Members of the Saint Mary’s community gathered on Library Green for a prayer service to remember all of those impacted by mental illness as a part of “Support a Belle, Love a Belle” Week on Wednesday evening. “The prayer service was a very moving experience,” senior Katie Ciresi said. The event was one of several during the week that was sponsored by the Student Government Association (SGA) to promote awareness for and assist students who may be suffering from mental illness, anxiety and depression. Upon arrival, participants were given a candle and instructed to stand in a circle. The service began with the song “Christ Be Our Light.” Following the opening song, scripture passages and petitions were read. Participants were then asked to offer up their own prayers in front of the group in order to honor the memory of loved ones who experience mental illnesses. The service concluded with attendees exchanging the sign of peace. Senior and chief of staff for SGA Emily Skirtich said the Week was launched because SGA wanted to address some of the major issues students face. “This week was piloted by SGA to respond to the needs of students of Saint Mary’s,” she said. “We wanted to highlight the resources already available to students. We weren’t creating anything new, but playing up the services the different departments already offer.” In addition to the prayer service, SGA also sponsored a variety of activities on campus to spread awareness about the mission of “Support a Belle, Love a Belle” Week. SGA members passed out yellow ribbons, placed remembrance cards in the Dining Hall, sponsored a meet and greet for students with college counselors and hosted a picnic on Library Green on Tuesday evening. Sophomore and committee member Kat Sullivan said the events were chosen to make students aware of what resources are available. “It’s good we shed light on the services students can use, like Women’s Health, Campus Ministry and Residence Life,” she said. “A lot of my friends I have talked to said this Week was very necessary at Saint Mary’s. I hope we continue this in the future.” Though this is the first year for “Support a Belle, Love a Belle” Week, Skirtich said she also hoped it would become a regular weeklong event at Saint Mary’s. “Hopefully in the next couple of years, it will become tradition,” she said. “We want each new group of students to understand Saint Mary’s is here for them.” Today’s events include a pledge signing and special breakfast at 9 a.m. Students will also have a special opportunity to speak with Women’s Health at 5 p.m. outside the Dining Hall. “This is not just for current students,” Skirtich said. “It is really for all Belles — past, present and future. We want them to know they can rely on the sisterhood and heritage for help. Once a Belle, always a Belle. That is really important to remember.”
In light of the increased violence and unrest in Egypt, the Office of International Studies (OIS) canceled the Cairo study abroad program for the spring semester last week. Ten Notre Dame students planned to attend the American University in Cairo (AUC) in the spring. Kathleen Opel, director of OIS, said the University made the decision after the ongoing unrest in Cairo surrounding Egyptian elections caused the U.S. Department of State to issue a series of emergency messages. “Just being there is not safe right now, and they’re not anticipating that it’s going to get better soon,” Opel said. “We’re going to have flashes of this until there’s a government in place. Right now, there’s an emergency message for U.S. citizens … There have been five [emergency messages] just in the last week.” Notre Dame’s program in Cairo does not have its own center or director overseas, Opel said, so the University could not be positive that it could provide for students in the case of an emergency. Opel said communication was a primary concern when the University evaluated the current circumstances in Cairo. “Last year during the disruption, the ATMs ran out of money, they shut down cell phones and Internet access … If you’re not sure of the communication possibilities, it s a riskier situation,” she said. “We just don’t feel confident enough to think that we can protect students.” Opel said while OIS wants to give students the chance to study in their location of choice, safety must be the priority. “This is a [hard] case,” she said. “The tipping point often comes from the State Department, but primarily our review of the overall situation and that it may not be a safe place for students to be.” But she said students were prepared for the letdown. “All through the summer, the question was, ‘Will we be able to go to Cairo?’ We kept saying, ‘We’re monitoring the situation,’” she said. Junior Matt Keenan planned to study in Cairo in the spring. When he heard the news of the program’s cancellation, he said he was not surprised by the announcement but was “extremely disappointed.” “I had a feeling it was coming, even though I was hoping it wasn’t,” Keenan said. “You know the whole time it kind of felt like it could be canceled. We knew since January things have been going on, and it can come up at any time.” Keenan said considering the past week’s violence in Cairo — specifically the arrest and detainment of three American students — he knew there was a good chance the program would be canceled. “With the recent things in the last week I was really hoping it wasn’t going to happen but I kind of understand that it would,” he said. Junior Ian Montijo said he understands why the University would cancel the program, but still wishes he could go ahead with his studies at AUC. “It comes down to the University having to be responsible for us,” Montijo said. “I don’t think the University wants to put itself in a spot where they’re at risk.” The Cairo group met with OIS at the beginning of the semester, Opel said, and the office gave them three options for the spring. The first was to stay in the Cairo program, knowing it may be canceled in the future. The second was to enroll at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the third was to enroll at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. Opel said most students were set on going to Cairo and decided to remain in the program. Judy Hutchinson, assistant director of OIS, met with students Monday to discuss their options now that the Cairo program is canceled. “Given the lateness of the semester and the fact that most other program deadlines are well past, the options are quite limited,” Hutchinson said. “Some may be able to participate in a study abroad program at London SOAS, but I am as yet unclear if this will suit the academic needs of everyone in our program.” Keenan said he appreciates the measures OIS is taking to still offer students a study abroad experience in London. However, he said studying at a university in London is completely different from the cultural experience he hoped to have in Cairo. “They tried to accommodate us with school in London, but that’s not Cairo,” Keenan said. “It’s a school where we can take Arabic studies classes but it’s not the same atmosphere or experience.” Twelve Notre Dame students were evacuated from Cairo last January when unrest erupted in the city, and OIS canceled the fall 2011 program last March. Opel said OIS has considered supporting alternate programs for Arabic Studies in the future. “We’re always open to new ideas, and I can’t guarantee that we would open something quickly,” Opel said. “The beauty of the AUC is that it has a whole array of courses in business, engineering, arts and letters, sciences, whereas if they go on one of the other programs, they’ll be pretty much limited to Arabic Studies.” She said she thinks most students who were scheduled to go to Cairo in the spring will choose to attend SOAS. “Those details are still being worked out but we believe anyone who [needs] Arabic Studies [classes] to complete their majors can go, and we’re in touch with SOAS right now,” she said. But Montijo said SOAS isn’t a fit for his academic goals, so he has decided to stay in South Bend. “At the end of the day it would have been more expensive and the classes I can take here would fit better with the requirements and everything I need,” Montijo said.”[In the future] I was planning to go to Jordan or Morocco or somewhere else in the region and hopefully take classes there and travel around. Hopefully [I’ll] be able to see Cairo that way.”
A memorial service will be held today at 11 a.m. for senior staff assistant for media relations Susan McGonigal, who passed away Friday evening. The service will take place in the Monogram Room of the Joyce Center and a light lunch will follow, a press release from senior associate athletic director John Heisler stated. McGonigal was employed by the University for 35 years and was in her 19th year as senior staff assistant, according to her profile on the Notre Dame Athletics website. Her duties included organizing football and basketball game-day procedures, ticket allotment distribution, budget reconciliation, and organizing travel and catering needs for the department staff, the profile stated. Instead of sending flowers, mourners are invited to consider donating to Heartland Hospice Services or Pet Refuge in McGonigal’s memory, the release stated. McGonigal served as vice president of the Notre Dame Staff Advisory Council and was a member of the Ad Hoc Committee on Women’s Issues, Benefits Committee and Promotions Committee, her profile stated. She was also involved with the Safety Committee and Holiday Planning Committee for the Athletic Department. McGonigal, a South Bend native, is survived by her husband Sean and daughter Chelsea.
