Some of us receive new clothes around Christmas time. But visiting assistant mathematics professor Steven Broad received a free trip to research in Brazil. Broad was chosen as a Fulbright scholar, which will allow him to travel to Brazil in the summer of 2010 to further his current research in differential geometry. “Interestingly enough, I found out I received the grant the day we left for the Christmas holiday,” Broad said. “Right before we were leaving the house, [my wife] went to check the mail and there was a letter from Fulbright. It was paper thin, and that’s supposed to be bad news.” But when his wife opened it, she had good news to share with him. Broad’s research is in differential geometry. He said the Fulbright is an affordable way to complete his research. “I always sort of knew about the Fulbright,” Broad said. “I have a collaborator who works and lives and Brazil and my dissertation advisor is from there originally. We had to figure out how I could go to Brazil for some extended period of time without having to pay for it.”As an undergraduate, Broad studied mathematics and physics, and before he got a Ph.D., he wanted to be sure of what he wanted to do. He said he worked as a software engineer in order to give himself time to decide what field he wanted to pursue. “I was always thinking about how I was going to get back,” Broad said. After taking courses in analysis and complex analysis, Broad said he found something that interested him. “People think of [mathematicians] as sort of insensitive to beauty and in fact really most of us are all about it,” Broad said. “The reason I study things in mathematics is because to some extent, they are beautiful.”Broad taught at Notre Dame from 2006-09 before coming to Saint Mary’s in the fall of 2009.“This is an extraordinary award and such an honor for Professor Broad and for the department. Having a faculty member of this stature in the math department is evidence of the academic strength of Saint Mary’s College,” Joanne Snow, professor and chair of the mathematics department, said in a press release. “Professor Broad is an asset to the College due to his scholarly excellence as well his commitment to the mission of Saint Mary’s College, which includes helping women to develop their talents and prepare them to make a difference in the world,” Snow said.After completing his time in Brazil, Broad will bring the information back to the United States and share what he has learned with the campus community. “Here at Saint Mary’s, we care very much about the power and beauty of mathematics,” Broad said.
Designing buildings is not about creating an artistic masterpiece, a renowned architect said during a Monday lecture in Bond Hall. Urban architect Joanna Alimanestianu said her work is instead about creating a place that people will love as part of their local community. “My mission is to create places for people, places people love, places where people can live quality lives,” Alimanestianu said. “If a place isn’t lovable, it isn’t livable,” she said. “If a place needs to be livable, it has to be lovable.” An architect must focus a city’s atmosphere and culture to design “authentically local” developments, she said. “You have to understand the social fabric, the history, the people’s aspirations and history,” Alimanestianu said “You have to understand how people live there, work there, walk around there.” A design that emphasizes the local flavor will create a “contextually beautiful” place that will fit into its surroundings, Alimanestianu said. Successful designs also need to “bounce forward” to answer the needs of the future, she said. “You have to be open and present to what works and doesn’t, and what will stand the test of time,” Alimanestianu said. “You have to design for today, but be flexible for the future.” Alimanestianu put these ideas into practice in her famous redesign of the Rue de Laecken development, an abandoned row of townhouses in Belgium. During the project in the early 1990s, she hired seven young architects under 40-years-old to design nine unique townhouses. Realtors were skeptical, she said, but taking a risk with a new team paid off for the overall project. The homes sold immediately and attracted attention across Europe. “They wanted to do this, they were interested and all seven went on to become famous, successful architects,” Alimanestianu said. Alimanestianu also designed a vibrant neighborhood in Guayaquil, Ecuador, in 2006. She said she worked to revive the area by remodeling it according to traditional styles. “It was one of the ugliest cities out there,” Alimanestianu said. “We produced the architecture guidelines by looking at what was truly Ecuadorian, what people would feel comfortable in.” Although the Guayaquil project is not yet complete, Alimanestianu said residents have already expressed enthusiasm about the changes. Alimanestianu said her work in both Europe and the United States places her at the intersection of two modern urban architecture movements — the American New Urbanists and the European Urbanists. However, rather than identifying with either movement, she said she prefers to remain independent and design buildings according to residents’ needs rather than her own artistic inspiration. “I’m not interested in making a statement or calling attention,” Alimanestianu said. “I am not interested in making a work of art.”
