Archive for the ‘Young Alum Life’ Category

From ND to Fighting NTDs

Posted on November 12, 2013 in Guest Post, Young Alum Life, Young Alum's Stories

Haiti research[7]

Emily interviews a patient with lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) in Haiti about the psychological impact of NTDs

Emily Conron is a 2013 graduate of Notre Dame and now works for the Sabin Vaccine Institute’s Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). She is expanding grassroot outreach through the END7 campaign, which hopes to eliminate 7 NTDs by 2020. To learn how you can contribute, see the end of this post. 

My sophomore year at Notre Dame, I acquired an awkward nickname that I have since embraced. I was at a dorm party enjoying a weekend off from classes and clubs when someone I didn’t know came up to me and said, “Hey – you’re that NTD girl, right?”

I blushed, both because a nickname including that abbreviation is awfully close to connoting a very different reputation, and because it was odd to think that I was now recognizable as “That Neglected Tropical Diseases girl” on campus. It was a moment of reckoning for me – accept this unusual new identity, or shy away from it?  I stared at my new acquaintance through the dorm party strobe lights, took a deep breath, and said, “Yep, that’s me – that NTD girl.”

My friends, of course, found this incident hilarious, and promptly created a Twitter account for me under this name. I still use that Twitter handle today – as an employee of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical DiseasesEND7 campaign. My journey from college sophomore organizing dirt cup sales to raise money for soil-transmitted helminth treatments to serving as END7’s grassroots outreach coordinator took many twists and turns, but it all started when I took Fr. Tom Streit’s Common Human Diseases class in the fall of 2009. Fr. Tom introduced NTDs to our class in a lecture one fall afternoon, and I can safely say four years later that no other lecture at Notre Dame has impacted my life more. The more I learned about NTDs – that they infect 1.4 billion of the world’s poorest people, that they perpetuate poverty by keeping children from school and adults from work, that they can be treated with safe and effective medications that are donated by pharmaceutical companies, that the overall cost of treating and protecting someone from the seven most common NTDs for a whole year is just 50¢ – the more I wanted to get involved. So, with Fr. Tom’s encouragement, I co-founded ND Fighting NTDs with five other freshmen.

bagel giveaway[8]

Emily and fellow ND Fighting NTDs officers Steph McKay and Mick McCurrie at the annual NTD Awareness Week Bagel & Brochure Giveaway

In four years, the group raised over $12,000 for NTD elimination efforts spearheaded by the Global Network and the Notre Dame Haiti Program and hosted dozens of education and advocacy events on campus. Perhaps you attended some of them, or donated a few dollars to a Dorm Mass collection during NTD Awareness Week – however you showed your support, know that it was so appreciated. Though there were moments that keeping the group going was a challenge, and I was tempted to shift my focus to other things, the incredible generosity of the Notre Dame community kept me at it. When a Sorin resident donated $100 he had collected by playing guitar on the quad during football weekends – when our club received a generous donation from a former University president who asked not to be recognized – when two dozen students gathered at the Grotto on a cold Sunday evening to say a Rosary for victims of NTDs worldwide – when Notre Dame provided financial support to allow me to travel to Haiti to research the psychological impact of NTDs. These experiences connected me to the generous spirit that pervades our University community scattered across the globe, and provided a well of support and encouragement I could draw on in difficult moments…that I still draw on in difficult moments.

ND Fighting NTDs[6]

ND Fighting NTDs members celebrate a successful NTD Awareness Week

Thank you for everything you do, as young alumni, to sustain that spirit. Thank you for the good you do in your jobs, your church community, and your volunteer activities; for the financial support you offer to causes you care about; for the kindness you show in the day-to-day work of living in this brave new world outside of the Notre Dame bubble. Thank you for making me proud to call myself a Notre Dame alumnus, for by doing so, I associate myself with people who live their lives with abundant generosity and a commitment to improving the state of the world we share.

And to the sophomore boy who christened me “That NTD Girl” at that momentous dorm party – thank you. I’ve never looked back.

(P.S. If you want to support the effort to eliminate NTDs – treatable and preventable diseases that infect 1.4 billion people worldwide – you can like END7 on Facebook, make a small donation, or start a fundraising campaign with your family and friends. Check out END7’s latest video to see the impact of our work in Kenya – and email me if you want to get your church or community group involved!)

