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Alumni Association organizes ‘Life Beyond the ND Bubble’ event for students preparing to leave University

| Friday, February 9, 2018

As Notre Dame seniors enjoy their final semester at the University that has become their home over the past four years, questions regarding how to live in “the real world” are hard to ignore. In an effort to provide some peace of mind and ease the transition to independence, the Alumni Association will host “Life Beyond the ND Bubble” on Sunday in the Dahnke Family Ballroom.

Kevin Brennan, associate director of marketing and communications for the Alumni Association, said the idea for an afternoon of advisory talks from alumni and other members of the Notre Dame community came out of the Alumni Association’s strategic planning regarding young alumni-student engagement.

“We looked at what offerings we have for students and what additional services we might be able to provide for students that make sense given the Alumni Association’s role at the University, and this idea was one of the things we identified early in that process,” Brennan said. “It was something that was coming up again and again as a new thing that a lot of our peer institutions in higher education were starting to provide for students — some sort of life-skills, ‘adulting’ training.”

The program, Brennan said, works well with the Alumni Association’s mission of keeping Notre Dame graduates connected with each other and with the University in preparing students for the next stage of their lives as alumni. The Association relied upon the input of students, rectors and the Senior Class Council to choose focus topics and make the program as effective as possible, Jackie Thomas, the young alumni programming director for the Alumni Association, said.

“I think personal financial literacy is always something people are really interested in because it’s confusing,” she said. “You have to hear it a couple of times before you actually understand it, so that was a big one.”

The event will be divided between two rooms — one hosting the main stage and broader talks, and the other, called the Room of Requirement in reference to the Harry Potter series, containing a smaller stage, more targeted talks and tables at which members from 10 sponsors and partners will be available to answer specific questions.

“They [Senior Class Council] emphasized to us that they thought that the graduating students would want multiple options, because one session might not apply to you or it might not be something you’re interested in,” Brennan said. “So we totally shaped the program as you see it now around that feedback and having, at any time during the afternoon, multiple topics and speakers that you can choose from.”

Speakers include Mendoza College of Business professor Carl Ackermann on financial planning, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg on following your passions and former Notre Dame football head coach Lou Holtz on having an attitude of success. In addition, there will be an alumni panel open to student questions and talks regarding the importance of networking, how to find an apartment, maintaining a responsible social media presence and even wine appreciation.

Brennan said everything including the food that will be served at the event has been chosen with a purpose.

“Everything at the event is built around the idea that this is something that’s going to help you in your life after Notre Dame,” Brennan said. “What [food] we’re serving is built around things that someone who is a year out of college would be able to make themselves in their kitchen, and we’re going to be handing out recipe cards so that everything we serve at the event, you’ll have the recipe so you can then recreate it on your own when you’re out in the world.”

Raffle drawings will occur between each talk and at the end of the event, with prizes ranging from Amazon gift cards to kitchen appliances to follow-up lunches with the speakers. Brennan said the program received overwhelming support from sponsors and speakers.

“There’s not a person that we asked to speak at this event who said they couldn’t do it, and we feel that the programming and presentations are going to be so strong because of the great people who are presenting — who are almost entirely Notre Dame alumni or faculty and staff,” Brennan said.

The response from the Notre Dame community, Thomas said, should serve as encouragement to those students leaving the University at the end of this academic year.

“People really were excited to help, and when they were called upon to assist our students, seniors and graduating grad students should know that they’re entering into a community of open arms,” she said. “This group is really special, and they really want to help and be of service and provide any assistance they can. That was really nice to see.”

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