A little more than 10 years ago, Marguerite Taylor walked into the building on N. Eddy Street that would become the Robinson Community Learning Center (RCLC), without knowing how the facility would become an integral part of the neighborhood. “We stood here trying to figure out what we were supposed to do,” said Taylor, the associate director for Adult Programs. “It has grown into a great place.” The RCLC serves as a community resource for the people of South Bend, specifically the Northeast Neighborhood, Taylor said. It began as an off-campus educational initiative created in partnership between Notre Dame and the Neighborhood. The RCLC offers everything from afterschool tutoring for children in grade school to computer classes for the elderly to telephone service for a resident to use, Taylor said. They also hold community meetings there, with residents with different backgrounds coming together to give input. “It’s a safe, neutral place,” Taylor said. “Everyone has the right to talk.” According to the 2009-2010 RCLC Annual Report, more than 16,200 guests signed into the RCLC during the year. Jennifer Knapp Beudert, the manager of the RCLC, said the RCLC programming reaches an additional 3,000 people outside of the building with programs in South Bend community schools. “The foundation of everything we do is relationships,” Beudert said. “Our new slogan is ‘A decade of changing lives, one relationship at a time.’ It’s all about relationships.” During the morning and early afternoon, adults participate in activities ranging from Wii Bowling and fitness to book and computer clubs. After 3 p.m. the rooms transform, bringing in a crowd of young children and college tutors from Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s, among other volunteers. Notre Dame sophomore Linda Scheiber is one of the tutors, and she helps seventh-grader Joy Brown. “I’ve been here a year,” Scheiber said. “We help with pretty much all subjects, math and reading the most.” Brown said she went to the RCLC when she was a little girl, and she recently came back to get some help with homework. “[The help from tutoring] is good,” Brown said. “I enjoy being here.” Sophomore Isaac Harrington said he has helped seventh-grader Paul Ferguson for two years. “My roommate wanted me to start coming with him,” Harrington said. “It was fun, so I kept coming.” Ferguson said he was grateful for the help. “If I didn’t have tutoring, I probably wouldn’t be getting my homework done,” he said. Beudert said around 300 college student volunteers help each semester, with around 130 in both afterschool tutoring and the Take Ten program, an initiative going to local schools to teach students violence prevention and conflict resolution. Others help in English as a Second Language (ESL) courses and adult programming. Dr. Jim Frabutt, who serves on the RCLC Advisory Board, said the RCLC emerged out of a plan to find a way to have better relations with the community. “It’s a neat success story for Notre Dame and the Northeast Neighborhood,” he said. “It’s a great start, a great foothold. It’s one of the biggest assets Notre Dame has in terms of relations with the community. It serves as a great example of how these partnerships work.” Frabutt said the RCLC touches everyone, no matter what age, because of the community it fosters. “That’s why this place has a 360-degree perspective,” he said. “It touches the lives of college students, faculty and local students.” Taylor said the way the RCLC was designed was instrumental in its community feel. Through community meetings during the months before it opened, residents had a large input of what they wanted the building to be. “It’s not what we want it to be,” Taylor said. “It’s what the community wants it to be.” Tonight, the community is invited to an open house from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. to celebrate the anniversary, Taylor said. There will be speakers and special guests, as well as music. “[The RCLC] is truly a reflection of the neighborhood,” Taylor said. She is the third of five generations to live on Francis Street and lives two blocks from the building. In fact, the center is named after her mother, Renelda Robinson, whom Taylor said was the heart of the neighborhood. “She was a community activist,” Taylor said. “She died before she could see it. She’d be thrilled if she could see it now.”