EMILY McCONVILLE | The Observer Classics professor Joseph Amar examines a copy of the commentary of the Book of Genesis by Jacob of Edessa. Amar said he believes this manuscript was published in the third century.He also studies the Aramaic language and its dialects, which linked Christianity and Judaism and, at times, made them almost indistinguishable.“In general, it’s about documenting Christianity at a crucial stage in its history, where it’s still very Jewish-looking but hasn’t become entirely the kind of Christianity we recognize today,” Amar said. “It sort of still has one foot in Judaism and one foot in Christianity. This is preserved in these ancient manuscripts because Jews and Christians were using the same language.”Amar said as he delved into the texts over the course of his career, documenting the ideas of early Christian thinkers and studying everything from the content of manuscripts to handwriting styles, he noticed that the Vatican Library had a record-keeping problem. Until recently, he would find the documents he needed ⎯ often the only copies in existence ⎯ stacked on shelves, unorganized and unprotected.Amar also found serious discrepancies between the manuscripts themselves and the catalog that was supposed to guide the scholars researching them, he said. Some descriptions misidentify the author of a text or the date of its publication, Amar said. Others misrepresent the manuscript’s argument, in what Amar called a “Catholicizing tendency.”“It gives the impression that the manuscripts are in agreement with contemporary Catholic teaching, when of course many of the manuscripts are very ancient and pre-date anything that was going on in any church,” he said. “But you only know that when you look at the manuscript itself and compare it to what’s in the catalog, and you say, ‘Someone has been fudging the information here.’”Part of Amar’s job is to correct these errors, he said. In addition to his research on the time period itself, Amar works as a consultant for the Vatican Library, pointing out where the manuscripts and the Bibliotheca Orientalis Clementino-Vaticana differ.“I look at [the manuscript], I look at the way it’s described in the catalog, and I say we have to change A, B and C,” Amar said. “Sometimes we have to change the century in which it was written and the author that we thought wrote it.”Because the manuscripts often have pages missing, finding the right information, especially the document’s author, involves some sleuthing, Amar said.“It’s really hard,” he said. “[You find the author] by the language itself. You look at the words the author used, and you say to yourself, ‘If this is written by X, did X use this kind of writing? Did he use these words? Does this fit what we know about him?’ Then either you say either the manuscript attribution is correct, that the guy they say wrote it actually wrote it, or you make an educated speculation that, ‘I’m pretty sure that this isn’t who they say it is, but it could be Y or Z. But it sure isn’t X.’”Amar’s work has taken on new significance in the digital age. In addition to improving its organization, in recent years, the Vatican Library has begun to digitize its oldest and rarest documents. Whereas the Bibliotheca Orientalis Clementino-Vaticana was once the only source of information on a text, the library can now update the description on the Web, incorporating Amar’s research, he said. The project involves many scholars who are largely in charge of the digitization in their own fields.“They sort of let me take the lead,” Amar said. “They say, ‘When we draw up a list of priority, of manuscripts to digitize, which ones do we own in The Vatican that no one else has copies of?’ Those are number one. And which of those do we need to correct as far as the catalog goes to give people a clearer understanding of exactly what’s in them?”Amar said the process often leads to new discoveries. For example, scholars believed for centuries that Jacob of Edessa, an influential Biblical scholar, had written a commentary on the Book of Genesis ⎯ but no one could find it. Meanwhile, a catalog contained a misidentified Genesis commentary, Amar said. By comparing that manuscript’s writing and handwriting style with Jacob’s known works, Amar said he was able to correctly attribute the commentary to him.“It’s like reinventing the wheel,” Amar said. “This is something altogether new, from way in the beginning of Christianity, in a part of the world that we don’t even think about in Christian terms.”Tags: ancient texts, Vatican The Vatican library provides invaluable resources for Department of Classics professor Joseph Amar, but in the course of his study, he has worked to correct discrepancies in one of the library’s manuscript catalogs, he said.Using manuscripts from the first centuries of Christianity, Amar said he studies the writings of early Christian thinkers. Many of the manuscripts he studies reside in the Vatican Library, collected over many centuries and cataloged in the Bibliotheca Orientalis Clementino-Vaticana, an 18th-century tome that lists the authors of documents, their publication dates and descriptions of their contents, Amar said.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the nation’s highest ranking military officer, came to Notre Dame on Saturday to deliver the Jack Kelly and Gail Weiss Lecture in National Security and address America’s most crucial national security issues.Dempsey spoke to a standing-room-only crowd in the Carey Auditorium of the Hesburgh Library for approximately 20 minutes before taking questions from the audience for another 40 minutes. In his prepared remarks, he broke down America’s security challenges into two “heavyweights,” China and Russia, two “middleweights,” Iran and North Korea, two networks of violent extremism and trans-national organized crime and one cyber domain.Lucy Du | The Observer Dempsey said America will eventually need to refocus its security efforts to the Pacific region.“You’ve heard a lot about our rebalance to the Pacific,” he said. “That’s not a choice, frankly, it’s an imperative. … By 2050, there will be nine billion people on the planet. Seven billion of them will live between China and India.“We’ve got to rebalance our efforts to the Pacific. The question is how quickly and how, and it’s not just military. … We’ll eventually do that, [but] it’s hard to do that when you’re thinking about the ISIS threat or about a reasserting Russia in Europe. It is imperative.”In Iran, Dempsey said the U.S. must address more than just Iranian nuclear ambitions.“What gets most of the notoriety is Iran’s nuclear aspirations,” he said. “You’re well aware of the negotiations that are ongoing to try to diplomatically and economically … convince Iran that it would not be in their best interest. We’re making some progress.“It’s not just about nuclear weapons with Iran. They are [also] one of the world’s leading exporters of arms.”With 28,000 soldiers on the Korean peninsula, Dempsey said that region is also a primary security priority.