Irish Students at Notre Dame: Ciara Dillon's Perspective on the ESTEEM Program

Author: Notre Dame ESTEEM

Meet Ciara Dillon, a M.S. in Entrepreneurship, Technology, & Innovation (ESTEEM) graduate student in the class of 2024. Prior to her enrollment in the program, she completed a degree in mechanical engineering at the University College of Dublin in 2023. Embark with us as we delve into Ciara's inspiring journey, from her roots in Dublin to the transformative experiences at Notre Dame. Discover how the ESTEEM program has provided Ciara and many like her with the tools, knowledge, and support to venture beyond traditional confines, shaping them into problem solvers and industry leaders of tomorrow.

Fixing Problems that Matter

With a background in mechanical engineering, Ciara finds the ESTEEM program provides a platform to venture into uncharted territories that her undergraduate degree didn't touch upon. She has a Bachelors of Engineering with focus on Mechanical Engineering from the University College Dublin. The ESTEEM program is allowing her to gain real world and industry experience fixing problems that matter.

“The ESTEEM program for me was really a special year that I would be able to hone in on skills that I never really got to hone in on during my mechanical engineering degree and work on problems that matter through the capstone project,” Ciara explained. “I am making more of an impact with higher responsibilities and really get to broaden my perspective. The ESTEEM program is a really unique opportunity and I'm really glad to be here.”

Ciara’s capstone project is working with the Return to Hospital Project for General Genomics Inc. (GGI), an early-stage AI start-up located in Oklahoma City. General Genomics Inc. specializes in developing commercial software interfaces and machine learning models that leverage an individual's health history and genetics. GGI's mission is to utilize objective data science to furnish medical professionals and patients with unbiased, personalized risk assessments for diseases and treatment options. In the United States, hospital readmissions represent a $25 billion issue. The Return to Hospital Project by GGI aims to enhance the objectivity of discharge decisions for U.S. patients, as well as serve as a risk assessment tool for individuals admitted to Long-Term Care/Skilled Nursing Facilities.

The primary objective of this project is to formulate a comprehensive go-to-market plan for the Return to Hospital Tool, along with financial statements, market analysis, and competitive strategies to support GGI's endeavors. This technology promises to empower patients to take greater control over their health while equipping healthcare professionals with valuable decision-making tools. Addressing health equity, a paramount global challenge, can be seen at the core of GGI's technology, as it has the potential to eliminate bias from the healthcare decision-making process.

Finding a Home Away from Home

ESTEEM is more than lectures and assignments; it's an ecosystem of trailblazers and an innovation hub for future leaders. Diving deep into both the ESTEEM program and Notre Dame alumni networks, Ciara has discovered a deep sense of community and a supportive network of like-minded individuals ready to support her and give advice. Notre Dame, with its strong Irish student community, isn’t just an institution for Ciara—it is a second home.

“Coming from Ireland, there is such a strong network of Irish people at Notre Dame, so the transition is not as difficult as people might think when they come to the United States. Notre Dame is a home away from home,” said Ciara. “There's always people that you can ask for advice and there are so many opportunities for community experiences. I'd definitely recommend it if you're curious and adventurous and want to leave your comfort zone.”

Ciara’s journey from Dublin to Notre Dame underscores the invaluable experiences that the ESTEEM program offers its students. From expanding horizons in uncharted territories of engineering to working on globally impactful projects, the program fosters an environment for holistic growth and innovation. Moreover, the camaraderie and sense of belonging at Notre Dame, especially within the Irish student community, adds a comforting touch to this transformative academic journey. Ciara's story is a testament to the limitless opportunities that arise when ambition meets the right platform. For those aspiring to make a difference and step beyond their comfort zones, the ESTEEM program at Notre Dame awaits with open arms, ready to shape the leaders of tomorrow.

To join us on the journey of innovation and entrepreneurship, discover more about the ESTEEM program and take the first step toward a rewarding future today.

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