Saint Mary’s College’s Common Experience program concluded for the semester Tuesday night with a short film and a student-led panel discussion, both of which focused on diversity and the problem of stereotyping other cultures. The Common Experience, a component of the Cross Currents Program, is designed to educate and mentor first year students at the College, spotlighting issues crucial to the first-year experience. Susan Vanek, associate dean of advising, said the Cross Currents Program helps first years navigate the educational and social landscapes of the College. “The goal and purpose of Common Experience is to introduce students to the importance of their education,” Vanek said. “Liberal arts and diversity are the cornerstone of a first rate college education.” The second and final installment of Common Experience Tuesday focused on diversity, and how recognizing our differences can help answer the ‘Why am I here?’ question for first year students, Karen Johnson, vice president for student affairs, said. “The ‘Why am I here?’ question … is answered for first years through peer mentoring, faculty advising and various activities in the residence halls,” she said. Johnson said after Tuesday’s film and panel, students met with their advisors, discussed the night’s activities and then will prepare a reflection on the film. The film, titled “The Danger of a Single Story,” features Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie and struggles with overcoming the “single stories” people tell of African and Nigerian cultures. Adichie, who was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship and earned Master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University and Yale University, speaks in the film about the dangers of partaking in single story telling. Adichie said a single story is when we hear only one story about a person and use that information to shape our views of other peoples and cultures. “Single stories rob people of their dignity,” she said in the film. “We are taught to emphasize how people are different, rather than how people are similar.” Adichie said people should recognize the positive effects of exploring other cultures and expanding their personal views. The film was followed by a panel discussion, led by junior Maeva Alexander and senior Alexandra Zellner. The discussion was a way for first year students to see how diversity can be lived out in everyday life, particularly at Saint Mary’s College. Alexander reflected on her time abroad in South Africa and how her single stories were drastically altered as a result of her experience. Zellner discussed the impact on stereotypes, focusing especially on labels Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame students can sometimes impose upon one another. Both Zellner and Alexander ended their discussions stressing the importance of working to push past single stories and celebrate similarities between peoples of different cultures, echoing the themes of Adichie’s talk in the film.
Students can investigate the 65 possible undergraduate majors and other academic programs at Majors Night tonight for guidance on what direction their studies will go at Notre Dame. Faculty and students enrolled in these different majors will be available to advice students in South Dining Hall from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. tonight. Academic Affairs Committee member Toni Schreier said all students should feel welcome to attend this event. “We’ve organized this majors night as an opportunity for students of all levels – not just freshmen – to learn more about the opportunities, both academic and extracurricular, that Notre Dame has to offer,” she said. Schreier said upperclassmen who have already declared a major can still benefit from the information available. “[For upperclassmen,] it would just be an opportunity to confirm that’s what they want to do,” Schreier said. “If there’s an area they’ve always been interested in, they can find out the requirements for a minor and if it’s plausible.” Professor Thomas Stapleford in the Program of Liberal Studies (PLS) also encouraged students of all levels to attend. “It’s really valuable for a wide range of students,” Stapleford said. “This is a great opportunity to learn about other programs, even if you’re in a major right now, if you’re still not quite sure this is the one for you, this is a great chance to go and explore some other programs.” Schreier said students can really learn about what each department is like because both professors and students will be available. “You can find out about all the different classes you’d have to take, what the requirements are and if it’s possible to double major or minor,” Schreier said. Majors Night is a good time for students to learn about majors that are not as common or that might be unique to Notre Dame, Stapleford said. “[PLS] is unlike English or History, where students may have a rough idea of what they’re doing,” he said. “There are English departments in other universities. [PLS] is unique to Notre Dame. We get a chance to explain this to the students and answer any questions they might have.” Stapleford said the professors in attendance want to highlight the distinctive features of their disciplines for students so that it is easier for students to choose between majors. “In [PLS], there’s an emphasis on students who really love to read, students who like to think about ideas and write about ideas – students who have a broad range of interests.”
