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Student club mentors local high school students, encourages higher education

| Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Senior Henry Byrne saw mentoring as a huge part of his life before he came to Notre Dame, so when he heard of the Explore, Excite, Engage Club (EEE) his freshman year, he jumped right in. 

Established in 2017, EEE gives Notre Dame students the opportunity to connect with local high schools in the South Bend-Mishawaka area and mentor students in after-school programs Bryne, the current president of EEE, said.

“Our club really is focused on trying to build relationships with the kids and then help them in their schooling, but also give them a taste of what things we have at Notre Dame, and just things colleges have in general,” Byrne said. “One of the main goals of the club is to kind of increase the amount of students in the South Bend area that want to go to college.” 

Byrne said members of the club help out students in a variety of subjects such as math, science and English. The club leaves campus and travels to a high school every Monday from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

Sophomore Matt Locascio said he shared Byrne’s motive to join the club, saying he felt inspired to make an impact in the lives of younger students, as his mentors did for him.

However, Locascio said he continued to be involved in the club because of the conversations he had with students that extended beyond school subjects.

“During my first visit to mentor, I was struck at how excited the students were to see us and talk to us,” Lacoscio said. “I remember we talked to them about Notre Dame football for a long time. They have a vested interest in Notre Dame, like us, which was really cool to see, and that’s why I gravitated back week after week.”

Byrne said at times scheduling times to visit the high schools can be difficult.

“The big struggle with planning stuff with high schools is that they’re on a totally different schedule than us, so we kind of have to adapt to their schedule,” he said. “If they’re getting out of school at 3 p.m., they’re not gonna wait ’till 5 p.m. for us to get there. So we have had to figure that out, too.”

While EEE has relationships with multiple high schools in the area, Byrne said this year the club is focusing on creating a strong relationship with Washington High School so the club can have a greater impact on students beyond mentoring.  

“Setting up a program where we can work to help students get to Notre Dame is kind of the ultimate end-goal, but right now, we’re at the ground level, and we’re trying to build relationships,” Byrne said. “… It’s really important that we found people from South Bend actually truly understand the structure of public versus private high schools.”

Although helping with high school academics is a big part of the club’s purpose, EEE also strives to spark conversations about looking past high school to college, said Locascio.

“I think mentorship can be really powerful, all it takes is that one conversation with a student,” he said. “… We all know education is power, and it can allow them to do so much in their life.”

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About Alysa Guffey

Alysa is a sophomore pursuing a major in history with a minor in journalism, ethics and democracy. While she calls Breen-Phillips her home on campus, she is originally from Indianapolis. She currently serves as an associate news editor.

Contact Alysa