As the Notre Dame community anticipates the football team’s upcoming appearance in the national championship game, freshman Noelle Langmack reflects on her family’s connection to the man who originally brought the University’s football program to prominence: Knute Rockne. Langmack’s great-grandfather, Holger C. Langmack, a professor of physical education at Springfield College in Mass., wrote the first book on football conditioning in 1925 with help from the legendary Fighting Irish coach. Scott Langmack, Noelle’s father, said his grandfather’s work was unprecedented at the time. “He was really interested in … how physical fitness can reduce the injuries that people incurred in football a lot at the time and improve performance,” Scott said, “because in the early days … there wasn’t a lot of padding and the helmets were pretty sparse.” Holger and Rockne were both immigrants from Scandanavia and taught together during the summers at Springfield College. Scott said the two men’s philosophies about physical fitness complemented each other. “[Holger’s] interest in both minimizing injury and improving performance aligned a lot with Knute Rockne’s of course because of Knute’s beliefs, and [Rockne] was well known as someone who believed in a disciplined physical fitness program in order to develop a really strong team,” Scott said. Noelle said she was unaware of her family’s connection to Rockne before she chose to attend the University. “I was between USC and here and somehow, I remember when I visited this campus, it felt like home,” Noelle said. “I remember this summer, I heard my dad mention this connection to Rockne and started to realize that at the University, Rockne is quite idolized as a leadership character and a coach. It’s interesting to hear things about him and be able to say … that I have a connection to someone so special to the University.” Scott said he stumbled upon his grandfather’s book about eight years ago but did not understand the importance of the connection until his daughter became a Domer. Noelle said she looked up the book in the Hesburgh Library catalog and found that the school has a copy in the rare books collection. “[The book] sure looks old,” Scott Langmack said. “It’s funny how they looked in 1925.” Noelle Langmack said she is honored that her great-grandfather could have had an impact on Notre Dame’s early football success. “The fact that this was developed for the Knute Rockne program, the program that put Notre Dame in the spotlight at the time as a powerhouse for football and a dynasty – there has to be something about this different kind of conditioning that … probably contributed to the strength of the team and the amount of amazing seasons that they had,” she said.
On Feb. 21, the Social Justice in American Medicine Club (SJAM) will screen a film outlining the various workings of the American health care system, one of the key aspects of the club’s focus. The Frontline documentary, “Sick Around America,” explores the intricacies of the health care system prior to the Affordable Care Act, which was passed in March 2010. “The documentary presents the viewer with several different cases in which our health care system has succeeded or failed,” sophomore SJAM member Kathleen Anthony said. The club aims to approach the new health care system with a nonpartisan view, and Anthony said she hopes the movie watch will present students with a chance to examine the impending changes to health care in the next few years. At its biweekly meetings, the members of SJAM focus on analyzing social and political rights issues of patients in today’s health care system, Anthony said. “We promote growth in our members through education, discussion and advice from our senior members and doctors,” she said. Anthony said the club attracts not just members who are interested in a career in health care, but also those interested in public policy, social justice, service and morality. “The club is interdisciplinary in nature, and we hope to continue to broaden our appeal by working with different majors to gain different perspective on pertinent issues,” she said. Although many members of the club are pursuing careers in medical and political fields, SJAM also boasts economics and philosophy majors who are avid members. “I joined the club because my knowledge of the American health care system was limited, and I didn’t understand the great need that exists in our country for health care,” Anthony said. The club’s mission has fostered growth in all of its members, Anthony said, specifically in their striving to greater serving the community. “Our club helps us to understand what it is we can do to serve the sick, needy and vulnerable in our society,” she said. “It produces informed, driven and compassionate individuals who can make a difference in the health care system.” Anthony said she hopes the club’s members will effect change in their various fields through their knowledge of the inner workings of the health care system. “We promote growth in our members through education and discussions,” Anthony said. “Through service in the South Bend community, we act upon our beliefs and serve.” SJAM meets every other Thursday at 8 p.m. in the LaFortune Student Center. “Sick Around America” will be screened this Thursday at 8 p.m. in 136 DeBartolo Hall.
