Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gaining Inspiration from Jocelyn Allen’s Divas4Life

Jocelyn Allen, Notre Dame c/o 1991 is a former Pasquerilla West Most Distinguished Woman who is continuing to make her distinct mark on the world around her. In celebration of the philanthropy of the holiday season, we sat down with Allen to discuss her inspirational non-profit Divas4Life, an organization dedicated to contributing to the growth and development of young ladies.

This Detroit native was a hotshot Public Relations representative for General Motors when she realized that she could be putting her numerous work perks to a good cause as a member of a small church in East Detroit. “I was travelling all over the country for GM,” Allen explained, “and my fellow church-goers would get so excited about my travels—asking me ‘What was it like meeting Will Smith? Or how was it to go to that awards show?' ”

Allen notes that her Pastor would even reference her travels in Sunday morning sermons. “it dawned on me, not so much that I was blessed, I knew that I was blessed—it became obvious to me that I was in a position to pass it on.

It was in that moment that Jocelyn realized not only that she was so incredibly blessed, but more importantly that she was in a position to pass on these blessings. Upon receiving tickets to fabulous events, she would get permission from GM to take youth from her church to various events. “This simple act of kindness was such a momentous occasion for my fellow church-goers,” Allen recalled. “I loved hearing them talk about what they saw and who they met for months following the event!

When Allen moved on to the position of Youth Director at her church, she started working more closely with the young women of the congregation. “I wanted to expose these young ladies not just to these fabulous events, but what it means to be a professional lady,” she explained. Thus the inception of Divas4Life, a program dedicated to fostering determined, inspired, victorious, adventurous (DIVA) young women, ages 8-18. “And it wasn’t just something I felt I should do, but something that I had to do. God had placed me at that place and that time for a reason,” Allen stated.

Divas4Life is a grassroots organization that focuses on etiquette, financial literacy, career planning/education among many other things. The group of young women is thirty or less, so that each girl can get the attention she deserves. One signature event of the program is Dinner with a Diva, which is essentially a career-day type dinner that highlights the successes and struggles of an adult Diva. Another important highlight of the Divas4Life calendar is the annual Cabin Retreat to Northern Michigan, where the girls experience horseback riding, canoeing, and workshops. Allen is excited for the prospect of taking the girls to Disneyland after telling a major Disneyland executive about her work with Divas4Life.

This September, Allen was able to bring the girls to Notre Dame, which Allen credits with teaching her the importance of taking a cause and believing in it 100%. “It was the Stanford game weekend, so campus was buzzing with excitement!” she recalled. After giving the girls a self-guided tour of campus, complete with anecdotes from her time as a student, Allen and her Divas joined an incredibly accomplished group of ND Women for a luncheon workshop. The panel featured Lois Conrad-Jackson, Frances Shavers, Valerie Waller and Jackie Rucker. “I was absolutely in awe in the candor, grace and strength of these women,” Allen stated. “I gain just as much as my Divas when I get to hear the story of a successful woman. I was so grateful for this powerful conversation.” Allen was even more excited when two of her Divas left Notre Dame’s campus, abuzz with the possibility of being Domers themselves!

Interested in getting involved with Divas4Life? Whether its’ event tickets, a venue for workshops or your own story of success, Allen promises no kind deed will go unnoticed!

For more information visit the Divas4Life website or contact Jocelyn directly.

Jocelyn Allen, thank you for showing our young ladies how to be truly Determined, Iinspired, Victorious and Adventurous!

Your compassion is absolutely infectious!

The Simplicity of Kindness: BA_ND Jason Mims 2011 Recipient of William D. Reynolds Award

For 1975 Notre Dame Graduate Jason Mims, life is refreshingly uncomplicated. You help people by completing simple tasks over and over again. And one day that string of events will amount to something magnificent.

And that is the frills-free mantra behind Mim’s incredible success as a mentor and visionary for Tampa’s underserved youth. Through his nonprofit the MIMS (Motivated Individual Minority Students) Institute, he has been encouraging and inspiring young people to seek the gains of higher education since 2002.

Mims’ passion and dedication for helping high-achieving public school students realize the opportunities afforded by a secondary education is being recognized by the Notre Dame Alumni Association with the 2011 William D. Reynolds Award. This retired Lieutenant Colonel will be recognized Saturday, April 16, 2011 during halftime of the Blue and Gold game.