“The security of the peninsula is not just a matter of an alliance obligation, it’s also the fact that we have enormous economic ties to South Korea,” he said. “We’ve got a huge stake in maintaining stability on the Korean peninsula in supporting our Republic of Korea allies. That got harder when the youngest leader on the planet became the leader of [North Korea]. He’s an erratic fellow, and he’s unpredictable.“We’ve got our eye on [North Korea] and we’re using all of the instruments of military and national power … to make sure North Korea doesn’t achieve its intentions.”Dempsey said ISIS presents the most attention-grabbing current threat to American security, but is part of a larger issue.“[ISIS is] part of a network of radical movements that use terrorism as a tactic,” he said. “We kind of lump them in and say they’re all terrorism, but they’ve all got different agendas. They work together when it suits their need, and they don’t when it doesn’t, and you can’t paint them all with one brush.“As we look at these threats in the Middle East, notably from radical Islamists … you just have to be very thoughtful about it so we apply the right tool at the time and over the right length of time in order to make the difference.”The international criminal network, Dempsey said, may present more of an ultimate threat to American security, though it does not receive as much attention as terrorist networks.“[The transnational organized criminal] network might actually be more dangerous at the end of the day, though it’s hard to make that case,” he said. “That network is often thought of, in policy terms, as a drug network, [but] it’s more than just a drug network. It’s a railroad, and you know a railroad will carry whatever it is paid to carry. It’ll carry drugs, it’ll carry arms, it’ll carry unaccompanied children, it’ll carry weapons of mass destruction, it’ll carry terrorists.“In that network there is a connection between the incredible money generated by that network into the terrorist networks I described before. It’s hard for us to actually track it. … One of the things we have difficulty seeing is the connection between the financial power of this criminal network and the power … and ideology of the terrorist network. But that connection is there and we continue to learn more about it and frankly we haven’t done enough against that network.”Dempsey said the cyber domain, while providing a wealth of information and connectivity, poses a potential issue for national security.“Cyber is among the most misunderstood words, I think, in the American English language,” he said. “We love it because it empowers us and it provides us with information that is mind-numbing.“Now you’re connected all the time, everywhere, with access to almost everything, and that’s wonderful. In so doing, you have exposed some of your privacy, and I think you know that. But, we’ve got issues at the national level of trying to understand and reconcile several of our values: freedom of information, privacy and security. … Frankly, we’ve made modest progress, but not nearly enough progress on [security standards and information sharing].”Dempsey also took audience questions on future risks to American security, potential ways to dismantle ISIS, Russia’s use of military force in Ukraine and advice for ROTC cadets in attendance. To the cadets, he said to pay attention to the development of democracy and never forget that their commitment is not to themselves, but to their country.Tags: China, Iran, ISIS, Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security, North Korea, Russia
The Declan Sullivan Memorial Fund sponsored the third annual Horizons for Youth game-day field trip Saturday for 35 Chicago-area students and their “big sib” adult mentors to attend the Notre Dame vs. North Carolina football game. The Chicago-based nonprofit organized a group tailgate, a meeting with former running back Reggie Brooks and a walk onto the football field, as well as tickets to the game itself.Horizons communications coordinator Tim Coffey said this was the first game and first visit to a college campus for many students. The primary goal of Horizons, which provides mentoring, tutoring and scholarships to low-income Chicago youth in kindergarten through high school, is to encourage students to attend college, he said.“We want to show them what [college is] like, get it figured out from the very start, so that they’re always thinking about it, and it works,” he said. “Ninety percent of our students graduate high school, and 80 percent go on to college.”Notre Dame graduates provide essential support for this mission, Coffey said. The organization, which was founded in 1990 by Notre Dame graduates Patrick Collins, Kathy Murdock and Mike Murdock, also includes several board members and student mentors who are affiliated with the University, he said.One of the organization’s biggest benefactors is the Sullivan family. Of Horizons’ 210 students, Coffey said 65 are members of “Declan’s Class,” a group sponsored by the Declan Drumm Sullivan Memorial Fund.Declan Sullivan, a 20-year-old Notre Dame junior and videographer for the football team, was killed in 2010 when the scissor lift from which he was filming football practice fell in high winds.Declan’s father Barry Sullivan attended the tailgate with his wife, Alison Drumm, daughter Wyn Sullivan, a Notre Dame graduate student, and son Mac Sullivan, a sophomore. Barry Sullivan said after Declan died, donations began to pour in, and shortly after, the family established the Declan Drumm Sullivan Memorial Fund and began looking for an organization to support.“We tried to think of something we could do that would have a positive effect, to honor his legacy positively instead of negatively,” Wyn Sullivan said.Barry Sullivan said Horizons for Youth appealed to the family because it was a local organization and was near Old St. Patrick’s Church, where all of the Sullivan children were baptized.“The more we found out about it, the more we liked it,” he said.Over the next two years, Coffey said the memorial fund provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to sponsor Horizons’ students, who are chosen based on financial need and their families’ willingness to commit to the program. As a result of donations, he said the memorial fund became an integral part of the organization’s ability to take on students.“We’ve grown exponentially for the last couple of years because of Declan’s family,” Coffey said. “We have a gala every year in his memory, and [we’ve raised] a little over 2 million dollars in the three years we’ve done it so we’ve gotten to add students.”Horizons board member Bob Dunklau, whose company OMI Industries in Chicago funded the trip, said working with a Horizons student through its mentoring program was like having “a winning lottery ticket.”“It’s so much more than the educational,” he said. “Obviously there’s the educational part, but that mentoring relationship, when you spend some time with these kids, it doesn’t take you long to see how that relationship is. Who’s that guy out there? It’s your parent, your older sibling, your friend all combined in one, and it’s really a lifetime relationship.”Coffey said the program would not be where it is today without the support of the Sullivan family.“They’ve changed the program,” he said. “We would not be here without them, for sure.”Tags: Chicago, Declan Sullivan Memorial Fund, Horizons for Youth, Mentors, Tim Coffey, UNC football game
