Chad Watson walked into the Oak Room above South Dining Hall last Friday evening as anyone else would. One foot after the other, each step as steady as the last. No one would guess that Watson lost his leg in Fallujah, Iraq, a few years ago when an explosive detonated under a Humvee he was driving. “I got involved with Wounded Warriors by originally being a wounded warrior myself,” said Watson, now the area outreach coordinator for the Midwest for the Wounded Warrior Project. “I was a marine, and in 2006, I came back to a hospital and recovered there for 17 months. While I was there, I met the Wounded Warrior Project and they helped me out a lot.” Now, Watson works with the Wounded Warrior Project to help other soldiers transition to civilian life when they return home. “Not all service members have a lot of support. A lot of people help them in the hospital, but they seem to forget what happens after,” he said. “The Wounded Warrior Project is here to honor and empower the veterans once they get back home.” The Wounded Warriors hold events where the veterans can simply enjoy themselves, as they have done by visiting Notre Dame. Patrick Concannon, president of the New York Fire Department Fire Family Transport Foundation and member of the Notre Dame class of 1977, said Wounded Warriors began visiting Notre Dame shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Since then, they have made this trip annually for six years. These trips allow the veterans a break from the everyday, which often involves a difficult transition back into society. Many times the most difficult injuries aren’t physically noticeable. “A lot of these guys deal with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic head injury. What’s happened is that they’re so close to these explosions that the brain hits the skull and bounces back,” Concannon said. “It’s a long fight up to where they were before they went overseas.” Four months of work on this specific event culminated this weekend. Concannon said this event is particularly special because it is a giant venture between the Los Angeles Fire Department, the New York City Fire Department, the Chicago Fire Department, the South Bend Fire Department, the Elkhart Fire Department and the Notre Dame Fire Department. Working together, they brought, fed and housed every Wounded Warrior visiting campus over the weekend. On Friday, the Warriors cheered at the pep rally amidst a sea of green and enjoyed a banquet in the Oak Room above South Dining Hall. On Saturday they were escorted with lights and sirens to their tailgate party and then to the stadium for the game. The weekend closed with a party at Concannon’s home in South Bend. Touring campus, the Wounded Warriors Project facilitators and veterans said they have come to appreciate the students of Notre Dame. One specific case showed itself when freshman Lauren Katen and the a cappella group Halftime offered to perform for the warriors at their banquet. “I mean, it’s just unbelievable how the younger generations are gathering to show their respect,” Cocannon said. “We didn’t even have to ask. [Katen] and the choir offered to do it, which was really great.” Concannon said he views actions like these gratefully, especially since he predicts that next year, there will be more Wounded Warriors from Afghanistan and Iraq coming home. He said with the way things are going, people will need to show respect to these soldiers more than ever. “Even when you display the American flag, they see that,” he said. “It’s little things like this that add up to a big impact.” To be even more proactive, he suggested checking out the Wounded Warrior website. Nick Hintz of the Elkhart Fire Department agreed with him, and encouraged everyone to come to events. “See if there’s something in the area. Just come out and thank them, support them and find out who they are,” Hintz said. “Ask if there’s anything you can do, which could be as simple as handing out water bottles or serving food.” The Wounded Warrior Project tries to not only help rehabilitate the men and women who return, but to also give them opportunities to enjoy a bit more of life, since they protect our freedom to do so. “The freedoms and things that we enjoy in this country have to be protected by somebody, and they really selflessly put themselves on the line for those freedoms,” said Steve Grabowski, lieutenant of the Chicago Fire Department. Watson said the time to show respect may occur at any time, even on campus. “They passed the post-9/11 GI Bill, so a lot of service members are coming back and going to universities. Make them fell welcome,” Watson said. “And every time you see a veteran, thank them, no matter what war. They’re the ones that allow us to do what we do — like go to college.” With the gift of freedom, which allows United States citizens to attend universities and enter careers of their choosing, Concannon suggested Notre Dame students follow their hearts. Doing so, they can change the world for the better. “As a Notre Dame grad, I think that the Notre Dame students that go out into the world can all make the differences, whether it’s me being in the fire department or working with the Haiti Relief Fund or anything,” he said. “Your degree, and eventually your life, can work toward that.” He said that every trip to Notre Dame includes a journey to the Grotto, where the veterans and firemen light candles and pray, having a chance to reflect. “One of the things about soldiers is that they ask for nothing but that they appreciate everything,” Grabowski said.
