The fourth annual Notre Dame Community Summit introduced new staff and student leaders Friday afternoon and updated the progress in relations between the community and the University before student government turnover occurs on April 1.“It was a great chance for the new leaders to meet with the members of the community that we’ve established relations with, and that we’ve created really successful events and programs with,” senior Denise Baron, a member of student government’s Committee on Community Relations, said. “It’s done at this time so we can ease the transition and help connect new leaders to the community members we have been working with.”One development highlighted was the creation of the Crime Safety and Prevention Task Force, started this fall in response to the growing concerns of crime targeted at students in the greater South Bend area. Student body president Grant Schmidt said the task force has made significant improvements in this area.Summit participants later broke into small groups to individually discuss specific divisions of community-University relations. They addressed transportation, cultural collaboration, good-neighbor relations and forms of engagement.“Each group had about five students and five community members, so it was a nice mix of viewpoints on these topics,” Baron said.The sub-groups later presented their ideas to the entire Summit, when they were able to receive feedback on specific ideas they had to tackle any of the current challenges involved with community-University relations.“It was great because the University leaders who can answer the students’ questions and suggestions were present, so we were able to get quick responses on ideas that emerged,” Baron said.Among the ideas discussed was the proposition for students to have a more direct involvement in the distribution of information to local areas. The idea of sub-block captains, where students would work with permanent South Bend residents to do this, was proposed.“The idea was to help encourage student involvement and interaction on a variety of levels,” Baron said.Baron said the committee has put on a lot of great events over the past term, and was excited for how the developments between the University and its neighbors will continue to grow.
How can you get free Hacienda chips and salsa, a free T-shirt and backpack, and the chance to win roundtrip airfare, hotel accommodations and tickets to the Notre Dame vs. Army game at Yankee Stadium? By participating in the Race To New York, an “Amazing Race” style contest run by the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore. Teams of two will travel around Notre Dame’s campus, competing to perform various tasks and solve clues. The race will take place on Oct. 2 at 8 a.m. The entry fee is $50 per team, or $25 per person. All money benefits the United Way Agency Partners, said Kristin Blitch, marketing manager at the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore. Blitch said if your team gets stumped during competition, all is not lost. Teams are permitted to carry up to $50, Blitch said, which can be used to buy $5, $10, and $20 clues. These clues will make where a team is headed more obvious. For example, a $20 clue might plainly state where the team is going, Blitch said. This extra money is also donated to the United Way. This year, Blitch said the race has added a new rule that should make the game even more exciting. “By paying $50, one team can hold another team back for a half hour,” she said. “The only way that team can get out of the hold is to find someone with a cell phone, and make calls to get [an outside source] to donate $20.” The Race To New York event, in partnership with Anthony Travel and the United Way, was created in 2009. Last year, the Bookstore held the Race to San Antonio, which raised $2,200 for the United Way, Blitch said. The course last year took students to the far reaches of campus, including the Aquatic Center, DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, and various parking lots. “Last year’s race was very successful,” Blitch said. “Those who participated had a fun time.” Blitch said the Bookstore hopes to raise even more money for the United Way at the Race for New York. “It may not happen this year, but we’d like to see this event eventually raise $5,000 for United Way,” she said. This year, the course will bring participants to different parts of the Notre Dame campus, including some areas they may have never visited before. “There is nothing people won’t be able to do physically,” Blitch said. “We have our staff run it, so we know it’s all possible.” Blitch said it has been difficult keeping specific details of the race in complete secrecy. The planning team has been cautious not to reveal the names of the various campus partners. “We started mapping out the route on a campus map, but you have to be careful not to leave that map out anywhere or someone could have a cakewalk,” she said. Blitch encouraged students to participate, because for just a small fee you can have a great time, donate to a good cause, and get a shot at winning a $2,000 prize package. “[Students] are at an advantage,” Blitch said. “This is their campus. For 25 bucks a person you get to see if you can win a chance to go to New York.” For those concerned about Notre Dame’s football game against Boston College, Blitch said, “there’s no need to worry. The race will be over well in time for the BC game.” Students interested in participating can contact Blitch at (574) 631-6469 by Sept. 24. or visit HammesRaceTo.com for more information.