Fourteen members of the class of 2018 will be heading off this fall to conduct research, attend graduate school or teach English with the aid of national and international fellowships and grants. The majority of those students are Fulbright grant recipients.Jeffrey Thibert, director of the Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement (CUSE), said Fulbright grants have become increasingly popular over the past few years, with each year’s finalists fueling more applications.Dominique DeMoe | The Observer “I think what’s happening is that, as students receive some of these, they then get publicized more and more which then leads more students to hear about them and apply for them, which then leads to more success, which then leads to more publicity,” Thibert said. “We had a couple really good years with Fulbright and now we’ve seen that become a pretty consistent thing because people are hearing about them.”Fulbright awards take two forms: the English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) and the Study/Research Grant, the Fulbright website said. Fulbright ETA finalists live in the country of their choice for one year and teach English at the elementary, high school or university level, while Study/Research Grant finalists conduct research, receive a master’s degree or a combination of the two. Thibert said Notre Dame’s class of 2018 has 11 students who have accepted Fulbright grants.“Everybody has a plan B set up and what typically happens is people will, if they find out they receive the Fulbright, they will then go back to whatever the plan B was and see if they can defer, so people can defer graduate school admissions, medical school admissions — often employers are willing to defer job starts for a year to do something like the Fulbright,” Thibert said.Thibert said ETA applicants typically have some experience teaching English, whether in the community or abroad, and study/research applicants have usually conducted research abroad or at Notre Dame. The third category of applicants fall somewhere in the middle.“Maybe they were abroad for a semester, maybe they just went abroad for a limited amount of time, but they like the idea of having an immersive cultural experience for a year while teaching English or conducting some kind of project,” Thibert said. “In some countries, the English Teaching Assistantship doesn’t require previous English teaching experience … but they do need you to be open to this immersive year abroad.”Senior Nadia Braun said she knew she was going to apply for the ETA grant by the time she reached her sophomore year. Braun, whose mother taught Russian before she was born, had been considering a Fulbright grant in Russia for years.“I talked to CUSE and asked what the process was like, and then it sort of is the perfect marriage of my Russian major and education, schooling and society minor,” Braun said. “So I was like, ‘This is really what I want to do.’ CUSE was great, they helped me with the entire application process and really directed me so it worked out.”Braun’s back-up plan was participating in ’Teach for America,’ a non-profit organization that provides the opportunity to teach in low-income schools, which she deferred for a year. Braun’s interest in higher education and her previous experiences in Russia and English tutoring greatly strengthened her application, Braun and Thibert said. She said she is excited to return to Russia, where she studied abroad and also visited in high school.“Russia’s been a really big part of my life since I was small, so I’m really excited to go back and have the opportunity to travel more,” Braun said. “I’m excited to meet new people because you’re so invested in the community you’re going to be living in — you’re working at a university, you’re not only teaching, but a lot of the Fulbrighters end up teaching other English classes or running an English Club or volunteering and teaching elementary students, so you really get to be a part of that world and I’m really excited to do that.”Though she doesn’t know what city she’ll be placed in, Braun said she predicts it will be an area lacking a large amount of English speakers. While other Russian-speaking countries had plenty of opportunities for teaching English at the elementary and high school level, Braun chose Russia because she is guaranteed to be teaching at a university, reflecting her long-term goal to work in higher education. “Even in high school, looking at different colleges and doing the whole college search thing was really fascinating to me,” Braun said. “Then once I got to college, I realized that a thing I could actually pursue as a career was being involved in that structure. When I started the education, schooling and society minor, I realized how much inequity there is in higher ed and so I really wanted to work to help people who don’t necessarily have the same opportunities that I’ve had to be able to succeed in the higher education system.”Senior Jeremy Cappello-Lee will be heading to South Korea to begin his two year master’s degree program at Yonsei University’s Graduate School of International Studies in Seoul, South Korea through the Fulbright Study/Research grant. His program focuses on global affairs with an emphasis on Korean studies, Cappello-Lee said.“This particular program, since it’s a graduate program, offered a way to transition from my major being philosophy here to a more business-focused and applied course of study,” he said. “I’ll be taking courses in economics, management, politics, so it’s a way of transitioning into diplomacy, international trade — those types of sectors afterwards.”Cappello-Lee, who is half Korean, coupled his major in philosophy with Asian studies and said he believes the Asia region, which is already receiving a lot of attention, will only continue to grow more influential on the world stage.“My interest stemmed after high school, when I took a sort of gap year in South Korea and I studied the language there and traveled and volunteered and stuff,” Cappello-Lee said. “That kind of sparked my interest in the region and then I continued that thread at Notre Dame and combined it with a focus in China — so China, Korea, U.S. relations.“CUSE was extremely helpful, he said, in creating a grant proposal that was relevant, personal and convincing within two pages, integrating both his past experiences and future goals.