Notre Dame, Entrepreneurship, and Gaelic Football: Niamh O'Donnell Thrives in the ESTEEM Community

Author: Notre Dame ESTEEM

Meet Niamh O'Donnell, a M.S. in Entrepreneurship, Technology, & Innovation (ESTEEM) graduate student in the class of 2024. She completed a degree in International Business and French at Dublin City University. Prior to joining Notre Dame, Niamh worked at Enterprise Ireland in San Francisco, leading their enterprise software and digital entertainment portfolios across the West Coast U.S. In this role, she helped emerging Irish entrepreneurs connect with strategic partners, buyers, and investors in the U.S. market. With her background in business and her passion for entrepreneurship, Niamh was excited to continue her journey at Notre Dame and contribute to the thriving community.

Pioneering AI in Education

Before immersing herself in the ESTEEM program, Niamh carved her niche at Enterprise Ireland. She served as a bridge, connecting Ireland’s promising tech entrepreneurs with potential stakeholders and investors across the bustling tech hubs of the U.S. This vibrant experience was a catalyst, motivating her to deepen her understanding of entrepreneurship and enterprise. Diving into the dynamic world of generative AI and mixed reality, Niamh is currently spearheading transformative projects at Ascend Learning for her ESTEEM capstone project.

“My role is coming in as a graduate product manager and helping them pivot into generative AI and extended reality. Thinking of the opportunity areas like using headsets for robotic surgical training or the likes of depicting the chaos of a hospital setting, or developing AI chatbots, which could potentially be leveraged within our software solutions,” explains Niamh. “It is a really interesting project that I am enjoying and it's aligning to my personal goals as well.”

Within the realm of education, the convergence of mixed reality (MR) and generative AI offers unprecedented opportunities for immersive, data-driven learning experiences that can significantly impact Ascend Learning's mission of accelerating learning, enhancing job readiness, and promoting employment success. This capstone project aims to formulate a strategic perspective on promising business models for Ascend, encompassing critical considerations such as target markets, customer segments, use-case scenarios, and pricing structures with the potential to unlock substantial value. Moreover, it will explore how these innovative technologies, particularly mixed reality, intersect with generative AI solutions in the context of education, ultimately charting a course toward more personalized, interactive, and industry-standard-aligned learning experiences for Ascend's diverse learner base.

Finding Community

Niamh's experience at Notre Dame has been enriched by her involvement in social interactions and finding a sense of community. As a player for the Notre Dame Gaelic football team, she has not only found a fantastic social outlet but also contributed to the team's success. Playing this Irish sport in an American school league has given her a unique opportunity to connect with others on campus and form lasting relationships.

Additionally, Niamh speaks highly of the Notre Dame network and the goodwill among the community and alumni. Through warm introductions and engaging with Notre Dame alumni at events like New York Tech Week, Niamh has found a supportive community who has embraced and encouraged her entrepreneurial endeavors. The vibrant social scene and strong sense of community at Notre Dame have undoubtedly played a pivotal role in Niamh's overall experience.

“Here at Notre Dame, the community is absolutely incredible. The value of being a force for good is very prevalent. And that feeds into all of the entrepreneurial ventures people get involved in,” said Niamh. “It contributes towards the ambiance on campus and how people engage and interact with each other. And I think that's something that will definitely stand by me on a personal level, but also on a professional level as I go back out into the workforce as well.”

Niamh's journey showcases the transformative impact of the ESTEEM program, bridging the gap between academia and real-world experience. Her story serves as a testament to the opportunities and resources available at the University of Notre Dame, where intellectual rigor and a commitment to making a positive difference intersect. If Niamh's story has fueled your entrepreneurial aspirations, don't hesitate to explore the ESTEEM graduate program at the University of Notre Dame. Unlock your potential, gain invaluable experience, and become part of a community passionate about innovation.

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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