Registration for the Diverse Students’ Leadership Conference (DSLC) began this week as the Saint Mary’s Student Diversity Board (SDB) prepares to host its annual spring conference for students, faculty and community members. This year’s DSLC Conference will be held on March 20 and 21. Senior Guadalupe Quintana, SDB vice president and chair of the DSLC Committee, said the Saint Mary’s DSLC is one of the largest student-run conferences in the Midwest. She said the DSLC will offer participants a range of assorted workshops, speakers and discussions aimed at exploring the theme of this year’s conference, “To change the world, you must start with yourself.” “We have a rich list of presenters this year,” she said. “Our opening keynote speaker, Arn Chorn Pond, is a survivor of the Cambodian genocide. … closing keynote speaker is Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International, an organization that helps women survivors of war and civil strife get back on their feet.” Quintana said the DSLC carefully selects speakers and events to provide the most enriching experience possible for participants. “We choose speakers who have a story that is unique to them, inspiring and motivational,” she said. “Students then are able to see the world through a different lens, learn how to build up their own courage and be appreciative of their lives and the lives of others because everyone has challenges to overcome.” Junior Rachel Chaddah, a member of the SDB, said the conference is crucial in helping the SDB reach its goal of expanding the appreciation of other cultures. “[The SDB] is always seeking to create a forum to examine the positive impact diversity provides for all types of settings,” she said. “We want to provide the students, community, and faculty with an outlet to voice their thoughts and opinions on diversity as well as to supply them with new knowledge about it by bringing in workshop presenters and keynote speakers.” She said the conference will address a number of other issues such as overpopulation, domestic violence and the expression of diversity through tango. Chaddah said she is most looking forward to a performance by a step group from Ivy Tech. “The step group performed earlier this week at the Saint Mary’s first Apollo Night for Black History Appreciation week and they were absolutely great,” Chaddah said. Quintana said she expects the conference to be a huge success. “I hope everyone takes this great opportunity and joins us in our biggest celebration of diversity,” Quintana said. Registration for the DSLC ends March 5. The conference is free and open to students of Saint Mary’s, the University of Notre Dame and Holy Cross College. Members of the South Bend community are also invited to participate. To register for the event and find a complete schedule of the DSLC events, visit http://www3.saintmarys.edu/DSLC.
“Chimes,” the biannual art and literary magazine of Saint Mary’s College, will be released next week. The magazine features various creative works from Saint Mary’s faculty and students ranging from first years to seniors. Senior and co-editor Laura Corrigan said many students have two pieces in the magazine, which is the maximum accepted per student. Corrigan said she hopes the Saint Mary’s community will appreciate the pieces in this year’s edition. “We hope people will read and enjoy all of the pieces accepted this year and will be encouraged to submit next year,” Corrigan said. “We also hope the writers’ hard work and creativity is accessible for others to enjoy.” Haemmerle said “Chimes” has had a long history – the first issue of the magazine was published in September of 1892. “The magazine has developed from being primarily a literary magazine to include art work as well,” Haemmerle said. “It also is published digitally on the ‘Chimes’ website.” Haemmerle said that there were 36 poetry submissions this year, 19 of which were chosen for publication. A chapbook was chosen as well, she said. The magazine received 22 fiction submissions, 10 of these were chosen, she said. Junior Landess Kearns said she is very excited about her poem, which will be published in this year’s edition. “I was thrilled when they chose my poem,” Kearns said. “It always it such an accomplishment to have work recognized by others, and I think that “Chimes” does a great job at selecting a wide variety of student pieces.” Corrigan said students and professors read both fiction and non-fiction pieces during the first official “Chimes” reading Thursday night in Spes Unica Hall at Saint Mary’s. Corrigan said attendance at the reading by both students and professors was better than expected. Sophomore Maria Monreal, senior Elizabeth Elsbach and sophomore Anna Fanelli read their pieces at Thursday’s gathering, where other writers shared their work as well. Elsbach said she has enjoyed being published in the “Chimes” multiple times through her years at Saint Mary’s, and likes seeing the literary talent in the community. She shared one of her poems at Thurday’s event, Elsbach said. “I read one of my poems called ‘Grinding the dregs’ at the ‘Chimes’ event,” Elsbach said. “It’s about sexuality and how people exploit it. It’s always a pleasure to be chosen.” Senior Rose Franzen said she read one of her fictional short stories, entitled “My Brother’s Keeper,” about her brother coming back from active duty. She said she enjoyed sharing the story with others interested in art and creative writing. “I loved the reading last night because it is fun to share a creative piece with other people who love literature and art like I do,” Franzen said. Fanelli, a Humanistic Studies and German major, said that she enjoyed hearing the work of students from various majors. “I was shocked when one of the girls was a Biology major,” Fanelli said. “It’s cool that not only English majors take part in this publication.”