“CUSE is a great asset and I can’t stress enough how helpful they have been in my application process. They really make a seemingly daunting process much more manageable,” Cappello-Lee said.Like Braun, Cappello-Lee said he was excited about returning to the cities he visited in the year before college.“Having had these four years of university, I think I’ve grown as a person and I’m really excited to see how that’s changed my perspective on Seoul,” Cappello-Lee said.While many grants take students abroad for their studies, a number of them also focus on continuing education in the United States. Senior Michael Foley was awarded the Gates Cambridge Scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. in astrophysics, but ultimately declined the grant in favor of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSFGRF), which funds students for three years of research in a STEM field.“The idea is just that you can ignore any other financial strains you may have and just be purely funded and not have to answer to a single advisor either,” Foley said. “You have the freedom to kind of work with whoever you want and not be financially tied to a single person.”Foley said since the money comes from the government and does not have specific requirements, he will have the freedom to study whatever he is most interested in without the pressure of an outside source of funding that expects a certain result.“It’s a little hard to develop your scientific abilities if you’re only doing what someone else is telling you to do,” Foley said. “If you don’t have the freedom to explore your own ideas it’s a little bit more restrictive. A lot of times mentors are really good about that, but sometimes you may get a mentor that isn’t so great so if you can say, ‘I have my own funding,’ that’s a really big thing and CUSE seems to really understand that.”Foley hopes to eventually become a professor and continue to conduct research after receiving his doctorate from Harvard, but he said he could also transition his skills into a career in the technology sector. His experiences doing undergraduate research and his previous work with CUSE have opened him up to the possibilities in academia, he said.“I’ve always loved space, and I didn’t realize I could research it as a career until I got here,” Foley said. “I came in expecting to study physics and computer science and just be interested in space but go and work at a tech company or something, but I jumped into research my freshman year and I absolutely loved it — it showed me that there were actually opportunities to study something I love.” Foley also received the Goldwater Scholarship during his junior year and the application process and the award itself served as a step toward subsequent awards, Thibert said.“It’s sort of meant to recognize outstanding student researchers who are on track to becoming outstanding faculty researchers typically, so I think that was a pretty big stepping stone for him to some of these other fellowships,” Thibert said.The application to both the Gates Scholarship and NSFGRF were time consuming, Foley said, but necessary to his future success.“I think it ultimately made me a lot more clear in the things I’d like to pursue in grad school, not so much academically but how I’d like to use the knowledge and the skills I’m gaining to teach others, to help other people figure out what they want to do,” Foley said. “It was a very informative process.”This learning, Thibert said, is one of the main focuses of CUSE. With hundreds of Notre Dame students and alumni applying for grants every year, CUSE has to be prepared for the majority to be rejected. “I don’t know if I would say it’s the biggest challenge, but it’s the thing that I see as our number one task, which is to ensure that whether or not a student receives a fellowship they’re applying for, they get value from the application process,” Thibert said. “It’s of course worth trying to apply to the great opportunities, but I think it’s really important that as advisors, we make sure that they are really getting something of value from the process.”While getting the word out about grants and fellowships continues to be CUSE’s greatest challenge, Thibert said, he has seen the number of applicants and recipients grow year after year. He said an emerging global perspective was one of the greatest factors in this increase. “Every year, I think I see students becoming more and more internationally engaged and I think the University has put a real priority on internationalization and I think that I really see that impact,” Thibert said. “The students are more in-tune with what is going on around the world, more and more students seem to be studying abroad and more and more students are interested in having these experiences that allow them to engage globally.”Thibert said he hopes to see even more students apply and dreads that students might regret missing an opportunity. Success builds on success, he said, which is evident in the ever-increasing number of Fulbright applicants.“I hope students would see what some of these graduating seniors have been able to achieve during their time here and recognize that they too might be able to achieve some of these same things,” Thibert said. “There is this sort of culture of fellowships developing here where I think people are talking about these things, people do know about them. I would like to see that culture expand a little.”Tags: CUSE, English Teaching Assistantship, Fellowships, Fulbright, fulbright grants, Study/Research Grant
Hair can often be a means of self-expression. However, sometimes no hairstyle at all can say more than even the most elaborate updo. The Bald and The Beautiful, one of the largest student-run philanthropy events on campus, gives students the opportunity to either shave their heads, donate eight inches of hair or buy hair extensions to raise funds and awareness for cancer research.“It’s cool when you shave your head and you’re walking around campus and you see somebody else that you didn’t know was shaving their head or a girl who got her hair cut super short, it’s just like a cool little bond you share,” Bart Bramanti, a junior and co-chair for the event, said.This year, The Bald and the Beautiful will be held on April 3 and 4 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and April 5 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Duncan Student Center on the Hagerty Family Cafe Stage. Participants can either donate eight inches of their hair for free, shave their head for $15 or purchase colored hair extensions, each color representing a different type of cancer, for $10.Organizer and senior Rachel Belans said she hopes the central location will help make the fundraiser more successful this year.