According to Mims, The MIMS Institute is based on two fundamental activities: fellowship with students and their parents, and an active presence in the Hillborough County school board. “I will meet with students over pancakes at the Village Inn Pancake House,” he explained, “or sometimes I will bring pizza to their high school. We discuss grades, their extracurricular activities, and most importantly what it takes to be an exceptional candidate at an outstanding secondary institution.” Mims is also able to get a sense from his mentees of the everyday challenges of students in public schools—especially those of black males. “I listen to them and share with them my resources,” he shared. “This is my opportunity to hear their struggles, while also promoting academic excellence.”

Since 2001, Mims has also routinely attended school board meetings in an effort to gather information about the exceptional opportunities that are available for high-achieving students in Hillsboro County. “Many of our students— students of color— don’t have access to or don’t believe they have access to opportunities such as ACT/SAT prep, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate course. I seek to expose them to these unknowns.” These visits to school boards are not just a way for Mims to simply gain information. His presence at these meetings is also a chance for him to establish relationships with school district leaderships, which then allows him to advocate on behalf of his mentees.

When asked what influenced his decision to start the MIMS Institute, he immediately referenced his experiences at Notre Dame. “Forty years ago, I became a part of the Notre Dame family when I got my acceptance letter in the mail,” Mims explained. “But when I entered Notre Dame with ten other young men from San Antonio, I realized I was the only one from a non-Catholic/public school. It always haunted me that so many young men of color in public schools don’t know about the opportunities that exist for them.”

In 1995, Mims returned to Notre Dame for his twentieth reunion, and he brought six young people from Tampa with him. Seeing those students completely awestruck by Notre Dame’s campus fueled something inside of him. Mims took another trip to campus in 2003, following a taxing year in Kuwait. “I just had a sense that I had to go to Notre Dame following my year of active duty— I had a feeling that I needed to be there, a sense that I needed to be on campus, and one of the first places that I ended up at was the Grotto,” he stated. During that trip, Mims also had the opportunity to have lunch with Ben Finley Sr. (Notre Dame c/o 1960 and 2000 recipient of the William D. Reynolds Award) and Dan Saracino (former Assistant Provost for Enrollment). That opportunity to see another Black Alumnus who was involved in recruiting efforts that were so appreciated by the University furthered Mims’ passion to intensify his involvement.

Though Jason encourages students of the MIMS Institute to consider Notre Dame, his primary goal is for his mentees to be top applicants at excellent secondary institutions. Mims’ very first student accepted into Notre Dame served as a model for future mentees, and his dedicated service has been an incredible success since.

When asked how other Black Alumni can get involved, Mim’s response is simple, of course, “You have to be passionate to be successful, but if the passion isn’t there in the beginning, just do small things like fellowship with one or two kids. It will grow from there.”

For more information on the MIMS Institute, please visit

Jason Mims, the Black Alumni of Notre celebrates you for your tireless dedication to our young people!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Will You Be There?: Legends of the Fall 11/19/10

Celebrate and reunite with fellow Domers in the Big Apple, as the Fighting Irish prepare to take on the Army Black Knights at Yankees Stadium!

LEGENDS of the FALL: Notre Dame vs. Army Pre-party celebration 11/19/2010

WHERE: Hip-hop mogul Jay-Z’s famed 40/40 Club (rated the #1 Sports Bar in New York City is going "GREEN" this November, as it plays host to alumni and fans of the Fighting Irish.

DATE: Friday November 19, 2010

TIME: 9pm- Until (Immediately following the Fighting Irish Pep Rally)


40/40 Club | 6 West 25th Street (25th and Broadway) | New York, NY 10010 | (212)832-4040

Monday, October 18, 2010

ND Black Community Goes to Town on the Issues!

On a blustery, but beautiful Saturday evening on campus, the Black Alumni Board welcomed current students, administrators and local alumni to its first ever Town Hall Meeting to discuss the issues that affect Notre Dame's black community most significantly.

Members of the panel included:

  • Rochelle Valsaint (BA_ND Chairperson)
  • LaShane Saddler (African-American Admissions Recruiter)
  • Brittany Suggs (Black Student Association President)
  • LaDawn Burnett (Black Law Students Association President)
  • Amelia Thompson (BA_ND Communications Director)
  • Richard Ryans (BA_ND Co-Founder/Current Vice-Chairperson)
  • Bobby Brown (BA_ND Regional Director)

The turnout was amazing, with over 40 in attendance! The conversation started sharply at 6pm and went well beyond the intended two hours!

