As our third week in the ESTEEM Program has come and gone many of my conversations with my classmates focused on how fast time was flying. At the half way point in the summer semester, it feels like just yesterday when we were struggling to get all 44 new names down. However, at this point with the amount of exciting group projects and relying on each other for both educational and moral support during our midterms this week, names have become muscle memory. However, in suitable entrepreneurial fashion the weeks are the furthest from muscle memory as each one brings a new and exciting opportunity to learn, grow, and imagine.
For many of us this was our first experience with midterms in graduate school and minds were preoccupied with that fact. Nonetheless, it was important for us on Tuesday to seek out career and general advice form Dean David Murphy. As Dean Murphy fielded our questions over the hour, an emerging theme arose. The theme was support. Support in the fact that the ESTEEM Program has a plethora of resources for us as students to take advantage of and dive head first into an innovative idea. This fact coupled with the opportunity for students to pitch ideas every other week, loads the next 10 months with unlimited potential.
Right on schedule Wednesday followed Tuesday, and once again I was exposed to something brand new and exciting, the YALI & ESTEEM Mixer. YALI is the Young African Leaders Initiative in which 25 gifted leaders of innovation arrive at Notre Dame from all over the continent of Africa to train for 6 weeks as part of a five-year partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Mandela Washington Fellowship. I had the honor to speak to Lamba Ka from Senegal, as she has developed “an open data platform that arm(s) citizens with information’s to practice civic leadership, and reward highly rated officials in regard to ethical leadership and good governance.” Lamba’s effort are far more than simply innovative. They are incredibly brave as Senegal is ranked 46/176 most corrupted country in the world by Transparency International 2016 corruption perception index.
I personally came to the ESTEEM program looking for an opportunity to generally grow as a person and productive citizen. However, I am amazed how in each passing week there are instances in which one specifically realizes they have grown for the better. This is in large part because the ESTEEM Program has provided the class of 2018 with newly found friendships, support, and perspectives.