From St. Mary's College to ESTEEM

Author: Gene Stowe

Sarah PrezekSarah Prezek

Sarah Prezek majored in biology at Saint Mary’s College and minored in gerontology, a longtime interest – “I loved the elderly as a child,” she says. “People think babies are cute. I thought old people were cute.” She first considered a medical career, but when she changed her mind, the next step turned out to be across the street at Notre Dame’s ESTEEM Program, where she could gain skills for service. Another perk just happened to be another season of football and tailgates.

“I’ve always had this background in business,” says Prezek, who grew up in a decades-old family business and enjoyed the combination of science and social work at Saint Mary’s. “That’s probably what set me up for ESTEEM. It gave me different experiences than the normal technical background. It’s not necessary to have patient interaction to help people. You can make changes in the world in a different way. Innovation and new ideas can be a changing force for good.”

For her capstone thesis, Prezek is working with a company in Innovation Park that develops communication management software and analytics for long-term care facilities. “They are a service the facility uses to connect with families, to caregivers, and on a corporate level as well,” she says.

Beginning the program during the summer when other students were not on campus helped the ESTEEM class bond over group work and social events, Prezek says. Exposure to the Notre Dame alumni network and career services, as well as talks from visiting experts in various fields, has also broadened her outlook for her own career.

“It’s a great way to see who’s out there, to make some connections, to see what other people are doing after Notre Dame,” she says. “I have other passions and interests outside of just working with the geriatric community. I think ESTEEM and the alumni network have shed light on a different route where I would like to get experience before going back to help that community.”