The conversation ranged from classroom culture to the changes in the black student body over the years. Many expressed a decrease in the sense of unity among Notre Dame's current black student body. Another hot topic was the need for increased interaction between current students and BA. The students stressed the importance of alumni support, whether in the form of a phone call, an email or a friendly face during a game weekend.

Another popular discussion point was the divide between the student-athlete and the "regular" student. There seemed to be a general consensus among the current students of a clear separation between the two groups' interactions. Former athletes Bobby Brown and Reggie Brooks offered insight into this issue, while encouraging current students- athlete or not- to approach each other with respect and consideration.

Though the meeting had its serious moments, spirits were high as the Town Hall wrapped. In various corners of the room, business cards and email addresses were being exchanged. "This
has to become a tradition," quite a few remarked.

And most importantly the sense of a newly unified black community filled the air.

Major thank you and congratulations to Kyree Blackwell ND '07 for organizing this incredible event!

Getting Down to Business With the Black Alumni Board

The weekend of September 30-October 3, the 20 members of the Black Alumni Board trekked to campus for three packed days of meetings, dinners and an amazing townhall!

Issues at the forefront of the conversation included:
  • Ways to increase successful recruitment of black students
  • Wonderful strides in black student admissions this past fall
  • The impressive Seminar for African-American Scholars program
  • Planning for Fall/Spring signature events- ND vs. Army game in NY, The Frazier Affair
  • Improving methods to communicate with Black Alumni across ages, class years, locations, etc
  • Notre Dame's brand-new alumni website myNotreDame
But no worries, Domers, the weekend wasn't strictly business. From the wildly successful first ever Black Alumni Board-sponsored Townhall Meeting to a beautiful Saturday evening Mass led by Father Hesburgh, there was plenty of fun had with current black students and local BA alike!

Enjoy pictures from the weekend below. Also leave comments so we can know what you think are the most important issues for BA_ND to focus on!

Our Vice-Chair Richard Ryans has a pensive moment in LaFortune

Vice-Chair Richard Ryans and Chairwoman Rochelle Valsaint handling some business!

The Mentoring Committee brainstorming ideas!

The Recruiting Committee planning our strategy to attract the best and brightest!

Bar Louie Funnnnnn! Oh, Louie, Louie ;)

A Visit from former BA_ND Board Member Gina Shropshire!

Minority Alum Board Mass with Father Ted- what an incredible moment!

The Message of Mass...Come Holy Spirit

The MAN Board Game Watch in the Eck Center

Who knew star wide receiver Bobby Brown also had cheerleading abilities?

Enjoying a major ND win with new ND Law School friends!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Oh Happy Day: Notre Dame & Northwestern Host Black Alumni Happy Hour

On September 24, 2010 the BA_ND of Chicago is hosting a Networking Happy Hour with the Black Alumni of Northwestern University.

Where: Bar Louie (South Loop) 47 W. Polk St. Chicago, IL 60605

When: September 24, 2010 at 6:00pm

: Natascha Neptune-

*please submit RSVP by 9/22/2010*

Talk about a meeting of Black Alum intellect! Hope our Windy City Alum can attend. Thank you to Natascha Neptune Region 3 Director for spearheading this exciting event!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Student to Professor—Jada Benn-Torres Moves to Other Side of the Podium

Jada Benn-Torres, Notre Dame Class of 1999 and current Assistant Professor of Anthropology, grew up a military brat, so as can be expected she spent her childhood frequently on the go. Well, in her final years of high school, Jada found herself at a Catholic high school in Oklahoma, which led her to our Catholic University in Indiana.

While a student at Notre Dame, Jada took a series of Anthropolgy courses with highly lauded professors James McKenna and Sue Sheridan that changed the course of her studies, and thus the course of her career.

Though her initial interests were in medicine, McKenna and Sheridan’s Anthropology courses were so significant that they influenced Jada’s decision to pursue a graduate degree in Biological Anthropology at the University of New Mexico. “I was so drawn to this branch of Anthropology because it explores the science of how and why people interact with each other,” Jada explains, “as well as the patterns of human migration and how our environment influences us.”

During her time at Notre Dame, Jada was not just a dedicated Anthropology student, but also a member of the rowing team. Though she had no crew experience prior to stepping foot on campus, her time as the crew coxswain (the navigator of the boat, its “eyes and ears”) became a huge part of her ND identity. “Being a member of the crew team was such a formative experience, because in my position I learned so much about decision-making and leadership. And for me to have been able to come into Notre Dame and not only learn a new sport, but actually letter in it was phenomenal.” Jada has been able to stay in touch with her crew teammates since graduating, and even participated in a reunion for the women’s crew team in South Bend Fall of 2007.

