Alum wins Amazon writing contest to get novel published

first_imgFor Notre Dame alumnus Jim King, a long-awaited dream came true last May when he received an unexpected call from Amazon on a train ride into New York City. King, a member of the Class of 1977, was one of three finalists for the second annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, an international competition seeking the “next popular novel.” He would later be selected as the grand prize winner out of more than 6,500 manuscript entries.“I got a call one day from a guy from Amazon and he told me that I was one of three finalists,” King said. “Of course I just wanted to scream because I [have been] trying to get a novel published ever since I graduated from Notre Dame in 1977.”As the winner of the competition, King landed a $25,000 publishing contract with The Viking Press to publish his novel, “Bill Warrington’s Last Chance.” The novel is due for release in August.“The total number of manuscripts was around 6,500 and I had entered the contest almost on a lark,” King said. “I almost forgot about it because I didn’t think I stood a chance to win.”The panel that reviewed the top three manuscripts included “Secret Life of Bees” author Sue Monk Kidd, “Alphabet Mystery Series” author Sue Grafton, literary agent Barney Karpfinger and Penguin Press Vice President and Editor-in-Chief Eamon Dolan.King’s novel is the story of a man, Bill Warrington, who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, although King never explicitly mentions the disease in the book. Warrington is trying to reconnect with his three adult children who want nothing to do with him.“The main character was inspired by a neighbor of mine who had lost his wife shortly before I met him,” King said. “Over the years the house he built with his own hands was falling apart around him.”In the novel, Warrington decides the only way to bring his family back together is to kidnap his 15-year-old granddaughter April, who dreams of becoming a rock star. The two of them take off across America. Warrington forces his children to come together and talk to one another in order to locate April and him.“The book is about a man trying to bring the family together before it’s too late,” King said. The novel took King about a year and a half to write. He began writing the novel in a masters program he had entered after nearly 30 years of being away from school.“I found out about [the contest] on an agent’s blog and decided to investigate it and found out I was a day or two from missing the deadline,” King said. “I put together a pitch, description and manuscript and sent it in.” “Bill Warrington’s Last Chance” was already complete when King spotted the contest. King had previously written two novels that were not published. Winning the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award was truly King’s “first chance.”“I majored in American Studies. [Professor] Elizabeth Christman, who recently passed away, really encouraged me. She was confident that one day, I would have a novel published,” King said. King is currently a freelance corporate writer but hopes his breakthrough novel will lead him into a career of fiction writing.“I’ve already started on another novel, and I’m hoping this is beginning of a different kind of writing career,” he said. King tells aspiring writers getting published may take awhile, but the key to success is just to keep trying.“It helps to be a stubborn Irishman — which I am. It may take you awhile but keep writing, keep submitting, and don’t give up on the dream.”last_img read more

Updated computer cluster reopens

first_imgAfter several months of planning, renovations and setbacks, the LaFortune Student Center computer cluster, a popular workspace for students, reopened this week.Some of the most notable renovations to the space include new carpet and color scheme.“The new wall colors are calming and less depressing,” sophomore Carlos Zarazua said. “It should be better for stressful last minute studying and working on projects.”LaFortune’s computer cluster had not been updated in 18 years, Brian Burchett, manager of Classroom and Cluster Services for the Office of Information and Technology, said in a Feb. 16 Observer article. In addition to a general remodeling of the outdated room, the layout was overhauled to reflect the transition from students using University-provided communal computers to personal laptops.The change meant fewer actual computers, allowing for more open workspace, as well as two group study rooms, resulting in a layout more conducive to group work.“I really like how it’s so open now. I liked when there were more computers but the open space more than makes up for it,” Zarazua said. “I guess it makes sense, as most people have laptops now anyway.”The plans for the project began in spring 2008 but were not funded until recently. The first expected completion date was Feb. 1, and a more recent report indicated students could expect access to the cluster by the first week of March, in time for midterms.Delays with some of the materials for the project postponed the finishing of trim work and furniture delivery, pushing back the completion of the cluster significantly.“One of the things that delayed the project was getting the carpet from the manufacturer,” Burchett said. “It wasn’t really the fault of anyone at Notre Dame … the carpet manufacturer just had a later delivery than we thought.”Burchett said students were helpful in the renovation process, and he hopes to bring students in on future projects.last_img read more

