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Winter session offers new programs for students

| Tuesday, November 10, 2020

For the first time, Notre Dame will experiment with a winter session during its upcoming 10-week break, offering students a range of classes, internships and other programming to fill the winter months.

The University intends to provide, “meaningful engagement opportunities for Notre Dame students to nurture the formation of mind, body and spirit” during this unusually long break, according to its winter session site. The winter break will begin on Nov. 21 and conclude Feb. 2.

Academic courses taught by Notre Dame faculty will be held from Jan. 4 through Jan. 27. Each student will be able to register for one of the more than 120 winter session classes being offered.

Sophomore Lisa Spaniak said she plans to take an online class through Notre Dame. She said she is likely to take a course that will count towards her marketing major. Although such a long break would not have been Spaniak’s first choice, she likes what Notre Dame is doing.

“I think it was a good idea to offer classes. I think [the University is] doing a lot, the best they can,” she said.

The Flatley Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement (CUSE) will facilitate supervised research experiences for a limited number of students. For undergraduates interested in pursuing research during the break, CUSE is maintaining a list of both in-person and virtual research opportunities on its website. Students conducting in-person research can apply for funding through CUSE to use toward housing during the winter session.

The Meruelo Family Center for Career Development (CCD) is connecting students with opportunities for career and professional development during the winter session. With programming such as networking opportunities, career workshops and a weekly career development series, the CCD has a range of options for students interested in professional discernment over the break.

Some students are opting to pursue internships during the winter session. Anna Sproule, a sophomore, said she will be staying busy during the break. She works for University Relations and will continue working as an intern during the upcoming winter session, taking on more hours than her schedule during the semester allows.

Sproule’s responsibilities range from working with alumni to helping curate content on social media to connecting with contacts over Zoom and email. She said thanks to the virtual nature of her work, she will be able to keep working from home throughout the winter.

Although Sproule thinks that some challenges will come along with such a long break, she said that having programming through Notre Dame will help give structure to the days.

“This keeps me on schedule. Otherwise, you find yourself just lying around,” she said.

In addition to more conventional internships, Notre Dame International is coordinating the Virtual Global Professional Experience (vGPE), an unpaid internship program that enables students to work with international companies and organizations while staying home. The partner organizations are based in countries around the world, giving students a taste of an international experience during a time of ongoing travel restrictions.

For service-oriented students, organizations including the Center for Social Concerns and the Robinson Community Learning Center are planning community engagement programs for the winter session. Virtual volunteer opportunities will match students with partner organizations and place them in small groups to reflect on their service experiences.

Reflecting on the University’s approach to programming for the winter session, Sproule said she appreciates the virtual aspects of the winter session.

“I understand what they’re doing, and I like it a lot — especially because of flu season.”

Junior Katie Coury said that the winter session will be a good way to stay connected to the South Bend community while she’s away.

“I’m excited to be able to see my family and friends again in a socially-distanced manner, but I will definitely miss the Notre Dame family and campus life during the next few months,” Coury said.

Coury also voiced approval for Notre Dame’s new winter programs.

“I think winter session planning has been great overall, especially for this being the first year of its existence,” Coury said. “Notre Dame is helping us to continue to develop [our] hearts and minds during this elongated break.”

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