The years following graduation from Notre Dame were brimming with activity for this aspiring Anthropologist. Less than twenty-four hours after completing her dissertation on Biological Anthropology at the University of New Mexico, Jada gave birth to her daughter! When the opportunity came for Jada to study the molecular epidemiology of prostate cancer at the University of Chicago under Dr. Richard Kittles, an African-American biologist who specializes in human genetics, two years later she and her family headed to the Midwest.

When asked what prompted her to leave Chicago for her old stomping grounds of Notre Dame, Jada offered a few reasons. She explains, “I knew I would be working with phenomenal colleagues who were experts in the field. I also knew that I would be able to work closely with undergraduates and be able to infuse them with a passion for Anthropology the way that McKenna and Sheridan had done for me.”

Then Benn-Torres gives a slightly surprising answer, “I brought my daughter with me to the (year) reunion with my crew teammates, and during that visit I was able to imagine my family in South Bend. I enjoyed that certain familiarity I had with the town and Notre Dame’s campus.”

Benn-Torres is now an Associate Professor in the University’s Anthropology department and teaches course ranging from Introduction to Anthropology—which she describes as “an exciting opportunity to influence young First Year minds”—to Humans as Subjects— a more advanced course that analyzes the ethics behind studying human beings. Her current office in Flanner Hall overlooks her old dorm in Pasquerilla West, but these days Jada is really enjoying being on the other side of the podium.

Welcome the Newest Class of Black Domers!

The Black Alumni of Notre Dame extends a warm welcome to the Class of 2014!

They are 91 strong and represent states ranging from Georgia and Indiana to California and Texas!
As a fun welcome to the newest members of the Black Notre Dame family, included below is a Campus To-Do List!
  • Visit the Grotto at least once during your first semester. Whether for just a quick peek or to light a candle and pray, you will quickly understand why this is a Notre Dame Legend!
  • Do-It-Yourself Dining Hall Options such as make your own stir-fry, omelettes, personal pizzas and even crepes will add a gourmet touch to any meal. Just be prepared for a line!
  • Friday Pep Rallies are a great introduction to the big game day, as well as a fun opportunity to hear inspirational words from former Notre Dame coaches and players. The first pep rally of the season is hosted by south quad dorm Dillon, and is always one of the most hilarious events of the fall!
  • Rejoice Mass is a traditional Catholic mass infused with soul that is sponsored by the office of Multicultural Student Programs and Services. Held the last Sunday of every month, this mass is a wonderful opportunity to fellowship and worship with your peers.

These are just a few favorites! Fellow Black Alum, if you have any additions to the list, please add them to the comment box. The newest members of the Black Irish family would love to hear your ND must-dos!

Interested in helping the effort of recruiting future Black Alumni of Notre Dame? Visit the official recruiting calendar of the University’s Admissions Staff and join them in a city near you! Contact Admissions Counselor LeShane Saddler ( with any questions.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Chicago and Los Angeles Conclude Hesburgh Lecture Diversity Series

June 17, the Black Alumni of Notre Dame and the Notre Dame Clubs of Chicago and Los Angeles hosted the final installments of the Hesburgh Lecture Diversity Series. Since the first lectures in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., the series has been an incredible effort by BA_ND and local clubs. Thank you to Chicago and Los Angeles for wrapping the season with two successful events!

Congratulations to Tanya Walker, Natascha Neptune and Ben Finley, Jr. for finishing with flair!

Couldn't make it? Enjoy the pictures from each event below!

*Thanks to James Riley and Carol Anderson for providing the images*

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Commencement Address from Katie Washington, Valedictorian!

We can't say enough how proud we all are of Katie Washington's historical accomplishment as the Notre Dame Class of 2010 Valedictorian!

Now we hear words from the University's first ever Black Valedictorian herself.

Warmest widest welcome to all of the newest members to our BA family! Go Irish!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Our Special Day: BAND Graduation photos

Thanks to everyone who submitted even more photos. Check out the latest ones!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Valedictorian Katie Washington Makes Notre Dame History

Katie Washington applied to Notre Dame on a whim.

“For me, Notre Dame wasn’t really even on the radar at all,” she recalls. “I wanted to stay in Indiana because I got a lot of in-state scholarships that I thought would be important to keep. I applied to Notre Dame, honestly, at the very last minute. One of my teachers had to send an apology for my recommendation letter actually being late. It was her fault, but everything was just thrown together at the last minute.”