“I thought that was the most crucial part of my time in Mexico,” Taylor said. “For the students to be in the dorms and not with the families this semester, I think they are going to just have an entirely different semester.” Senior Julie McCaw studied abroad in Puebla last fall at UDLA, but said she recognized UPAEP’s welcome when she attended a conference at the university. “It was a real surprise to us because during our visit in late spring, we specially addressed would we finish out the agreement with the host families because that was part of the agreement, and they said ‘oh, yes no problem,’” Opel said. “Then two weeks before the students were supposed to leave, they told us it had been canceled without much explanation.” “We both felt very comfortable that we were going to have a good opportunity for our students to expand in different ways at these universities,” she said. Students currently abroad in Puebla are studying at UDLA until the exchange agreement concludes in December. During the Spring 2011 semester, students will enroll at the Universidad Iberoamericana Puebla (Ibero) while fall students will take classes at the Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla (UPAEP). OIS Associate Director Anne Hayes said she receives updates on violence in Mexico daily. The capture of a drug cartel leader known as El Grande in Puebla on Sept. 12 was welcome news to those at OIS. As a result, students currently in Puebla are living in UDLA’s dormitories, but students in the spring will live with host families within walking distance to Ibero. Taylor said he believes the housing change will result in students losing on interacting with the Mexican people. Opel said if there were concerns about student safety, especially as drug-related violence escalates in Mexico, OIS would not hesitate to suspend the Puebla program. For the past 10 years, students enrolled in classes at Puebla’s Universidad de las Americas (UDLA), but UDLA decided to terminate its exchange agreement with Notre Dame this summer. Overall, Taylor said his time in Puebla changed his life. Senior Mike Taylor studied abroad in Puebla last spring and said that he valued the homestay program. According to Opel, UDLA canceled the homestay program in which students live with host families two weeks before the Fall 2010 semester began. OIS had already given students the names of the host families. “She’s just an active part of your life,” Taylor said. “She did everything she could to make sure that I fit in and that I had all my needs taken care of, and I couldn’t ask for anything more.” “I was immediately in touch with our on-site coordinator, and she sent me the link to the local news,” Hayes said. “Puebla has, in the past, not had the drug violence, so it was a big surprise when he was caught there, but from everything I’ve read, they really feel that capturing him was very helpful in that it will help to make things safer.” Taylor said his host mother Laura Gomez was a second mom. Opel visited Puebla twice last year with the former director of OIS and said students will develop at both universities. “If at any time, we should think it’s no longer safe, and conditions cause us pause, then we will do as we’ve done with Monterrey and that is suspend the program,” she said. “I don’t know if they will appreciate their time in Mexico as much because they are not getting a chance to live with the most personal part of Mexico itself which are the families that make up Mexico,” he said. While both universities are Catholic institutions, UPAEP offers its own medical school for fall students. “Our fall program is heavily designed for students in the pre-professional program, and that’s one of the reasons the program has grown so successfully,” Opel said. “We have great relationships with doctors and hospitals.” “They made a decision to become more Latin-American centric,” the Office of International Studies (OIS) Director Kathleen Opel said. “They decided that they would concentrate on Latin American students rather than North American students coming to Mexico.” “They were really accepting and were really excited to tell us about what they were about and their programs a little bit more than UDLA had been,” she said. “I think it was because UDLA was such an international school already that we were not really special there, which was good in some ways, and then in other ways, we didn’t really feel like we were getting that attention.” Notre Dame students studying abroad in Puebla, Mexico, will face several changes to the program. “To be surrounded in a country where there are all these people and no one speaks your language, you just gain such a perspective on the world by leaving America and by realizing what’s beyond your country’s borders,” he said.
