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From the Stage to the Seminary: By Katie ’17 and Maggie ’17 Kennon

 

From the stage to the seminary, Michael, “Mickey,” Connolly has had experience on the field playing football, on the stage as an actor, but finally found his calling on the altar. However, the Kennedy Catholic graduate from the class of 2010 has not always known or accepted God’s plan for him. In this article, Mickey shares his journey that led him to accept God’s call to the priesthood.

 

Since Mickey is a KCHS alumnus, we asked him what his favorite part of Kennedy was. Having been a thespian, Mickey shared he loved performing in Kennedy musicals. 

Father Michael Connolly

I honestly loved everything about being at Kennedy. I felt like I was part of a family; I really felt at home in school. The absolute best part for me, though, was performing in the school musicals. I learned so much through Kennedy’s musical theatre program. I learned about singing, acting and dancing. I also learned about myself. I found performing to be a real passion of mine, and I gained so much confidence from my experience with theatre at Kennedy. I also learned that a person can’t be defined by any one thing. I didn’t audition for the school musical in my freshman year because I was on the football team and had the mistaken notion that a person couldn’t be involved in sports and the arts. The next year, though, after having seen how amazing the show was freshman year (Seussical the Musical) and how much fun my friends all had putting it on, I had to try. So, I auditioned for Footloose and had the time of my life! That experience gave me the confidence to branch out, and I started performing at Yorktown Stage as well as a few other places. Despite my freshman-year fears, a lot of my teammates came to the school shows and were very supportive! I will never forget performing in Footloose, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and Fiddler on the Roof when I was at Kennedy.

 

We asked Mickey when and how he realized he was being called to be a priest.

Mickey as he was called in high school, was a member of the football and track teams.

For as long as I can remember, I have had a sense that God might be calling me to become a priest. I have been very fortunate to grow up with just about all the right elements in place for me to listen for God’s voice telling me what He is calling me to be. My parents have a beautiful marriage, an excellent example of what it means to give your life completely for someone else. I have always had amazing parish priests who have shown me what it means for a man to give his life completely for the Church. I have also grown up with two incredibly supportive brothers. My brother John has had a very special influence on my faith, let alone my discernment of the call to priesthood. My brother John has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. He has had to suffer so much throughout his life, but he has done it with the utmost humility and joy. He has really shown me a glimpse of the suffering of Jesus, endured joyfully and with love. So, all the pieces have been in place for me to ask God, “What do you want me to do?” He has shown me in various ways over the years that the answer is priesthood. I have not always been faithful to Him, though. Many times, I have strayed from the close, personal relationship He so desires to have with each of us. I have, at many times, sought happiness and fulfillment in worldly things, my own plans, ignoring God’s plan. Eventually, though, in my junior year in college, I just felt too empty, too lonely to continue living so selfishly. God mercifully called out to me again and set me back on the right path. I really felt His love completely fill me up, and I vowed I would live for Him again and stop living for myself. He showed me that He was still calling me to be a priest, and I entered college seminary that year! I am now at the end of my third year at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, about to begin my final year of seminary formation.

 

Because Mickey mentioned that his family inspired and encouraged him to enter the seminary, we asked him to tell us more about them.

Michael, pictured with his parents at his college graduation from Fordham University

I have such a wonderful family. My mom and dad have been married for thirty years. They are a beautiful example of the gift of marriage in a current social climate which is very hostile to marriage or really, any kind of commitment. I have two brothers, John and Brian. John is the oldest. As I mentioned before, he was born with cerebral palsy. He has always been and continues to be a great inspiration to me. Brian is the youngest. He has also been a huge inspiration to me. Not only did he earn a college scholarship to play football at Bucknell University, but his perseverance through his career ending shoulder injury has taught me a great deal about patience and fortitude. My brothers are my best friends!

 

 

We wanted to know if there was anyone who influenced or inspired Mickey more than others. He told us about Father Dunn, who, like Mickey’s brother John, is wheelchair-bound.