Her “accidental” Notre Dame career began more than four years ago, yet there is nothing accidental about her becoming the university’s first African American valedictorian in its nearly 168 years.

Washington, who holds a 4.0-grade point average, stands on top of the academic heap with an awe-inspiring focus and love for Notre Dame. It was a love that grew during her time on campus, but one that she recognized almost immediately when she visited during Spring Visitation weekend in 2006.

“What I found is that I just liked the people. I was really impressed by how welcomed I felt by the student host that I stayed with, and I felt like the alumni were really a family. I really felt the sense of community that is unique to Notre Dame. It existed on multiple levels. It existed in the academic aspect, as far as faculty members being willing to help students. I felt that it existed in student life, and even informally in the relationships I saw between people that I got a chance to hang out with. That’s why I decided.”

This fall, the Gary, Ind. native will head to Baltimore to pursue a dual M.D.-Ph.D. degree at Johns Hopkins University.

It’s no surprise that the biological sciences major and Catholic social tradition minor will follow in her family’s footsteps in the medical profession. Her father, Dr. William Washington, is a physician, mom Jean Tomlin-White is a registered nurse and of her three siblings, one is a registered nurse and another a physician in residency.

Like her father, who serves Gary’s poor, Washington intends to use her medical degree to serve the underserved.

“The goal of the dual degree training is to be able to put my training as a clinician and as a scientist to work to solve real problems. Research, with the goal of patient care in mind, and actually integrating the two. What we see in research a lot of the time is that the science is either way too far ahead of what people are doing in their practices, or it’s completely disjointed from what people need in their practices. Most importantly, I’m hoping to do some work that helps people in resource-poor settings, either internationally, or domestically.”

And, while the gravity of her achievement still hasn’t quite sunk in, Washington feels confident in her Notre Dame career and all that lies ahead in her inarguably bright future.

“I feel like I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing with my life, and to be 21 and be able to say that is a glorious feeling. It’s the best confirmation that I could possibly have.” – By Arienne Thompson '04

From Player to Coach—Niele Ivey’s Move to the Other Side of the Court

As the younger sister of four basketball-playing brothers and a student at St. Louis’ Immaculata and Cor Jesu, Niele Ivey Notre Dame Class of 2001 seemed fated to play basketball at a Catholic school. But it was her devotion to not only her sport, but to also to her values that allowed her to become a basketball star at the University of Notre Dame. Nearly ten years after stepping off of the court as a student-athlete, Niele reflects on her three seasons as an Assistant Coach at Notre Dame and how it was simply her destiny to be a Domer on both sides of the court.

The St. Louis native started playing basketball in the fourth grade mostly because she wanted to be like her four older brothers. The self-described tomboy remembers following her brothers everywhere.

“I would tag along with them to the park, at school, and especially the basketball court; which inevitably led to my deep love for the sport.”

After spending her entire academic career in Catholic schools — St. Louis’ Immaculata School and Cor Jesu Academy — Notre Dame seemed to be the natural next step for this Catholic school girl. But it was during a recruiting trip the weekend of the 1995 USC game that Niele knew for certain that Notre Dame was the one. She was impressed with the robust traditions of the school, its strong Catholic values and as to be expected, the excitement of a home football weekend.

“I was absolutely blown away by everything that Notre Dame had to offer—the Catholic character, the traditions, the most beautiful campus and of course the football,” she recalls. “I knew I had found my school at Friday night’s pep rally!”

What solidified Niele’s decision to come to Notre Dame was meeting the Head Coach of the Women’s’ Basketball Team, the legendary Muffet McGraw.

“Coach McGraw presented Notre Dame’s Women Basketball team as a family oriented program that worked tirelessly to uphold the standards and traditions of the University. And that aligned perfectly with my family values.”

Niele spent the next five years as a point guard for the Fighting Irish, learning invaluable lessons from Coach McGraw—a former point guard herself. In the spring of 2001, her dreams of playing professionally came true when the Indiana Fever chose her in the second round of the WNBA draft. After a successful career with in Indianapolis, Niele went on to play half seasons with the Phoenix Mercury, as well as the Detroit Shock. She even had the opportunity to play for a professional club team in Zaragoza, Spain.