Notre Dame fans were in for a surprise when they entered the stadium Saturday night for the game against Michigan, where the Irish emerged victorious in a 31-0 shut out against the Wolverines.Although Notre Dame supporters came with high hopes of winning, no one expected the shutout.“I heard we were only favored by about three points or so, so I thought it was going to be a close game,” freshman Chandler Casey said.The idea of a shutout became more apparent as the game progressed.Zachary Llorens | The Observer “I was not expecting Michigan to not get any points, but after the first quarter, I was expecting we’d do really well,” sophomore and Notre Dame Marching Band member Ben Schultz said.As this was the final game between the University of Notre Dame and the University of Michigan for the foreseeable future, many students were disappointed to see the end, but were pleased with the outcome.“Last year, it was a bad game overall,” junior Liliana Sanchez said. “However, this year we ended it on our terms, and I’m really happy about that. Our house, our rules.”Freshman Quinn Brown agreed that the shut out was a great way to end the rivalry.“This being the first and last Notre Dame-Michigan game that I’ll be able to see here, that was an awesome way to go out, especially in our home stadium,” he said.Although Brown said he was sad to end the rivalry, he added that he was hopeful for the future of Notre Dame’s football games.“It’s a little sad that I don’t get to see more of these games,” he said, “But we have other great teams that we’re going to be playing that we’ve added to the schedule so it’ll be exciting to possibly see some new rivalries form.”Many students felt the band was integral to the lively atmosphere in the stadium.“I love the marching band,” Casey said. “The marching band accounts for half of the game day experience.”“[The band] always helps lead the student section chants and the victory march, which gets the crowded pumped,” Brown said. “I think they are very vital to the energy of the stadium.”Before the momentous game, the U.S. Navy SEAL Parachuting Team, Leap Frogs, parachuted into the Notre Dame Stadium. Two of the four Navy SEALs descended into the center of the field, one carrying a Notre Dame flag and the other an American flag. As the parachuters descended, both Irish and Wolverine fans were caught off-guard and in awe.“I had no idea what was going on at first,” Sanchez said. “But then when I finally realized they were going to jump and land near the stadium, I couldn’t believe it.”Sanchez said she was excited that the Notre Dame fans sang “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.”“I was planning in my head to do that, but the fact that everyone joined in at the same time was perfect,” she said.Fans from the University of Michigan expressed their opinions of the Notre Dame football experience as well.“The experience for a person who comes from [the University of Michigan] was great,” Wolverine fan Abby Schultz said. “People welcomed us to campus.”Emma Bozek-Jarvis, also a University of Michigan fan, said that not only were the ushers kind, there were “actual [Notre Dame] students as well who were very nice to us.”“I think it’s a great way to end the rivalry. I think it’s nice since it’ll get Michigan fans to be quiet for a little bit,” Ben Schultz said as he alluded to the “Chicken Dance” song that was played after Notre Dame’s loss against Michigan last year at the Big House. “We can end it with a bang and not as chickens.”Tags: football, Michigan, rivalry, shut out, Wolverines
Associate professor of English John Duffy examined the quality of American public discourse and its social impact Saturday in his lecture “Beyond Civility: The crisis in American public discourse.”The lecture, the final installment of the Snite Museum’s Saturday Scholars series, examined both the current trends in American civil discourse and the measures needed to address the problem effectively. According to Duffy, the problem with contemporary public discourse lies in its polarizing and factually questionable nature.“We seem to have reached the point in our public deliberation in which there is no widely shared agreement as to the nature of a fact,” Duffy said. “There is little place in our public arguments for deliberative language that might express doubt, explore ambiguities, admit errors or acknowledge positions that might depart from orthodoxy.”Duffy said some of the main factors behind the nature of contemporary civil discourse lay in economics and technology. He said sensationalized, polarizing rhetoric has become more marketable for lucrative corporations and media, while the accessibility modern technology has given to news channels and public radio has created a media climate saturated with misleading and combative discourse from both politicians and media pundits.“There is nothing new about vilification, but what makes our moment extraordinary is not the fact of our corrosive discourse, rather it’s the technologies that allow us to disseminate the discourse so effectively,” he said. “We’re unique not because of the toxic nature of our rhetoric, but because of the methods we have to liberate the toxins.”According to Duffy, in order to create a more fruitful rhetoric, we must begin to understand the purpose of argument not merely as a tool of persuasion, but also as a way to engage in a relationship with another human being where opinion is well articulated and respectful of the other’s intelligence. Duffy said this requires a knowledge of “rhetorical virtues.”