Michael, pictured with Father Dunn

So many people have inspired me, but the biggest influence I have had is a priest named Fr. Dunn. Fr. Dunn was at my home parish, St. Augustine’s in Ossining, for eleven years. He has always been the most joyful priest I know. As a kid, I was always so attracted to and inspired by Fr. Dunn’s preaching. Fr. Dunn is a master at preaching an incredibly intelligent, spiritually enriching homily which is also bursting with his own unique sense of humor. Fr. Dunn taught me that it is possible to preach an edifying homily using references to The Simpsons! Fr. Dunn has always been there for me. He has been a spiritual father and a true friend. He has always supported me in discerning my vocation without ever making me feel pressured to consider priesthood. Furthermore, despite his Multiple Sclerosis rendering him wheelchair-bound, Fr. Dunn’s enduring joy continues to inspire me to accept whatever cross God gives me with humility and humor. Fr. Dunn continues to be my biggest priestly inspiration and one of my best friends.

 

 

On the flip side, we wondered if there was anyone who tried to influence Mickey not to become a priest.

Thanks be to God, no! No one has tried to dissuade me from pursuing the priesthood.

 

Next, we wanted to know what Mickey felt now that he has entered the seminary. What really interested us was what was Mickey’s favorite part of the seminary.

Michael, pictured with his brothers

I have been really grateful for the relationships I have developed since entering seminary. I have made some really great friendships with other seminarians, priests, and parishioners in different parishes. Ultimately, the best part, is that they have all helped me to grow in my relationship with Jesus.

 

 

 

 

After learning his favorite part of the seminary, we were intrigued as to Mickey’s least favorite part of the seminary, so we asked Mickey what he has found to be the most challenging aspect of becoming a priest.

Being patient! It has been so exciting to be in formation for the priesthood. With each year in seminary I am getting more and more excited to be ordained and get out there in a parish as a priest. It has been very difficult to be patient as I go through the formation process. Some very wise priests have been helping me to slow down and accept every day, appreciating every moment of the process as the gift it is!

 

Knowing that it can’t be easy to dedicate your life to service of God and others, we asked Mickey if he ever regretted his decision to become a priest.

Not once! Seminary formation is not easy, but I have not had a single regret about entering. I truly believe that God is calling me to be a priest, and I am so grateful. I have never been more joyful than I have since I entered seminary.

 

Even though we just established that Mickey, since entering the seminary, never considered becoming anything other than a priest, we were still interested to know what he thinks he would be doing now if he hadn’t entered the seminary.

Teaching at Kennedy!…assuming Fr. Vaillancourt would hire me, of course! I would be a teacher. I’m not sure where exactly, but, before seminary, I was working towards a Master of Science in Education degree at Fordham University. I would have loved to teach at the elementary level, or be a Spanish or music teacher at the high school level. God-willing, as a priest, I can do a little of all of that!

 

 

 

 

 

We are very grateful and appreciative to Mickey for giving such thoughtful responses to our questions, but we felt we would be remiss if we did not ask him for advice for anyone discerning the priesthood.

Be open to whatever surprises God will throw your way! Discernment of one’s vocation is a journey, especially discernment of the priesthood. God will surprise you! You will learn so much about yourself on the way. Be open to it, and let go of any expectations you have of how it should go. I’m working on this myself- it’s easier said than done! But God is always there to help us.

 

Mickey told us he is in his fourth and final year at St. Joseph’s, so his journey from the seminary to the priesthood is almost finished. Being parishioners and altar servers at the same parish as Mickey, we are lucky enough to be able to see his faith and devotion to his calling almost every week at Mass. Being so devoted to Christ, Mickey is an inspiration to everyone. We are all excited to learn where God will send him next year after his graduation and ordination into the priesthood!

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Interview of Meenu Johnkutty: by Catherine Brennan

Meenu Johnkutty stands and receives her prize for her winning Maryknoll essay

Meenu Johnkutty, a senior at Kennedy, won this year’s Maryknoll student essay prompted “Caring for our Common Home” and received the $1,000 Bishop Patrick J. Byrne Award. Meenu is very passionate about climate change and in her essay, she wrote about ways we can respond to Pope Francis’s call for us to take care of our common home, the earth. Her essay can be read at: https://maryknollsociety.org/publications/essay-contest/ and will also be featured in the May/June Maryknoll Magazine. Recently, I asked Meenu few questions about her essay and her motivation to write about climate change. Here is what she said:

Can you tell me how you found out about the essay contest?