Faced with the third knee surgery of her career, Niele contemplated retirement after playing professionally for five years. Well, true to form, that Notre Dame fate stepped in. Niele was watching ESPN one night, when she saw the announcement that Coquese Washington (then Notre Dame Assistant Coach) had accepted the Head Coach position at Penn State.

“As the ticker flashed across my screen, Coach McGraw called to offer me the Assistant Coach position. To have her call me that quickly and to know that I was the person who she wanted was so amazing. It made me realize that choosing Notre Dame all those years ago really was the perfect decision.”

While Niele has enjoyed every opportunity that coaching has allowed her for the past three years, a few moments are particularly special to her.

“Recruiting Skylar Diggins from South Bend’s Washington High School is hands down my biggest professional accomplishment. The assignment was proposed to me during my first interview, so to be able to say that I succeeded at that task from start to finish is amazing. I watched her play all over the country, and even travelled to Argentina to show our interest. So when Skylar committed to Notre Dame in November 2009 that was such an incredible day for me!”

Niele also counts the Lady Irish’s two Sweet Sixteen appearances (2007, 2010) as major moments in her coaching career.

However, the aspect of this new phase of her basketball career that truly stands out is the opportunity for Niele to give back to the program that shaped the person she is today.

“I take my job as a mentor and role model very seriously. I work hard to ensure that every workout and any advice I give is meaningful. I want them to have the same experience I had nine years ago to develop invaluable skills on the court, but also in the classroom. I am just so blessed to come back to the place where I became the woman, the student, the athlete that I am today.”

The Complexities of Loving Thee Notre Dame

As I began working on my third newsletter as Communications Director for the Black Alumni Board, I was starting to feel comfortable in the process: develop feature idea, interview enthusiastic Black Alumnus, write a compelling piece that allows fellow Black Alum to stay connected to our Alma Mater, distribute. Well when I sat down to interview Cedric Strickland, current Notre Dame Freshman, my sacred process got a wake-up call.

Cedric, a pleasant First Year from Atlanta, spoke graciously of the efforts of the Notre Dame Alumni—specifically the Notre Dame Club of Atlanta—who helped him and his family get to campus in the Fall, and even provided him with those Freshman year essentials—sheets, towels, books and even a little spending money.

“I made just one or two phone calls and was immediately flooded with support from people offering to help. I was so shocked because I was just looking for a ride to campus.”

When I asked him why he chose Notre Dame, he praised the University’s recruiting process, which he described as thorough, yet genuine.

“I was impressed when I received a call from a current student whom I had met during my Spring Visitation weekend,” Cedric recalls. “The conversation was unforced and sincere. I didn’t feel like she was calling to ‘make the sale,’ but instead was truly interested in me as a student.”

“Compared to the other schools I applied to, Notre Dame was not expert in just one field, but had top-notch programs across the boards,” Cedric explained. “I have a strong interest in math and science, but I wanted the flexibility to pursue other subjects; as well as the possibility to change my major once or twice, but still get an outstanding education.”

I was practically beaming as I listened to this Questbridge Scholarship Recipient, Gates Millennium Scholar, speak of the reasons he had chosen Our Lady’s University; and of how Alumni, strangers in every way but Notre Dame, rallied together to support our newest member of the family.

The cold splash of reality came when Cedric delved deeper and analyzed his first year. First a pause, then a list of the negatives: ridiculously cold weather, small-town syndrome, glaring lack of diversity and courses that seemed to move on fast-forward. It was a typical ND litany, but I was waiting for the positive aspects I’d enjoyed: quad-specific dorm spirit, epic football games, omelets made to order in South Dining Hall, that one professor who stimulates intellectual curiosity and friends who seem heaven-sent. I asked if he was happy he had chosen Notre Dame.

“I’m not unhappy. I’m just still trying to process of all of these changes. It’s just been hard to make any sort of connection between my life at home and my life here,” he admitted.

While Cedric’s responses were not completely without cheer, I recognize that we each have a unique Notre Dame experience and I long for this talented young man to see his next three years on campus as ones to enjoy, not simply endure. Ultimately, I want Cedric to be able to remove the question mark from Love Thee Notre Dame.

So, I call on the entire Black Alumni family to band together once more, but not for monetary support. This effort is far more significant than that. We need to come together to show this future alumnus, and other current students, that no matter how stony our path, the Notre Dame experience is exceptional, breathtaking and, above all, worth every struggle.

