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ACE Night provides insight into post-graduate program

| Thursday, November 7, 2019

Nothing draws a crowd like free education and free Chick-Fil-A. In a crowded Remick Commons this past Wednesday evening, the Alliance for Catholic Education hosted ACE Night, a presentation and conversation forum for their Teaching Fellows program.

Bridgette McDermott, associate recruiting coordinator for ACE Teaching Fellows, said outreach events like ACE Night have been a constant in her five years in ACE teaching and administration.

Christopher Parker | The Observer

Members of the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) speak with a student interested in pursuing the program. Wednesday was ACE Night, at which students and staff involved with ACE presented details of the program with prospective teaching fellows.

“We’ve traditionally always had something like ACE Night, for the past couple years,” she said. “It’s been a great way to gather Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students together, to really provide them with a lens into what the experience could look like for them.”

McDermott said the event aims to help students of all grades and interest levels.

“People come to ACE Night for a lot of different reasons. I think there will be some people in the room who are current seniors, and they’ve known for a long time that ACE is it for them,” she said. “We might have a freshman who has heard about ACE, is kind of interested in learning more, and just wants to see what it’s all about. We’re trying to meet a whole range.”

As well as diversity in age and experience, ACE Night brings together students of different perspectives. Senior John McCarthy, an RA in Keenan Hall, applied early to the program and is committed to ACE after graduation. He said that he was drawn to ACE because of its familiar live-your-faith attitude.

“It reminded me of ND Vision, which was very formative for my faith life,” he said. “Continuing to grow in my faith was very important to me, growing professionally while growing spiritually.”

Sophomore Ava DeLonais-Dick of Pangborn Hall sees ACE as a meaningful way to spend time before continuing her career path.

“I’m a pre-med student, and I felt that this would be a great opportunity to gain some work experience before medical school,” she said. “It would also be a great place to decide if medicine is what I wanted to do. I’ve always thought about combining teaching and medicine. That sounds really appealing to me.”

Joanie Stephens, a Saint Mary’s junior, said ACE offers a path forward that she’s considered for a long time.

“I came because I’m an education major, and I’m interested in getting a Masters Degree after graduation. ACE seems like a great program to get on that path, so I came to learn what they do,” she said.

For Cole Carpenter, sophomore in Dillon Hall, the appeal to ACE is very personal.

“My mom was a teacher, and I’ve had so many amazing teachers that have gotten me here, to this point,” he said. “I’d love to give back.”

During the evening, speakers gave insights into their experience with ACE. ACE veteran and employee Michael Macaluso called ACE the most challenging and most rewarding experience he’s had thus far.

“It’s really cliche to say that something ‘changed your life’, but ACE shaped who I am today,” Macaluso said. “I don’t know who I would have become if it weren’t for ACE.”

Senior and Flaherty RA Molly McGraw said the prospect of being sent somewhere completely new was exciting for her.

“It’s an exercise in handing over my life to someone else, to God, and trusting that I’m going to end up where I’m supposed to be,” she said.

The ACE community provides career paths beyond the two-year commitment to the program. McDermott not only works for the organization here on campus but participated in the Teaching Fellows program herself.

“I felt this draw to be in the classroom, and I knew I wanted to do some sort of post-graduate service,” McDermott said. “When I found ACE, it was the perfect combination of all the things I was looking for.”

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