This week, the Gender Issues Committee of student government is trying to promote conversation about body image and understanding through Love Your Body Week.“We have a lot of students here who are perfectionists,” Monica Daegele, director of the Gender Issues Committee, said. “Everyone is well-rounded and talented at a number of things. But with that kind of perfectionist mentality can sometimes come dangerous behaviors and obsessions. The point of Love Your Body Week is to bring into perspective this mentality that a lot of students have.”Daegele said the events planned for the week will emphasize that body image issues are relevant to both men and women.“Eating issues, body-image issues, they are not just a female problem. A lot of men struggle with them, as well,” Daegele said. “A lot of research done in the past 10 years has illustrated that there are so many undiscovered body image issues for men. I think people would be surprised at the number of men who feel uncomfortable with their body, who are trying to fix parts of their body.“In the past, the eating disorder fact sheets we’ve used have largely focused on women, and this year we have one for women and one for men.”Daegele said Love Your Body week will address the stereotype that men don’t have eating issues or body issues.“It’s really quite the opposite — I think one of the statistics is that 43 percent of teenage boys have said they feel uncomfortable with their bodies,” she said.Daegele said events for the week include free RecSports classes and presentations by the University Counseling Center and the Office of Alcohol and Drug Education. A talk Tuesday night will focus on how advertising portrays male and female bodies.On Wednesday, there will be a screening of the documentary “Happy,” which analyzes happiness in various parts of the world.“Essentially what it looks at is what really makes people happy,” Daegele said. “It does a great job of putting everything into perspective and allowing a greater message to be received.”Daegele said representatives from the University Counseling Center and Office of Alcohol and Drug Education will discuss disordered eating Thursday evening.“They’re going to make it very applicable to Notre Dame,” she said. ‘The title of the presentation is ‘Eliminate the F Word’ — ‘F’ being ‘fat.’ That’s a common theme that will also be present throughout the week, getting students to understand the negative effects it can have on everyone.”On Friday afternoon, there will be free massages in the Sorin Room of the LaFortune Student Center, Daegele said. RecSports will host a workshop Sunday that teaches women how to utilize weight rooms.“There’s a huge stereotype that women shouldn’t lift weights or build muscle,” Daegele said. “This will walk women through the different weights available and show how lifting weights is actually very good for you.”Daegele said the events of the week will take a holistic approach to body appreciation.“We want to show why our bodies are important to us and why taking care of our bodies is so important,” she said.Tags: Body Image
For the past several months, Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns (CSC) provided students the opportunity to serve with partner agencies, examine social issues and reflect on their experiences through the Summer Service Learning Program (SSLP) and International Summer Service Learning Program (ISSLP) grounded in the roots of Catholic social thought.Two hundred and seventeen students completed SSLPs in 175 sites across the country, which were sponsored by 106 Notre Dame alumni clubs. Fifty three students completed ISSLPs in 17 countries, according to CSC international service learning and justice education director Rachel Tomas Morgan. The ISSLP offers a chance to combine academic studies with hands-on volunteer activities in vastly different cultures across the globe, she said.The program includes a “year-long academic service-learning program that comprises two courses and the eight-10 week service-learning field placement so students receive an academic framing that surrounds their immersion experience,” Tomas Morgan said.Theological reflection and summer service learning director Andrea Smith Shappell said the SSLP also encourages students to learn academic and personal lessons through active service and integration in communities.The SSLP “recognizes that building relationships with people who live on the margins of society brings knowledge about people and social issues in ways that cannot be taught in a classroom setting,” Shappell said.Both programs require students to take workshops and classes on campus and then immerse themselves in the topic of study. Tomas Morgan said the ISSLP, which encompasses a three-credit pre-departure theology course and one credit for summer work, forces students to recognize and evaluate the existence of extreme poverty across the globe.