Month: September 2022

Getting to Know… Hailey Sanders

Name: Hailey Sanders
Department: Biochemistry PhD
Year: 2nd year
Where is home for you?

Hailey’s Fast Five!

  1. While working do you listen to music/podcasts or need complete silence? Listen to Music/Podcasts
  2. Do you like to read traditional books or e-books? Traditional Books
  3. Would you rather have a dog or a cat? A Cat
  4. When you drink coffee, would you rather it be hot or iced? Iced
  5. On a nice weekend, would you rather hike or swim? Hike

What are your favorite things to do in the South Bend area?
I like to go to the local restaurants to try new foods. It is also a good place to see friends.

Outside of your department, where do you spend the most time on campus?
I spend most of my time walking around campus, especially by the Dome and the lakes. In the fall, I like to sit outside and look at the brightly colored leaves.

What led you to do the research you do? What continues to motivate your research?
As a kid, I grew up with a growth hormone deficiency known as Idiopathic Short Stature. It meant I was not growing at an average rate and that they could not identify why I wasn’t producing growth hormone efficiently. Upon receiving this diagnosis, I underwent rigorous testing which led to me needing daily growth hormone injections to help supplement what I was not born with. Time passed and I was able to stop treatment. I never grasped how it even worked. That was until High School where I was introduced to biochemistry. Here I learned how scientists were able to purify proteins and hormones and how this was used in modern medicine. The work of previous researchers had effectively bettered my life without me even realizing it. Realizing this, I wanted to become that scientist who could improve the tools used in disease diagnostics and therapies. Today, I spend my time in the lab working on a project to help with improving disease diagnosis and am driven by this passion.

Getting to Know… Tirna Chandra

Name: Tirna Chandra
Department: English, PhD
Year: 1st year
Where is home for you?
Shillong, India

Tirna’s Fast Five!

  1. Would you rather drink coffee or tea? Coffee.
  2. Which do you like better, science fiction or fantasy? Fantasy.
  3. Do you like to read traditional books or e-books? Traditional books.
  4. Do you prefer vanilla or chocolate? Chocolate.
  5. Do you like shopping online or in-person? Shopping in-person.

What are your favorite things to do in the South Bend area?
So far, visiting the South Bend Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, and Latin dancing at Ironhand!

What is your passion project right now?

Exploring the digital archives, pertinent to my research area, made accessible by Hesburgh Library. There is such a wealth of material!

What makes you feel at home in South Bend?

The communities I find myself a part of, both within my department, and outside. I feel at home (where “home” signifies a sense of security and comfort) when I’m able to share a meal, and a laugh, with these amazing people I got to know!

Do you have a story about your graduate student experience that you would like to share?

At the first Graduate Orientation event, I met a new Ph.D. student from the College of Science. It was serendipitous, and we have become fast friends! And in talking about our respective work, we often find unexpected intersections between our obviously disparate disciplines. This is not as much a story, as an encouragement for people to interact with others outside your Colleges, and find new and unexpected ways of approaching your research! Thank you, ND orientation!

Getting to Know… Taylor Thomas

Name: Taylor Thomas
Department: Creative Writing MFA
Year: 1st year
Where is home for you?
South Bend, IN

Taylor’s Fast Five!

  1. While working do you listen to music/podcasts or need complete silence? Listen to Music/Podcasts
  2. Are you an early bird or a night owl? An early bird
  3. Do you prefer winter or summer? Summer
  4. Do you prefer vanilla or chocolate? Vanilla
  5. When hanging with friends, do you like to play board games/video games or play a sport/do something physical? Play a board game or video games

What are your favorite things to do in the South Bend area?
I love to go to Roselily for brunch, I love to walk around the South Bend and Mishawaka river walks, and I love going to the downtown library.

Outside of your department, where do you spend the most time on campus?
DeBartolo Hall (all of my classes are here) or Duncan Student Center.

What led you to do the research you do? What continues to motivate your research?
My thesis for the Creative Writing program will be a nonfiction manuscript that focuses on race, generational trauma, and womanhood. It will explore how these themes have connected in my life and impacted who I have become as a person. What motivates me to continue with my research and my writing is that there are plenty of people in the world who have experienced similar pain and grief to my own. I want those people to read my work and feel hopeful & to know that they are not alone. There is a light at the end of the tunnel – it just takes a lot of therapy/medication, love, and a willingness to change.