In the latest installment of Saint Mary’s Justice Fridays, two students from the Office for Civic and Social Engagement (OCSE), Markie Harrison and Maggie Carswell, presented “Rebuilding Together: Community in Action,” a program aiding in the rehabilitation of low-income, elderly and disabled homeowners in the South Bend area. The OSCE serves as liaison between the College and students for volunteer opportunities and works to promote justice and compassion through these opportunities, Harrison said.Carswell brought to attention the College’s mission statement, which states, “the College is an academic community where women develop their talents and prepare to make a difference in the world.” She said the mission of the OSCE is to fulfill this by having various volunteer programs for students to join, including Rebuilding Together.“Every year, we will send some Saint Mary’s students into the city of South Bend to help rehabilitate some homes,” Carswell said. Carswell said volunteers clear out and rebuild low-income homes to help stabilize and revitalize neighborhoods at no cost to the owners.Harrison said the St. Joseph’s County chapter of Rebuilding Together sets aside a day for volunteers to clear out and rebuild houses every spring. This includes any repairs the house may need and making the house livable so the homeowners have a healthy and safe place to live. Harrison said she remembered how rewarding it was to work on a veteran’s house for last year’s Rebuilding Together day. “I think we spent about six hours that day helping,” Harrison said. “He was so grateful. He was so enjoyable to be around, and you could really see the change and the impact we made in just a few hours. It was a really amazing opportunity.” Carswell said the volunteering opportunity allowed her and other Saint Mary’s students to assist members of their community with different needs. “We helped out a very elderly lady who was a hoarder,” Carswell said. “Her situation was very difficult. The electricity had been turned off; she could barely move around her house. She bathed in the cold sink water. It wasn’t a healthy situation.”Carswell said just one day of giving made a remarkable difference in the hoarder’s life.“We helped her clean out her home,” Carswell said. “It was amazing to see how within a day how much her home had cleared out. She was able to finally sit on her couch or move around the house without tripping on things.”Carswell said she was particularly moved by the response of one woman, Lynn Joyce Dolson after volunteers came to work at her house.“I helped her paint her house and scrape wallpaper down,” Carswell said. “I remember her saying, ‘I’m going to sleep in my house tonight so I can wake up and see my house.’ She was really grateful.”Carswell said the day’s impact was immeasurable for many recipients of help during the day of Rebuilding Together.“I remember reading one story about one of the homeowners,” Carswell said. “The husband had to go to work for the day so they worked on his house. When he came back from work, he actually drove by his house because he didn’t recognize it. That’s how much of a transformation we can make.”Carswell said this year’s Rebuilding Together plans to fix-up 19 homes, including fixing 16 roofs and replacing seven furnaces. It will take place April 11.Tags: Justice Fridays, OCSE, Office for Civic and Social Engagement, Rebuilding Together
Caroline Rech, a senior nursing major and ROTC Air Force cadet, is the first from Saint Mary’s to be named top of her Air Force class, which includes cadets from both Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s.In addition to being first in her class of nine cadets, Rech received the Commander’s Leadership Award and was one of four cadets to be honored with a sabre this year, she said.“To know there is this huge legacy of outstanding Saint Mary’s women who have been a part of ROTC, and to know that I’m among the top of them, is a huge honor,” Rech said.The Commander’s Leadership Award is given annually to the top cadet of the ROTC Air Force detachment at Notre Dame who demonstrates dependability, character, military discipline, leadership and high personal standards, Rech said. Rech said she found out about the award after following up on a missed call from her commander after class. “He’s a colonel in the army and colonels don’t usually call you — they have people working for them who do that,” Rech said. “I was so nervous. I thought ‘What did I do? This cannot be good,’ and I called him back, and he told me I got the award.”