“To understand rhetorical virtue is to understand that speaking and writing are not merely instrumental but are fundamentally ethical activities,” he said. “That means we are obliged to answer certain questions of ourselves before we speak or write. How does our speech or writing reflect, say, the virtues of respectfulness, generosity? How does our writing respect the practices of tolerance?”While many believe the solution to polarizing, ineffective discourse is to encourage greater civility, Duffy said civility is often a “misleading metric.” Since civility is both too vague to define and too limited in its approach to rhetoric, Duffy said what is needed in civil discourse is a better recognition of rhetorical virtue and purpose.“What the rhetorical virtues offer is something different. They offer a language of assessment and practice of public discourse,” he said. “They call upon us to speak and write, not as Republicans or liberals, Libertarians or Democrats, but as a people committed to an ethical discourse and a common good.”Tags: Beyond Civility, John Duffy, Saturday Scholars
Senior Lisa Yang, a resident of McGlinn Hall, died Tuesday at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, according to a Notre Dame press release.Yang was a student in the Mendoza College of Business and a native of Herndon, Virginia, in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.Yang was also a member of the Student International Business Council (SIBC), according to the SIBC website.“Our heartfelt condolences and prayers are with Lisa’s family and friends,” said an email sent to students and staff Tuesday evening from Vice President of Student Affairs Erin Hoffmann Harding, University President Fr. John Jenkins and Mendoza College of Business Dean Dr. Roger Huang.A memorial service will be held the week of March 16, according to the email. More details will follow.“Thank you for keeping Lisa, her family and all who loved her in your prayers during this significant time of remembrance and reflection for our Notre Dame community,” University President Fr. John Jenkins said in a statement.The University Counseling Center and Campus Ministry are both available for support for students, the email from Hoffmann Harding, Jenkins and Huang said.Tags: Lisa Yang
Sarah Olson | The Observer Director of the Office of Student Enrichment Marc Burdell, a Notre Dame alumnus, speaks Monday night about decreasing the cost of a Notre Dame experience for low-income students through funding.The Office of Student Enrichment — founded in late 2015 — was the topic of conversation at the diversity and inclusion lecture series Monday night at Debartolo Hall. Director of the Office of Student Enrichment Marc Burdell spoke about the Office’s founding and its purpose — to help make Notre Dame financially feasible for low-income students.“The task was to figure out how to put together a new office that would really figure out how all of our students, regardless of socioeconomic status, first generation college status, non-traditional background or anything else for that matter, could feel welcome at the university,” Burdell said.Burdell, a Notre Dame alumnus, said he was particularly motivated to work in the office because he himself came from humble beginnings.“I showed up in 1983 without a winter coat, my dad worked in a grocery store and I was the first in my family to go to college,” Burdell said. “I didn’t have a dime, but it was awesome. I had the greatest experience.”Burdell said leaving for college as a low-income student brings with it many complications.“You don’t just unplug from your family’s situation,” Burdell said. “Many of our students here were helping to raise their families, helping to support their families and helping run their families. When they left, there’s a void there and there are also some feelings of guilt.”To help students deal with such issues, Burdell said the office has set up a peer-advising program.“We try to pair students who have been here and have gone through certain things with students who just got here and are likely going to go through similar experiences,” Burdell said.Due to its relatively recent founding, Burdell said one of the office’s priorities is to educate students on the office and the resources it can provide.“We need to inform our community and our campus as to what’s going on,” Burdell said. “We put a lot of time into making these presentations, having these conversations and really informing all of campus as to what we’re trying to do.”Thus far, Burdell said one of his main focuses has been to hear as many student voices as possible.“We have probably talked one-on-one or in small groups with somewhere between 700 and 800 students over the past 18 months,” he said.Burdell said he has learned that students are most concerned about financial aid and ensuring that money does not hold them back from having the Notre Dame experience. To help this problem, Burdell said the Office of Student Enrichment offers the Student Experience Fund, which is funded entirely by profits from The Shirt.“If you say ‘Hey, I need help with this or that, or I want to go to this conference, or I want to go to my dorm’s dance’, then the fund can probably help you out,” he said.Additionally, Burdell said the Office launched the Fighting Irish Scholars Pilot program this year, which aims to better fund 55 high-achieving, under-resourced students by providing them with $1,000 in cash and $1,000 in Domer Dollars.“We give this money to the students and let them decide on their own how to budget, how to choose their experience and how to meet their own needs,” Burdell said. “We’re not going to tell them how to do it.”Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Burdell spoke to the financial burden of a Notre Dame education. Burdell addressed financial concerns of students related to the campus experience and outside the cost of attendance. The Observer regrets this error.Tags: Diversity, inclusion, Office of Student Enrichment