Eating disorders can take on a life of their own, Saint Mary’s senior Christina Grasso said of her experiences battling anorexia. Grasso spoke during “Biting Back,” a lecture and panel discussion about eating disorders held Monday in Carroll Auditorium in Madeleva Hall. The event was part of the College’s Love Your Body Week. During the lecture, Grasso described her battle with anorexia. “You will stand in front of the mirror for hours, not out of vanity, but of disgust,” she said. Grasso said she began battling with body image when she was 7 years old. With her three main interests of dance, gymnastics and fashion, Grasso said she felt pressure to have the right type of body to pursue those interests. At seven, Grasso went on her first diet. At 13, she explained how she began struggling with anorexia. She continued to struggle throughout high school and reached the peak of her disease in college. “I based my entire worth on my appearance,” she said. Grasso said she had a skewed perception of herself, which caused her to continue to desire to lose more weight. “I had no accurate concept of what my body actually looked like,” she said. “Every mirror had a funhouse effect.” She said she desired food, but a voice inside her head hindered her. She described her experience studying abroad in Italy, and how she refrained from eating any pasta, pastries or pizza during her time there. “I wanted to eat. I wanted to live, but I felt powerless over my illness,” she said. Struggling not only with failing to eat, Grasso said she also over-exerted herself with exhausting exercise. In addition, she used laxatives to continue to lose weight. Grasso said the eating disorder didn’t just affect her body, but her mind and spirit as well. “Your fear of eating is literally eating you,” she said. With her heart rate falling to a mere 35 beats per minute during her illness, she said she knew the disease was slowly killing her. She explained that though she had many wake-up calls, she wasn’t ready to commit for treatment. “I never chose anorexia, and I never chose to get well,” she said. Finally, Grasso’s family became extremely concerned and forced her into rehabilitation. After a summer of treatment and support from her parents, Grasso began to eat again. “With their unconditional love paired with round-the-clock-care, I slowly began eating again,” she said. After spending the summer in rehabilitation, Grasso returned to the College and relapsed. She returned to treatment and has been better since. Grasso credits her recovery to her family, friends and doctors. Grasso still struggles with her eating disorder and said the disease may affect her for the rest of her life. “I may never recover completely, and I certainly will never forget,” she said. Grasso said eating disorders are about more than just body image. “I believe it is more important to emphasize that there is so much more to be lost with an eating disorder than just weight,” she said. At the end of Grasso’s talk, two experts in the field of eating disorders spoke briefly. Valerie Staples, coordinator of eating disorder service at Notre Dame, and Gwen DeHorn, of Sonego and Associates in Mishawaka, discussed eating disorders and their effects on individuals.
While most students spent the weekend relaxing or catching up on their homework, cadets in the Notre Dame Army ROTC battalion traveled to Fort Custer in Michigan for an intensive field training exercise (FTX). Sophomore cadet Pat Bedard said the three-day trip gave ROTC members the chance to apply their classroom lessons to field situations. “The battalion arrived at Fort Custer on Friday afternoon and then did a land navigation exercise, which was basically five hours in the morning finding points using essential navigational skills, teaching us how to use the wooded terrain to our advantage,” Bedard said. The cadets worked on situational training exercises (STX) Saturday. The STX work included two hours of training for each of five exercises — reconnaissance, movement to contact, knocking out a bunker, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and ambushes, Bedard said. “During the STX exercises, the seniors pretended to be the enemy,” Bedard said. “It was definitely a highlight of the weekend to get to shoot them with paintballs.” The group practiced drills in the dark Saturday night. Freshman cadet Colin O’Shea said this exercise, called night-land navigation, was the most difficult task for the students. “Saturday’s night land navigation was the hardest part of the weekend,” O’Shea said. “During the day, land navigation was still hard because it was my second time doing it. I did pretty well, but being alone at night in the forest, in the dark, was extremely challenging.” Junior cadet Kathleen Frechette led her group through a movement-to-contact exercise. “The seniors were playing the enemy, and we were about 300 meters away,” Frechette said. “As the leader, I had to figure out what the mission was, how we’re going to conduct that. We’d move from where we were to try to attack the enemy. It was a practical application of what we’ve learned in class.” Battalion commander Josh Sandler said he and other seniors organized the FTX trip and acted as the enemy in each of the training exercises. Each junior cadet led a squad of sophomores and freshmen through the exercises. Sandler said the exercise is especially helpful for junior cadets because next year they will spend one month in a required Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC). The course will test their leadership abilities, physical fitness and other useful skills. “[This weekend was] like a mini LDAC,” Sandler said. “It’s trying to take 30 days worth of training and evaluations and cram them into one weekend.” Sandler said he and the other seniors added exercises in garrison leadership, or planning for everyday needs for the men and women under a leader’s command, to this year’s FTX. Squad leaders now need to manage the day-to-day concerns of their group while everyone lives in close quarters. “Now with the addition of garrison leadership … that’s 24 hours that you need to be on your game,” Sandler said. “It’s meant to be the addition of a huge amount of stress … While our previous FTXs have been good, they’ve been incomplete without this garrison leadership piece. “My role as a [senior cadet and battalion commander] is to train [the younger cadets] to be better prepared than I was, and I feel that we have accomplished this.” Junior cadet Ted Spinelli said he was glad the weekend exercise would prepare him for the LDAC in the summer. “The [Leader Development and Assessment Course] is the apex of ROTC, the stepping-stone where a very large amount of our total performance in ROTC is established,” Spinelli said. The LDAC determines the number of placement options in the Army for the senior cadets after graduation, Spinelli said. “For me the most helpful part of the weekend was executing a patrol mission on Sunday, and developing a plan to execute that mission that was executed on the larger patrol or platoon-size scale,” Spinelli said. “The longer time allotment and more complex objective made this a more involved exercise, more similar to what we would be doing as officers in the army after school.” Sandler said that while the weekend was challenging, the cadets in his battalion learned important lessons for their ROTC training during the FTX weekend. “The most [difficult] part of the weekend was the constant physical discomfort,” Sandler said. “They don’t get to eat or sleep very much, and it’s very cold, wet and windy. That is a constant part of this training. But this is forcing them to be agile thinkers despite this discomfort. Teaching decision making under less-than-ideal conditions is how the Army prepares us to be leaders.”