“It was definitely a surprise,” Rech said. “I know I’ve done well. In ROTC, you’re constantly being ranked and rated, and they tell you kind of where you are, and my class is very impressive. It’s pretty competitive — they’re all pretty great and it’s just a huge honor.”Within her class of nine senior cadets, eight received academic honors and outstanding physical fitness standards, Rech said. She said the commander of the Northeast region was impressed with the class, saying if the nine were each at different schools, they would all finish as top cadets.Eight of the nine have been together since freshman year and are part of a class that began with more than 20 members, she said. Rech said she doesn’t have any immediate family involved in the military, and wasn’t aware of ROTC until high school, when she decided she wanted to join the armed forces after college. During the college decision process, Rech’s mom helped her get in touch with detachments of the different colleges she was considering. At the same time, Rech said she also knew she wanted to pursue nursing.“I had this deep passion for service,” Rech said. “I knew that was something I wanted to be a part of my life in whatever I did and I felt nursing was a way to fulfill that in caring for people when they’re in their most vulnerable times.”During her time with ROTC, Rech spent 11 weeks in 2013 studying Russian in San Diego with other cadets and midshipmen from around the country, she said. The following summer, she had the opportunity to travel to Estonia with friends in the program. However, Rech said, ROTC hasn’t been easy.“It’s tough, it’s competitive and it’s a different environment,” Rech said. “I’m over [at Notre Dame] on Tuesdays. There could be a circus that happens at Saint Mary’s on Tuesdays and I [would] have no idea because I’m over there. I feel I have missed some things here on campus. … It’s been a challenge and part of it is that it has been so new.”Rech said an ROTC scholarship she received enabled her to attend Saint Mary’s.“I never, ever would have thought when I accepted the scholarship and started ROTC that I would be where I am now,” Rech said. “I’ve had some amazing opportunities through ROTC that make me even more excited to see what active duty will bring. I’ve developed responsibility and leadership and discipline, and in addition to that I have guidance from great officers who teach us and help us grow in our leadership.”In August, Rech will begin active duty at a civilian hospital in Tampa, Florida, where she will spend several months doing nursing clinicals. She will then go to Travis Air Force Base in California to start medical-surgical nursing. Tags: Caroline Rech, Commander’s Leadership Award, Commencement 2016, ROTC Air Force
The Higgins Labor Cafe on Friday provided an update on Notre Dame’s licensing pilot program implemented in October 2015 and took student and community input for how to proceed.All Notre Dame licensed goods, which include anything that has the Notre Dame logo on it, are produced by other brands, which usually outsource the actual production of the good. In the interest of worker rights, especially in light of Catholic Social Teaching, Notre Dame has a code of conduct for all factories that produce Notre Dame-licensed goods. This code has a zero tolerance policy for the production of goods in countries that do not promote freedom of association, which means allowing workers to unionize.“Freedom of association is long recognized in the anti-sweatshop and licensing world as a hallmark that should be aspired towards, this idea that workers are free not to just come and go and quit as they please, but also to form unions and bargain collectively,” Dan Graff, Director of the Higgins Labor Program at the Center for Social Concerns, said.According to Graff, Notre Dame may be the only university with the strict zero tolerance policy for outsourcing production to countries that do not allow freedom of association. While there are only 11 countries that do not allow workers to unionize, one of those countries is China, which Graff called “the workshop of the world.”In a pilot program, Notre Dame started allowing production in five factories in China that met certain conditions. The Worker Participation Committee (WPC), which includes the Student Worker Participation Committee (SWPC) deciding this semester whether to keep the pilot program in China or whether to remove the zero tolerance requirement from the code of conduct in favor of a softer policy that would consider a situational approach.On one hand, the right to unionize is an important part of workers’ ability to gain other rights listed in the Notre Dame code, SWPC member and former student body president Bryan Ricketts said. The SWPC and WPC found in audits of other factories, though, that some of the factories producing Notre Dame-licensed goods seem to be helping workers’ rights less than the factories in the pilot program in China.