Natalie Weber | The Observer Participants of the 25th annual Mara Fox 5k Run sprint toward the finish line Saturday. The event is hosted by Lyons Hall in honor of Mara Fox, a former Lyons resident who was killed by a car in 1993.To honor Fox, who was a resident in Lyons Hall, former Lyons rector Sister Kathleen Beatty started a walk in Fox’s name. In the 25 years since Fox’s death, the event has grown into a campus-wide race to raise funds for a study abroad scholarship in Fox’s name. And on Saturday, Lyons Hall hosted the last official Annual Mara Fox 5K Run and 1 Mile Fun Walk.“We had the first real official campus-wide Mara Fox Fun Run for two reasons — not just for the scholarship, but also to raise awareness about drinking and driving,” Beatty said. “So we had a lot of the campus dorms came and supported it and came out. We had people from the community.”More than 150 people attended this year’s race, sophomore Caroline Cooper, one of the race’s organizers, said. The scholarship funded by the race has grown to $300,000 and benefitted 51 students studying abroad in Toledo.“I think [the race] is important because it helps raise money for the Mara Fox scholarship which allows students to study abroad in Toledo, Spain, which was one of Mara’s dreams,” Cooper said. “Students — since the year she died — have been able to go and live out part of Mara’s dream, so we definitely feel very lucky that Mara’s watching over us in Lyons, too.”Senior Matthew Heeder is one such scholarship recipient. He said he participated in the race Saturday to support the scholarship that helped him achieve his goal of traveling to Spain.“Really, I wouldn’t be able to go without that [scholarship],” he said. “So [it’s] just unreal to come out here and give back in some tiny part of that and meet the family and thank them in person.”Of the race participants Saturday, freshman Michael Lee was the top male finisher and freshman Brianna Carlson was the top female finisher. Terry McCarthy, Fox’s stepfather, also participated in the race this year, a tradition he has kept up since the race was founded.“It has been the main motivator for me to keep running all these years,” he said Saturday. “I will be running the 5k today at 83, for the 24th time, and this year I’ve run 20 races so far. And the thing that has sustained me has been this wonderful devotion that we still have for Mara.”Teresa McCarthy, Fox’s mother, was also in attendance at the race. She said she remembers Fox for her spirit and love of the University.“She was our youngest daughter — youngest of three girls — and time comes, she was a military brat and had been moved around all her life, so when she came to Notre Dame, she knew it was going to be for a full four years and she loved it,” she said. “She loved her roommates, loved her studies.”Cooper also said in an email that Saturday’s run is not “necessarily the last run,” though Lyons Hall is looking into other possible fundraisers in honor of Mara.“The fate of the run and future fundraising events for Mara are still in flux at this time but there will still be events for Mara in the future,” Cooper said.Terry McCarthy said the University has promised to keep the scholarship fund going.“Now the family of Mara Rose Fox is completely assured that the scholarship will continue in perpetuity and that makes us feel just wonderful,” he said. “But we will continue to come back to Notre Dame for special occasions — either with the international studies or with Lyons Hall. We are eternally grateful to the fact that Lyons Hall, 25 years, has made this their signature event and brought all of these people together in memory of Mara Rose.”Beatty said she hopes the race leaves a lasting legacy that encourages people to take their decisions seriously.“It’s good that people keep learning and take responsibility and make better decisions in life,” she said. “That’s I think the goal for all of us as human beings is constantly growing and greater awareness of what we’re supposed to be doing in our lives.”Tags: Lyons Hall, Mara Fox, Mara Fox 5k Traveling to Spain with her parents, Mara Fox fell in love with Toledo. She hoped to study abroad there, and planned to pursue a minor in Spanish. She was enamored with the language and wanted to serve in Spanish-speaking communities.But she never had the chance to realize her dreams.In 1993, while walking back to campus, the then-freshman was hit and killed by a car. According to the South Bend Tribune, the driver “was still intoxicated at the time of his arrest,” though he was never convicted of drunk driving.
