Grant to help provide pre-college programming for underserved high school students

The Notre Dame office of pre-college programming has received a grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc, a private charitable organization based in Indianapolis. The funding provided by this grant will go towards providing pre-college programming for teens from underserved high schools in Indiana. 

The Lilly Endowment has offered other grants in the tri-campus community, including one to promote mental health in Notre Dame residence halls called the ‘People With Hope to Bring Initiative.’

To be eligible for the grant, Paul Mueller explained that high schoolers must come from an underserved high school in Indiana.

Mueller, who is the director of the office of pre-college programming, said his department determines which schools are considered underserved using a variety of factors. 

 “We use professional judgment from our admissions counselors that visit these high schools to flag schools that they thought might fit an underserved criteria. In other cases, we use federal rules to determine whether a school was underserved or under-resourced,” he said.

The grant will be used to reach out to high school students who otherwise might not have been thinking about college, Mueller said.

“Our traditional ‘Summer Scholars’ student has already been thinking about college. So, this population that Lilly is funding is a little bit of an outreach population to get their college search activated,” he explained.

Because of the additional funding from the endowment, Mueller said the pre-college office has grown its ‘Summer Scholars’ program to accommodate more students.

 “We’re growing summer programs, probably by about 25 percent next year and another 25 percent the subsequent years as a result of this,” Mueller said.

The ‘Summer Scholars’ program brings students onto Notre Dame’s campus where they take a course taught by Notre Dame faculty. Last year, there were 450 students in one session of the program, however, Mueller said that by next year it is expanding to two sessions with the total number of students between 555 and 575.

One of the main changes brought on by the grant is that the program will now include a college fair as a way of connecting students to other Indiana schools, Mueller said.

“The biggest difference for the students will be that we’re adding a college fair, where we’re asking our other Indiana colleges to come up and talk about what they have to offer. It’s a recognition that especially from the Lilly-funded students, not all of them will be able to get into Notre Dame, so let’s give them the opportunity to explore what other options they might have in the state,” he said.

Muller explained that the goal is to help underserved high school students put themselves in college students’ shoes and begin to think about the possibility of attending college. 

“The biggest benefit is to get them onto campus and get them projecting themselves at a four-year college, thinking about ‘this is possible. I can do this,’” he said.

Notre Dame students can get involved with pre-college programming as resident counselors, Mueller said. The students are hired as staff in the dorms. 

“[The summer staff] provide leadership. They show students the ropes, they get them to the dining halls on time and into their classes on time. So, it’s a terrific summer employment opportunity for people that are really interested in working with high school students,” Mueller said.

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‘It’s not over’: Ukrainians, professors shed light on ongoing conflict in Ukraine

Co-president of the Ukrainian Society at Notre Dame and senior Maryna Chuma stated in simple terms what she feels Notre Dame students should know about the war in Ukraine.

“It’s not over,” she said.

The Ukrainian Society was initially founded in order to celebrate Ukrainian culture on campus, but since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, it has shifted its focus toward advocacy and spreading awareness about the war. About a week after the six-month anniversary of the invasion, Chuma said the war continues to have a major impact.

“It’s still very real for the Ukrainian people and for the allies around the world,” she said. 

On Wednesday, the Nanovic Institute hosted a flash panel focusing on the current state of affairs in Ukraine as told by eyewitnesses. Multiple panelists stressed that the war is still ongoing and continues to upend the lives of the Ukrainian people. 

Panelist Dmytro Sherengovsky, a vice-rector at the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU), spoke about how life in Ukraine has become increasingly uncertain as a result of the war. Sherengovsky said he has stopped planning more than a year in advance for UCU because he does not know what the country will look like in a year.

Despite the uncertainty, he said Ukrainians continue to hold out hope that they can win the war and rebuild a more fair and successful state.

“Nevertheless, Ukrainians are dreaming about the future,” he said.

As the war has raged on, countries including the U.S. have imposed economic sanctions on Russia. Notre Dame international affairs professor A. James McAdams said the Russian economy has managed to withstand the sanctions thus far.

“Russians have been very shrewd at how they’ve managed them to an extent they managed before this particular invasion of Ukraine. They clearly took into account the possibility of some sanctions and protected themselves ahead of time,” McAdams said. 

Certain American cultural staples, such as McDonald’s, have left Russia in response to the invasion. McAdams is doubtful this gesture will do anything to change Russian sentiments. 

“Russia is a very different place without McDonald’s and other companies, but I think to focus on something like that has to miss the fact that most Russians are squarely behind this conflict,” he said.

Although the sanctions have thus far failed to make a major impact on Russia, McAdams said the military aid sent to Ukraine by the U.S. and other nations has proven to be effective. He said the support the U.S. and other allies have provided has allowed Ukrainians to keep fighting and, in some cases, even regain territory.

Ukrainian Society officer and sophomore Marko Gural explained the role military aid, especially rocket systems and missiles, have played in slowing the Russian offensive and allowing Ukrainian forces to regain territory. 

“Ukraine started to gain lots of rocket systems and military weapons from the United States for the most part, but also from other European allies. What this has done is first of all, obviously, it’s hurt the Russians in frontline position, but it’s also allowed the Ukrainians to launch some rockets into Russian territory or Russian controlled territory,” Gural said. 

Gural noted that Russian forces were stalled, but he finds it unlikely there will be a swift end to the war. 

“It does seem like the Ukrainians might be trying to push forward again,” he said. “It doesn’t really seem like peace talks are anywhere close to even starting.”

The media devoting less coverage to the war in Ukraine is a cause for concern, Gural said. 

“I think probably personally, for me, the most troubling thing over the past couple of months has been seeing that internet mentions or internet searches, in particular, have gone down concerning the war,” he said. 

Chuma also expressed frustration with the change in media coverage. 

“It is very frustrating, as someone [who is] part of the Ukrainian diaspora, to see the headline kind of getting lost among other headlines,” she said.