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Keith Cavey Commences Second Career in Service

Sr. Mary Leroy Finn Award

Keith Alexander Cavey came to Notre Dame College in 2010 to begin a path toward his second career in service, nursing. Prior to that, he spent eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps.

 “This experience in the armed services enriched Keith’s knowledge of cultures and peoples and broadened his perspective on life, all of which made him a natural mentor and adviser to younger traditional students who learned much from associating with him on campus,” said Mary Lou Currivan, M.A., associate dean of academic affairs. 

Cavey, who graduated this spring from Notre Dame with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, is the recipient of the 2013 Sr. Mary Leroy Finn Award. He accepted the honor at the College’s undergraduate commencement ceremony.

“Keith is caring, intelligent and excels at finding solutions to challenges—always with a smile on his face,” said Beth Kaskel, Ph.D., chair of the division of nursing. “He will no doubt do great things in his career and the nursing profession and is most deserving of this honor.” 

Nearly a decade before starting at Notre Dame, Cavey was working as a valet in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. With a desire to make something more of his life, he joined the Marines and served a total of eight years, spending considerable time in Okinawa, Japan, and the Mojave Desert.

With a talent for music, Cavey also became a piano player in one of the 12 bands stationed throughout the Corps, an honor shared by only 500 of 225,000 enlisted. He visited places such as Hiroshima, Guam and Iwo Jima. While in Thailand, he played with the Royal Thai Air Force at diplomatic and humanitarian events.

In the U.S., Cavey had the honor of making history, such as performing at the funeral of President Ronald Reagan.

Only weeks after leaving the Marine Corps, he enrolled at Notre Dame and began a career in the classroom and in extracurricular activities. Cavey, who graduated with honors, has been on the president’s or dean’s lists every semester.

A natural leader, Cavey also participated in theater and was musical director of the campus performance of “Godspell.” At times, he could be found playing “the Blues” in the campus Falcon Café.

Cavey admits he worried about going to college as a nontraditional student but credits the virtues instilled in him in the Corps, especially punctuality and discipline—and the College’s participation in the Yellow Ribbon program and G.I. Bill—as strong motivators.

For life’s next adventure in serving others, Cavey plans to work in an intensive care unit at one of the Cleveland-area hospitals. Eventually, his goal is to focus on helping others with military experience by working at one of the Veterans Administration Medical Centers located nationwide.

“Keith is the type of professional practice nurse to whom you would entrust your care—and that of your loved ones—without hesitation,” Kaskel said.