If you want to learn more about a Saint Mary’s woman and the unique experience she has lived during her college years, ask her about the class ring on her finger. “When I look down at my ring finger, I’m reminded of my love for Saint Mary’s,” senior Kelly Golden said. “The Saint Mary’s ring is much more than a status symbol to me. Its uniqueness and beauty remind me of my time at Saint Mary’s.” The Saint Mary’s class ring has stood as a symbol of the College since the 1950s, Ed O’Neil, regional sales representative for Balfour, said. Balfour, the Saint Mary’s ring manufacturer, did not introduce today’s version of the traditional Saint Mary’s ring until 1973. “To my knowledge, [the current design] has been [in place] since 1973, and the differences between the previous [rings] and today’s version are very, very small,” he said. “Most people almost wouldn’t even recognize [the differences].” The major difference between the most popular ring of today’s Saint Mary’s student and those of the past is the size of the ring. O’Neil said almost 95 percent of students today buy the petite version, whereas many women in the fifties bought the larger version or pinkie rings. “Sometimes alumni will come in and comment that there’s very little difference in the seal itself — the size itself is the only difference,” he said. Prior to the fifties, the Saint Mary’s ring looked very different. O’Neil said the original Saint Mary’s rings were made in Europe and shipped to the United States. “I gave a ring to Saint Mary’s from 1921, and it had a black onyx and the whole ring was a square-shaped, rectangular ring with a very small seal that was kind of the shape of the cross,” he said. “It was a four-pointed seal and had SMC lettering on it.” This is a dramatic variation from the current look of the Saint Mary’s ring. According to Balfour’s website, smcring.com, the current look of the ring features the College’s seal at the top of the ring. The French Cross in the center of the seal stands as the instrument of salvation. Two anchors in the form of an “X” cross the seal and stand for the Greek letter Chi, the monogram of Christ and the source of the virtue of hope. O’Neil said these are the features that make the Saint Mary’s ring so unique. “The Saint Mary’s ring is extremely unique, extremely well thought of and definitely identifiable,” he said. “[Students] probably know that from listening to stories from people. No matter where they go, they’ll have a comment made that they recognize that ring.” Senior Bridget Gartenmayer discovered how well known the Saint Mary’s ring is while on a trip to Rome. Gartenmayer said a woman approached her and her group of friends while they were eating dinner. The woman noticed their American accents and inquired about where they attended school. “We told her that we went to Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, and she lifted up her hand in excitement to show us her Saint Mary’s ring,” she said. Gartenmayer said she and her friends instantly felt connected to the woman. “The woman, who was in Rome with her Notre Dame husband, was in her 40s, still wore her ring and had the essence of a Saint Mary’s woman,” she said. “It was so amazing to know that such a small symbol of Saint Mary’s College can bring Belles together all around the world.” Saint Mary’s class of 2007 alumna Jess Jordan said she still wears her ring, as it serves as a constant reminder of her education and the memories developed at Saint Mary’s. “My ring helps me stay connected, and even though I’m not there anymore, it reminds me of the time I spent at Saint Mary’s, my friends and my experiences,” she said. “I wear my ring as a symbol of pride because I’m extremely glad I went to Saint Mary’s and I enjoyed every minute of my time here.” O’Neil said anecdotes like these stand as a true testament to the character and teachings of Saint Mary’s. “In a school that graduates 350 people a year, [stories like these are] a tremendous statement really,” he said. “The attachments and the recognition are just tremendous. It’s such a connection to the past, and it’s that link that never goes away.” O’Neil said the 40 years of working for Balfour and selling Saint Mary’s rings have allowed him to play a role in the formation of the lasting connections Saint Mary’s students feel with their rings. “I think that the students and alumna at Saint Mary’s really [cherish] that, and that ring is very representative of that,” he said. “I was thinking about what the Saint Mary’s ring really represents, and it kind of is like saying a Saint Christopher’s medal is more than just a piece of jewelry. The Saint Mary’s ring is more than just a piece of jewelry.”