I found out about this essay contest while sitting in Ms. Willis’ AP Literature class! I saw this beautiful poster hanging in 106, and when I took a closer look, I saw that it was advertising an essay contest centered on climate change! As someone who is passionate about protecting the environment, I knew that this essay contest was calling my name.

Can you explain a little about what the prompt was for the essay contest?

The prompt for the essay contest was to describe ways in which climate change was being tackled in the local and international community. The contest was inspired by Pope Francis’ recent encyclical about climate change and respecting the environment.

What inspired you to write the essay?

When I was writing this essay last November, the Dakota Access Pipeline protests were scaling tremendously. As I watched how the protesters battled cold temperatures and high winds to fight for what they believed in, I admired their strength and resilience. Their passion for the environment struck a similar chord within me and I felt moved to write a piece that I hoped would communicate how much climate change meant to me.

Has climate change been something you were passionate about or is it something that you have just recently began to think about?

 I have always been passionate about the environment. Ever since I was a little girl, I have always held a deep connection with the environment. Whether it be riding my bike in the summertime or running cross country, I feel most at peace when I’m outside. Naturally, as someone who loves the great outdoors, seeing the planet being abused and treated recklessly angered me. I just could not stand the thought of living in a society more focused on the “now” than the future. Unfortunately, we cannot continue our dependence on energy sources like fossil fuels that do more harm than good. Luckily, we are blessed with an abundance of clean energy alternatives like wind and solar that are limitless and cost-effective.

Pope Francis is a big advocate for protecting our planet. Can you maybe give some suggestions about what we can do to help support this cause?

 Pope Francis’ encyclical really gives a whole lot of hope for the future. As Christians, we are called to be stewards of this big blue planet that we are blessed to live in. Issues like climate change often seem too big to digest and process. But, when the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics writes an entire encyclical dedicated to raising awareness of climate change, then when we know that this is indeed a problem that demands global action. The first thing that anyone can do to support the climate change movement is to speak up! Climate change is real, not a myth! Individual action is also important. Small things like carrying reusable shopping bags and carpooling reduce our carbon footprint and bring us one step closer to tackling the abuse on the planet. But, all in all, I still do have a lot of hope when it comes to the climate change movement. Once people truly understand the gravity of the situation (which I hope will be soon), then collective global action will be imminent.

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In Memoriam: Sister Barbara Heil: by Written by Hannah Langley ’17

Sister Barbara’s Grotto

Babe Ruth once said, “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.” On the night of March 4, 2016, Kennedy Catholic lost its very own legend – Sister Barbara Heil. Sister Barbara, a beloved member of the Sisters of Divine Compassion, began working at Kennedy Catholic while it was still called St. Mary’s High School. In 1966, when the school moved to its current location, Sister Barbara once said, “I came along with the moving vans.” Since the beginning of the school’s opening, Sister Barbara was known for her unforgettably cheerful and witty attitude. She was more than just a teacher at Kennedy; she was a mentor, colleague, mother, and friend to all who knew her.

Sister Barbara was considered the “Miss Hospitality” of Kennedy Catholic, as she organized and participated in nearly every school event. She commanded a strong presence in every aspect of school life at Kennedy. She consistently pushed herself every day to provide for each of the students at the school, whom she loved as though they were her own. As a teacher in Mathematics, Latin, and Home Economics, she inspired and touched the hearts of many students. For years, Sister Barbara, along with Mr. Schmidt and other Sisters of the Divine Compassion, worked to support the impoverished migrant families in Goshen, New York, providing them with food and handmade clothing. During the Christmas season, she organized the collections for the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital Toy Drive, and, during Easter, she arranged baskets for Goshen children. For many years, Sister Barbara exercised one of her greatest passions: designing and sewing costumes for the Kennedy Catholic play productions. In addition to her participation in the school play, she was also an avid sports fan who attended nearly every home game for school sports played both in the gym and on the field. Sister Barbara exemplifies the spirit of hard work, and, during her lifetime, she brought out the best in everyone she knew.