Former Notre Dame theology professor and Holy Cross priest Fr. John Scribner Dunne passed away Monday at age 83, according to an obituary from the Congregation of Holy Cross. Dunne is renowned in Notre Dame’s department of theology for “having taught more students than anyone else in the University’s history,” the obituary stated. University President Fr. John Jenkins said Dunne “will be missed by all” in a statement released by the University Monday. “On behalf of the University, I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Rev. John S. Dunne C.S.C., a beloved teacher, scholar, priest and friend,” Jenkins said in the statement. “John brought humility, honesty and intellectual prowess to a quest of faith seeking understanding and, in sharing the journey, he made lasting contributions to the lives of countless students, colleagues, fellow religious and many readers of his books. “Like many others, I benefited greatly from classes and conversations with John, and mourn his passing.” Dunne received the 2013 Presidential Award, the Sheedy Award and the Danforth Foundation Harbison Award from the University, the obituary stated. He published numerous books and in 1999 was named one of the “most influential spiritual writers of the 20th century,” the release stated. Before beginning his teaching career at Notre Dame in 1957, Dunne studied at the Holy Cross Minor Seminary at Notre Dame for his senior year of high school and studied philosophy at the University before his ordination in Rome on Dec. 18, 1954, the release stated. A visitation will be held Thursday from 3:30 to 7 p.m. at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on campus. A funeral Mass will be Friday at 3:30 p.m. at the Basilica with a committal immediately following at the Holy Cross community cemetery on campus. The obituary said memorial contributions can be submitted to support the mission and ministries of the Congregation of Holy Cross at donate.holycrossusa.org or United States Province of Priests and Brothers, Office of Development, P. O. Box 765, Notre Dame, IN 46556
This month, the William K. Warren Foundation donated $3.5 million to Notre Dame toward the creation of the Warren Family Research Center for Drug Discovery and Development, according to a University press release.Richard Taylor, associate vice president for research and professor of chemistry and biochemistry, said the funding from the Warren Foundation will promote medicinal chemistry and chemical biology research at the University. Keri O’Mara | The Observer “The funding will allow us to complement our current faculty with several additional hires, expanding our research expertise in areas directed toward the discovery of treatments for neurological diseases as well as the search for new antibiotics,” Taylor said.Gregory Crawford, dean of the College of Science, said creation of the center has already started with the recruitment of faculty this semester.“The department of chemistry and biochemistry already has an extraordinary faculty in the area of medicinal chemistry in place and was the primary reason for attracting such a large effort to Notre Dame,” Crawford said. “So the formation of the new center will add significantly to an already strong program at Notre Dame in the College of Science.”Crawford said biomedical research stays true to the University’s mission “to create a sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good that will bear fruit as learning becomes service to justice” because the end goal is improving global health.“Our scientific goals are simple — advance scientific knowledge through discovery at the highest level, and translate those efforts into medicine and therapies for health and well being of others,” he said.Crawford said additional hires and the establishment of core facilities will also help strengthen research infrastructure.“The Center will not have a dedicated building, but due to its interdisciplinary nature, it will certainly be suitable for new space being planned at Notre Dame designed to bring together researchers from different disciplines,” he said.Funding will also support the Chemical Synthesis & Drug Discovery Facility, directed by Taylor, which provides the Notre Dame community with synthetic chemistry services for research areas such as drug discovery and material science, Taylor said. According to a University press release, the Facility will organize chemical compounds created through research into the ND Chemical Compound Collection.“While these compounds are typically produced for a specific research purpose, their inclusion in a broader collection will allow them to be screened for activities in other areas,” Taylor said. “The expertise within the facility will promote the collaborations and can follow-up with any exciting hits we get and may lead to the discovery of new drugs.”Crawford said the College of Science has shown promise over the years in the area of medicinal chemistry dealing with the discovery of new drugs. Notre Dame scientists have identified lead compounds for indications such as cancer, infectious disease and rare diseases, which outside companies have licensed in an effort to take the drugs into clinical trials.He said one example involves Paul Helquist’s work on identification of a drug compound for the fatal childhood disease, Niemann Pick disease, type C (NPC).“This rare disease took the lives of three of the four grandchildren of our famous and beloved coach, Ara Parseghian,” Crawford said. “Professor Helquist and his colleagues and students worked closely with the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation in search of a better understanding and a possible treatment or cure for NPC.”According to Crawford, this particular study will enter clinical trials this year.