Notre Dame fans can wear The Shirt with even more pride than usual this football season, thanks to its new socially-conscious manufacturer, Alta Gracia. Alta Gracia is the only apparel manufacturer in the world that pays a living wage to its employees, “respects their rights” and “provides a safe workplace,” according to the company’s website. Senior president of The Shirt Project Andrew Alea and freshman designer John Wetzel paid a visit to the Dominican company’s headquarters from April 11 to 13. “We were down there for one day, where [The Shirt] is being sewn together, boxed and shipped,” Wetzel said. “We toured the factory … You could see how a lot of the people there who were usually jobless were happy to go to work every day.” Alta Gracia flew Alea and Wetzel down to the factory on an all-expenses-paid visit. Alea said the experience was enlightening, showing the pair the good the production of The Shirt does. “It was good will on their part to show us what good The Shirt will do,” Alea said. “It really is making a difference.” Wetzel said his experience as a design major was the primary reason he became involved in the organization. However, he said seeing the operation of the factory firsthand made his work all the more real. “[The workers] knew they had somewhere to go to work every day to earn money for their families,” Wetzel said. “One worker, who had only been with the company for two years, had already built himself a brand-new house with four bedrooms for his entire family.” Alea said The Shirt’s involvement with Alta Gracia is more rewarding now that he has seen the work being done in the Dominican Republic. “I have a whole new level of appreciation now that we got to see the outcome,” Alea said. “We saw the socially-conscious facility, and some of the workers who have been there for almost seven years.” Wetzel said the people who work at the factory contribute to the socially-conscious spirit of the company. “The workers are excited to be part of the progress, part of the change,” Wetzel said. “It’s obvious they enjoy what they do.” The 2012 edition of The Shirt will be revealed April 20 at the Unveiling Ceremony at the Hammes Bookstore from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Both Alea and Wetzel will represent the Shirt Committee, with Irish football coach Brian Kelly participating in the ceremony. For more information about The Shirt, visit theshirt.nd.edu, follow @theshirtnd on Twitter or “like” The Shirt ND on Facebook.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan will deliver the Commencement address to the class of 2013, and the selection has prompted seniors to reflect on Dolan’s relevance to the student body and his ability to successfully connect with them. Dolan, the Archbishop of New York and the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, will receive an honorary degree from the University at the May 19 ceremony in Notre Dame Stadium. Senior Jason Kippenbock said he is thrilled by the selection because Dolan’s charismatic personality and intellectual background make him an ideal fit for the event. “When [Dolan] speaks, he has always emphasized how important it is to live out your faith fearlessly and not back down, like the way he lead the bishops’ opposition to the health care mandate,” Kippenbock said. “I’d expect his message to us as graduates of America’s greatest Catholic institution would be to not back down, and to use our gifts and our strengths to live out the gospel.” Senior Camille Suarez said she initially reacted negatively to the announcement because she doesn’t believe Dolan is the most relevant selection for the class. “I feel like this choice isn’t perfect for this moment,” Suarez said. “I was hoping Notre Dame would use this opportunity to kind of move the University forward, and I think this might be setting us back a couple steps.” Suarez said she hopes Dolan will present an image of the Church that is relevant and accessible to her and her classmates. “I hope he talks about Catholic Social Teaching because I think that’s one image of the Catholic Church that needs to be promoted,” Suarez said. “I hope he makes a call to the graduating student body and encourages us to use our [Notre Dame] degrees to promote Catholic Social Teaching and help the poor and suffering.” Senior Katie Pryor said she is excited to hear Dolan’s speech because he is a prominent figure in both the Catholic Church and the world, as demonstrated by his mention in Time Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People of the World in 2012. “When I heard Cardinal Dolan would be the commencement speaker, I was very pleased with the decision,” Pryor said. “He is not just another Cardinal but a Cardinal that actually has a lot of substance in his views and beliefs and a lot of wonderful things to say.” With the ongoing discussions about the next Pope, Pryor said Dolan is an “especially exciting” choice because he is a member of the Church hierarchy. “Cardinal Dolan is even one of the people being talked about for Pope, showing the great importance he has worldwide in the Catholic Church,” she said. Seniors Julia Kohn and Rachel Chisausky said while Dolan is a prominent leader, they are concerned the speech would be relevant only to students that identify as conservative Catholics, leaving others disappointed. “I took a moment to look him up before I formed an opinion … and everything I’ve read seems to indicate that he appears to have a political agenda rather than just being a religious figure, and I don’t agree with any of the views that his agenda suggests,” Kohn said. “I just don’t know what he’s going to talk about that’s going to be that relevant to my beliefs and opinions.” Chisausky said she hopes Dolan’s speech is not “homily style” and that it doesn’t alienate non-religious students. “I was disappointed, because I don’t really know much about him but I’m not Catholic or really religious at all,” she said. “I just hope [his speech] is very open and applies to every student in the graduating body and not just to religious people.” Kohn said if the University wanted a “famous” speaker, they should have sought a more relatable figure. “For a school the caliber of Notre Dame, that has the name recognition of Notre Dame, I feel like we could have gotten someone really exciting,” Kohn said. “I don’t know that Cardinal Dolan is as relevant to everyone as a different famous person would be.” Senior Colin Campbell said he understands there isn’t a speaker who can please everyone, but he is personally excited by the University’s decision to give Dolan a platform from which many will hear him. “I hope Cardinal Dolan helps us to understand the gifts that we have been given through our four years at Notre Dame and then provides motivation and support as we carry those blessings with us and walk out of that football tunnel for the last time,” Campbell said.