“Many of the factories we evaluated in China had better practices than the ones in countries that actually had freedom of association,” Ricketts said. “We thought this freedom of association policy was going to protect the integrity of our goods but also the rights of workers who were making the goods for us, and it turns out they didn’t do such a hot job of that.”Graff called the issue “messy and complicated,” adding he thinks workers would rather be in a Chinese factory than an Indian one due to better pay and conditions, even though workers do not have the right to unionize in China.A separate issue the committee is considering is the process for auditing the 700 factories currently producing Notre Dame-licensed goods. Right now, Notre Dame uses reports from the Fair Labor Association, but, according to Graff, the University wants to make sure it does more than “check the box” on the audit requirement.Graff called the problem “much bigger than our university.”“We as a country are using these kinds of codes and then we can say all these conditions are being met in the factories that we are sourcing from, and yet I don’t know anybody who studies the global supply chains and would say in the past 15 or 20 years that wages or working conditions or living standards have improved in those sectors. … We, as consumers in this country, really have to think about if it hasn’t been improving globally, then what does it mean to have audits?”Tags: China, factories, Higgins Labor Cafe, Higgins Labor Program, Worker Participation Committee
At the 31st annual Student Leadership Awards Banquet on April 10, the Division of Student Affairs presented awards to seven members of the Class of 2017, recognizing their feats in leadership, inclusion and faith.Jessica Pedroza received The Rev. A. Leonard Collins, C.S.C., Award. This award is given to someone who makes an effort to further student interests on campus. Pedroza is a political science major and AnBryce Scholar who is actively involved in the Student Coalition for Immigrant Advocacy; she also co-founded and is co-president of the group 1stGND, representing first-generation college students. Pedroza said she was surprised to have received the award.“Being from my specific background — the daughter of Mexican immigrants, born and raised in the south side of Phoenix — while also going to a prestigious high school and university and subsequently rising up to leadership positions, I receive a lot of praise, admiration and congratulations,” said Pedroza. “Most of the time, I feel like I don’t deserve it. To the best of my ability, I just try to be kind and loving, I try to help others, and I work hard at what I’m passionate about.”In addition to her successes at Notre Dame, Pedroza is a former volunteer coordinator of St. Vincent de Paul, a Senior Anchor intern in the Office of Campus Ministry and she has taught English as a second language at a high school in Santiago, Chile.Alexis Doyle received the John W. Gardner Student Leadership Award, recognizing her feats in community service in South Bend and abroad. Doyle is a biological sciences and international peace studies major who was recently named a Rhodes Scholar for her outstanding work in Guatemala helping women in the community fight parasitic infection through a self-sustaining soap cooperative. This year, in addition to serving as a resident assistant in Ryan Hall, Doyle’s community involvement included her work at the Youth Services Bureau of the Sister Maura Brannick Health Center, where she leads student reflections.“I have been so fortunate to be welcomed into the South Bend community, particularly at the Youth Services Bureau and the Sister Maura Brannick Health Center, where I have learned so much,” Doyle said. “I look forward to carrying the lessons I have learned and the stories that have been shared with me at these special places as I leave South Bend in a few weeks.”Fifth-year student Bryan Ricketts, a political science and chemical engineering major, was the recipient of The Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C., Award. This award is bestowed to a graduating student whose actions have made the Notre Dame community a more welcoming and inclusive home.Ricketts’ involvement with PrismND, the student organization representing the LGBT and ally communities on campus, garnered him recognition from the Division of Student Affairs.“The formation of PrismND was a turning point for the treatment of LGBTQ students at Notre Dame, and I’m proud to have been a part of its story,” Ricketts said.During his time as president of PrismND and his year serving as student government president, Ricketts said he worked to make the Notre Dame community more welcoming and comfortable for LGBT students.