Notre Dame College New Students Learn Mission with Pulitzer Prize Nominee, Bestselling Author

Notre Dame College is introducing its new students to mission—their own and the College’s.

Pulitzer Prize nominee and New York Times bestselling author Regina Brett headlined the College’s first-year experience for students in the Class of 2021. The Cleveland journalist’s newest book, God Is Always Hiring: 50 Lessons for Finding Fulfilling Work, inspires people to find their calling, not just a career.

In the spirit of its student-centered campus, Notre Dame had Brett present twice to smaller, more personalized groups of freshmen during its Welcome Week 2017 activities. Notre Dame’s Welcome Week programming not only aids new students in their transition to the College but also encourages retention by engaging them in community from their very first days on campus.

Brett encouraged the first-year students to find their mission at the College and in life by listening to the “tug in your heart” that brought them to Notre Dame.

“It got you here. It will carry you all the way through,” she said.

Students Start Their Mission

The new students gathered in their First Year Seminar class groups with faculty advisors to hear Brett’s address. The First Year Seminar course is part of Notre Dame’s core curriculum that, in the tradition of the Sisters of Notre Dame who founded the College in 1922, teaches students personal, professional and global responsibility.

Following the assembly with Brett, students participated in service activities as part of their orientation at the College. Some helped paint facilities at Garfield Memorial Church while others worked with The Salvation Army.

During her presentations, Brett invited the first-year students to share with her, their classmates and teachers “that little voice, the Holy Spirit, intuition whatever you choose to call it” that brought them to Notre Dame.

“The mission we have is written inside of us,” Brett said.

One student described how he will combine his passion for art and his parents’ desire for him to study business through our game design program. Another student disclosed her learning difference and how she is here to become a special needs teacher or counselor. One said he discovered music as a way to cope with being bullied in high school and is happy he can study the subject and take part in our performing arts programs. Others spoke of their hearts for helping those in poverty and hopes for playing their sports.

Brett's advice for new students included to consider the classes and activities they don’t like, as well as the one’s they like, to find their calling. She also said students don’t always have to have the whole blueprint for their life. They should just try to do the “next right thing.”

“The right doors will open for you,” she told the students. “Just take the next right step.”

Speaker Shares Her Story

Brett has a compelling personal and professional story of her own. She revealed to the students what she called some of “my mistakes that became my message.”

“We’ve all been given something that we try to hide that I think is our greatest gift,” she said.

One of 11 children in the first generation of her family to attend college, Brett said she changed her major six times and took 12 years to finish her bachelor’s degree from Kent State University. She went on to earn a master’s degree in religious studies from John Carroll University.

“Sometimes when you hit a wall, it’s telling you to go somewhere else,” she said.

A single parent for 18 years, Brett worked several different jobs, including as a traffic court clerk and at a funeral home, before finding her calling as a reporter and author. Her inspirational columns appeared in The Plain Dealer for 17 years, where she was a finalist in 2008 and 2009 for the Pulitzer Prize in Commentary. She now writes for the Cleveland Jewish News.

“You know deep inside at least a little what you want to do in life,” she said. “I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but it terrified me because I didn’t think I’d be any good at it.”

Brett imparted stories from people she has interviewed over the course of her career, including a 16-year-old working at an ice cream shop who dreamed of becoming a pediatric neurosurgeon. The article she wrote about the youth helped connect him with doctors who allowed the teen to observe a brain surgery and earn a scholarship to college.

Now she is the bestselling author of God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life’s Little Detours, which has been published in more than 24 languages. She also wrote Be the Miracle: 50 Lessons for Making the Impossible Possible and God Is Always Hiring: 50 Lessons for Finding Fulfilling Work. All three books are best sellers in Poland.

Brett also is a breast cancer survivor. She said the disease taught her to “get up, dress up and show up” every day—for life not just for her job. 

The speaker concluded her address with two simple suggestions for helping students find and live their mission: be kind and be brave.

"Be your version of brave," she said. "Whatever it is, I hope you embrace it."

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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