After having graduated from Notre Dame himself in 1999, Fr. Nate Wills now resides in Keough Hall as a priest-in-residence.Wills said he wasn’t initially interested in attending Notre Dame after his older brother started at the University one year before him. “I basically wanted to go to any school but Notre Dame because I thought that was his thing,” Wills said. “Then I came to visit him sometime in the fall and totally fell in love with the place. I was really excited because it felt like home almost instantly.”He said he was particularly drawn to Old College Undergraduate Seminary.“They were asking the same questions about discernment that I was,” Wills said. “It was just a really good environment to learn and to grow in, and some of the guys who were in Old College with me at the time are still some of my closest friends.”Wills graduated with majors in theology and computer applications, and during his undergraduate career, he worked as a layout assistant at The Observer. He said his experience at The Observer contributed to his discernment about entering the priesthood.“People would just casually sit next to me and bring up questions,” Wills said. “We would get into the most interesting conversations at a really deep level and I just loved it.”He said the experience was “confirming” for him to continue having these types of conversations on a deeper level.“Putting yourself in a position of ministry sometimes invites beautiful conversations in,” Wills said.After graduating from Notre Dame, Wills entered the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) program and taught for two years in Chicago. He said he found a “vocation within a vocation” as a high school teacher.“[I] fell in love with the mission of Holy Cross in education,” Wills said.He finished seminary, spent four years at St. Joseph Parish in South Bend and then attended University of Wisconsin-Madison to receive a Ph.D in education in 2015. “I studied technology in education and my focus is on blended learning, which is using adaptive computer programs in the context of a traditional classroom to create a personalized learning paths for kids and to use the data that’s kicked out in those programs to make targeted interventions and really smart ability groupings for the kids,” Wills said.Wills returned to Notre Dame in 2015 where he first resided in St. Edward’s Hall before moving to Keough Hall in 2017.Upon his return, Wills worked for ACE, where he now teaches full-time for the Remick Leadership Program for aspiring Catholic school principals. As these principals are sent across the country and the world to teach, Willis spends a lot of time traveling and working remotely.He said he and two colleagues have a grant to implement blended learning research at five schools in the archdiocese of St. Paul Minneapolis. “We are working with those five schools to really lead the change of using technology for personalization in their schools so they can give kids an education befitting their dignity as children of god,” Wills said.Wills also spoke about his experience living on the fourth floor of Keough Hall. He said he had a desire to be in the life of the students and that his fourth floor room in Keough has allowed him to do this.“The way my room is situated, it’s right in the elbow of a big thoroughfare. When I’m not traveling, the guys are great about stopping in,” Wills said. “It feels like a great community. It’s been a wonderful experience for me.”Wills said the hardest part of serving as a priest-in-residence is getting to know his hall’s residents and establishing a presence in the hall.“The guys are all very welcoming and kind and often want to talk, but they just don’t always know when I’m around, so that’s been a bit of a challenge for me,” Wills said.The most rewarding part has been seeing residents move towards positions of leadership and responsibility and maturing.“The challenges of first year are real, and it’s amazing to see guys flourish within the community and bring people along,” Wills said. “I am constantly amazed at the superpowers of the kids in my dorm.”Tags: Alliance for Catholic Education, old college undergraduate seminary, priest in residence
