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Programs attract prospectives

Justin Tardiff | Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Campus vacancies left by the mass exodus of students at the end of the spring semester are quickly filled during the summer months by a variety of pre-college programs that bring over 300 young students to Notre Dame.

Director of Pre-College Programs Joan Ball said Monday that the Office of Pre-College Affairs organizes four primary academic programs over the summer.

Summer Experience – its largest program – is an academic program that submerges academically outstanding students into Notre Dame’s collegiate atmosphere through academic, social and spiritual experiences, Ball said.

“These programs offer an outreach experience to students from around the country and the world, and [are also used as a] recruiting tool,” she said. “We work hard to give them the community feeling and a sense of what it is like to be a student here.”

Pre-college program participants live in residence halls and have access to all campus facilities during their stay to replicate the feeling of being a University undergraduate student, she said.

Unlike the Summer Experience, the University invites a select number of talented students to participate in The Office of Pre-College Programs’ three individual week-long seminars.

Forty Latino students will be invited to campus July 16-23 to partake in the Latino Community Leadership Seminar. The academic forum allows students to examine personal experiences to develop new methods of Latino leadership.

“These are important University initiatives to really reach out to targeted groups of students and give them an opportunity to experience Notre Dame,” Ball said.

Similar to the Latino Community Leadership Seminar, the African-American Scholars at Notre Dame allows Catholic African-American high school students one week to reflect upon African-American leadership while enriching their own leadership skills.

According to Ball, approximately 90 percent of The Office of Pre-College Programs’ summer programs participants apply to the University.

Former African American Scholars and Global Issues Seminar participant and counselor senior Tona Boyd said her work with the seminar influenced her decision to attend Notre Dame rather than Yale University.

“My decision … was largely due to the time I was able to spend on campus really getting to experience the way in which Notre Dame embraces educating the whole person – mind, body and spirit,” she said.

Boyd now works as a research assistant in the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and said the summer pre-college programs continue to hold a special place in her heart.

“I enjoy sharing my ND perspective with the wonderfully talented, enthusiastic and delightful students that are chosen to attend these seminars,” she said. “They have so much to add to the ND community – it is an honor to work with them in the hopes that they may someday be a part of the ND family.”

The Global Issues Seminar gives 40 pre-college students the opportunity to embark on a week of discussion regarding the challenges faced by young Catholic leaders in today’s society.

In an effort to allow pre-college students to experience potential career options, the School of Architecture and College of Engineering both offer summertime immersions into their respective fields.

The week-long School of Architecture Career Discovery program allows high school juniors, seniors and recent graduates the opportunity to learn more about the major prior to beginning college, while the three-week Intro to Engineering program allows high school students to discover the opportunities available within the field.

The University’s Institute for Church Life’s Notre Dame Vision program creates an increased sense of vocation and realization of faith in the everyday lives of high school students during four week-long sessions in June and July.

Vision counselor and senior Jill Gadzinski said she was lured to spend the majority of her summer on Notre Dame’s campus because of her belief in the mission of the program.

“Because of the time consuming nature of Vision, my experience of being on campus was entirely encompassed by the people and events of the program,” she said. “That was one of the appeals of ND Vision in general – being surrounded by an incredibly strong, vibrantly prayerful community.”

Vision counselor senior Nick Matich said the program not only fosters spiritual growth among pre-college students but with the college counselors as well.

“Getting away from home and living at Notre Dame apart from all of its school pressures, can clear your mind, and open it up to new possibilities, and ways to grow closer to God,” he said. “For me, ND Vision was a life- changing experience where I learned to love my faith as I never had before.”

The Office of Pre-College Programs – which began its pre-college tradition with its first Global Issues Seminar in 1998 – hosts approximately 350 students in all four programs throughout the summer.

“Some of the students who attend the seminars would never have considered Notre Dame in their college application process,” Boyd said. “I have found that afterwards a significant number of the students really hold a special place in their heart for ND. It is my hope that the programs will continue to grow so that more and more young people are exposed to all that ND has to offer.”