Sister Barbara’s stone in the grotto

Following her passing, many former students and parents have returned to speak on behalf of Sister Barbara and the legacy that she left. Annette DiGrandi, mother of 2016 graduate Nicholas DiGrandi, shared a personal relationship with Sister Barbara, as the two worked together in costume design for Kennedy Catholic performances of The Sound of Music and Cinderella. This year, Mrs. DiGrandi wishes that Sister Barbara was here t
o volunteer with her, but she is grateful to have known and worked with her. She describes Sister Barbara as an “example of kindness and compassion not only for our children, but for all of us”and commemorates her by saying, “We miss you but know you are with us, looking down on all the kiddies with your beautiful smile.”

In remembrance of Sister Barbara, Kennedy Catholic has launched several memorialization projects, including the renovation of the grotto at the entrance of the school, as well as a bench crafted in dedication to her. The bench, which will be unveiled toward the end of this school year, will be engraved with Sister Barbara’s name, a Latin quote, and other items that she cherished. On May 22nd, Cardinal Timothy Dolan will be coming to the school to bless this monument and pay respect for such a wonderful woman.

It has been one year since Sister Barbara’s passing, but she continues to be, and will always remain, a legendary woman in the hearts of the entire Kennedy Catholic community. She embodies the virtues Kennedy Catholic was built upon – courage and compassion. Sister Barbara’s endless love and support, as well as her unfailing spirit, will never be forgotten.

 

 

 

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Junior Ring Night: By Megan Cleary ’18

Every year Kennedy Catholic celebrates the junior class by having a mass and school ring ceremony. This year’s ceremony was held on Friday, January 20th from 7-8:30 pm. On this day, the students belonging to the class of 2018 put on their dress attire and celebrated being part of the Kennedy Catholic community. Juniors were encouraged to invite their families to this wonderful event with them. During this night, Father Vaillancourt celebrated mass with the entire junior class and their families. After mass, the rings were blessed by Fr. Vaillancourt and distributed to each student. This event is something Kennedy Catholic juniors will truly never forget. Many seniors have even said that the ceremony is a memory they cherish. Class rings represent a multitude of things. It represents the good times, stressful times, sad times, and some of the best times of our lives that were shared with lifelong friends and supportive teachers. This ceremony brings us a step closer to our impending future. Receiving a class ring is an achievement in itself and is something that is hard to forget. These rings are a perfect symbol for each student to remember their time at Kennedy Catholic High School.

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Ski Club: by Carley Gilmore ’18

School is back in session, marking the bittersweet end of winter break for Kennedy Catholic students and the start of a new year. There is exciting news for those who would like to continue making the most out of the winter season: The newest Kennedy Catholic club, the Ski Club, will begin this week! The Ski Club is open to all students interested in skiing and snowboarding, including beginners and those with experience. On Thursday, January 5th, Ski Club members will launch their first trip to Thunder Ridge after school, and will ski from 4:00 to 8:00 pm. Students are encouraged to join, as larger groups may receive rentals and lift tickets at discounted prices. Joining the Ski Club is a great opportunity to set aside time during the school week to relieve stress, make memories, and have the chance to experience the accommodations of various ski mountains. The Ski Club is anticipating a fun-filled season with many more ski trips to come.

 

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Kennedy Catholic Blood Drive; By Julia Feeney ’17

Kennedy Catholic 2016 Blood Drive Information

This year Kennedy Catholic’s annual blood drive was on Wednesday, December 14. Kennedy alumni, students, parents and members of the Somers community came out to show support for this most worthy cause. In the past, the event has been spearheaded by Mrs. Normile. However, this year as she continues to recovers from surgery, the student council ran the event. The drive had participants ranging from 16 to over 70 who each donated one pint of blood. There were many first time donors in attendance braving the needle to give blood to their fellow man. Kennedy junior, Caitlyn McKearney, donated blood for the first time at the drive. She was nervous about giving blood but had been inspired by her dad’s frequent donation of blood and wanted to follow in his footsteps. The event also brought out many veteran donors one of whom donates blood 6 times a year. According to one of the nurses working the drive, one pint of blood can potentially save three lives in the tristate area at one of the countless hospitals the blood center has contracts with. Each day the New York Blood Center collects on average 2,000 donations but that is still not enough. The Blood Center is actually experiencing a massive shortage at the moment. The New York Blood Center holds drives all over the area year round. Every time a person donates blood they get points towards gift cards or the option to make donations to other charities. As a previous donor myself, I can attest that giving blood is painless and makes you feel like you’ve done something wonderful for another person.