Black Alumni Congratulates the 2010-2011 Frazier Thompson Scholars

During the Black Alumni Board of Directors’ Spring meeting this past March, we celebrated the academic achievements of nine undergraduates who were awarded the prestigious Frazier Thompson scholarship. Help us commend this talented group of future Black Alumni!

Vanessa Adjei is from Houston, Texas and is majoring in Sociology with a minor in Journalism. She is involved in the Notre Dame Voices of Faith Gospel Choir. Vanessa serves as a travel intern for the Notre Dame Alumni Association and a staff member for the Scholastic Magazine. Upon graduation, she plans to attend law school and specialize in International Law.

Chandler Brooks is a Kansas City, Kansas native. He is currently majoring in marketing. As a member of the Men’s Track and Field team since his enrollment in 2007, Chandler has been recognized as an All Big East Academic Athlete, Notre Dame Monogram Recipient, and Big East Champion.

*Blair Carlin came to Notre Dame from Corona, California. Her majors are English Honors concentration and Spanish. Blair is a true scholar and has received recognition by being awarded as: Franklyn E. Doan Scholar; Balfour-Hesburgh Scholar, on the Dean’s List for five semesters and the Balfour Hesburgh Scholars’ Dean’s Honor List.

*Isabel Chirase, from Amarillo, Texas, is majoring in Economics with a supplementary major in Spanish. Isabel is currently abroad in the Notre Dame London Program. She has served as the secretary for the Notre Dame Chapter of the NAACP, on the Junior Class Council and a member of the Shades of Ebony.

Cora Dayon, a Trenton, New Jersey native, is majoring in English with a supplemental major of Computer Applications. She is a teacher assistant and former team leader of the Take Ten Program.

*Lillian Dixon-Sudduth came to Notre Dame from Matteson, Illinois. This psychology and Spanish major is enhancing her language skills by spending the Spring 2010 semester in Puebla, Mexico. Lillian has immersed herself in the Notre Dame community by serving as treasure for Shades of Ebony and the Black Cultural Arts Council. As a first-generation college student, Lillian objective is to attend graduate school.

Janice James, a native of Westfield, Indiana, is double majoring in Sociology and Film and Television. Janice served as the vice-president of the University of Notre Dame’s Chapter of the NAACP and Howard Hall Freshmen Orientation Staff. Currently, she is a representative on the Student Government Multicultural Student Affairs Committee, member of NAACP and a co-founder of the Howard Hall Big sister/Little Sister Program.

Kristin Moore is a legacy student who hails from Sayreville, New Jersey. As a Black Cultural Arts Council recipient of their Thurgood Marshall Award, she became the BCAC President the following year. Her leadership skills led to selection as the Vice President of the Marketing Club, historian for Shades of Ebony, and member of the Sophomore Class Council. This marketing and economics major with a minor in Africana Studies sees herself making a difference in Corporate America.

Our Special Day: BA_ND graduation photos

Thanks to everyone who submitted their graduation day photos to share with the Black Alumni of Notre Dame family and with our future members, who graduate on Sunday. Enjoy the memories, and tell your friends to submit their pics, if they haven't already done so. Check back each day this week for more!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Submit your favorite ND graduation photos!

The Black Alumni Board of Directors wants your favorite graduation photos from your special day!

Whether that means your photos are from way back when or from just last year, we want to feature your pictures in a special post here on our blog as we prepare to celebrate this year's crop of AMAZING black graduates, with special kudos to our history-making valedictorian, Katie Odette Washington!

Please attach your photos in an e-mail to the Board historian, Arienne Thompson, at and send no later than MONDAY, MAY 10th.

Each photo should have a caption indicating the class year of the submitter and the full names and class years of any graduates pictured in the photo. Also, please limit submissions to 3 photos per alumni.

We can't wait to stroll down memory lane with you!


Photo courtesy of Kyree Blackwell

Friday, April 16, 2010

Campus Cameo... Nneka Ekechukwu Notre Dame c/o 2012

We are so lucky to have a guest post from current Notre Dame Sophomore Nneka Ekechukwu, reflecting on Spring Visitation weekend! I hope you all enjoy reading!

Spring is in the air!

Well…somewhat. As you all know, even if it’s 50 degrees, for South Bend, IN that is not too shabby. After Spring Break is such a tumultuous time for many students here, especially minorities. Post-spring break means Latin Expressions, Spring Viz, and of course the BCAC Fashion Show and after party! However it also means postponed midterms that we were excited to not have before Spring Break, but are now dreading. Thank God for the weekends! Spring Viz Weekend (March 19-21) was definitely one to remember.