“This is another example of where our science contributes to the mission of Notre Dame — we are fighting for the underdog in this case — a cohort of a few hundred to a thousand children and their families, who are desperate for a treatment or cure to save their children,” Crawford said.Crawford said although a large number of students in the College of Science already participate in undergraduate research, this center will create additional opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.“We are all excited about our future and the role we will play in the scientific and medical community, expanding upon our work in neurodegenerative diseases, rare diseases, cancer, antibodies and tuberculosis with passionate students, incredible faculty and wonderful and committed partners in the Warren Foundation,” Crawford said.Tags: Chemical Synthesis & Drug Discovery Facility, College of Science, endowed gift, Niemann Pick disease, type C, William K. Warren Foundation
A Saint Mary’s employee was arrested for voyeurism Tuesday after he admitted to allegations of observing students in a restroom in Le Mans Hall, according to director of media relations Gwen O’Brien.A report from WNDU named 73-year-old David Summerfield as the employee.In an email sent Tuesday afternoon, Saint Mary’s President Carol Ann Mooney said a co-worker reported suspicious behavior on Monday afternoon. Superiors immediately confronted the employee and within two hours, he was suspended without pay and escorted from campus, Mooney’s email said.“At this time his employment with the College has been terminated and he has been banned from campus. Security will enforce that,” Mooney wrote in the email. “Early Monday evening, we notified the St. Joseph County Special Victims Unit, which began an immediate police investigation and this morning he was arrested for voyeurism.”Mooney apologized for the incident and invited students, faculty and staff to an assembly Tuesday afternoon that was closed to the media.“The safety, privacy and security of our students are our primary concerns,” Mooney said. “This type of behavior is repugnant and Saint Mary’s College will not tolerate it. … We have taken measures that prevent anyone else from being able to spy into restrooms. In addition, we are evaluating all space on campus to ensure privacy.The email directed students to seek counseling or support through Women’s Health or Campus Ministry if needed.
Caitlyn Jordan Organized by the Career Crossings Office and department of business and economics, an internship panel presented on Wednesday to educate students on landing proper internship positions.Wednesday, the Career Crossings Office (CCO) and the department of business administration and economics sponsored an internship panel to help Saint Mary’s students find the right internship to spearhead future career goals.The panel consisted of five members, including director of talent management with INTERNsjc for the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce Kate Lee, Sunburst Races Coordinator for Beacon Health System Theresa Fry and Saint Mary’s students, senior Sara Bauer and juniors Maddie Gibbs and Megan McCullough.Stacie Jeffirs, director of the CCO and mediator for the event, said she hoped the panelists would provide students with the information they need to find and participate in an internship occurring during the summer months or during the school year.“Students should [learn] more about what employers seek in interns, how to stand out in the application process and how they can make the most of their internship experiences,” Jeffirs said.During the panel, both McCullough and Bauer recommended scheduling a meeting with the CCO to the attendees of the panel.“My first piece of advice would be to go to the Career Crossings Office because they will help guide you to getting the internship that you want,” Bauer said.“We assist students by helping them identify their interests and how these connect to possible internship opportunities, providing information on how to research and locate internships and applying for opportunities, which includes assistance with writing resumes and cover letters, networking and interviewing,” Jeffirs said.The panel revolved around questions concerning what employers are looking for in an internship applicant.“Show that you are organized. Always be on time or a little early, and show that you have communication skills,” Frye said. “It is very important for me to know that you are going to be able to pick up the phone and talk to people.”Lee said along with flexibility in a candidate, she also looks for professionalism in a candidate’s e-mails and resumes. She stressed the importance of always using spell check and professional language in the work environment.“You must also dress for the position that you want for yourself because you have plenty of time to press your pants if you do not have a job,” Lee said.The panel also discussed the importance of responding to e-mails from employers with promptness.“If you want [an internship], you have to show them that you want it,” Gibbs said. “You need to be prompt, because if you make [the employer] wait, they will lose their interest in you.”Frye said employers will also assume that you have lost interest in pursuing an internship with their company if you do not respond to their e-mails or calls in a timely manner.“I have a hard time with delayed responses to e-mails,” Frye said. “We have smart phones and computers that we are always on. If you cannot respond in 24 hours, I will assume that you are just not that interested.”McCullough said it is essential for students to show their potential employer that they have confidence.“You cannot be afraid to go into something that you have never done before. Be courageous and be confident because an employer will notice,” McCullough said.Tags: Career Crossings Office, internship, Internship Panel, panel on internships, SMC internship panel, stacie jeffirs