Any thing else you’d like to share?
I am a first-generation college student. As the 4th of 7 children, I am the first of anyone in my family to attend college, receive my Bachelors, receive my Masters, and so much more. Because of my hard-working mother, who was a single parent while raising all 7 of us, I am where I am today. She encouraged hard-work, honesty, and determination. I hope to continue to make her, and the rest of my family, proud as I finish this 2nd Masters program.

From the Archives… Finding Our Place at Notre Dame

Name: Anna Gabur
Department: Sociology, PhD
Year in Program: 5th

My grad school story is a story of love – love for intellectual pursuit, love for sociology, but also eternal love for my husband Vadim. In 2017, when I told him that I wanted to study across the ocean, he could have done a number of things. He could have asked what he would be doing for 5 years in a country where he hardly speaks the language. He could have said that he had a lot to lose – a career, a steady income and a community, leaving behind his parents and a newly bought house. At the very least, he could have pointed out how difficult it would be for someone in our country to come up with the thousands of dollars needed for applications, visas and plane tickets. Instead, he bought a carry-on bag before I even got my acceptance letter. He boldly stepped into this life with me, following his wife’s dream at the expense of his own security. “Did he really let you do this?” friends and family would ask. No, he did not let me; he supported me. If that is not love, I don’t know what is.

The night that we bought the tickets I could not sleep. Just because he was ready to come on this journey, does not mean that I wasn’t asking for too much. All the questions he could have asked, I was now asking myself. I was picturing long days when I would be working in my office into the night. What would he be doing then? Would he sit alone in a cheap rental paid for by his wife’s stipend, missing the comfort of our house for which we had worked so hard? Would he turn the tv on, to drone in a language he did not quite understand?  With no one to call, with nowhere to go, what would he do? Four months later, when we were telling our parents “goodbye” at the airport, I felt that the weight of sadness in his mother’s eyes was something I would carry for years.

On the first morning in South Bend I was excited to share our first American breakfast at the Yellow Cat Café and to take our first of many walks around the Notre Dame campus. Looking back on that day, almost two years later, I realize those moments were also part of the love story. This time it wasn’t only mine, but also his. When he asked me to take his picture in front of the golden dome, the blue of his eyes was sunny. 

Schools often call themselves family and that is often an empty promise. Notre Dame and my department have gone beyond just words by being a family not only for me, but for Vadim as well. I was worried he would have nowhere to go and instead he took full advantage of the spouse ID exploring the city by bus and going to the gym – something we previously couldn’t afford. I wondered if he would be bored, but he went to sports games and concerts, telling me time and again “today I saw something for the first time.” I was afraid that he would have no friends, but he was welcomed with arms wide open by everyone he met. There was no social function where he wasn’t greeted by name, with a smile and a hug. In time we discovered that he could use medical services on campus, get help with his taxes and access resources that helped him improve his knowledge of English and get a job. This place has shown him nothing but care and love. As we walked around the lake, admiring baby swans, Vadim shared that he had never been happier. I know that I had to write about my experience in grad school, but after seven years of marriage, nothing is only mine or his anymore. There can be no intellectual freedom and enthusiastic dedication when you are weighed down by worries for the person you love. In taking care of my husband, Notre Dame has also taken care of me. I know this love story will only grow more beautiful in time.

From the Archives… Stacy & Her Ukulele

Name: Stacy Sivinski
Department: English, PhD
Graduation Year: 2021

One of the most important skills I’ve learned as a PhD student is how to play the ukulele. Not play the ukulele well, mind you. Just play it with passion and friends who won’t care if you forget the fingering for a D chord right in the middle of “This Land is Your Land.”  

This all began the summer after I finished my candidacy exams, when, by chance, I  became the temporary owner of a baritone ukulele. I won’t get into the details of how it came into my possession (though a spontaneous karaoke session at a friend’s apartment after a few glasses of wine was definitely involved). The point is that I suddenly had a ukulele and a little more free time to do something with it. What I liked about learning to play was that I was completely horrible at it. The first few days, I couldn’t get the positioning right, and strumming  was impossible. But after this initial frustration, I realized that for the first time in a long time, I didn’t actually have to be an expert at something to enjoy it. I could run my fingers over those strings, sound like a complete fool, and no one (except my neighbors) would care. My mediocrity, as it turns out, was empowering, and I continued to strum out classic country hits through August, feeling like the great Dolly Parton herself.  

Since then, some of my friends and I have formed our own band, Hypatia and the  Wallflowers (the philosopher of the group came up with that one). My main role is lead singer, but I continue to rock on with my baritone ukulele, still strumming in one direction but a little bit more on the beat than I was that first summer. We’re not quite ready for the Grizzly Rose, but that’s fine by me. I’m learning a lot more this way anyhow.