As an African American student here at Notre Dame, I especially look forward to Spring Viz and the fashion show. My peers and I have memories from our own Spring Viz when we were in high school and it is just fun to be able to give back by hosting a high school student that will hopefully join us here in August. Spring Viz is a huge time commitment on my part by simply being a host and so I can only imagine how it is for the coordinators. The first night of Spring Viz (Thursday) is a 3 hour long meet and greet with all of the high school students present and many of their hosts. For many of us current students, this is one of our only opportunities to meet these potential, and hopefully future, Domers. Unlike the meet and greet last year or when I attended Spring Viz, this year’s Spring Viz included a visit from many diverse alumni who were in town for a conference. I had the opportunity to have casual conversation with a few of them and, although the discussion was brief, it was very enjoyable. As a student I’ve always been very intimidated to go to any events hosted by alumni or where I knew “Black alums” were going to be present. However any fears that I had are now gone. I was welcomed so warmly by every alumnus I spoke with and am looking forward to future interaction with them and others.

As for the BCAC Fashion Show, what can I say? Again, it was great! I am very impressed with how everything was able to come together despite all the obstacles the coordinators encountered. I was especially impressed with the way things turned out using Washington Hall as well as the turnout of the alumni. I was an usher for the night and so I was able to see everyone as they came in. As a student here it is good to know that our alumni are supporting us and our endeavors here at Notre Dame. It definitely makes me want to be able to follow in their footsteps well and to be just as warm and welcoming to students when I have graduated in a couple of years.

So overall “Spring Viz Weekend” lived up to the hype, just as I’m sure it always does! As black students we were given numerous opportunities to interact with alums, each other, and rising freshmen. Now as the school year is almost over (yay!) we all must put aside the excitement and focus on exams, projects, and upcoming finals, but we still have closing activities to look forward to in the future such as the Shades of Ebony Skate Party in April, BCAC Soul Food Dinner, and perhaps more interaction with black alums. Until then, let’s just hope that this South Bend weather remains as nice as it is right now…and pray for no snow in April!

Thank you Nneka Ekechukwu for sharing your ND experience with us!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Signing!

Sloooooow down, Domers! We're not talking about the NFL Draft and our guys in the exciting race- that's still a few weeks away!

For our D.C. Domers, there is an exciting opportunity to meet&greet with ND Football Legends- past and present- this coming weekend. March 26-28, Fighting Irish ranging from Jerome "The Bus" Bettis to 2009 "Fly Guy" Golden Tate will be signing autographs and kissing babies at the Dulles Expo Center! Other former Fighting Irish include Rocky Bleier, Terry Hanratty, Paul Hornung, John Huarte, Bob Kuechenberg, Johnny Lattner, Tony Rice, Rudy Ruettiger So strap on your blue&gold for a little Irish Spring Fever. Is it football season yet :)

More details below:

Show hours: Friday 2-8 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Admission: Friday admission is FREE. Saturday and Sunday are $5 a day, $9 for a weekend pass. Children under 12 are FREE all weekend.
*image via*

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Notre Dame Celebrates Black History Month

*image via*

For any Black Alumni on campus or any in the South Bend area during Black History Month, there are a number of intriguing events sponsored by a wide array of organizations and departments. Some of the standout events:

  • February 17 7:30-9:0opm Coleman Morse Student LoungeAfricana Studies presents a discussion on the structures that impact the African-American family. Guest speaker: Ray Turner (Clinical Social Worker)
  • February 19 7:00-9:00pm LaFortune Ballroom Black Cultural Arts Council (BCAC) presents Black Coffeehouse- a night of student, song, dance and poetry. Tickets: LaFun ticket office $5 students, $7 adults/Door $7 students, $9 adults
  • February 24 7:30-9:00pm Ryan Hall A panel consisting of ND faculty and students will entertain questions from the audience about varied topics of interest to the larger African-American community. The discussion is expected to be wide-ranging.
  • February 25 5:30-7:00pm Oak Hall, South Dining Hall Angela Ogbolu, ND Alum and editor-in-chief of Kitukizuri (American-based African magazine) will be on campus to discuss her work and her experience as an African woman in the United States.
  • February 28 7:00pm Geddes Hall Rejoice Mass celebrated by Father Hesburgh

Congratulations to these dedicated groups and clubs for organizing such an impressive array of activities! We encourage any Black Alumni on campus during the month of February to participate in any or all of these events.

Click here for the full events calendar!