Professors explore technology’s impact

first_img The panel discussion, titled “Technology: Boon or Bane?” asked four Notre Dame professors to look at the opinions expressed in Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical “Caritas in Veritate” and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s book, “The World is Hot, Flat and Crowded,” on how modern technology can be utilized for the purpose of the development.  “Before we didn’t think through all the issues and consequences,” he said. “But now we actually talk about good and bad aspects of our technologies. We ask questions we never would have before … we’re moving parallel and thinking about the ethics.” Wolfgang Porod, professor of electrical engineering and director of the Center for Nano Science and Technology, focused his discussion on the idea presented in “Caritas” about the role of faith in technology and the future of human development. “Most companies today have all their worth tied up in the non-tangible aspects, in their patented ideas,” Crawford said. “Patents drive the economy and entrepreneurship but is there such a thing as a good thing in this instance?” Fernando said a push for honesty in society is one of the running themes of “Caritas in Veritate.”  “The Pope certainly endorses technology in the encyclical,” Porod said. “But we have to make decisions in a responsible way, even if we are fascinated by the technology.” “Everything is interrelated to global warming which becomes one of the biggest social issues in the world today,” Fernando said. “Technology seduces us, but we can choose to use it for good or evil,” Porod said. “It’s not technology itself that is bad, it is how we choose to use it.” The opinions of the two men were selected as the focus of discussion because of their relation to this year’s Forum. Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical is the basis for the Forum’s theme of “The Global Marketplace and the Common Good,” and Friedman will be the speaker at the Forum’s signature event next month.  Notre Dame professors of science and engineering attempted to determine what role the ever-expanding field of technology will play in the advancement of the common good at Tuesday’s Notre Dame Forum event at Washington Hall. Gregory Crawford, Dean of the College of Science, discussed the notion of intellectual property and patents and how it applies to both technology and to human development in line with the ideals laid out in “Caritas.” “The Pope and Friedman are very similar in their views but they have very different paths for moving forward,” said Robert Alworth, associate dean of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the colleges of science and engineering, as well as the moderator for the panel, in his opening remarks. “Tonight we will look at the technological challenges posed by both Benedict and Friedman.” Porod addressed Benedict’s belief that the modern fascination with technology may prevent people from turning toward the spiritual world.  Peter Kilpatrick, McCloskey Dean of the College of Engineering, said Friedman dedicated a great deal of time in his book to the reality of global warming and his belief in the cause of climate change on the globe. Kilpatrick pointed out the irony between balancing the two economic beliefs of the two men would lead to an economic model that is beneficial to sustainability.center_img “If you don’t give at least some indication about the dangers of global warming, than no one will pay attention,” Fernando said. “But one of the current problems is that we need to be more honest.” Joe Fernando, professor of engineering and geosciences, focused his talk on Friedman’s idea of a culture of irresponsibility and how Benedict’s views expressed in “Caritas” can be applied to this scheme. “We need to make responsible decisions, but we also need to remember how to trust others to make responsible decisions,” he said. Fernando said in an effort to make people take notice, many scientists did not always give the most valid information in regards to global warming, which added to the culture of irresponsibility Friedman put forward in his book. “Corporate social responsibility will lead to a greater profit and products such as solar-powered cars that are in demand and sell,” he said. “We just need to build corporate social responsibility into the economic model.” “Friedman insists in the book that price, tax and profits are the only way to get the economy moving again,” Kilpatrick said. “This differs from Benedict’s belief that not all corporate leaders are motivated by the bottom line — Benedict believes some have to be motivated by love, justice and compassion.” “If we are to consider everybody to be created under God, that means we must honor their rights, which implies the common good,” he said. “If the Church can keep pushing for this truth … our work will depend on what Benedict calls the ‘culture of life,’ which will lead to integral human development.” Porod said these choices would be the basis for the future of sustainable growth in relation to technological advances. Kilpatrick said Friedman also focused on the methods he thinks need to be employed to stabilize the global economy.  Crawford said in the technological world, a patent allows businesses to have a certain type of monopoly to market their technology and profit. He said the challenge would be how to use technological intellectual properties and find a way to use them to further global development on a much more basic scale. “Friedman said that climate change is human-induced,” Kilpatrick said. “But he accepts the premise that not all people will accept this view. However, he says that he hopes all agree with him when he says the world can’t maintain our current energy consumption rates forever.” Crawford said he believed modern science and technology was doing a better job at looking at the “bigger picture” when balancing modern technological and scientific developments with ethics.  “How do we balance monetary incentive of patents with the common good?” Crawford asked. “Do we have the right to impose restrictions on intellectual properties that could provide answers to world’s problems concerning basic questions of providing food, water and shelter?”last_img read more

