Notre Dame College Calls New Students to Explore Diversity of Learning, Living

Notre Dame College student and faculty leaders encouraged the Class of 2021 to explore diversity—in studies, experiences, resources and connections—both on and off campus to make the most of their college careers.

During the College’s formal Opening Academic Convocation, professors and returning students officially welcome first-time freshmen to the educational community. The tradition, a highlight of Notre Dame’s Welcome Week, aims to honor and ease the first-year students’ transition to higher learning and living.

During the ceremony, faculty members present each new student with a small medal featuring the College seal. The pendant represents the start of each student’s pursuit of personal, professional and global discovery as members of the Notre Dame family of scholars.

“Our gift, a medallion of the College, serves to remind you of your commitment to the College, its mission and to your work here as scholars seeking to form yourselves not only in your chosen fields of endeavor but also as individuals of character, proud to call yourselves students of Notre Dame College,” said Kenneth Palko, M.A., associate professor of philosophy and chair of Faculty Senate.

Diverse Studies

During Convocation this year, Notre Dame’s Distinguished Faculty Award winner for 2017, Amy Kesegich, Ph.D., associate professor of English, advised new students to welcome exploration of diverse fields of study and embrace lifelong learning.

Kesegich, who teaches creative writing courses at the College, said she wanted to “practice what I preach and take risks,” so she wrote and presented a humorous, original poem titled “You May Have Been Told.”

“Don’t fret if you cannot choose a major because I would be willing to wager, you will figure it all out soon enough although sometimes the journey will be rough,” she said. “Just follow your passion and heart’s desire, and you’ll find something before you retire.

“The point of a liberal arts degree,” she continued, “is learning to live a full life, you see.”

Kesegich also touted the importance of using—and citing—diverse sources in college coursework.

“You may have been told Wikipedia is the devil’s own multi-media, and you will go straight to the depths of hell if you so much as thirty seconds dwell on that website … Just don’t you dare ever copy and paste or you’ll flunk the paper you thought you aced,” she said.

In her rhyme, Kesegich also provided students with insights on how to connect with faculty in all subjects and disciplines.

“All we could ever want from you is this: Do your own best work, and don’t’ give us fits, show up to class, and keep talking to us then you will succeed without too much fuss,” Kesegich said.

“You have to work hard and do so with care,” the distinguished faculty member continued, “and it does not hurt to say a few prayers.”

Diverse Experiences

While faculty focused freshmen on making the most of their courses, student speakers addressed the value of co-curricular engagement in their Convocation remarks.

Jacqueline Corrigan, a senior psychology major with minors in philosophy and coaching, inspired the first-year Notre Dame students to take advantage of opportunities to be involved in campus events and activities. She challenged the new students to extend “out of your comfort zone” and to stay confident throughout their new experiences.

“I want to make sure that, especially during your first few weeks, you remember to believe in yourself,” she said. “Don’t doubt yourself, don’t doubt your ability to overcome your struggles, and, most importantly, don’t doubt your ability to make a difference.”

A member of the women’s soccer team, Corrigan advocated the importance of “branching out” to campus experiences that allow students to “meet others not like you.” She also stressed the advantages of building relationships with various faculty and staff as well as other students.

Corrigan shared stories of how she “went out on a limb” to travel to Guatemala on an international immersion with the College’s Campus Ministry Office and to run for Undergraduate Student Government president. She won the election.

“I am so grateful I took that risk and believed in myself,” she said. “You have to take risks. Remember there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.”

Diverse Resources

Junior Deisjia Hocker and senior Julio Rosales provided four basic steps to aid new students not only in classes and co-curricular activities but also in becoming independent “real adults in this real world,” Hocker said.

The two student representatives suggested freshmen get to know the myriad of resources available to them—like the career services, student success and counseling centers—and get to know people who are different than they are.

“There are people here at school who are willing to help with any situation. Reach out to them if you need something,” Rosales said.

“Allow those who are different than you to challenge you to think bigger and better,” Hocker said.

Rosales, who is an international student from Venezuela, recommended new students avoid going home every weekend, especially when things seem tough. He called for them to make connections on campus instead. Rosales serves as a tutor in Notre Dame’s Dwyer Learning Center, is a student assistant for the College baseball team and is active with Campus Ministry.

He then shared a story of a conversation he had with President Kruczek about the value of diverse opinions in problem solving. The senior said he had suggested that “we should put our differences aside to solve a problem or issue.” But then the president countered with, instead “bring those differences together so that you come up with special things or unique solutions.”

“He made it clear to me that your differences are gifts. A gift that you should share,” Rosales said.

Hocker, a psychology major with a minor in music, serves as a resident assistant and in the College’s Arts & Leadership Living-Learning Community. She urged the first-year students to become leaders with student organizations and in their own lives.

“Leadership roles are what will set you apart at this point in your life, especially to future employers … but first you must become a leader in your own life,” she said. “Being a leader will show you that you are capable of more than you once believed.”

Diverse Connections

Following Convocation, guest facilitator Tom Krieglstein helped members of the Class of 2021 actually create connections with new and different classmates, just as the student speakers had suggested.

In his presentation “Dance Floor Theory: Lessons from the Dance Floor of College,” Krieglstein simulated a school dance event environment to facilitate one-on-one and small group interactions among the nearly 300 new Notre Dame students in attendance. His framework for college success incorporated more friends equal more fun.

The facilitator posed questions to the assembly and then played dance music while the students engaged and conversed with classmates throughout the auditorium. Discussion topics ranged from unique experiences to rare talents. Krieglstein also led some students in sharing their stories, answers and abilities with the full group.

Krieglstein is founder as well as lead facilitator of Swift Kick, a company recognized for speaker of the year by the Association of Promotion of Campus Activities for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2014, 2016.

August 2017


August 2017

About Notre Dame College

For almost a century, Notre Dame College has educated a diverse population in the liberal arts for personal, professional and global responsibility. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1922, the College has grown strategically to keep pace with the rapidly changing needs of students and the dramatic changes in higher education. But it has never lost sight of its emphasis on teaching students not only how to make a good living but also how to live a good life.

Today, the College offers bachelor’s degrees in 30 disciplines plus a variety of master's degrees, certification programs and continuing and professional development programs for adult learners on campus and online. Notre Dame College offers NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletic programs for men and women and is located in a picturesque residential neighborhood just 25 minutes from the heart of Cleveland. Hallmarks of the Notre Dame experience include stimulating academics, personalized attention of dedicated faculty and staff, and small class sizes.

Notre Dame College is located at 4545 College Road in South Euclid. For further information contact Brian Johnston, chief communications officer, at 216.373.5252 or


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