“Through our classes, students are introduced to pressing global issues. Students who participate … already have a strong heart for the poor. It is our hope that our students also develop and cultivate a mind for the poor,” Tomas Morgan said.Shappell said the SSLP can also open students’ minds to future academic and career decisions and deepen their commitment to community service. SSLP students earn three theology credits for their summer work.“The SSLP has the potential for being a transformative experience for students,” she said. “This may be a new understanding of putting their faith in action, redirecting their career plans or deepening their commitment to community engagement.”Sophomore Amber Bryan spent her eight-week SSLP in New Orleans serving at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church for the Local Organizing Ministry.“I did a wide variety of things — help with the opening of a new school in the community, establish a good neighbor ordinance between community members and businesses with alcohol beverage permits, pack food in the food pantry and map blighted property,” Bryan said.Bryan said the SSLP sparked a deeper interest in policymaking and reinforced her previous interest in education.“It was rewarding to help people get more than the immediate change that can be completed in 20 hours or so,” she said. “After the SSLP, I am going to be taking more research and policy courses. This experience reassured me that I want to work in education policy.”Senior Emily Horvath spent eight weeks in Chennai, India, working at Vidya Sagar school for children with developmental disabilities. She said her passion for occupational therapy led her to seek the opportunity of an ISSLP, which would push her outside her comfort zone.“I spent my time working in the occupational therapy department and teaching a creative movement (music and dance) class,” Horvath said. “The curiosity to travel to a random city in a random country, knowing no one, and see if I could come out of the experience with amazing new relationships plus a strong desire to pursue occupational therapy in a setting where I’d be working with children with developmental disabilities, made me choose to participate in an ISSLP.”“This experience also opened my eyes to the battle for the rights of people with disabilities that is currently being fought in India,” she said. “I formed friendships with people who face these issues every day. Forming these relationships has transformed my perspective on issues of global human development.”Tags: Center for Social Concerns, CSC, ISSLP, Notre Dame, service, SSLP
This week, the College Seminar, the College of Arts and Letters’s signature interdisciplinary requirement, is celebrating its 10th anniversary.Implemented in 2005, the College Seminar requirement was initially intended to provide students with a traditional “Great Books” style of education and serve as an integration of the liberal arts. Now, the College Seminar serves as a course that both enhances students’ oral presentation skills and offers a variety of unique topics centered on a faculty member’s specific field.“[The] idea behind [the] College Seminar really was to give people an introduction to the three areas of the College [the arts, humanities, and social sciences],” Professor Essaka Joshua, professor of English and director of the College Seminar, said. “The idea was to take the classroom to the dorm and get people fired up about interesting issues connecting with what they were reading.”As part of the Seminar’s 10th anniversary, the College of Arts and Letters, in conjunction with its Department of Communications and Finances, is hosting a 10-day Twitter competition for students to share their personal lessons and experiences from their College Seminars. From April 10 to April 19, students can respond to questions tweeted by the College of Arts and Letters on its Twitter (@ArtsLettersND) using the hashtag #CSEM10 and receive prizes for the best answers. Prizes for the best tweets range from coffee mugs and campus gear from the College of Arts and Letters to Starbucks, Au Bon Pain and Hammes Bookstore gift cards.“Doing it on Twitter was a way to include everybody,” Joshua said. “We decided, in conjunction with the Office of Communication for Arts and Letters, on a Twitter competition that would be open to all current students.“The aim was really to get people talking about CSEM, sharing their experiences of it and, for those students who were not in Arts and Letters or who had not yet done it, to let them know what it is [that] we do that is distinctive within the College.”Several students have already participated in the competition, Joshua said.College Seminars have become unique for their interesting and diverse topics and focuses, Joshua said. Courses taught by Professors Andrew Weigert and David O’Connor are known to be especially popular, Joshua said.“CSEM gives you that opportunity to go for something outside of your discipline, because it is interdisciplinary by nature, and to go out of your comfort zone, which is nice because you end up with exploration as well as engagement,” Joshua said.Joshua views the genuine interest, engagement and bonding between students and professors as a measure of the success of the College Seminar, she said.“I measure success in whether ‘Are the students engaged? Do they love it? Do they come out talking about it afterwards and are they talking about it before they get to class?’” Joshua said.Tags: College of Arts and Letters, college seminar, CSEM10, Essaka Joshua, tenth anniversary
