From Xavier to ESTEEM

Author: Gene Stowe

From Xavier: Maggie Burlingame ('18) and Carlos Munoz ('18)From Xavier: Maggie Burlingame ('18) and Carlos Munoz ('18)

Maggie Burlingame didn’t know she wanted to be an entrepreneur when she was studying physics and participating in the economics and sustainability program at Xavier University. She just knew that science had social impact. ESTEEM, provided the opportunity to direct that impact for good.

“The word ‘entrepreneur’ scared me away because I don’t want to start a company,” says Maggie, who found ESTEEM’s Fix Things that Matter motto irresistible. “I want to understand how people can solve problems and combine the business side of things with the science.”

Carlos Munoz for years focused his career goals on medical school, earning degrees in chemistry and Spanish at Xavier University, with a growing desire to learn more effective ways to help people through medicine. He’s learning them at ESTEEM.

“I wanted to figure out how I could take some of the foundational basic science pieces I had collected and combine those with a program that focused on entrepreneurship and business,” Carlos says. “I always thought the way I could impact health care is both by treating patients but also setting precedents for future care. How can we transform ideas into action items and leverage economic and business decisions to improve someone’s life? I thought ESTEEM would be a good way to combine what I had learned through undergrad and transform it to something impactful.”

Maggie and Carlos are advancing their goals in the program that combines the close-knit, faculty-accessible, rigorous education of Xavier with a hands-on, try-and-see, network-supported experience that encourages them to explore.

“It’s really different from anything I had at Xavier,” says Maggie, whose industry-sponsored capstone focuses on quantifying impact investments through machine learning strategies. “It’s so applied. Our thesis projects are such a large part of the classes. We’re learning things in the classroom and we’re applying them immediately. We don’t just hear about things, we see them. We see how they work.”

“ESTEEM has given me tools and a big playground, says Carlos, whose capstone with Medtronics involves optimizing CRT therapy for heart failure patients. “ You get to become a kid a little bit and explore and play and learn on your own. It’s such a big sandbox. There are so many different ways to play. You experience learning in a very different way. I’m very involved in patient care. A lot of my classmates like technology, they like applications, they like software. Learning is a complementary process here. At Xavier, we had people who are very like-minded. Here, we have people who want very different things but have the same foundation.”

The ESTEEM experience, building on the Xavier background, is propelling them into the careers they sought. Carlos is applying to medical school; Maggie plans to work with organizations supporting social and environmental sustainability in communities.

“At ESTEEM, we are all interested in common themes, but we are approaching them from many different backgrounds,” Maggie says. “That continued over from Xavier but in a more evolved way. Our class’s experiences are very diverse but with a collective focus on learning how to think like an entrepreneur and fix things that matter. The experiences I had at Xavier learning how to process information, approach problems and communicate clearly have definitely helped in my work here. Not only have I used these skills, but I have also been able grow these skills at Notre Dame. Notre Dame has really meant a lot to me. It’s such a strong community. Alumni are easy to come across, and they’re super willing to talk to you.”

“At Xavier, I loved research, exploring problems, being given some foundational pieces, working to solve problems through creativity,” says Carlos, who is ACS-certified. “That process is similar to how economics works – hypothesis, test by talking to people in the market, gauging response. ESTEEM gives you the tool sets and allows you to grow from there. Notre Dame has built such an extensive network of people who are willing to help. I want my name on that network so I can continue this for future generations.”