“The word ‘catholic’ means universal,” he said. “Being at a Catholic university means that we offer an education based in truth and justice that is accessible to all people. However, people come to Notre Dame from different backgrounds, and we must create an environment where everyone can come to seek that justice through their own identity and experiences. This means that our University must continue to identify the ways in which students may find themselves marginalized and unable to have a seat at the table.”Bridgid Smith, a theology and Italian studies major, was awarded the Blessed Basil Moreau, C.S.C., Leadership Award for her work embodying the mission of Moreau and her faith-enriching projects. Specifically, Smith co-founded the EXALT Evening Adoration to encourage student prayer, led Bible studies, played piano at Cavanaugh Hall mass and interned with Campus Ministry in Sacramental Preparation and Catechesis.“I remember freshman year hearing the quote by Blessed Basil Moreau that says, ‘the mind should not be cultivated at the expense of the heart,’ and since then it really has been my goal to strive for this in everything I have done,” Smith said. “The importance of the Catholic spirit at Notre Dame cannot be emphasized enough. It truly is what should shape every decision we make and be what sets us apart from other elite institutions.”The Mike Russo Award is annually given to a student who embodies the qualities of Mike Russo – someone dedicated to service, personal character and striving to bring the best out of themselves and others. This year’s recipient was Elaine Schmidt, a program of liberal studies major and Latino studies minor.During her career at Notre Dame, Schmidt emphasized inclusion and making students feel welcome and happy on campus. As a resident assistant in Lewis Hall, Welcome Weekend orientation captain and co-founder of the student positivity group KiND, Schmidt said she made it her mission to be kind to everyone in the campus community.“Recently, [senior] Peter Fink — another cofounder of KiND — shared with me an experience during a medical school interview when the proctor asked him if he would do KiND club over again given that it has almost nothing to do with his future career,” she said. “Peter responded, ‘When it comes down to it, all that really matters in life is that we’re kind and loving to one another, so yes.’ I really agree with Peter that for the same reason we are KiND in general, we must choose to be KiND, welcoming, inclusive and loving on campus — because in the end, all that really matters is how we make others feel.”Catherine Wagner, a biology major, received the Ray Siegfried Award for Leadership Excellence, honoring students committed to faith, athletics and leadership in the Notre Dame community. Wagner embodied this spirit of Ray Siegfried through her experiences on the Notre Dame Women’s Rowing team and her devotion to campus ministry, where she led spiritual discussions as a member of the First Anchor leadership program that aims to cultivate faith on campus.“My Notre Dame experience has been shaped by the communities of faith and friendship I’ve been a part of here,” Wagner said. “On the rowing team, I’ve pushed myself more physically and mentally than I ever thought possible, and my teammates have been there through it all. We do it for each other. Faith is all about community, as well — both the Anchor community in Campus Ministry or the wonderful women at [Pasquerilla East] mass on Sundays.”Cassidy McDonald was awarded The Denny Moore Award for Excellence in Journalism. McDonald, a marketing major with a minor in the John W. Gallivan program in journalism, ethics and edmocracy, represented the qualities of former Notre Dame vice president Dennis Moore, who was revered for his curiosity and journalistic integrity.In addition to her role as the editor-in-chief of Scholastic, McDonald was awarded the Luce Scholarship, which will take her to China to report on marginalized citizens interacting with policies and systems.“Journalism was a passport to so many diverse perspectives at Notre Dame, and my time at Scholastic magazine was extraordinary,” McDonald said. “I was able to talk to college deans about the enrollment decline in Arts and Letters, spend time with our neighbors at the South Bend Center for the Homeless, talk to local farmers about their issues with labor and immigration and investigate complaints about the sexual assault and Title IX disciplinary process. I learned so much about these diverse topics, but more importantly, I learned that my greatest passion in life is journalism, and I’m beyond grateful that my mentors and professors at Notre Dame have set me up to follow that passion.”Tags: Blessed Basil Moreau Leadership Award, Class of 2017, division of student affairs, john w. gardner student leadership award, Mike Russo Award, Ray Siegfried Award for Leadership Excellence, student leadership awards, The Denny Moore Award for Excellence in Journalism, The Rev. A. Leonard Collins Award, The Rev. Theodore Hesburgh Award