Editor’s note: A shortened version of this article ran in April 20 print edition of The Observer.Seven graduating seniors received awards from Notre Dame’s Division of Student Affairs at the annual Student Leadership Awards Banquet held March 31, according to a University press release.Keri O’Mara | The Observer The press release stated Student Affairs will also honor graduate student Aamir Ahmed Khan at the Graduate School Awards Ceremony on May 15.“Humbled” was the descriptor of choice for students who received awards.Senior Matthew Wong, who received the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C., Award, said he was “very surprised and honored and very humble for sure.”This year’s recipient of the Ray Siegfried Award for Leadership Excellence, senior Megan Heeder, said she was “very humbled and grateful for the recognition that I’ve been somewhat successful in my desire to make a positive impact on the lives of other people here.”According to the press release, each of the eight awards acknowledges particular leadership qualities in students “who have made exceptional contributions to the Notre Dame community.”The Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C., Award celebrates a senior who has promoted a spirit of diversity and inclusion during his or her time on campus and was awarded to Wong for his service as chair of the Diversity Council of Notre Dame, according to the press release.“I think [this award] really shows that Notre Dame is putting diversity and inclusion at the forefront,” he said. “It’s acknowledging students who are taking steps to making Notre Dame more welcoming, regardless of socioeconomic background, race, gender, ethnicity — whatever it may be.”Wong said the accomplishments of the Diversity Council — which include last year’s submission of a 10-point resolution containing recommendations on diversity to the administration — are the result of the combined efforts of the entire board.“Without them, all of the stuff we’ve done as a council would have been impossible. There’s no way I could have carried all that weight by myself,” he said.The Ray Siegfried Award for Leadership Excellence, presented to Heeder for her involvement in the Robinson Community Learning Center’s Youth Development AmeriCorps and the Center for Social Concern’s Summer Service Learning Program, honors a student who has demonstrated leadership, athletic ability and a love for the Catholic faith, according to the press release.Heeder, who participated as a three-sport varsity athlete her freshman through junior years, said she was honored to receive the award because it acknowledged her “some degree of success in creating a positive change in the lives of other people.”“Because if I leave here without doing that, then what was the point of being here at all?” she said.The Mike Russo Spirit Award highlights a student’s service and personal character, and was given to former student body president Lauren Vidal for her efforts regarding campus safety, mental health awareness and community outreach, the press release stated.“Having an opportunity to really listen to those around me and speak on their behalf in larger conversations about campus climate or need fueled my efforts each day,” Vidal said. “I learned that it is only when you follow the needs of your peers and school, when you put their needs first, that you truly lead in the role.”The Rev. A. Leonard Collins, C.S.C., Award was presented to former student government chief of staff Juan Rangel for his dedication in serving the interests of the student body, according to the press release. Particularly, the award recognized Rangel’s commitment to increasing support for students of high financial need and undocumented students.“I think, especially with us all being college students, it’s really easy to become individualistic and think about the needs and necessities that we ourselves have — we need to go to office hours, and we need to get good grades, and we need to find a job,” Rangel said. “But there’s so many concerns that we have ourselves, that we sometimes forget the concerns of others around us.”Rangel, who served as the 2014-2015 Campus Ministry multicultural intern, also co-founded and became president of the Student Coalition for Immigration Advocacy in order to raise awareness about immigration issues and to stimulate outreach to undocumented students, he said.