My Week in ESTEEM: Sept 18-22

Author: Marissa Koscielski

Marissa KoscielskiMarissa Koscielski

Our fall semester really heated up this week and it's not just because of the unusually warm September weather. Numerous students in ESTEEM had a packed week, submitting the draft of the first two chapters of our thesis, working on independent projects, and interviewing for jobs. Witnessing my peers' passion for their endeavors has been incredibly inspiring for me. 

My week began bright and early on Monday with a long run, followed by a phone call with the president of Indiana Rural Health Association to discuss a healthcare venture named Navahealth that Mikaela, Isabella, Melissa and myself are preparing to launch. Our mission is to facilitate the longitudinal relationships between patients of low socioeconomic status and primary care physicians. As soon as we finished our call, I hopped on over to work at A Rosie Place for Children, Indiana’s only respite hospital. For this year, I am interning with this organization to assist in the implementation of their strategic five year expansion plan. In the afternoon, we attended our leadership course where we skyped with the dynamic leader, Stephane Kasriel. His immense amount of success with his company Upwork is driven by his commitment to effective leadership. We wrapped up our classes for the day in our Data Analytics course where we learned and exercised more predictive analytic tools. We also began collaborating on a group project where we will ask questions about the data and answer them through analysis. 

Early Tuesday morning Brady, Danny, and I volunteered at the Center for the Homeless Montessori Classroom. We attend each week to learn alongside 3-5 year old students, often times coming from difficult backgrounds, as the community based learning component of our Developmental Neuroscience class. At the end of the semester, we will make recommendations to the center based on neuroscience. Although we assist in teaching the children, I have already learned a tremendous amount from them. After leaving the center, we went to our neuroscience lecture where we had a fruitful discussion on the neurobiology of addiction. In the afternoon, I presented my thesis during our small technical presentation section (I will touch a bit on my thesis later). Cian, Brad, and Nick had flawless presentations on their technologies as well. Our entire cohort regrouped in Technical Marketing where we learned about customer segmentation through examples of leading companies. I rounded out the evening with some friends by celebrating Taco Tuesday at Chicago Taqueria. 

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After a run on Wednesday morning, I headed back to A Rosie Place and met some Notre Dame alumni, organizing a fundraising event for the hospital. Our leadership course in the afternoon was perhaps one of my favorite class discussions in my academic career. We debated the role of crisis in leadership and how leaders grounded in their values will predict and mediate incidents to the best of their abilities. Our professor, Lawrence Greenspun, shared his riveting leadership experiences that had the entire class engaged with the topic. Although this conversation could have continued for hours, our class headed to our first Launch Strategy class where we received a framework on how to prepare to launch ventures out of our capstone thesis. Our professor, Sam Miller, reinforced that we must, “Get out of the building” in order to satiate a need and create a sustainable solution. Throughout the evening, I completed homework, worked on a patent for Gigl— a subcutaneous tissue injection stabilizer designed by Mikaela, Emily, and myself— practiced yoga, and packed for my trip to the Ohio State University on Thursday. 


Mikaela and I excitedly met with the director of the Hillebrand Center for Compassionate Care in Medicine, Dr. Vachon, to discuss a partnership with Navahealth. The core of this organization is to provide the best care to the most vulnerable patients in our community and this commitment must be rooted in a compassionate mindset and we hope to nourish our mission through this collaboration. Next, I met with my technical advisor, Jim Schmiedler, to discuss the technology for my thesis. Since I was an undergraduate at Notre Dame, I desired to work with his lab as he fights for spinal cord injury patients to walk again (check out this video! Needless to say, drawing on his expertise to expand my knowledge on the biomechanics of walking has been a fruitful opportunity. Immediately after my neuroscience course, I zipped off to Columbus, Ohio to have dinner with Notre Dame alumni who are involved with the medical ecosystem at The Ohio State University.


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Friday was full of physician meetings and patient observations at the Dodd Rehabilitation Hospital at OSU. For my capstone thesis, I am designing a walker for the acute rehabilitation of unilateral immobility. Since these patients— amputees and monoplegic— fall through the cracks of medical care, I must learn directly from the patients and clinicians through opportunities like these. The Ohio State University and the Mayo Clinic have been exceptional collaborators with me on this project, providing me unparalleled insights into the rehabilitation process for these patients. After my extremely exciting day, I drove back to the homeland of South Bend. Although I was disappointed to miss the panel of women entrepreneurs at the lunch and learn, my trip to OSU inspired me further to work on my device. 


I started out the beautiful Saturday morning with a run around the lakes with a friend. After working on homework and relaxing throughout the day, a group of friends came to my house to watch the game and eat Rocco’s pizza. It was the perfect way to rejuvenate before a conversation and project-filled Sunday. Collaborating with a group of entrepreneurs is a dynamic experience, and I am looking forward to learning from my classmates, experienced entrepreneurs and scientists throughout the year.