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Christmas Toy Drive: By Hannah Langley ’17

Christmas time is known as the season of giving, and in this spirit, several students at Kennedy have undertaken the job of organizing a toy drive for the children at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. For several years now, a group of students has been responsible for managing this toy drive, but the girls who usually ran it graduated last year. However, when students Aidan Dooley, Tom Young, Matt Vigna, Vin Conte, and Kyle Knox recognized the absence of the toy drive, they decided to take initiative and run it themselves.

Kennedy students pictured while dropping off their toys at the hospital. (Picture courtesy of Donna Dooley)

This toy drive is extremely important to the hospital, as it provides not only toys, but also happiness, to those being held there for the holidays. These children are there for various reasons, including cancer treatment and terrible illness. The Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital is an important part of the Westchester Medical Center, as well as the Westchester community, as it provides children in any family or financial situation with health care. The hospital was founded by the parents of Maria Fareri, a young girl who died of rabies because she was not provided with quality healthcare due to her young age. After losing their child, the parents made it their mission to improve the health and well-being of children all over the world. The Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital has done amazing work to help these sick, disabled children recuperate and heal.

Christmas time is especially important to the hospital, as these unfortunate children and their families will not be able to spend the holidays at home. The toys help cheer up the children and help them forget their current situation for a time, something irreplaceable for the struggling parents and families. The boys running the drive ask that students bring in unwrapped, new toys by Friday, December 16th, and place them in the boxes throughout the school. They also suggest donating money to the hospital if students don’t have time to buy toys before Friday, as this can help in numerous ways at the hospital. There are only a few days left to bring in these toys, so act quickly. Remember, what may seem like just buying one inexpensive toy to you is a priceless Christmas gift to a deserving child.

 

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Missing Sr. Barbara and Her Lovely Dolls: By Ava Gallo, Class of ’18

 

The Kennedy Catholic High School auction is always a fun event to attend, holding a silent auction and a live auction as well as having great food and live music. This year, the auction will be held on November 19th from 6pm-10pm. Every year Sister Barbara would sew beautiful clothes for a doll to auction off during the silent auction. However, after the loss of our beloved Sister Barbara in March, the Kennedy Catholic High School 2016 Auction will be the first in Kennedy history to not have Sister Barbara’s gift available.

“…she used to make 6 or more outfits for the doll as well as provide the accessories…” Mr. Schmidt 

auction-2015-002

Sr. Barbara’s closet of doll clothes.

Sewing the clothes for the doll was something Sister enjoyed doing and had a passion for. Mr. Schmidt recalls, “I know she used to make 6 or more outfits for the doll as well as provide the accessories such as shoes, jewelry, etc. She would also get the small ‘closet’ to hang and display all the clothes. Sr. Barbara loved to sew, as you may know from the many costumes she worked on for the school plays.” Going past what Sister Barbara would do for the auction, Mr. Schmidt also stated, “She also provided all the banners that hung in commons, repaired the altar linens, etc. When we went to Goshen, if there was anything that needed repair she would mend it.” Jillian Flynn recalled what Sister Barbara used to say to her “Latin Scholars” about the dolls. She said that sister was proud of making the dolls and that it was something she loved to do and enjoyed doing as it brought her joy to make them. She would even line up the clothes that she would put on the dolls in her office. It seems like making the dolls was something Sister Barbara would look forward to every year around November.

Heil

Our beloved Sr. Barbara Heil

Sadly, this will be the first auction without Sister Barbara and her beautiful doll’s outfits, but the auction is still a great event to attend. The live auction presents items beneficial to the school or members of the Kennedy community. At the 2015 Auction, money was raised through the live auction for new lighting for the Kennedy Catholic High School Players and the Spring Musical, a row of seats at the graduation ceremony could be purchased, and one could also bid on a seat at the President’s Circle Dinner, among other quality items. Those in charge of the event always ensure that there is a good time to be had by all. The evening begins with a lovely selection of fruit, cheese, breads and crackers, wine and a delightful array of sandwiches and other small plate items. While people are bidding on the items in the silent auction, and in the past Sister’s dolls, a group of student musicians play some jazz music. The evening ends with the live auction, but don’t forget to grab a cup of coffee and a cookie on the way out!