“We switched the location this year,” Belans said. “It used to be in [LaFortune Student Center] so we’re hoping that the new location will be really exciting and maybe help us get more participation this year.”Last year, the event raised around $10,000 and the organizers are hoping to either match that amount or reach $15,000 this year. Since its inception, the event has raised more than $300,000 for pediatric cancer research.The money raised is split between Memorial Hospital in South Bend and St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on childhood cancer research. However, the efforts of The Bald and The Beautiful go beyond just raising money. The event has also sponsored a playroom called “The Bald and The Beautiful Room” in Memorial Hospital and the group also organizes visits to Memorial Hospital a few times a month. On Wednesday, children from the hospital will be coming to the fundraiser for arts and crafts.“We wanted to support the children’s hospital here because those were the kids we could interact with and it’s in South Bend,” Bramanti said. “And the St. Baldrick’s Foundation was the research-related side of it. … We want to donate to a fewer number of places and make more substantial contributions.”The Bald and The Beautiful began in 2009 when some members of the Freshmen Class Council began planning a service event in honor of one of their classmates, Sam Marx, who had been in a battle with cancer during his time on campus. The goal of the event was to keep Sam’s vibrant presence alive on campus after he left for further treatment and to raise awareness for cancer research. At the first The Bald and The Beautiful, 126 students came out to shave their heads.Last year, 258 people preregistered for the event and this year they have 100 individuals registered for donations — including 15 girls who are planning on shaving their heads. Around 500 people ended up participating last year, as people can also walk up the day of and participate.“I have not participated in The Bald and the Beautiful before,” Elisabeth Lasecki, a sophomore who will be donating eight inches of her hair, said in an email. “I decided to participate because I was already planning to chop my hair, so I might as well do it for such an incredible cause.”Bramanti has shaved his head the last two years.“It’s funky. You feel like you have Velcro all over your head,” he said.While shaving your head my not be for everyone, Belans said it lends one a strong emotional connection to those going through cancer.“It [shaving your head] requires a lot of bravery and is a huge emotional challenge for people to go through and do that big empathic thing to stand in solidarity with people with cancer,” she said.Belans has donated her hair three times to The Bald and The Beautiful.“There’s all kinds of things we take for granted and one of the easiest ones is a full head of hair,” Bramanti said. “But on a shaving-your-head basis, you’re stepping into someone else’s shoes and seeing what it’s like. It’s an interesting experience. When you shave your head and you’re off campus where people don’t know you, you can get looked at kind of funny, like ‘why does this kid have a shaved head’ and maybe that’s something that people who are going through chemo have to deal with as their hair is growing back. It’s just trying to understand and get a little appreciation for how blessed we are to live the kind of lives we do and do what we can to help those who have to deal with the things we don’t.”Lasecki is still apprehensive about the approaching date for her big haircut, but it excited to do her part for those battling cancer.“I’ve wanted to cut my hair for a while now, but I’m definitely still a bit nervous,” Lasecki said. “I haven’t had short hair since I was pretty young. Nevertheless, I’m just grateful I can do my small part in the ongoing fight against cancer.”Bramanti said if shaving your head has even crossed your mind before, it’s definitely a risk worth taking.“I think everyone will get a little nervous when they think about shaving their head,” Bramanti said. “But, I never looked back. I’m very happy I did it the two times I did. If you haven’t done it and it’s something you’re thinking about, take a little leap of faith. You always have a conversation starter.”Tags: cancer, haircut, philanthropy, the bald and the beautiful
Courtesy of Joe Everett Chris Westdyk (’19), pictured, was an avid runner and enthusiastic Stanford Hall resident. Westdyk died June 3 after a long battle with cancer.Westdyk died June 3 after a long battle with cancer. He was 22 years old.Throughout his four years at Notre Dame, Westdyk filled a series of roles within his dorm, including a two-time Welcome Weekend ambassador, designer of the Stanford flag and resident assistant (RA), among others. His fellow RA and former roommate Joe Everett (’19) said Westdyk was skilled at developing a sense of community.Editor’s Note: Everett is a former sports editor for The Observer.“Chris was extremely loyal to the places and people he cared about and would dedicate himself to them in any way he could,” Everett said in an email. “He found a home in Stanford Hall, and therefore gave of himself constantly to cultivate community. …Chris built community in a lot of small, everyday ways, whether through kind gestures or a willingness to help any way he could. He held everybody to the same standard he held himself to, and that was a pretty outstanding and inspiring goal for us all to live up to.”Liz Jakubowski (’19), a friend who got to know Westdyk through a series of shared classes, said it was impossible to think about Westdyk without immediately associating him with Stanford Hall.“I don’t think it’s possible really to separate Chris from Stanford,” she said. “It was so important to who he was and what he stood for which I think is really unique and it was really beautiful that he cared so much about the men there, and he would just mention that at different moments or show that through what he was talking about doing with his section and spending time investing in the people there. It was just such a gift.”In addition to his presence within Stanford, Westdyk was deeply engaged in the wider Notre Dame community. He interned at the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) and completed multiple Appalachia service trips. Lydia Piendel (’18) met Westdyk on an Appalachia trip she led.“It turned out we had a lot in common, and we became pretty good friends throughout the trip,” Piendel said.Outside of his academic and service commitments, friends also remembered Westdyk as an avid sports fan. Everett said the two once spontaneously drove to Buffalo, New York from campus to attend the Notre Dame men’s basketball team’s second round NCAA tournament game against West Virginia in 2017.“Chris called me out of the blue to say that he had a burning desire to watch the men’s basketball team play against West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament in Buffalo,” Everett said. “’Why not?’ I thought, ‘Let’s go on an adventure.’ The game was a day away, so we made plans quickly. I picked Chris up from Main Circle at three in the morning, and we drove seven hours to get to Buffalo on time for the game. … In terms of Notre Dame men’s basketball homes games, I don’t think Chris missed one throughout his four years.”Liam Gannon, a rising senior who knew Westdyk since the two were both students at Morristown, New Jersey’s Delbarton School, said Westdyk was also a dedicated baseball fan who loved the New York Mets. Piendel, too, said she will always associate Westdyk’s memory with his Mets cap.“He always wore his Mets hat,” Piendel said.Westdyk was a dedicated runner. Gannon said their friendship developed when they were cross country teammates at Delbarton.“We were both on the [cross country] team, but he was a year above me,” Gannon said in an email. “He was in the midst of a breakout season, and I was still trying to learn the ropes, but he was a very friendly guy, good to know in the class above. … We got to know each other pretty well.”Westdyk battled melanoma throughout both high school and college. He underwent various treatment regimens, though he largely kept it to himself. Piendel said she first learned about Westdyk’s fight with cancer during their Appalachia trip one night at a reflective campfire.“We got to a point in the reflection where we were talking about tough things we were going through, and when we got to Chris’ turn, he told us — and this was like halfway through the week — he told us he was battling cancer,” she said. “We were all shocked because we had no idea. He had not said that at any point; it was not disclosed to us when we were learning about any of the Appalachia members or anything like that. It was shocking, but he also clearly didn’t want it to be a big deal, so we didn’t really make it a big deal.”Westdyk’s choice to keep his fight to himself largely originated from his sense of humility, McDevitt said.“Chris was tough. You heard it again and again in the memorials of him, at his funeral, in conversations with the guys after the fact,” he said. “… He didn’t want to be exceptional or seen as a hero. He just lived his life with grit and hard work. When Chris finally told everyone, people were blown away not because he had kept it a secret but because of all he managed to do while also living with this secret. It was incredible.”Westdyk kept up all of his activities and hobbies throughout the course of his treatment — including running, and completing the New York City Marathon in fall 2018. Jakubowski recalled Westdyk taking his intense training regimen in stride as he prepared for the marathon.“He’d be like ‘Oh, I’m tired this morning,’ and I’d be like ‘I’m tired too,’ and then ask about his morning,” she said. “He’d say, ‘Oh I actually ran 20 miles in preparation for this marathon,’ and he’d show up to class and participate and everything and be fully present there and chat with me afterwards and then go to work in the afternoon. He was just so fully invested in it and everything. It was just so fun, he just invested himself in what he loved and invested himself in people.”Piendel ran with Westdyk on a handful of occasions and said she admired him for his accomplishments.“I mean going through a variety of treatments is not easy on someone’s body, but he’s still running and running fast,” she said. “You’re sitting there struggling to keep up and breathing hard, and he’s just ahead of you saying, ‘Come on, let’s go.’ He stayed with me the whole time and was very encouraging. It felt weird because it felt like it should have been the other way around, like I should be the one encouraging him, but it didn’t go that way.”Gannon also fondly recalled running with Westdyk.“Most of all though, my favorite memories are just running with him on the running traiIs, boardwalks, or on campus,” he said. “Even when it had been a while since we had seen each other, it was never hard to have a fun conversation during the run that continued for hours after, when we’d go to the bagel shop or the dining hall. It was impossible to run out of things to talk about with Chris.”Even as Westdyk’s battle reached its final stages, he was able to receive his Notre Dame degree from University President Fr. John Jenkins in a ceremony held in his hospital room, attended by family and Stanford Hall staff.“It was clear that the entire University was dedicated to seeing Chris through to the end, and he made it,” McDevitt said. ”… Chris is Notre Dame.”Westdyk’s friends said they hoped he would be remembered for his unassuming and humble nature, his positive impact on other people and the inspiration he provided throughout his health struggle.“He will be remembered for his perseverance, his dedication, his love, his commitment, and his running the race as well as anybody has,” Everett said. “To witness his strength in the face of adversity was life-changing.”Gannon echoed that sentiment in his reflections on Westdyk’s life.“He was always smiling,” Gannon said. “Things were hard for him a lot, especially near the end, but he had such an amazing energy and positive presence that was infectious. Chris always lived in the moment and gave all of himself to the people he was with, and I’m sure that everyone who knew him will remember him in that way.”Piendel said she hopes others draw inspiration from the fullness with which Westdyk lived his life despite his circumstances.“I hope that everyone who knew Chris or has heard about him can feel inspired to go out and still accomplish amazing things regardless of what you’re going through, but also be there to build other people up to accomplish what they want,” Piendel said. “It’s really amazing what he was able to do while also undergoing just horrible treatments and pain and worry. A lot of people would’ve just broken down in worry and dropped out of school, but he didn’t and he just continued. I think that it’s really inspiring for sure. He was very quietly inspiring.”Jakubowski said she hopes Westdyk understood his positive impact on the Notre Dame community.“I think his impact on this campus rippled, and I don’t think he would’ve ever predicted how far. And I think he deserves so much gratitude … for the way that he has contributed at so many different levels and different arenas,” she said. “… He was just very loved by a wide variety of people here and I’m not sure he knew the way he could make people smile, the way that he could make people’s days a little better, and that aggregated effect is something that is such a beautiful, beautiful thing.”A version of this story was published July 1.Tags: Chris Westdyk, Class of 2019, Stanford Hall Chris Westdyk was “a huge Stanford guy.”The class of 2019 alumnus was a devoted member of the Stanford Hall community, Justin McDevitt, Stanford Hall’s rector, remembered.“He lived and breathed Stanford, waved the flag at events, led walkovers to games, and was just all about the life of the hall,” McDevitt said in an email. “He would also do anything for anyone. He was always known as an all-in [kind of] guy.”