Courtesy of Jill Ann Buettner Saint Mary’s junior Jill Ann Buettner was recently named one of three drum majors for the Notre Dame Marching Band, all of whom are women.Buettner, a Saint Mary’s junior who has played clarinet for the Notre Dame Marching Band since 2017, had been sick earlier that semester, with a virus that resulted in Bell’s palsy, a sudden temporary weakness in facial muscles. Buettner first noticed the freezing effect while marching at the Michigan game.“It was completely unexpected,” Buettner said. “The virus that I had inflamed a nerve in my face, which caused most of the muscles on the left side of my face to be paralyzed. On the day of the game, we were there and it just started spreading.”As the weakness spread along the left side of Buettner’s face, she soon realized she was losing the ability to play her clarinet.“For most of the second half of that semester and the season, I couldn’t play my instrument very much,” she said. “It was difficult because that’s my job. I’m supposed to march, I’m supposed to play and I’m supposed to be a leader.”It’s been three months since the Michigan game, and Buettner has regained almost full range of motion in her facial muscles. She is playing clarinet in the band once more, and recently earned herself a historically significant leadership position as part of the very first all-female drum major team in the band’s history. The appointment of these three female students falls on the 50th anniversary of the year women were first granted admission into the marching band, making their positions decidedly poignant.“I honestly still haven’t totally processed everything,” Buettner said. “Since freshman year, I wondered what it would be like to be a drum major. I did it in high school for two years, and that’s when I really fell in love with marching even more, just the technicality of it — how precision-based it is, how detailed it is. … It’s a different way to feel music.”The historical significanceThe Notre Dame Marching Band first allowed women to participate in 1970, when then-band director Robert O’Brien extended an invitation to Saint Mary’s students, two years before the University became coeducational in 1972.“The first women in band were from Saint Mary’s, so having that anniversary this year is really special for me,” Buettner said. “Especially seeing that link between our communities — that’s something that you don’t see anywhere else.”Though the installment of this all-female drum major line is significant in that it fulfills the coeducational vision that University President Emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh put forth more than 50 years ago, assistant band director Sam Sanchez said, the three students were selected simply because they deserved the job.“No one should try to infer that these three women were chosen because it is the 50th anniversary,” Sanchez said in an email. “These are the best people for the job, and they have earned it through their dedication, conduct, hard work and exceptional ability.”In her own research, Buettner said she has only discovered one other Saint Mary’s student to have served as a drum major for the Notre Dame Band: Linda Lawson, who at the time went by Linda Battista. Lawson is famous for not only having been the first Saint Mary’s student drum major, but also for being the very first woman to fill the role.Lawson became drum major in the spring of 1980, 10 years after women were allowed to join the band.“I had played in the concert band the semester before, and they were having auditions for drum major,” Lawson said. “I was drum major in high school for two years, and I’ve always been involved with music, both at the band level [and] at the concert level.”Lawson played the bassoon, which she said “has no place in a marching band.” So when the drum position opened up, she was immediately attracted to an opportunity to participate in another capacity. However, she worried her lack of experience might become an obstacle.“I had been drum major in high school, but I realized I had not really marched in the Notre Dame band,” Lawson said. “I’d seen the band so I was familiar with their style of marching and it was just really exciting that it became available. And so … I thought I would try out.”At the audition, Lawson was asked to conduct Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” with cannons, a piece she had become familiar with from years of performing it in concert band and other orchestras.“I was familiar with the music, I listened to the music, the nuances, and I’ve always loved to conduct music,” Lawson said. “So when I tried out, it was very comfortable for me and it was just a lot of fun. I thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”After the audition, Robert O’Brien, the same director who first made the band coed, offered Lawson the position.“Mr. O’Brien came out and said, ‘We’ve never done this before, but we really did like what you did and like how you conducted, and we want to have you as our drum major,’” Lawson said. “It was wonderful. It was just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And I just loved it.”Lawson is now a chief nursing officer for a group of hospitals in El Paso, Texas, but said she hopes to travel north to South Bend and watch the three new drum majors in action.