Eric Richelsen After more than a year of deliberation, the Core Curriculum Review Committee, tasked with evaluating University requirements for undergraduates and proposing necessary changes, released a draft report Monday containing recommendations for certain changes to the courses that currently constitute the University’s core curriculum.The draft report, which is a preliminary write-up of the committee’s recommendations that will be followed by a final report to faculty and administration in fall 2016, proposes modifications to several of the current core requirements, as well as a reduction in the total number of requirements from 12 to 11 courses, excluding the Moreau First Year Experience course. The decrease in the number of required courses comes from the recommendation of the committee to eliminate one of the four current core requirements in mathematics and the sciences.“Building on a vision of the Catholic liberal arts, Notre Dame’s own mission and history, the reflections of our faculty, students and alumni, and the University’s existing structures and practices, the committee recommends a new structure for general education requirements at Notre Dame,” the report states.“In the proposed structure, six courses would be required in the general liberal arts, with more student choice than at present and with the new option of an integration course. Four courses would be required in the explicitly Catholic dimensions of the liberal arts, with the new option of a Catholicism and the Disciplines (CAD) course. Finally, to enhance students’ writing skills, the core would include a second required writing course for all students, including those who test out of the Writing and Rhetoric course.”The six general liberal arts requirements as outlined in the report consist of three courses taken in the categories of “quantitative analysis” and “scientific and technical analysis,” and an additional three courses chosen from the categories of “aesthetic analysis,” “social sciences inquiry,” “historical analysis,” “advanced language and culture” and “integration.”The three requirements in quantitative analysis and scientific and technical analysis — one course taken in each of the two categories and a third in the category of the student’s preference — would take the place of the four courses currently required in mathematics and the sciences, according to the report.The other three liberal arts courses, chosen from the five listed categories, would replace the three current requirements in history, the social sciences and the fine arts or literature. Two of the five categories — integration and advanced language and culture — do not currently form part of the core curriculum.According to the report, the integration course would be a brand-new offering at Notre Dame and would be team-taught by faculty from separate departments or academic units.“Courses in the integration category must have as a primary goal the pursuit of knowledge that integrates and synthesizes the perspective of two or more disciplines to address a particular issue that is too complex to be adequately addressed by a single field of study,” the report states. “They must be interdisciplinary courses whereby each represented discipline makes an explicit and significant contribution to the analysis, and the course activities require the students to identify commonalities and differences, as well as strengths and weaknesses, among the various disciplinary perspectives.”Concerning the philosophy and theology requirements, the report states its recommendation that the core curriculum should continue to require two courses each in theology and philosophy, with the modification that students may substitute a “Catholicism and the Disciplines” course for their second philosophy requirement. Furthermore, the committee encouraged the department of theology to continue developing a system to allow incoming students with previous coursework in theology to test into a more advanced first course.“As central threads in the Catholic intellectual tradition, theology and philosophy have played and should continue to play a central role in Notre Dame’s core curriculum,” the report states. “ … In placing theology at the core of its Catholic liberal arts education, Notre Dame is not merely adding another discipline to the existing educational paradigm. Instead, it embraces a paradigm of the intellectual life that posits the complementarity of faith and reason.”The final core requirement recommended by the report is a Writing and Rhetoric course, which is currently taken during freshman year along with the University Seminar. The report recommends that both Writing and Rhetoric and the University Seminar “continue to count toward the University’s writing requirement” and furthermore, “students who test out of Writing and Rhetoric be required to take not just the University Seminar but also a second writing-intensive course, so designated in the course catalog.”According to the First Year of Studies website, current students can test out of Writing and Rhetoric by scoring either a 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement (AP) English Literature or AP English Language and Composition exams. The draft report states “more than 60 percent of Notre Dame students … test out of the current Writing and Rhetoric course.”