Though fall study abroad programs were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Saint Mary’s will plan to move forward with spring study abroad programs, Alice Siqin Yang, the associate director of international education, said. The Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership (CWIL), which is in charge of study abroad, has been monitoring the CDC’s global health status and the situation in the destination countries for months since the pandemic hit.CWIL typically has one deadline for study abroad applications in March of the preceding year a student is planning to go abroad. This year, however, the office has added a deadline of Oct. 1 for students to apply to programs for the spring semester. The normal application fee of $50 has also been waived.“We will make the final decision on the programs by the application deadline, Oct. 1,” she said.Even though study abroad applications are open and the College is planning on going forward with spring programs at this time, students still express hesitancy towards applying. Senior Shayla O’Connor, who serves as the Coordinator of Peer Advisors for CWIL, said this was one reason for the waived application fee. “There’s a lot of concern about whether the programs will actually be open or not, but that decision won’t be finalized until October,” O’Connor said. “Until then, we advise that they apply, as applications are still open. That way they have a choice when October comes on whether or not they’d like to go abroad.”Saint Mary’s Health and Counseling Center and the CWIL Global Education Office are also working to set safety measures in place for students before departing to their host countries. “Accepted students are required to attend a study abroad pre-departure orientation,” Yang said, noting that these orientations will cover health, safety, insurance and intercultural learning strategies. “Students need to complete a health self-disclosure form before departure and get required immunizations. They should consult with their doctor if they have a physical or mental health issue.”Students may also read the State Department’s website to view their host country’s restrictions in regards to COVID-19.As a few students were able to complete their study abroad experience remotely last spring, others may elect to take online courses through their host university this coming spring. Additionally, students may choose to participate in programs offered by third-party organizations that host online study abroad opportunities. Because these programs are not directly affiliated with Saint Mary’s, the credits will need to be accepted as transfer credits through Student Academic Services.Around half of Saint Mary’s students study abroad. For many credit-heavy majors like nursing and speech language pathology, the fall of sophomore year is the only opportunity students have of studying abroad, so the cancellation due to COVID-19 came as disappointment to many students. “There are very few schools that allow nursing students to study abroad,” sophomore Olivia Pilon said. “Clinical placements make that incredibly challenging. Part of the reason I chose Saint Mary’s was because of this opportunity, especially with the wide variety of places that I could go.”Pilon, a nursing student, said though she agrees with the decision by the College to cancel the fall study abroad programs, it still comes as a disappointment.“I do think that this was the right move by Saint Mary’s to close these programs, and although it comes as a difficult loss for the nursing students that won’t have an opportunity to study abroad anymore, it would only make this pandemic worse,” she said.In times of global duress and uncertainty, Yang remains hopeful about the external opportunities students are offered. “Pray. We need more prayers,” Yang requested of the Saint Mary’s community. “We pray for a more peaceful and healthier world so that our students can study abroad and discover the world.”Tags: center for women’s intercultural leadership, COVID-19, student academic services, study abroad
Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) Image by Justin Gould / WNY News Now.MAYVILLE – The Chautauqua County Health Department says spots for two COVID-19 rapid testing clinics happening this week are now full.Officials say the first round of testing will take place at the Murphy Training Center on Brigham Road in Dunkirk on Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.The second site will open at the Taylor Training Center on Harrison Street in Jamestown on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.Testing is open free of charge to any Chautauqua County resident who signs up for an appointment. Spots filled up less than 24-hours after availability was announced on Sunday afternoon. A pervious testing event took place last week in Mayville.107 new cases of the virus were reported in the county since Thursday. Heath officials are expected to provide a full weekend update on Monday.