This year’s World Usability Day, commemorated yesterday at over 80 events around the world, had an obvious topic for healthcare: the widely-acknowledged fiasco that was the launch of the U.S. government’s healthcare.gov website in early October. David Mitropoulos-Rundus, User Experience Architect at Quicken Loans and director of the annual Internet User Experience conference, gave a lecture on some shortcomings of the website while highlighting numerous principles of good user design that could be employed to improve the experience. Usability can broadly be defined as the study of the relationship between people and technology, said Mitropoulos-Rundus. “Over the years, when people asked me what I do – because it is a rather different type of career to have – I tell them that usability is designing products to fit people,” Mitropoulos-Rundus said. “It’s not just about software, it’s not just about websites – it’s about anything. It’s about the customer experience.” Mitropoulos-Rundus said there are four primary ways in which usability experts contribute to products: making usability requirements, applying best design practices, conducting expert usability reviews and finally performing real usability testing with target users. These four steps in the process of designing effective products could readily be applied to improve the healthcare.gov website, beyond the fixing of technical glitches already documented by the media, Mitropoulos-Rundus said. “We’ve been inundated in the media in the last six weeks about healthcare.gov, but the majority of the coverage is about technical issues, reliability and scalability – things simply not working,” Mitropoulos said. “I’m not going to touch on the technical issues; we’re going to go beyond the technical issues because they’ve been covered. We’re going to go beyond the technical issues to talk about the human issues. “There is a usability goal that was created: for up to seven million visitors by March 31, 2014 to be registered using the website. That’s been set in stone. Based on the media you would think that’s all technical, but based on my analysis there’s a lot of usability about it.” Mitropoulos-Rundus underscored the difficulty of constructing such a website that aims to be used by a large number of people from diverse backgrounds with the unenviable task of finding a healthcare coverage plan. “This is huge – you want seven million people that have minimal to moderate understanding about healthcare coverage to come and be successful at this website” Mitropoulos-Rundus said. “We need to be really careful about how we word things, organize things and present things because we are at risk of very quickly overwhelming people. Healthcare coverage, especially for people that have had jobs at companies that offered them one or two options, is very complex.” Mitropoulos-Rundus went through different aspects of the website and highlighted confusing and redundant icons on numerous pages that detracted from the user understanding. He also demonstrated that the process of creating an account was more convoluted and counter-intuitive than it should be, with the second-to-last step sending not one, but three confirmation emails to the user’s inbox. “I would say, of the seven million people that need to register between now and the end of March, having three emails in their inbox is going to be pretty daunting,” Mitropolous-Rundus said. “And especially when one of them says, ‘You have made the following changes to your marketplace subscription.’ I just applied. Why would I get an email telling me I just made a change? Why would I get three emails? It’s not just about the website, it’s about the whole customer experience – and emails are a part of that. I should only receive one email.” Another major usability problem with the healthcare.gov website was its ineffective attempt to brand things and add acronyms, Mitropolous-Rundus said. For example, the “SHOP” marketplace for small business owners uses an apt acronym, but it actually stands for the Small Business Health Operations Program. “There was a weak attempt to brand things, and that weak attempt failed miserably,” Mitropolous-Rundus said. “The lesson here is that if you’re going to brand something and label something, commit to it and be strong about it. This was weak and it fell apart, like the process.” Mitropolous-Rundus concluded that if the site’s creators had followed a more coherent usability process in designing healthcare.gov, much of the confusion could have been avoided. “I conducted a usability review and I literally have enough material where I can give a full-day workshop on usability and design using the healthcare.gov website, and that’s just me – one usability expert doing a review.” Contact Henry Gens at [email protected],On Thursday, F. Michael Higginbotham, the Wilson H. Elkins professor of law at the University of Baltimore School of Law, visited the Snite Museum of Art to deliver a lecture titled “Ending Racism in a Post Racial America.” The lecture, part of the Multicultural Student Programs and Services (MSPS) 2013-2014 Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) lecture series, was based on Higginbotham’s most recent book, “Ghosts of Jim Crow: Ending Racism In Post-Racial America.” “I’m here to talk about another American tradition, and that is the tradition of the pursuit of racial equality in this country,” Higginbotham said. “… It is difficult to discuss racial issues today, especially across racial or ideological lines. I feel so lucky that I’m able to teach