The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



SMC connects students, leaders

Mandi Stirone | Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The first ever Leadership Luncheon at Saint Mary’s took place Monday when a regional director to U.S. Senator Evan Bayh led a roundtable discussion.

Julie Vuckovich, regional director in the office of Sen. Bayh, spoke to 10 to 15 people about leadership, exploring its political and social aspects.

Vuckovich explained how she became involved in politics. She took a job with the Urban Coalition, which led her to become involved with community communication, and she transitioned to working for a congressman.

She spoke of the importance of feedback and community involvement in government.

“You are the government,” she said. “It’s your voice. You are the leader.”

Students asked for advice about career goals in politics and social work.

“It’s difficult when you answer a phone, and you really disagree with the person on the other line,” she said.

The answer for that is to listen and pass on the person’s opinion to their representive, she said.

She ended the discussion by telling her listeners how important it is for them to “be connected” with the community.

“All you have to do is step out of that little comfort zone,” she said.

This was the first in a series of Leadership Luncheons – events which could occur as frequently as once every two weeks, said Sarita Fritzler, the event’s organizer.

“The main goal for Leadership Luncheons is for students at Saint Mary’s to interact with women in the community,” Fritzler said.

The idea for the Leadership Luncheons originated this summer from discussions between Fritzler and Bonnie Bazata, associate director of The Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership (CWIL).

The luncheons, which Fritzler called a “collaborative effort,” are sponsored by CWIL and the Board of Governance.

“It’s open to everyone, and if they have suggestions for who they want to see, just let us know,” Fritzler said.

Other speakers will include Kathy Schneider of St. Margaret’s House and Marchell Wesaw, a Potawatomi lawyer and Harvard graduate.

Bazata got the speakers by generating a list of women in the community that would provide insight to students and then found ways to connect them to the students, Fritzler said.

The guests, all women, are targeted to specific groups on campus, Fritzler said.

“The purpose is for students to understand different women from the South Bend community,” she said.

Future lectures will focus on law, business and women’s issues, she said. The main idea overall is social justice, “all of our themes are around that,” she said.

The talks could also be valuable venues for students to network and obtain internships, Fritzler said.