Come and be a part of our 2016 Auction. Visit our Auction page to sign up and to learn more about this year’s event:

****   KennedyCatholic.org/Auction   ****

 

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Club Day 2016: By Sophia Brennan ’17

This year’s Club Day was held on September 22. Club Day is when members of the student body can learn about the various clubs KCHS has to offer. Students have the opportunity to sign up for extracurricular activities that they find interesting. To make participation more accessible to all of our students, Father Vaillancourt has set aside Monday afternoons from 2:45 to 3:30 for club meetings. New clubs this year include: the Fishing club, the Science Olympiad club, the “A Capella” club, and the Yoga club. Notable clubs include: the Robotics club, the Drama club, and the Debate club. Without a doubt, this year’s Club Day was an overwhelming success!

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It’s College Admissions Time!
 – By Katie Kennon ’17


Advice from Courtney Kelly of Notre Dame - Photo Courtesy of Notre Dame

Advice from Courtney Kelly of Notre Dame – Photo Courtesy of Notre Dame



Here are some tips from Courtney Kelly, a University of Notre Dame admissions counselor.


If you’ve been walking the halls of Kennedy Catholic recently, you may have noticed most seniors looking awfully stressed. There is a simple explanation for this mass hysteria: the college admissions process!  Ever since the Common Application became available for students on August 1st, the urgency to complete college applications has continued to grow. This madness will persist through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and even into early 2017. What will seem like just a few months for most people, to high school seniors will feel like the longest and most stressful time of their lives.

Luckily, there are many opportunities for students to learn about and become more comfortable with the college admissions process, during and even before their senior year to ease some of the stress. There are school guidance counselors, college seminars, Naviance, numerous websites filled with advice, and friends and family that can share their experiences and tips. One of the best opportunities for students is when college admissions counselors visit their High Schools.

Aerial View of ND, Fighting Irish

Image courtesy of The University of Notre Dame

This Thursday, September 22nd Courtney Kelly, an admissions counselor for the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, is coming to Kennedy Catholic. I reached out to her last week to see if she would share her experiences and give the seniors some pointers on this daunting admissions process. In the true “Spirit of the Irish” she agreed to help and so began our “Cyber-Interview.”  These are Miss Kelly’s much valued responses to my inquiries:
The first question I had for her was about what had attracted her to her job as an Admissio
ns Counselor and how long she had been doing this type of work.

My college experience meant the world to me.  I gained knowledge, independence, and became a better person in four years.  I decided to work in admissions in order to help students achieve a similar experience.  I am  passionate about aiding students in finding the right ‘fit’ for them during their college search process.  It is important to find the college or university that fits the type of experience you want and that will help you match the person you want to become. It took me two years to complete my master’s degree in higher education administration with a concentration in enrollment management.  During this time, I was able to work in that institution’s admissions office.  I have only been working at Notre Dame for about six months but I am often able to utilize the experiences I’ve gained at a previous institution.  As soon as I started at Notre Dame, I felt engulfed by and immediately welcomed into this community, so it feels like I have been here much longer!“

Many students help out with our own Kennedy Open Houses so my next question was if Miss Kelly also was involved in open houses before she decided to make this her career.

“I wasn’t!  I originally wanted to work in marketing so after receiving a business degree, I moved to Manhattan and worked in corporate marketing for Conde Nast, a major magazine publisher.  After about three months in this job, I realized the corporate world wasn’t for me.  My passion lied in higher education, being on a college campus, and working with students about to embark on four years of discovery.  If I had realized this earlier I would have tried to get involved.  But hey!  That just goes to show that what you major in doesn’t have to define your career for the rest of your life.  The University of Notre Dame’s most successful finance major is the romance novelist, Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, anyone?!)” 

Since Miss Kelly is responsible for a large geographic area that spans not just Westchester but also NYC, Connecticut, and Long Island, I inquired about her favorite moments in what must be a very hectic career.

“Easy question.  Answer – the students.  I absolutely adore the opportunities to present to, meet with, and advocate for prospective students.  They are all amazing and simply looking for guidance about the leap they are about to take.  I love to hear their stories, offer advice, and talk about whether or not the University of Notre Dame might be the best fit for their college experience.