Pray for Peace

Posted on September 11, 2013 in ND News, Young Alum Life

Elle Metz

Young Alumni Programs Manager

Today marks the 12th anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the United States. This event, the ensuing violence in the Middle East and the constant threat of terrorism has defined our generation. We were young when this started. This is the world we grew up in. This is the world we are now responsible for.

As we look back on the tragedy of September 11th, we are unfortunately faced with another tragedy – the crisis in Syria. The violence in our world isn’t ending. Twelve years ago, we were the victims of an evil disregard for the sanctity of human life. Today, the Syrian people are being victimized by their own violent government. And every day, across the globe, innocent people are hurt and violated. We should not avert our eyes from them, but instead realize that we, too, know the pain of unwarranted attacks. The pain of losing loved ones. The pain of seeing evil in our world.

I hope this realization will increase our empathy for those who are still under attack around the world – those who must live under constant threat of violence and whose basic human rights are violated. Watching President Obama’s speech last night, I realized there is no easy solution to this situation. Do we do nothing or do we attack? Is violence justified? What are we willing to sacrifice?

I do not envy President Obama and the world’s leaders their decision. I do think the President made a vital point, though, when he explained: “Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong. But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional. With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth.”

America holds itself to a higher standard. We expect courage in the face of moral violations. I think each of us can take this to heart in our daily lives. Have courage. Do what is right. Your actions may not solve atrocities taking place across the globe, but they will nonetheless improve this world. They will reduce the hatred that we too often see. The hatred that leads to all this violence.

As a Catholic institution, Notre Dame joins with Pope Francis in a call for peace in Syria and around the world. This past Saturday, September 7th, the University participated in a day of fasting and prayer for peace. A number of prayer services and events were held across campus.

As we look back on September 11th, we keep all those affected by the tragedy in our hearts. As we wait to see how America will respond to Syria, we pray for an end to and for the victims of the violence. We pray for those who act out of evil – that they may see how wrong they are. And let’s also pray for ourselves so that we may have the strength to end hatred and anger in our own lives and thus bring about a more peaceful world.


Football Season is Coming! Football Season is Coming!

Posted on August 15, 2013 in ND News, Young Alum Life

Elle Metz

Young Alumni Programs Manager

It’s that time again: Football Season. Or as I like to refer to it, the most wonderful time of the year. The excitement is palpable. Countdowns are popping up on social media (17 days). People are changing their profile pictures to throwback shots of them as babies wearing Irish gear. 700 young alums just bought tickets to the Shamrock Series game in Arlington, TX. Even the weather here in the Bend is predicting football. Temps are in the 50s. Fall is coming! I’m slightly excited.

What if the unthinkable happened though? What if you didn’t purchase tickets? Never fear! You can turn to a trusty scalper after a day of tailgating (I’m sure you’ll get an excellent deal) or you could utilize the Alumni Association’s ticket consignment program. You can easily buy and sell football tickets either online or on game day. See the excerpt below for details (and note that you need a myNotreDame account to utilize this program):

Game Day Ticket Sale

The Alumni Association holds a game day ticket sale for all Notre Dame home football games at the Joyce Center Gate 3 Box Office. Tickets are sold at the regular or preferred reserved seat price established by the Ticket Office and may vary from game to game.  A modest per ticket service fee is also charged.  All sales are cash only and subject to ticket availability. The ticket sale opens at 11:00 AM local time, with priority given to alumni and current ND students throughout the course of the sale. The ticket sale ends 30 minutes prior to kickoff or when all tickets have been sold. The ticket sale is held in conjunction with the Alumni Association ticket consignment program. Therefore, ticket supply and ticket locations vary.

Online Ticket Sale

The Alumni Association is providing – via myNotreDame – the opportunity to purchase tickets to Fighting Irish home football games. The ticket sale is held in conjunction with the Alumni Association ticket consignment program. Therefore, ticket supply and ticket locations vary.

Tickets will be sold at the regular reserved seat price plus a $10 per ticket service fee . Tickets are available on a first come, first served basis and purchase limits may apply . Purchased tickets will be available for pick up at the Alumni Association will call window in the Joyce Center on game day. 


Social Media: Necessary Evil

Posted on July 16, 2013 in Young Alum Life

Elle Metz

Young Alumni Programs Manager

As young alums, we’ve grown up with social media. It’s part of our lives. Let me just say this up front: I like social media. I also hate it. It makes it easier to stay connected. It also encourages us to constantly compare ourselves to our peers. It’s fun. It’s also narcissistic. I understand the power of social media for brands and for our own personal brand. I understand that it’s a part of modern day life. I also understand that people tend to represent the best possible view of their lives. I’m definitely guilty of it.