“To strengthen the writing requirement further, the Advanced Placement focus group recommended that the University (1) should not allow any AP English Literature exam score to be used to test out of the Writing and Rhetoric course and (2) should consider raising the requirement for credit based on the AP English Language and Composition exam to a score of 5,” the report states.The report additionally states the committee’s recommendation that students should no longer be able to use AP credit to test out of any of the core requirements.“The committee … recommends that the University no longer accept AP credit to test out of core requirements,” the report states. “AP credit would, however, continue to be accepted for placement purposes — including in the writing requirement, where students can place out of the Writing and Rhetoric course but would therefore take a second University Seminar or other writing-intensive course to satisfy the two-course writing requirement. AP credit can also still be accepted in lieu of college, school and major requirements at the discretion of the colleges, schools and departments.”In addition to outlining these changes to University requirements, the report also states the principles underlying the committee’s recommendations.Concerning the actual delivery of core curriculum courses, the report recommends “that introductory courses in the core curriculum be taught by regular (i.e. tenure-track and special professional) faculty.” This comes as a response to the findings of the Office of Strategic Planning and Institutional Research that “only 37 percent of the first philosophy courses, 31 percent of the first math courses, and 30 percent of the first theology courses in the core curriculum were taught by tenured or tenure-track faculty in the 2013-14 academic year.”The report further names flexibility as one of the major concerns of the committee in evaluating the curriculum, stating that its proposals are designed to allow students of all majors greater flexibility in choosing courses to fulfill core requirements.“All students in all colleges will see an increase in flexibility with a greater variety of courses fulfilling requirements in philosophy, theology and quantitative reasoning, and with more choice in other liberal arts courses because of the addition of integration and CAD courses as possible options.”Tags: AP credit, Core Curriculum Review, philosophy, Theology
Junior Megan Uekert examined the interconnectedness between climate change and human rights violations in the most recent installment of the Justice Friday series at Saint Mary’s. (Editor’s Note: Megan Uekert is a former News writer for The Observer.)Uekert said she believes so firmly in the deterioration of the planet because she witnessed it firsthand.“My passion for climate change began when I was about 10 years old,” Uekert said. “The town I lived in in Georgia was constantly getting bulldozed of trees. That really irked me and made me upset as a young child.”Uekert said she became exposed to the oppression Native Americans endure — much of which is related to climate change — while at Saint Mary’s.“My experience with Native American history and culture is a little different and more recent,” she said. “The sad part of my story is that I only learned about the other side to these stories — the truer side — last year.”Her increased knowledge helped her view construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline as a form of modern-day colonialism, Uekert said. In November, Uekert said she traveled with a group of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, where she stayed for 35 hours in solidarity with Native Americans and other protesters.“I’m sure the people who live there for months on end, or even years, have a much different story,” she said. “They’re just people, this is their land and they’ve lived there for hundreds of years.”According to Uekert, more pipelines may be assembled in the future, since many people continue to deny the need for alternative energy forms.“This global, insane, horrific battle that I will never fully understand was lost,” she said. “The oil company built the pipeline. It kind of gave the go-ahead for a few other companies to say, ‘The battle was lost. We’re going to start building more pipelines.’”Uekert said she values the short time she spent at the Oceti Sakowin camp because she witnessed its residents’ connections with the planet.“These people were so in tune with nature, and there’s such a symbiotic relationship between the Earth and these people,” she said. “I thought, ‘We need to start learning from them.’”Navigating the fine line between learning from indigenous people and culturally appropriating can be an arduous task, Uekert said.“We are seeing one story of what Native Americans are,” she said. “If anything, they want us to start seeing multiple stories.”Uekert said preserving Native Americans’ rights and establishing a healthier planet are related efforts that everyone should take part in. “More pipelines equals more oil use and fossil-fuel burning, which equals more greenhouse-gas emissions and also a warmer planet,” she said. “This means more flooding, droughts, scarce access to clean water, diseases, tsunamis and heatwaves.”Such drastic changes would likely result in species dying and the food chain collapsing, according to Uekert, such as is the case with a nearly-extinct species of butterfly she studied.“I actually did climate change research on a species indigenous to Indiana, the Karner Blue butterfly,” she said. “Over two years, we saw it going extinct.”Uekert said people should educate themselves and voice their concerns about the effects pipelines have on Native Americans and the global community. No one should sit idly by while another culture is oppressed and the Earth is harmed, she said.“I don’t know how this is even happening now,” she said. “This should be in the history books.”Tags: Climate change, Dakota Access Pipeline, Justice Friday, standing rock