“Now that I know that they’re going to have an all-female drum major line, I’m definitely going to have to go out again this year,” she said. “I’m so proud. I had no idea. I’m so proud and so excited for them.”On the march towards leadershipWhen she first joined the marching band as a freshman, Buettner was drawn towards the opportunity to find a community of friends while still continuing her love for music in all its forms. She had learned how to play the piano in third grade, and went on to explore the clarinet, alto saxophone and guitar.“Music has always been important to me,” she said. “If I’m not playing it, just like listening to it, and so I wanted to continue it somehow … and I had heard stories of people joining marching band. I did it in high school for three years, and I loved every second of it. I’m one of those weirdos who loves marching. Not just playing an instrument — I love marching.”The day she discovered she’d been officially invited to join the band after days of auditioning, Buettner was so shocked she didn’t recognize her own last name on the call sheet.“I went over [to the list] to see it myself, and I forgot my name because I saw it on the list and I didn’t think it would be there,” she said. “I remember looking at the list and thinking, ‘I wonder how different my life is going to be because of this, because I decided to go for it.’ I had no idea.”Performing with the marching band, concert band and pep bands at Notre Dame has created countless opportunities for Buettner, including travel. Since joining the band, Buettner has visited places as close as Michigan and Florida, and as far as Ireland and Peru.“It’s taken me some places, it really has,” Buettner said. “Anytime I get to travel with the band, I’m super, super lucky to be able to do that.”Having fallen in love with the marching band over the years, Buettner started looking for ways to involve herself more deeply. Last semester, she became a social co-chair and took on responsibilities that include the orchestrating of the traditions that make the Notre Dame Marching Band so distinct.“They’re little random traditions that we kind of create for ourselves,” she said. “Some of them were like our Saint Mary’s traditions.”As a freshman member of the band, Buettner looked up to a senior Saint Mary’s student who mentored her and the other first-year clarinets from the College. This student taught them how to maneuver participating in the band as a Saint Mary’s student, particularly how to traverse between the two campuses and juggle a packed schedule.Sanchez said he recognizes the extra effort that the 380 Saint Mary’s students currently involved in the band dedicate themselves to fulfilling.“Saint Mary’s band students show a great level of care and dedication to the band,” Sanchez said in an email. “It takes more effort for a [Saint Mary’s] student to make the trek over to Notre Dame for daily rehearsals. They have to plan transportation and meals while balancing this with their academic course work.”Buettner spends a fair amount of time on her bike, traveling back and forth down the Avenue and St. Mary’s Road, sometimes with huge bags of breakfast cereal strapped to her back and looped over the bike handles. As social chair, Buettner rises before the sun on Saturday mornings to arrive early on Notre Dame’s campus and prepare the traditional pre-game cereal.Though they keep her busy, these traditions are what make the band community so special, Buettner said, and what inspired her to seek more leadership opportunities.“I’m excited to help people in a new way in the band,” Buettner said. “Not just with playing [an instrument], but really with marching, leading and being there for everybody to come to for questions or for help. Band has given me so much, and I feel like this is going to be the best way that I can give back.”The band has played an essential role in her college experience, Buettner said, and has given her a community of lifelong friends.“Once you’re in one band … you want everyone to give 100%. You want to give 100% because of everybody else who is around,” she said. “I love being a part of it. And I love being at Saint Mary’s and I love going to school here and having this opportunity to be in a marching band.”The past three years with both the band and Saint Mary’s have created a dual identity that Buettner has embraced.“I’m just really honored to be a part of the band, and also to be a Belle because I love being here,” she said. “To be a Belle in band is pretty freaking cool.” The day of the Notre Dame versus Michigan football game, two teams clashed beneath sheets of heavy rain. In the stands, Jill Ann Buettner stood soaked to the skin, water dripping down the pointed tip of her rain slicker, seeping through her wool uniform and splashing onto her sheet music. She was wet and cold, but more importantly, she began to realize she couldn’t move the left side of her face. Tags: 50th anniversary, drum major, Jill Ann Buettner, Linda Lawson, Notre Dame Marching Band