While reading over some posts this weekend (and posting myself), I wondered just what it would be like if people were completely honest on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc….

Based on real posts:

Worst boyfriend award ever goes to Johnnie who got me ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Thanks a million. Not

Happy 57th Birthday to my mom! Gosh you really bug me sometimes. 

More pictures of me doing the skinny arm! Cuz I look thinner when I do it! Everyone, come see how good I look! Be jealous

My wedding: here are the 30 pictures I like. There are 500 others that I hate.

I almost went running this morn. Then I decided to sleep in instead. #lazy

Look at this photo of my dog! Isn’t my little family of three the most perfect thing ever?! #grownup

The one healthy, pretty meal I made in the last two months #backtoarbystomorrow

Look a baby! We’re related somehow! When I hold her, I look cuter too

A sunset! I’m the best photographer in the world!

Here are the first drinks we had at the beginning of the night. They’re pretty cocktails. Things got reaaaaaaaaal ugly after that though

Best friends! (but really we talk sporadically and just look really happy in this photo)

New job starts today! I’m terrified…

Got a tattoo. Go ahead, tell me how cool and rebellious I am

Baseball game! This view is the worst. I wish I had better seats. 

Ok night out with people that I kind of like #summer

Granted, some people are being honest when they post that they are so excited to be reunited with their friends, or that all the birthday posts made them feel like the luckiest person in the world, or that they have the greatest mom ever. But let’s be real here, people only post the good stuff. Think about that when you start comparing yourself to everyone else. No one has a perfect life. A lot of people don’t have it nearly as together as it appears, especially us young alums. So keep posting, keep tweeting, keep choosing filters – just don’t get sucked in. Better yet, take a social media hiatus for a while. It’s refreshing.


Happy Birthday America

Posted on July 3, 2013 in ND News, Young Alum Life

Elle Metz

Young Alumni Programs Manager

The Fourth of July is quickly climbing my list of favorite holidays. Pros: no crazy expectations (I’m looking at you, New Year’s), fireworks, America, barbecues, wearing red, white and blue. Cons: the biker convention across the street from my house has been shooting off fireworks at 1 am every night this week.

Across the country, people are headed to beach houses or baseball games or cook outs. They’re wearing crazy America-themed outfits (re: jorts). Or if they’re like me, compiling “USA” playlists that consist of everything from the Counting Crows’ “American Girls” to Kanye and Jay-Z’s “Made in America.” We can’t help ourselves. We love the USA.

Our country has a rich and tumultuous history. Notre Dame was reminded of this when we commemorated the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg on June 22. At this battle, our own Father Corby gave a blessing to the Confederate and Union soldiers. He later described the scene: “I noticed that all, Catholic and non-Catholic, officers and private soldiers, showed a profound respect, wishing to receive at this fatal crisis every benefit of divine grace …. (My) general absolution was intended for all … not only for the brigade, but for all, North and South, who were susceptible to it and who were about to appear before their Judge.” 

Father Jenkins traveled to that very spot to honor this history and hold mass. Check out the video recap here. Being a film/television major, I was reminded of Coach Boone’s speech from Remember the Titans:

“Anybody know what this place is?  This is Gettysburg…Fifty thousand men died right here on this field, fightin’ the same fight that we’re still fightin’ amongst ourselves today…Listen to their souls men.  ‘I Killed my brother with malice in my heart.’  ‘Hatred destroyed my family.’  You listen and you take a lesson from the dead.  If we don’t come together right now, then we, too, will be destroyed.  Just like they were.  I don’t care if you like each other or not, but you will respect each other, and maybe, I don’t know, maybe we’ll learn to play this game like men.”

Chills. Gets me every time. But in all seriousness, Independence Day is more than fireworks and great food. As Father Corby and yes, Denzel Washington remind us, America is special because of our diversity. How wonderful that we’re a melting pot. And how wonderful that despite our differences, we can still relate to each other, person to person, as humans. We share similar fears, joys, needs and desires. So on America’s birthday this year, be thankful for our differences and similarities. Be tolerant and kind. And enjoy the fun times.