courses and attend conferences and attend lectures like this one so we can talk about this in a way that benefits our democracy rather than undermines it.” Higginbotham said the nation has made progress in regards to inequality, but cited Lyndon B. Johnson’s famous “We Shall Overcome” speech, to acknowledge the changes that still need to be accomplished. “In my view, in many ways, as a nation, we have overcome … these are monumental developments in the American story of the pursuit of racial development,” Higginbotham said. “But don’t get confused; progress does not mean post-racial.” Though Higginbotham argued that progress has indeed been made, he said the fight for equality is not over. “If you look at the socioeconomic index, under any category,” he said, “between blacks and whites you will see huge disparities … the statistics are alarming. … in America if you’re black you’re more likely to be impoverished, underrepresented politically, die prematurely and be undereducated.” Higginbotham proposed the following three steps to improve racial disparities: recognition of existing racism, empowerment of racial minorities and the elimination of disparities in education, jobs and businesses and the criminal justice system. “The eye cannot see what the brain cannot comprehend,” Higginbotham said. “And once we understand [that notion], we have to empower people.” To do so, Higginbotham said he supports the President Obama’s proposed American Jobs Act, and would support similarly minded legislation for education and the criminal justice system. “Too many of us – particularly our black youth – see limited options and as a result turn to drugs, gangs, crime and hopelessness,” Higginbotham said. “We as a society dedicated to equality for all owe these people much, much more.” He said he knows many Americans are tired of talking about race, but he said he hopes people will join the conversation and work towards equality. “Each one of us has a role in building a bridge to the post-racial America,” Higginbotham said. “Don’t give up on your children … 50 years ago Langston Hughes wrote a poem which finishes with the unifying words ‘This dream today embattled, with its back against the wall, to save the dream for one, it must be saved for all.’” Contact Margaret Hynds at [email protected]
This year, the Office of Civic and Social Engagement honored six students with various awards that recognize their commitment to volunteering and community involvement. First-year and global studies major Anne Maguire received the Sister Maria Concepta McDermott, CSC Award for Service in Education.“I was so honored and so touched,” Maguire said. “I don’t do a lot of the things I do to get some sort of recognition. I do it more just to be a part of the community and try to make the community a better place.”Maguire said she has been an active member of the Saint Mary’s and South Bend communities this year. As an ambassador for Catholic Relief Services, Maguire said she worked on campaigns centering around issues regarding migration, climate change, and human-trafficking. “That has been a great experience for me, just getting more active as a leader who is interested in social justice,” Maguire said.Maguire also works with the Justice Student Advisory Committee (JSAC), volunteers for the Boys and Girls Club, tutors through the Collegiate Academy of Tutors (CAT) program, is the president and organizer of Project SHE (Spreading Hope through Education) and will work as the outreach coordinator for College Democrats in the fall. “I really tried to promote educational advocacy in different ways, especially given that we are at an all women’s school,” Maguire said. “If we try to spread that mission to other young girls and women in the community, that’s a great opportunity for us because we are women at an institution that is for women.” In her work, Maguire said she aims to become immersed in the community.“I think there’s so much we can learn from our community and just reaching out to others,” Maguire said. “To change the mindset from helping others to working with others to empower them and empower yourself in the process.”Her dedication to education earned her this award, she said.“I was so humbled too because these people who interact with me all the time wanted to express their thanks to me when really I feel that I should express my thanks to them,” Maguire said. “I have found these opportunities and then this kind of found me, which is an honor.”According to Maguire, her peers empower her to serve the community.“Just looking around and seeing those women who were all so inspiring as well, and seeing myself with them, was really eye-opening,” Maguire said. “They were recognizing me in this way that was just so powerful and empowering.”Senior communicative sciences and disorders major Caylin McCallick received the Sister Christine Healy, CSC award for Service with Women. During her time at Saint Mary’s, McCallick has been president of JSAC, participated in the Intercultural Leadership Program, served on the presidential task force for sexual assault, volunteered at the Center for the Homeless, and organized two healing garden events.“I feel like so much a part of a liberal arts education is meeting various parts of the community and meeting needs of the community,” McCallick said. “Doing service is a learning experience, and it’s a growing experience.”The healing garden events enabled participants to take negative experiences and change the way they were looked at, McCallick said. “I saw that as symbolic,” McCallick said. “Growing beauty is coming out of something negative that happened.” McCallick said her Saint Mary’s education reinforced her desire to help others.