The smallest women’s dorm, boasting 148 residents and 45 single rooms, is nothing if not mighty.Howard Hall, home of the ducks, stands out because of its Gothic architecture and incredibly tight community, sophomore and hall president Gracie O’Connell said.“It’s so small, you get to know so many people in it,” O’Connell said. “It’s old, so, you know, we’ve got some character.”Howard Hall, usually the second-smallest women’s dorm, beat out Badin Hall this year because of the additional residents Badin could accommodate in Pangborn.Howard Hall was built in 1924 as the cornerstone of South Quad. It became a women’s dorm in the 1987 and now hosts annual events such as Totter for Water, Howard Halliday and the Lenten Chapel Crawl, among others.“We had an event called ‘Combat National Lame Duck Day,’” O’Connell said. “We gave out 500 pieces of cake outside of DeBart one day.”Howard’s rector, Amanda Springstead, graduated from Notre Dame in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in theology and philosophy, and she lived in Welsh Family Hall as an undergrad.“It was my time living on campus here at Notre Dame that was really what made me want to go into higher education,” Springstead said. “I wouldn’t trade my experience in Welsh Fam for anything, but as a fit for me as a rector, Howard’s definitely a perfect place for me to be.”The biggest difference between Welsh Family and Howard is the size, Springstead said. The smallness of Howard facilitates community participation in the dorm.“Hall council every Tuesday is kind of attended by everyone,” Springstead said. “You just come down, pile into the Pond, which is our lounge. … We have a snack and we chat and people tend to linger afterward.”Springstead’s family lives in South Bend, so their standard poodle, Lola, gets to spend time in the dorm and join the women for a monthly event, Cookies with Lola, in Springstead’s apartment.Springstead started as a rector in 2014, the same year as the current senior class entered Notre Dame as freshmen.Senior and RA Maggie Gentine remembers being incredibly nervous on move-in weekend her freshman year, but those nerves were quelled once she met the Howard Hall student leadership, she said.“It was really welcoming, and everyone was smiling and just wanted to invite you into their home,” Gentine said.Since Welcome Weekend, Gentine said she has appreciated living in Howard.“It’s pretty much like my family or my second home,” she said. “It’s a tight community, and everyone gets to know each other pretty well.”In order to foster that family feel, O’Connell said she plans to revamp a program within Howard this year to honor the diversity of the dorm. The program, called the Howard Community Series, allows residents of the dorm to give a lecture about their own identity or experience.“I think it would be really cool to bring that back so girls could talk about different issues,” O’Connell said. “I think it’s important to talk about issues that aren’t usually brought up in classes.”In the past, speakers have spoken about their role as allies of the LGBTQ and minority communities, O’Connell said.“To be able to make it a safe environment, where everybody is comfortable to talk, I think that would be really key,” she said.In Howard, making sure everyone feels comfortable is very important to the entire community, Springstead said. Due of the high number of singles, residents from other dorms who opt to float for a single often end up in Howard, keeping the population somewhat in flux year to year.As another one of the community features of Howard, the RAs plan consistent programming, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights.“That way, people also have the option to do something else fun,” Gentine said. “There’s always something for people to be doing in case they don’t know exactly what to do on the weekends.”O’Connell said the women of Howard stand out because, although they are few, they are very vocal and passionate members of the campus community.“It’s such a privilege to serve the women in Howard Hall,” O’Connell said. “It’s so awesome that they chose me to be their leader. … I want to do my best to make them happy and make this upcoming year the best for them.”Springstead said she also feels lucky to have returned to her alma mater and serve as a pastoral leader for the women.“I think we have a really wonderful group of women here, and I’m just really proud to be able to be their rector,” Springstead said. “They teach me things every day.”Tags: combat national lame duck day, dorm features, Howard Hall