Stories of distinction in the class of 2001

Author: Dennis Brown

The University of Notre Dame’s 2001 graduating class can be characterized collectively, through a variety of numerical and statistical observations, as well as individually, through the stories of seniors with compelling tales to tell.p. Some of the overall characteristics are:p. ? About 94 percent of the 1,908 students who enrolled at Notre Dame in the fall of 1997 will receive a diploma Sunday (May 20) ? a graduation rate exceeded only by Harvard and Princeton.p. p. ? Some 33 percent of this year’s seniors spent one or two semesters studying abroad, the highest such percentage for any major American research university.p. p. ? Almost 80 percent of the graduates participated in volunteer and service-learning programs in both the greater South Bend area as well as nationwide.p. p. ? Some 10 percent of this year’s seniors ? about 180 ? will continue in volunteer service to society, engaging in a year or more of work in programs such as the Peace Corps, Teach for America, the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, and Notre Dame’s own Alliance for Catholic Education and Holy Cross Associates.p. p. ? All 50 of the United States are represented in the senior class, as are some 80 nations worldwide among both the seniors and advanced degree candidates, making Notre Dame one of the world’s most geographically diverse universities.p. p. ? This was a year of firsts at Notre Dame: Senior Reggie McKnight was the first African-American athlete at Notre Dame to become a Rhodes Scholar candidate; senior Molly Kinder became the first woman to be selected to the Irish Guard, the corps of students that accompanies the University’s marching band; senior A. Stephen Smith earned distinction as the first African-American president of the Notre Dame Glee Club; junior Brooke Norton was the first woman elected student body president; the Irish women’s basketball team won its first national championship; and senior Michael Brown completed his two-year tenure as the first African-American to serve as the leprechaun for Notre Dame athletics.p. p. Beyond the numbers, here are some individual senior stories of distinction:p. p. Rebecca Glatz , Ames, Iowa ? A civil engineering and geological sciences major, Glatz earned a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship last summer, which she applied to her senior year at Notre Dame, and is the recipient this year of a National Science Foundation fellowship, which she will apply to graduate studies at Stanford University. During her undergraduate years, Glatz worked in the Environmental Mineralogy and Crystal Structures Laboratory in the College of Engineering, and also participated in petrology research with Clive Neal, associate professor of civil engineering and geological sciences. Her work at Stanford will include research related to waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington. Glatz can be reached at (219) 634-4094 or p. p. Molly Kinder , Buffalo, N.Y.? Kinder broke new ground last fall when she became the first woman to be selected to the Irish Guard, the colorfully dressed students who escort the Band of the Fighting Irish at football games, pep rallies and elsewhere. Established in 1949, the guard previously had been all male, in large part because of the requirement that members stand 6-foot-2 or more. Kinder, at 6-3, missed the cut in 1999 but was one of six new members selected for the 2000-01 year. A government and international studies major, Kinder was an active participant in Center for Social Concerns programs, including the University’s new Robinson Learning Center in South Bend and the Holy Cross Associates program in Chile. She received a YWCA Tribute to Women Award this spring. Her service to society will continue after graduation when she relocates to Portland, Ore., to work with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in its outreach to people from Central America.p. Kinder can be reached at (219) 234-3129 or p. p. John Lavan , St. James, N.Y. ? It was on something of a whim during his junior year that Lavan entered the Wall Street Journal’s periodical Investment Dartboard contest. After quickly selecting a stock pick ? Elbit Ltd., an Israeli manufacturer of electronic and imaging systems ? he e-mailed his entry to the Journal and then watched over several months as his choice outperformed both the stocks picked by investment professionals and those selected by WSJ reporters throwing darts at stock listings. Elbit’s price rose 110 percent while the Dow Jones Industrials dropped 2.1 percent during the course of the competition. A finance major, Lavan is considering job opportunities in futures trading.p. Lavan can be reached at (219) 234-7820 or p. Reggie McKnight , Greenville, S.C.? On the soccer field, in the classroom and throughout the community, McKnight was a leader during his undergraduate years. A four-time monogram winner, he was a Dean’s List student who also participated actively in the service opportunities available through the athletic department’s Life Skills Program. McKnight was a recipient this year of the Francis Patrick O’Connor Award, given annually to student-athletes who best embody the spirit of Notre Dame, and last year he received a Student Leadership Award from the University’s office of Student Activities. He was the first African-American student-athlete at Notre Dame to earn recognition as a Rhodes Scholar candidate, and Campus Ministry selected him as the Sister Thea Bowman Award winner for his active role in mentoring other students. In addition to participating in soccer, he also served as a practice player for Notre Dame’s national championship women’s basketball team. McKnight majored in American studies and will attend the Duke University Law School.p. McKnight can be reached at (219) 634-4694 or p. p. Andrea Mechenbier , Pittsburgh ? Mechenbier has been active in a wide variety of Center for Social Concerns programs, including a Summer Service Project last year in which she assisted Notre Dame graduates Dr. David Gaus and Erik G. Janowsky, cofounders of Andean Health and Development, a nonprofit organization which seeks to modernize and improve health care in Ecuador. She is the cofounder and president of Notre Dame’s Global Health Initiative, an organization composed of pre-med students who “strive to perfect our ideal of health care as a human right through experiential learning, service and global health awareness.” She also was involved in the Experiential Learning Council and student government. After Commencement, Mechenbier won’t go far: She has accepted an assignment in South Bend with Holy Cross Associates, the program established in 1978 by Notre Dame’s founding congregation that engages young lay people in the order’s service to the poor in the United States and Chile.p. Mechenbier can be reached at (219) 634-1071 or p. p. Brian O’Donoghue , Wauwatosa, Wis., and Carolyn Weir , Greensburg, Pa.? In the spring of 1997, Carolyn Weir and Brian O’Donoghue were co-valedictorians of the senior class at Greensburg Central Catholic High School in Greensburg, Pa., about 45 minutes southwest of Pittsburgh. Weir matriculated to nearby Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, while O’Donoghue enrolled at Notre Dame. A year later, at O’Donoghue’s urging, Weir transferred to Notre Dame. This year, the two high school classmates from Greensburg once again are at the head of their graduating class ? though under slightly different circumstances, O’Donoghue as Notre Dame’s student body president and Weir as the class of 2001 valedictorian. Both will be honored at a luncheon prior to commencement May 20, and, after delivering her valedictory address, Weir will be followed at the podium by the University’s principal speaker, President Bush. Weir, who is graduating with a 3.95 GPA, plans to work for the U.S. Catholic Conference as an education research associate, focusing on public policy issues related to Catholic schools. O’Donoghue, whose family moved to Wisconsin when he was a freshman, majored in English and history and will attend the Yale Law School in the fall.p. O’Donoghue can be reached at (219) 634-1861 or o’; Weir is at (219) 634-1280 or p. p. David Swinarski , Red Wing, Minn. ? A mathematics and English major, Swinarski is one of just 40 seniors nationwide to earn a Marshall Scholarship this year. He will apply it toward two years of study in math at Oxford, after which he plans to pursue a doctorate and then teach at the university level. In addition to his double major, Swinarski also has an interest in chemistry and has published work in organic chemistry in collaboration with Olaf G. Wiest, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Notre Dame. Before going to England, Swinarski will continue working in Wiest’s laboratory this summer. Swinarski was a member of the Notre Dame Folk Choir, served as liturgical commissioner for Sorin Hall and assisted with several Sorin service projects.

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