Tell the World Our Secret

Posted on May 22, 2013 in ND News, Young Alum Life

Elle Metz

Young Alumni Programs Manager

This past weekend was Commencement at ND. The Class of 2013 are now officially young alums–WELCOME! For me, the weekend marked one year since I graduated. These past 12 months may have been the quickest I have experienced. It was surreal sitting in the stands of the stadium at Commencement as I watched friends receive graduate degrees rather than bachelors. I swear I was just sitting down there in my cap and gown. Moments in time like this – the kind that cause waves of nostalgia and represent definite endings (and beginnings) – are always an excellent reminder that life passes so quickly. We need anniversaries like this to remind us how blessed we are and to remain present.

Speaking of rampant emotions, the ceremony itself was a tear-jerker. For those of you who couldn’t be there, check out this amazing 2 minute recap video. Highlights include Cardinal Dolan proving he has a bit of experience public speaking (all those homilies). His speech was genuine, succinct and pinpointed just what makes Notre Dame special. And Father Jenkins reminding all of us that we will always have a home at Notre Dame. If you don’t get chills while watching it, I would be concerned.

As Cardinal Dolan observed, “here our goal is not just a career but a call. Not just a degree but discipleship. Not just what we’ve gotten but what we’re giving. Not just the ‘I’ but the ‘we.’ Not just the grades but the Gospel….There indeed is the secret of Notre Dame….tell the world our secret. Congratulations!”

Think about these words. No matter how long it has been since we graduated, as Notre Dame alumni, it is indeed our duty to tell the world our secret. Notre Dame stands for something more. It grounds itself first in faith and service to others. It nurtures lifelong friendships and values intellectual growth. Remind yourself of that when the day-to-day grind gets tough or you feel lost or you’re getting too caught up in your own problems. Remind yourself of the Notre Dame spirit that you experienced during your four years on campus. Spread that spirit in your daily actions and interactions. Tell the world our secret.

I only see my friends at weddings and other young alumni struggles

Posted on April 22, 2013 in Young Alum Life


Elle Metz

Young Alumni Programs Manager

My friends, Nathan and Elizabeth, got married this weekend. He is a Notre Dame young alum, and she is a St. Mary’s grad. They wed in her hometown of Houston, TX, and as you can imagine, there were numerous ND people in attendance. It was beautiful. The wedding served as a reunion for my friend group. We loved it, but it was bittersweet. One friend called the weekend “a tease.” It was a wonderful reminder of the amazing friendships we forge at Notre Dame, but it was not nearly enough. It wasn’t our life at Notre Dame, seeing each other every single day, and anything short of that could not be satisfactory. Life changes though, and we were just thankful we were able to witness the intense love and happiness of our newlywed friends. It was a blessing to share in their day. We got to talking about how it felt like a moment ago that we were graduating.

Each one of us has struggles that we are dealing with – romantic relationships, job complaints, living situations. Being with my closest friends again, the people that know me best, I was struck by how easy it is to lose yourself when your loved ones are not there to give you perspective. For four years, these people were my supporters and soul mates – they regulated me, they reminded me who I was and nudged me in the right direction when I got off track. When you take that away, it’s very easy to get lost. And each of us are a little bit. We’re still transitioning and trying to figure out how to navigate. It isn’t that we don’t love our lives. It’s just that things are still so new. The real world and all that. We’re all trying to figure it out on our own, and it would be so much easier to do it together. Maybe that is just part of growing up though. Maybe you have to learn to remind yourself who you are rather than have other people do it for you.

Ok I’m getting deep here, and I promise I had a point when I first started this post. I wanted to focus on a particular young alum struggle that I’ve heard a lot about in recent weeks: creating the faith life that you want. It is a struggle. We are blessed at Notre Dame to have so many resources available to us – chapels in every dorm, the ability to attend mass in our PJs with our best friends, campus ministry, the CSC, etc. When we leave ND, it is difficult to recreate that. Check out what ND Masters of Divinity student Katie Quinlivan ’14 has to say about the process here. If you’re looking for some more guidance, particularly for our female young alumni, check out Emily Thompson ’12‘s faith blog. She and her sister, Caroline Thompson ’14, honestly tackle everyday faith issues here.

All in all, we young alums (and all alums) are lucky to have the Notre Dame Family to rely on. No matter what struggle you may face, your Notre Dame Family members are there to help you through it. Even if you only see them at weddings these days.