Saint Mary’s hosted a mother-daughter retreat, which allowed ten mother and daughter pairs to spend time together while discussing their relationship and vocations, over the weekend. The students were from all around the country and ranged from sophomores to seniors in high school.Professor of communications Susan Baxter said she planned the event because she would have wanted something like it when her daughter was preparing to leave home for college.“I thought, the one thing I would have loved to have done with my daughter before she went to college was get some time with her one on one, to talk about what interested her and her life trajectory,” Baxter said.Baxter said she and her colleagues had been working with undecided students before the conception of the mother-daughter retreat. “The term undecided has connotations of ‘aimless,’ which is not what undecided students are,” she said. “They’re exploring. What we thought was, wouldn’t it be cool to get mothers and daughters together for a weekend in a setting where the daughters could watch how their mothers’ vocations are still developing? Vocation isn’t a destination. It’s a journey.” Baxter said she planned the time around December’s annual Madrigal dinners. “We thought [the Madrigal dinners are] one of the most beautiful things Saint Mary’s does, and it would be so great to have [the retreat] the first Sunday of Advent when [the Madrigal dinners are], so mothers and daughters could … stop and take a second before things get crazy with the holidays,” she said. Baxter said the event began Friday with an event called “Pizza with the Provost,” which included ice breakers, an introduction to the idea of vocation and a visit from President Jan Cervelli. Saturday featured a discussion on talents with director of Career Crossings Stacie Jeffirs and Carrie Lonier, a 1978 alumna who is now the director of the career center at the Art Institute of Chicago. Baxter said professor of music Nancy Menk and Madrigal singers talked to mothers and daughters over lunch. On Saturday, several professors held panels to discuss their vocations with the mothers and daughters, Baxter said. Professor of social work Frances Kominkiewicz said in an email she had many mentors in her life who encouraged her vocation, so she wanted to do the same at the retreat.“I was so fortunate to have many mentors in my life who guided me to find my passion and then helped me to connect that passion to a career path,” she said. “I learned to listen with a ‘third ear’ to their words of wisdom, and to take chances and seize opportunities. I hope to assist students to find the passion that drives them, that makes them the most enthusiastic about life and that makes them the happiest. Building that bridge that connects them in fulfilling their passion through a career and their other life activities is my wish for them.”Baxter said concurrent sessions, dealing with topics such as growing up and maintaining a healthy mother-daughter relationship, were held on Sunday. “We had concurrent sessions, one for the daughters to study with Jessica Kimmet from Campus Ministry called ‘Emerging from the Cocoon,’ about how you’re going from being a young girl to an adult, and one for the moms, where [associate professor of psychology] Karen Chambers took them through from ‘Mother to Mentor,’” she said.Kimmet said in an email she decided to become involved in the retreat because helping high-schoolers develop a mindset for learning will aid in their their growth and development.“I was excited to spend some time with these visiting young women because, like many of the educators at Saint Mary’s, I feel that the groundwork laid in high school is such an important part of one’s ongoing journey of growth and lifelong learning,” she said. “I was able to work with the daughters on some practices to help them continue their learning mindset beyond their years in school, and really enjoyed talking with them about how to keep cultivating their hearts and minds.”Baxter said participants also visited a presentation by Iris Giamo, director of the disabilities resource office, about living with learning disabilities. “Iris Giamo did a session called ‘Learning Disabilities’ about how weaknesses become strengths, and how a person can view their learning disability as something terrific,” she said. Baxter said the retreat was not meant to be a recruitment event for Saint Mary’s. “The weekend was not to sell Saint Mary’s — it was just to explore vocation, no matter where they want to go, because they’re not really thinking about that yet, and they shouldn’t feel obligated to,” she said. Baxter said the purpose of the retreat was to encourage mother-daughter bonding, because mothers and daughters have a special kind of love. “The mother-daughter relationship gets a bad [reputation]” she said. “We all know that we fight with our moms, and that we all have issues, but when my mother died in 2010, I realized no one is going to love me in the exact same way as that woman did … and I think it’s really important for mothers and daughters to make that connection.”Tags: Campus Ministry, daughters, Disabilities Resource Office, Iris Giamo, mentor, mother-daughter retreat, mothers, retreat, Vocation