Educating a diverse population in the liberal arts

For personal, professional and global responsibility

In the tradition of the Sisters of Notre Dame

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Notre Dame College students taught English in Mexico, made blankets for St. Jude’s Hospital and conducted recreational clinics for youth, among other endeavors, as part of an innovative persistence grant program at the College.

One Notre Dame undergraduate, Yana Monaco, who was adopted from Ukraine, located her biological family. Another student, Macie Snider, volunteered in a nursing clinic on a cruise ship, and Bonz Jackson overcame homelessness to start on a path to become a personal trainer through the College’s Sophomore Transformative Experience Program, called STEP. Meliza Martinez was featured in a Mexican newspaper for her venture teaching English. She also planted trees in her Central American hometown. Madalyn Catalodo gifted handmade blankets for sick children at St. Jude, and Issac Soto, whose sister died from Down Syndrome, conducted a recreational camp for youth with the genetic disorder as his STEP project.

Notre Dame was awarded an $83,000 grant from KeyBank for the 18-month pilot project, which is the first of its kind at a liberal arts institution in Ohio. The program has connected nearly 20 select Notre Dame undergraduates with faculty and staff mentors at the College and afforded those students grants to embark on personal enrichment projects. The program is modeled after a successful initiative improving retention and graduation rates for second-year students at Ohio State University.

Other STEP ventures for Notre Dame students included a performing arts undergraduate, Meg Loya, who attended the International Trombone Festival which was in Indiana this summer; a first generation college student, Ja’Vae Fleming, who made her first ever trip out of Cleveland to visit the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.; and an accounting major, Brianna Ali, who took photography lessons and created a digital portfolio. Katherine Esser used her fellowship for MCAT preparation and donated test materials to the science departments at the College. Logan Everett Hall created a recording studio in his home as part of his music entrepreneurship STEP project.

In addition, Alyssa Campbell and Anthony DiDonato prepared for business internships, and Flora Williams pursued STEMM career enrichment activities with their fellowships. Darrius Alston, Brian Henderson, Adam Riegler and Alyssa Soltis conducted football and soccer sports clinics for area youth with their STEP grants.

Each Notre Dame sophomore in the STEP pilot worked one-on-one with a mentor over the past year to earn a fellowship to pursue their individual educational project, which took place outside of their traditional campus courses and extracurricular activities. They engaged in their experiences during the summer of 2019.

Notre Dame students selected for the program explored areas of academic engagement, career development, and social integration; attended a financial seminar; and wrote a fellowship proposal as part of the process. They then created posters of their experiences and presented to members of the Notre Dame Board of Trustees in October.

Members of the STEP program and their mentors also attended a performing arts event at Playhouse Square and visited the Lerner Research Institute at the Cleveland Clinic as a cohort.

October 2019

About Notre Dame College

For almost a century, Notre Dame College has educated a diverse population in the liberal arts for personal, professional and global responsibility. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1922, the College has grown strategically to keep pace with the rapidly changing needs of students and the dramatic changes in higher education. But it has never lost sight of its emphasis on teaching students not only how to make a good living but also how to live a good life.

Today, the College offers bachelor’s degrees in 30 disciplines plus a variety of master’s degrees, certification programs and continuing and professional development programs for adult learners on campus and online. Notre Dame College offers NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletic programs for men and women and is located in a picturesque residential neighborhood just 25 minutes from the heart of Cleveland. Hallmarks of the Notre Dame experience include stimulating academics, personalized attention of dedicated faculty and staff, and small class sizes.

Notre Dame College is located at 4545 College Road in South Euclid. For further information contact Brian Johnston, chief communications officer, at 216.373.5252 or