Final Thoughts from the Class of 2023

Author: Anderson, Mohra

As the ESTEEM Class of 2023 prepared to graduate this past month, excitement and nostalgia hung in the air around Innovation Park. Many students await their upcoming posts in consulting, start ups, and tech while others warm up to the idea of starting another academic program–Law school, medical school, and the like. When phases of life come to a close, it is an opportunity to look back and reflect. Having now graduated, the ESTEEM class contemplates: Was the decision to come to ESTEEM the right one? Was the curriculum worth the 11-months spent in South Bend, exploring new avenues for careers and life? What did we learn that was unique to this program and our time here? What do we do now?

Below, several students give their perspectives on the program:


Colleen King worked for Walsh Construction as a project engineer to estimate bids on U.S. healthcare divisions prior to her time in ESTEEM. In my conversation with her, Colleen explained that “ESTEEM teaches you a lot of hands-on, real-world, applicable skills in a digestible way that’s not all textbook related. It’s crazy how much you learn within a year without even realizing the skills that you’re gaining.” What stood out to me in our conversation, however, was this quote: 

“You can’t beat the people that we’ve met over the course of this past year. The ESTEEM class is phenomenal–the friendships you’ll have for a lifetime…everyone’s nice, everyone’s bright, everyone’s genuine, and everyone has that entrepreneurial spirit.”

Colleen worked with Johnson Controls Inc. - Data Centers Solutions business unit for her capstone project. This past year, she was determining if (and how) Johnson Controls should enter and expand into the semiconductor physical infrastructure market with its portfolio of cooling (AHUs) and modular solutions (MDCs, MERs). In the Fall of 2023, Colleen will start her Master’s of Engineering in Civil and Environmental Engineering, with a concentration in Construction Engineering Management at the University of Notre Dame. 

Lauren Barrera Reny graduated last year from California Polytechnic State University with a degree in Biomedical Engineering. She actually found ESTEEM through a Google search looking for a financial engineering masters program. 

“I didn’t realize that this was for entrepreneurship…and then I blink, and I’m on Tangler Wrangler as a co-founder…and I was like woah! What’s going on?”

Lauren Barrera Reny 01

Lauren worked with for her capstone project this year, and looked at ways to potentially implement within smaller biotech incubator or investment group companies. This position was much different than what she had experienced beforehand:

“My last internship gave me a lot of hand-holding, like, this is what you do, and that set me up for success. just said do your thing, and I was like, ‘what’s my thing?’ and had to figure it out! Now, It made me realize that I do want to go to Law School. I think that if I did my financial engineering masters instead, I would have felt very stuck.” Lauren plans to work in the legal industry before attending Law School the following year. 

Harry Crowley 03

Harry Crowley worked on developing a renewable energy storage technology to go inside homes for his capstone project. “It was great that I got to follow on from my work with the Australian energy utility that I did before coming to ESTEEM, and continue to pursue my interest in renewable energy.” This summer, Harry will be working with an LA-based consulting firm called continuum renewables, and is waiting eagerly to find out if his capstone project will be spun out into its own business!

“All my fondest memories of my class and my classmates come from our time in Silicon Valley. The trip took place during spring break, and we saw everything from Silicon Valley Bank crashing to our hotel’s power going out. Nevertheless, it was some of the best time I got to spend with my classmates and I will remember it always.”

The two most common threads I’ve found in retrospective conversations with my classmates are these: First, ‘the people’ has probably been uttered by almost every single student at least once if not twice. As this chapter comes to a close, the camaraderie between students remains steadfast – and will for years to come. This is the result of spending an uncommonly large amount of time together as a cohort. Aside from our courses, this was a choice that each student continued to make over the course of 11 months, and is a testament to our bond and to the similarity between the think-outside-the-box mindsets of each student in the program. Second, the unanticipated opportunities and front row seats to history (Hi SVB!) weave a common theme through these conversations. Lauren’s note that she would have felt ‘stuck’ had she not come to ESTEEM represents the sentiments of several students, which center around the many doors that were opened because of this program. This year’s cohort, ranging from Uganda, Ireland, both coasts of the United States, and more have found opportunities around the world. While many still search for their right fit, the professional opportunities and experiences students have gained through trips, gatherings, and the Notre Dame network served and will continue to serve the cohort well after we leave South Bend.

Here’s a wonderful year, and to the success of the incoming cohort. Thank you ESTEEM!


In Notre Dame, 

The Class of 2023