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Five student interns to teach for ACE

Honora Kenney | Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This year, the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) program is working with five student interns who have all committed to teach for ACE after graduation. Each of the students expressed a love for the work they are doing with ACE, and seemed excited to extend their internship into teaching jobs in new locations next year.

Senior Laura Wilczek, a resident advisor from Howard Hall is one such student. She is majoring in English with a minor in Education, Schooling and Society and hopes to teach English in Seoul after she finishes her work with ACE.

Wilczek hadn’t attended a Catholic school until high school. When she started attending a Catholic school though, she said she began to feel passionate about her faith.

She said she thinks her teachers at her Catholic high school taught from a different perspective than those she had encountered in public schools because they viewed their students as children of God rather than numbers.

“Essentially, what I am trying to convey is my own positive experience at a Catholic school, and the belief I have in the Catholic school system is really why I want to dedicate my future to teaching at a Catholic school,” Wilczek said.

Not only will Wilczek be using the education she received at Notre Dame to serve a cause she believes in, but she also thinks her work will bolster her education in ways that would not have been possible just through learning in a college classroom.

“I know that working in the ACE program I will not only be the teacher but the student as well sometimes,” she said.

Kevin Veselik is a former resident of Zahm who now lives off-campus. Like Wilczek, he is passionate about Catholic education.

“Catholic schools are so important to our Church and our world, and ACE offers an opportunity to bring some energy and life to schools that might need it,” he said.

Veselik is a member of Notre Dame’s cross country and track teams.

He said he hopes to make a difference in the lives of the students he teaches.

“I’m hoping to meet great people, learn about and live in a new part of country, and grow in my faith through ACE,” he said.

Since he plans to teach high school Theology after ACE, he thinks ACE will allow him to confirm that this profession is right for him.

Jessica Stouffer, a chemical engineering major from Howard, also hopes to gain discernment from her experience in the ACE program.

She said she has “no idea what I want to do long-term, so this gives me a little more time to discern and plan.”

“I don’t want to pretend that I can predict the ways in which ACE will help and/or change me,” she said. “I think I just need to do it, and assess my experience afterwards, to see what I have gained.”

For Geoffrey Mooney, a resident of Alumni with a dual degree in mathematics and theology, his experience as an ACE intern thus far has been very enjoyable.

He said his favorite part of his current work “has definitely been talking up the program and simply being a ‘face for ACE’ at recruitment events.”

“There is a wonderful feeling that comes along with describing the mission and opportunities of ACE both with those who have never heard of the program and those who have wanted to be a part of it for several years,” Mooney said. “Whether I’m speaking to a class, at extracurricular group events, or during a career fair, I get to share a piece of what I love and have a passion for with others.”

Mooney said he thinks he will be teaching math next year, but is open to teaching other subjects as well because he hopes to challenge himself.

He said he is not sure what city he will be teaching in but that he has “total confidence that the Holy Spirit will help make that decision next semester.”

Like many of the other interns, Julie Garcia, a former resident of Lewis who now lives off-campus, has been involved with tutoring programs and service projects on campus and around South Bend throughout her career at Notre Dame. She is majoring in African Studies with a minor in gender studies. She expressed an excitement for her work that started when she dropped engineering as a freshman and came to the realization that she had always wanted to teach. She says she has “seen how great an impact one good mentor can make on a child’s life, and I’d love to be able to do that for a living,” and she also appreciates the communal lifestyle fostered by the ACE program. “

Garcia’s advice for students interested in the ACE program is to stop by the ACE office and express interest.

“They are so friendly and love getting to know who you are, even if you don’t have any specific questions,” she said. “Ask previous ACErs for advice, too. They can really tell you what it will be like. It’s never too early to get a foot in the door.”