By hearing her response, it was evident that she loves her job so I then asked her main reason for coming and visiting the schools. I also inquired about the options for a student isn’t able to meet with her.

Two reasons.  To learn and to share.  I want to learn about the region I represent, the high schools in the area, and the students interested in Notre Dame.  I also want to share about the college experience at Notre Dame, the mission, the application process, and answer any questions that students might have.  Applying to college can be stressful and confusing so I want to ease the pressure and help students in any way I can.
 If someone can’t attend my visit and still wants to learn about the University of Notre Dame, they can see when I will be hosting ND on the Road Information Nights near their area (https://enrollment.nd.edu/ndontheroad/).  If those dates don’t fit in their schedule, they are welcome to learn about Notre Dame through the website, or email me directly if they have any questions.  It is not a big deal if students can’t make the visit, so don’t stress!”

I then asked if she felt that these visits were mostly for students to learn about her school or if she wanted to learn about the students.

“Both!  I want to meet the students and guidance staff, and learn about the school.  I also want the students to ask any questions they have about the University of Notre Dame, the application process, or applying to college in general.

I know many Kennedy students were raised University of Notre Dame fans. Maybe it comes from memories of watching “Rudy” and “Knute Rockne, All American” or, perhaps, hearing our parents and grandparents talk about Lou Holtz, Touchdown Jesus. Or maybe it was seeing pictures and hearing about The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes and the Golden Dome. Some may even know that one of the writers of the “Victory March” (Without a doubt the most recognizable collegiate fight song in the nation) Father Michael Shea, was a pastor from St. Augustine’s in Ossining, where many Kennedy students are parishioners. But I wanted to hear from Miss Kelly what she felt was unique about Notre Dame. She did NOT disappoint.

I could spend hours talking about what I think is unique about Notre Dame.  To keep it short, the community and mission of Notre Dame are particularly unique.  The community here is awe inspiring.  At the home football game against Nevada, I sat behind six alum in their 70’s who returned to campus together to watch the game.  They were decked out head to toe in gear and cheered, high fived with every point scored, and at the end of the game stood up along with the entire student section, linked arms, and sang their Alma Mater.  I teared up sitting behind them because there is such an undeniable passion for this university – whether you are/were a student, a staff/faculty member, or simply a Fighting Irish fan.  You feel it with every alum you speak with, every step you take on campus, and every current student who tells you their story.  Notre Dame is a community of support, exploration, and faith.  The mission of the university is what inspires this community.  The broadly stated mission gives students the opportunity to develop students as whole human beings and have them graduate as a force of good for the world.  We are looking for students who are willing to be this force for their local community, the nation, and the world.  We want our students to be successful, of course, but to use that success in a way that enhances their surroundings.

As we wound down the interview, I asked what the most important “take-away” is that Miss Kelly could share with students.

 Find your fit.  There are thousands of colleges and universities in the United States.  Each one offers a unique college experience.  I know that the Notre Dame experience isn’t the fit that each prospective student is looking for so I try my best to help students figure out exactly what they want from their college experience.  Think about academics, location, community, mission, clubs, activities, sports, size, research opportunities, study abroad opportunities etc. and try your best to picture yourself on each campus.  Where will you excel?  What experience will guide you to be the person you want to become?  Where will you have fun?

Lastly, I asked Miss Kelly if she recommends that people visit the schools to which they are applying. As someone who is considering schools that are far away, I have had difficulty organizing college visits.


“Personally, I think visiting colleges or universities is very beneficial when decided where to attend college.  Prospective students can see the campus, speak with current students, and really get the feel, or vibe, of the place.  The University of Notre Dame, however, doesn’t take demonstrated interest into account so if you are too busy to visit before you apply, that is not a problem!  It might be a great option to visit after you’re admitted so you can really lay out your options and see what college experience, community, and campus if the best fit for you.  College is an adventure and you want to be sure to pick the adventure that is best suited for who you are and who you want to become.”

I would like to thank Miss Kelly for participating in the interview and for coming to Kennedy this Thursday! The story about the group of 70-year-old alumni especially brought a tear to my eye and without a doubt, made me want to experience the “Fighting Irish” spirit for myself! In the meantime, I will review Miss Kelly’s helpful pointers and follow her advice throughout the college admissions process and hope that all my fellow seniors will do the same.