“I feel so lucky to have met so many people on campus who have supported me through my crazy endeavors,” he said.The Blessed Basil Moreau, C.S.C., Leadership Award, given to senior Grace Carroll for her work coordinating this year’s Campus Ministry Freshman Retreat, honors a student “who embodies Blessed Fr. Moreau’s vision of educating heart and mind, as well as someone who has demonstrated significant effort to advancing the Catholic character of the University,” the press release stated.“I was really surprised to get the award, never expected to get it,” Carroll said. “I’m just doing what everyone around me is trying to do, and that’s just trying to be a better person every day.”Carroll, also the Campus Ministry representative in student government, said she believes the freshman retreat and Campus Ministry are important to the campus community because they encourage students to reflect upon their daily lives.“Our generation, often we find God in relationships, and we find God through service,” she said. “I think it’s really important that when we’re doing service, we’re remembering why we’re doing it, and I think in Campus Ministry, we’re trying to make that connection more intentional.”The John W. Gardner Student Leadership Award recognized senior Christina Gutierrez for her commitment to service in the greater South Bend community, according to the press release. Gutierrez said she specifically received the award for her work volunteering and fundraising for the Monroe Park Grocery Cooperative in South Bend and for her service as president of the Notre Dame chapter of the World Hunger Coalition.“I’ve been blessed to have free time and to have resources to provide to other people who need them more,” she said. “Getting to use that for a greater purpose and for an issue that’s really important to me — hunger and malnutrition and healthy eating — and getting to pair that up with meeting people from the South Bend community, I think is really cool.”Gutierrez said she has been involved with the Monroe Park Grocery Cooperative since the end of her freshman year and that during her sophomore year, she directed a project to design and sell a calendar cookbook which raised nearly $5,000 for the cooperative.“It’s a great sense of fulfillment knowing that you can engage in a community that you don’t necessarily live in, but that you’re still more broadly a part of,” she said.The Denny Moore Award for Excellence in Journalism acknowledges a graduating senior who, according to the press release, exhibits exemplary character and writing ability.The press release stated this year’s recipient, Jonathan Warren, was granted the award for his achievements as the former Editor-in-Chief of Scholastic and for his service as the public relations director for The Shirt Project.“I think Notre Dame’s values, those of educating the whole person and serving others, values I’m told Denny Moore exemplified, really lend themselves to a meaningful education in journalism,” Warren said. “I’ve been grateful to work with other students, professors and mentors who have helped me to explore journalism as a practice of empathy and service to others.“My role with Scholastic has allowed me to meet so many incredible people, and students in particular, whose stories have inspired me. … Ultimately, I owe so much to the writers, editors and our adviser, Bob Franken, for their help and for giving me the platform to try to deeply explore this campus.”The Sister Jean Lenz, O.S.F., Leadership Award, to be presented to Khan for his accomplishments as the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 president of the Muslim Student Association, distinguishes a graduate student who promotes a welcoming and diverse atmosphere on campus, according to the press release.“I was very overwhelmed,” Khan said, recalling the moment he learned he was to receive the award. “This is undoubtedly the biggest extracurricular recognition that I have ever received throughout my career.”Tags: Awards, Commencement, division of student affairs, Seniors, student leadership awards
