Welcome back to "My Week in ESTEEM" where students reflect upon their experiences in our program. This week's blog is brought to us by Genevieve Crum, a Notre Dame grad, who discusses her experience so far with ESTEEM. If you wish to contact Genevieve, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coming into the ESTEEM class of 2016, I had been excitedly preparing for all of the learning opportunities and experiences we would engage in over the next few months. I knew that we would be taking thought-provoking classes that would allow us to build upon our technical backgrounds. I knew that we would be meeting and learning from inspiring entrepreneurs and visiting innovative businesses. I also knew that we would be applying these lessons and newly acquired business skills through our thesis projects and experiences off campus -- our class trip to Silicon Valley, the McCloskey business competition at Notre Dame, and other similar opportunities. However, what I had not been prepared for -- but what has been no less integral to my time in ESTEEM -- are the incredible people that I have had the privilege of working with and learning from on a daily basis.
From the first week of classes, I was truly inspired by my classmates. They are from all different places throughout the world with differing backgrounds, skill-sets and passions, and yet we all immediately bonded over our common interest in innovation and the belief that a compelling idea coupled with a strong business plan can quite literally change the world. I am continually amazed at how each member of our class is driven by a passion uniquely their own, and how they each bring so much value and perspective to every group project and activity we engage in together. I have no doubt that each one of them will go forth after graduation to pursue their dreams and live out the mission of Notre Dame and the ESTEEM program by being “a powerful force for good in the world.”
In addition to my classmates, there have been many other people that have shaped my past few months in this program. To begin with, the ESTEEM staff members have supported and encouraged me in pursuing my interest in social entrepreneurship. David Murphy has taught me to stay true to my “why” or my inner passion. Rebekah Go DeLine has taught me to dream big and that no matter how busy life gets, you should always take time to put others first. Sunny Shah has taught me to never settle for less than my best, and that work ethic coupled with a sense of humor is a powerful combination. Each staff member cares deeply about each one of us in the program, and they work hard to ensure that we are given every opportunity to learn and grow and pursue our dreams.
My lessons have even stretched beyond Notre Dame into the community right here in South Bend. For example, just this week I was invited to attend a gathering called “Food For Thought” that brought together community members from all different backgrounds in order to engage in meaningful discussion about food justice and sustainability. I met local farmers, non-profit founders, business owners, professors, city government officials and many other inspiring individuals that are working to make their home a place where residents can thrive and where social justice and sustainability are central to daily life. Through my collaboration with the South Bend Unity Gardens on my thesis project, I have had the privilege of working directly with three of these people: Sara Stewart, Mitch Yaciw and Hannah Scrafford. Their selflessness and love for their community is truly inspiring and has shown me the importance of acting upon my own responsibility to give back to the place that I call home.
Both the city of South Bend and the University of Notre Dame have become home for me. Much more so than my undergrad dormitory or the Golden Dome or the streets of downtown, my home here has been defined by all of the people that have made these past five years unforgettable. And when I graduate in May, while I have learned so much from my classes and related educational and professional experiences, the person I am today and the most important lessons I have learned have been shaped by these wonderful people. So when I entered ESTEEM, I was gaining much more than a set of skills or professional opportunities. Here in my home, I was gaining a family.