“It’s just something that my family has instilled in me, and certainly Saint Mary’s has too,” McCallick said. “I think it’s part of being a good Catholic. Part of being a Saint Mary’s student is that you should serve the world with the things you are given.”McCallick said she hopes to continue her passion of serving the world by getting a masters degree from Northwestern University and working in audiology.“Because I’m going into audiology, I figured that there are a lot of underserved populations who don’t necessarily have audiological services for various reasons,” McCallick said. “I would like to work with those populations in different cultures across the U.S. and across the world.”Assisting those with their audiological needs helps to give a vital gift of communication, she said.“You need to have a voice, and you need to be able to communicate that voice, so I think that is the root of developing communication skills,” McCallick said.Senior communicative sciences and disorders major Alyssia Parrett received the Patricia Arch Green Award for her work with CAT. Parrett said his award is given to a student that shows dedication to the CAT program, which provides tutors to a local elementary and middle school. “I was kind of shocked because there are a bunch of other seniors that do as much work as I do in the office,” Parrett said.Parrett said she began her involvement in the CAT program her sophomore year after seeing posters looking for students to act as both tutors and teaching assistants. This year, she not only helped to lead the CAT program when it was left without a director, but also acted as the lead teaching assistant.“I recruited 20 [teaching assistants] this semester, and I managed where they were going, what teachers they were with and also got feedback from the teachers about how our students were benefitting the teachers and their students,” Parrett said.The schools that CAT works with have a high percentage of low-income students. “Just being a positive person in their life, I really wanted to do that in that aspect,” Parrett said. “They don’t have someone. Their parents are usually working third shift. They don’t see them, or their siblings are taking care of them. It’s just rushed all the time, and they don’t get one-on-one contact with someone.”This helped Parrett realize that she wanted to continue to help children in need, she said.“After working with the CAT program is when I realized that I really want to work with kids,” Parrett said.Parrett is a communicative sciences and disorders major and will pursue her master’s degree in speech pathology at Saint Mary’s next fall.“I hope to continue doing the CAT program,” Parrett said. “And when I graduate, I want to work in … areas that have high poverty rates.”Parrett said her experience with the CAT program has opened her eyes to the importance of community service. “I encourage people to go out and do service in the community because you don’t realize what a need there is until you are there,” Parrett said. “We stay in our niche at Saint Mary’s, and we don’t leave our bubble, but leaving the bubble has helped my life so much.”Junior psychology major Kathleen Thursby received the Sister Olivette Whalen, CSC Award for General Service.“I didn’t really realize that it was an award you needed to be nominated for, and I distinctly remember saying, ‘I don’t remember applying for this award,’” Thursby said in an email. “But once I found out more about this honorable distinction, I was really excited and grateful to be recognized for this.”Thursby is currently the president of the student athlete advisory committee (SAAC), and was previously a soccer representative on SAAC. She also founded the Saint Mary’s Habitat for Humanity Chapter.“This past year has really allowed me to become more involved in service opportunities, and there has been a lot of recognition that has come with that,” Thursby said. “While I do truly appreciate the recognition, I mostly look at it as a great way for the things I am involved in to become more public too.”Thursby’s work in service has enabled her to develop an increased sense of involvement with the community, both on a larger scale and at an individual level, she said.“Bringing people up and providing them with the basic necessities that they deserve is truly inspiring, and I have always cherished the opportunity to connect with those whom we are serving and hear their stories,” Thursby said. “You not only learn a lot about that individual, but also a lot about yourself and what is important to you.”She said she plans to continue her work in the community throughout her senior year, and she is exploring working with nonprofit organizations after graduation to continue her passion for volunteer service. “I look at myself and the opportunities I have been presented and immediately think and know that I constantly need to find ways to allow others to have the same opportunities as me,” Thursby said. “A lot of these opportunities are rights, and I think it is important to do everything in your power to ensure that these basic rights are provided to all.”Senior nursing major Maranda Pennington won the Sister Olivia Marie Hutcheson Award for Service in the Health Field.Senior social work major Maria Teresa Valencia won the Sister Kathleen Anne Nelligan Award for Spiritual Service.Tags: Commencement 2017, Office of Civic and Social Engagement, senior awards