Sarah Olson | The Observer Finance professor Carl Ackermann outlines steps students should take to achieve financial success following graduation while addressing the class of 2017 in DeBartolo Hall on Tuesday night.Notre Dame finance professor Carl Ackermann presented a lecture on personal finance and money management to the class of 2017 last night. Sponsored by Senior Class Council and the Mendoza Student Leadership Association on Tuesday, “The Path Ahead: A Roadmap for Your Financial Future” is the first of two seminars Ackermann will present on financial management. The second seminar will be held next Tuesday, April 18 at 7 p.m. in DeBartolo Hall 101 and will address topics like budgeting, credit and debit cards and college loans. You can talk to experts if you need free debt help advice.This lecture focused mainly on the financial steps students should make following graduation — beginning to think about bonds, stocks and investing in your employer’s provided retirement plan are key to making smart investments. In debriefing these concepts, Ackermann made the main goal of his lecture clear. Ackermann said accumulating money to help others should be the central goal of growing your wealth.“Though we are going to be talking about finance today, I truly think amassing wealth is meaningless,” he said. “This is not financial advice, but it is tips and tricks you can use to help others.”Ackermann first acknowledged some students in the room likely had no background in financial concepts, so he distinguished bonds and stocks, noting that students should know their purposes and differences in making investments. Bonds, he recognized, were safer because of company payment obligations, and stocks though the value may fluctuate, often rise.“Usually, unless I’m picking them, stocks tend to go up in value,” he said. “Stocks, on average have earned higher returns. Stocks, on average, have an 11 percent investment return while bonds only return on 6 percent.One tip Ackermann gave graduating seniors is that they are going to be dealing with lots of financial processes they have never seen before.“You are going to see a lot of taxes taken out of the money you earned,” he said.“One of these new concepts is retirement plans: 401(k) is the standard for profit company plan; 403(b) is used by non-profit organizations.”Ackermann referred to these not as retirement plans but as “freedom plans,” because over time, these accounts will enable people to have the freedom to do what they want with their post-career lives.Because mutual funds are often one of the only types of investments in retirement plans, Ackermann advised students on tips and tricks to choose an ideal mutual fund from the ones made available by employer’s retirement plans. The two important factors that determine a mutual fund’s performance is the expense ratio and turnover rate; the higher these two number are, the worse a mutual fund will perform. Ackermann recommends students seek mutual funds with a low expense ratio, low turnover and with no entry of exit fees.Ackermann stressed the importance of investing early on, at age 22, upon graduation. He said if you begin investing even just a decade later, by retirement age, you will have made less than half the money you could have made if you’d started investing ten years earlier.“If you get on a serious investment plan from your employer, you can retire a lot earlier and get to do things you love and help people in real need,” he said. “What can you do with your gains to improve your life and mostly brighten the lives of others?”He listed the possibilities of life after work — taking a job that pays less because you know you are well covered, spending more time with family and friends and doing substantial volunteer work.“You certainly can make the world a better place. I hope that you will go on to do that,” Ackermann said.Tags: Carl Ackermann, Mendoza Student Leadership Association, personal finance
As Valentine’s Day approaches, Irish Gardens — Notre Dame’s student-run flower and balloon shop — is gearing up for the holiday season.The shop, which is located in the basement of the LaFortune Student Center and opened in the early 1980s, has students from Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s on staff and in management positions. They expect to see as many as 300 to 400 students place orders during the week.The shop, though, is in business throughout the year, helping students, faculty and staff make their special occasions the best they can be, junior supply manager Katie Lutz said.“What’s really nice is that we get to be a part of the best and worst moments of people’s lives here — like when people are celebrating birthdays it’s really exciting to celebrate with them … we’ve blown up so many of those big, huge balloons,” she said. “ … We’ve also had a lot of orders for when a roommate is sick or they’ve lost a loved one, so in [those] moments … it’s nice that we get to bring comfort.”The shop gets most of their supply from a partner in South Bend, and once the shipments arrive, employees are charged with preparing them for sale, sophomore employee Sammy Loper said.“Monday mornings we have to process the flowers that come in,” she said. “We have to take the thorns off roses and the leaves off some flowers.”Loper said one of the perks of working for Irish Gardens is that it allows her to be creative in designing people’s gifts. “People will come in — mostly guys — and be like, do you sell flowers?” she said. “And they’re like, ‘I don’t know what I want,’ so you can take their budget and create something that’s really nice.”Lutz, who began working for Irish Gardens during her freshman year after being recruited while studying in the LaFortune basement, said these usually-romantic orders create opportunities for some funny stories.