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viewpoint

Fighting Irish fighting NTDs

| Monday, September 14, 2015

I came to campus this weekend excited for a football game; I left uplifted by the spirit of the Fighting Irish that extends beyond Notre Dame stadium.

After taking Fr. Tom Streit’s Common Human Diseases class freshman year, I co-founded ND Fighting NTDs, the first university club dedicated to supporting the global effort to control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases — parasitic and bacterial diseases that disable and disfigure 1.4 billion people worldwide despite costing just pennies to treat and prevent. After graduation, I joined the team of the END7 campaign at the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases to bring new universities into the fight against NTDs. I’ve presented at more than 50 schools over the past two years, but there’s nothing like a trip back to ND — and a presentation to the newest class of Common Human Diseases students — to remind me what got me into this work in the first place.

I’ll always be grateful to my Notre Dame education for instilling in me “a disciplined sensibility to the poverty, injustice and oppression that burden the lives of so many,” as our mission statement decrees. “The aim is to create a sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good that will bear fruit as learning becomes service to justice,” it continues, and I can say with gratitude that I’ve seen this “bear fruit” in hundreds of Notre Dame students who have supported the effort to end the unnecessary suffering caused by NTDs through research, education, advocacy and fundraising over the past six years. The 96 students who signed up to get involved after my presentation in their class Monday make me confident this is an Irish tradition that will continue until we’ve won the fight against NTDs.

My time as a student here is over, but I am privileged to work closely with students leading ND Fighting NTDs into the future. I invite all current students interested in global health, international development and social justice to join them at their club meetings. I also encourage Notre Dame students to take END7’s advocacy action urging the United Nations to prioritize NTDs in the Sustainable Development Goals at www.end7.org/ND-Action.

Attending a club meeting, signing a petition, organizing a fundraiser — these are small steps that could lead you down a path towards a new passion. You might not know where your Notre Dame education will lead, but I hope you bring the Fighting Irish spirit with you.

Go Irish.

Emily Conron

class of 2013

Sept. 8

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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