“Usually people call us a week or two in advance if they want something delivered to someone’s room — usually it’s flowers or something nice, something romantic,” she said. “But we’ve had instances in which the same person has called back to change the name on the order and sent to another room. … It’s kind of dramatic … but we don’t judge.”Graduate student employee Julie Le, who said she has been trying to work at Irish Gardens since her sophomore year at the University, said her job is one of the most rewarding she’s ever had. “You get to make people happy,” she said. “Everyone likes getting flowers or balloons.”Tags: Irish Gardens, LaFortune Student Center, Valentine’s Day
Saint Mary’s hosted Cardinal Peter Turkson, first prefect of the dicastery for the promotion of integral human development, as its annual McMahon Aquinas lecture speaker Tuesday night. Turkson spoke of the Vatican’s perspective on helping the poor and vulnerable.Turkson discussed a three-part approach to identifying ways to assist the needy in society. It begins with seeing, he said, followed by judging and ending with acting.“We look at examples of representations of the poor and the vulnerable in our midst,” Turkson said. “This would be the moment of seeing for us, and then we shall seek to understand the humanity of the existence and the experiences of the poor and the vulnerable in our midst in the light of the Biblical Christian tradition, and that would be the moment of judgment. Finally, we should consider what concrete action may be formulated and applied as responses and remedies to the existence of the poor and the vulnerable in our midst, and then we act.” Anna Mason | The Observer Cardinal Peter Turkson addresses the Saint Mary’s community at the annual McMahon Aquinas lecture Tuesday night. The lecture explored the manner in which the Vatican works with the poor and the vulnerable.The inciting forces for Turkson’s work within the Vatican were one of Pope Francis’ Masses, during which he spoke about Catholics being guardians of the poor and environment, and later meetings Turkson had with leaders of popular movements.“Pope Francis’ invitation to be guardians drew attention to the poor in our midst,” Turkson said. “Then the invitation to the organizations meeting for the popular movement drew attention to the hopelessness of situations the poor … in our cities, the need for land for work, a roof over their head and what to do.”Turkson said the enemies to developing the poor are indifference and apathy.“We must never allow the culture of prosperity to deaden us and to make us incapable of feeling compassion for the outcry of the poor, weeping of other people’s pain and sense the need to help them at all,” he said. “We cannot remain silent in the face of the suffering of millions of people whose dignity is wounded, nor can we continue to move forward if the spread of poverty and injustice has not healed.”This apathy and indifference can be healed through the realization that all of humanity is rooted in Genesis from the same first family, Turkson said. This realization naturally leads to the necessity for equality.“The fact that they [humans] come from the same womb means that they share the same nature, that they are equal in dignity,” Turkson said. “One brother does not have more dignity than the other brother so that equality as an equal sense of dignity is very crucial and that means that it is crucial for both the rich and the poor.”All of humanity has an interest in promoting the human dignity of the poor, Turkson said.“There is nobody who can live full human dignity so long as there is another who cannot live in full human dignity,” he said.Turkson said he sees the end of inequality to come through the development of the poor and vulnerable in ways that recognize their God-given dignity. This development, Turkson said, comes through seeing that the world is equally given to all of humanity.“Development as a realization of human dignity must apply to all,” he said. “True development must then be universal, developing what every person possesses by nature. Everything that is created is destined for all of humanity, all of humanity is meant to benefit.”Human dignity and the responsibility of development applies not only to Catholics but also to political leaders. Turkson said the goal of a leader should be “an inclusive society and an inclusive political system.”“People who are responsible for public authority must have a valued conception of the common good, to promote and implement some of those conditions which permit and foster the human beings,” Turkson said.Tags: cardinal peter turkson, mcmahon aquinas lecture, Thomas Aquinas