Professor reflects on HHS bill reform, election implications

first_imgPresident Barack Obama announced a compromise in the Affordable Care Act Friday, mandating that insurance companies, not religious institutions, will be responsible for providing free preventive care to women. Such a move comes with significant political implications, former political columnist for the South Bend Tribune and Journalism professor Jack Colwell said. “[Obama] certainly had politics in mind, just as his critics had politics in mind,” he said. “This is a presidential election year so everything he does is going to be, in some respects, political.” Under the original plan announced Jan. 20, religious institutions would not be exempt from providing preventive healthcare, including contraceptives, in their minimum insurance package. The Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) granted these institutions a year to comply with the legislation’s specifications. Colwell said Friday’s move was seen as an accommodation to the religious institutions that were concerned about providing these services. The move by the president will be successful in controlling any lasting political damage, though the damage could have easily been avoided, Colwell said. “I think initially the president was hurt somewhat by [this],” he said. “Why on earth they thought it would take a year to reach a compromise nobody seems to understand. “That sounds like bureaucracy in the Health and Human Services Department. When the pressure was on, they quickly reached a compromise.” Colwell said Obama’s conciliation was made with a specific group of American voters in mind. “I think what he was doing was going after Catholic voters who were understandably upset about the first decision that was made … there was a lot of dissatisfaction,” he said. The Catholic portion of the American population was a group Obama could not risk losing in November’s presidential election, Colwell said. “There are a lot of Catholic officials and voters who tend to support him,” he said. “If he was going to alienate some of them, that could have a big effect on the election.” Colwell said Friday’s compromise should be effective enough to satisfy this group of voters. “I think he did [enough]. It seems to be a reasonable accommodation,” Colwell said. “In fact, it is so reasonable you have to wonder why that wasn’t the plan in the first place.” At the same time, the new plan still allows for women to receive cost-free preventive healthcare such as contraceptives. Colwell said that without this concession, Obama would have risked alienating another block of voters. “Also, it has continued to make sure there would be birth control free of charge available to all women,” he said. “If he had gone back on that, that would have cost him a lot of votes from women who think that is very important.” The original decision to have religiously affiliated institutions provide preventive health services drew the ire of Catholic bishops. Colwell said Obama made the compromise with political allies in mind. “I don’t think there was so much concern with the bishops as it was about some of the people who have tended to support President Obama and the healthcare legislation,” Colwell said. “Some of them were upset and he was in danger of losing support.” These supporters include Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania.) However, Colwell said Obama did not risk losing support from Sister Carol Keehan of the Catholic Health Organization. “She has been a supporter of the president on healthcare matters,” he said. Despite reaching a compromise Friday, Colwell said Republican presidential candidates would not agree with any accommodation Obama proposes. Taking this approach runs the risk of driving female voters away from the Republican Party, Colwell said. “They have a real danger. If the Republican nominee is seen as opposed to birth control, then that’s a big, big plus for Obama in the election,” Colwell said. “There already is a gender gap where women tend to vote more Democratic … and if the Republican nominee would seem as opposed to contraceptives, that gap would be even wider and it would be harmful to the Republican nominee.” Colwell said the party is also making a gamble by shifting the focus away from economic issues. Doing so could change the dynamic of the election. “Republicans have wanted this election to be a referendum on the economy and how the president was handling that and budget issues,” he said. “They have tended to put some of the social issues on the back burner … now suddenly they are moving into some of those cultural issues. Maybe that will help them, but it does take some of the focus off the economic issues.” Colwell said that while the mandate seemed to initially hurt Obama politically, Friday’s accommodation could ultimately have beneficial implications. “Initially it was a negative,” he said. “It could turn out to be a positive if the Republican nominee is seen as opposing contraceptive devices. Also, it might help him focusing on what the healthcare legislation does.” Colwell said since many American’s don’t know what the Affordable Care Act does, Friday’s compromise may shed light on the positive aspects of one of Obama’s signature legislative accomplishments. “Now there is a lot of focus on what it would provide for women — free access to contraception,” he said. “It’s focusing on this as a preventive measure, something that can hold down medical costs. If people focus on that and agree with that, then it could be a plus for [Obama.]” Colwell said discussion of the subject would die down and only resurface if the Republican presidential candidate pursued the matter. “I think it’s probably one of those issues that erupted and captured all of the headlines for several weeks,” he said. “I think it will simmer down some. It will basically be up to the Republican presidential candidate and Republican leadership in Congress if they want to pursue this.”last_img read more

College retracts invitation to scheduled Commencement speaker

first_imgActivist and author Jean Kilbourne spoke out last week after Saint Mary’s rescinded her invitation to speak during the College’s 2017 Commencement ceremony. The College withdrew its offer once it became aware that Kilbourne had received the Hilda Crosby Standish Leadership Award from Planned Parenthood of Connecticut in 2005, Kara Kelly, special assistant to the president of Saint Mary’s, said in an email.According to Kelly, no contract had been signed before the decision to rescind the offer was made. The College has since continued with Commencement planning and will announce the speaker later this month.Kelly said the President’s Office accepts nominees for Commencement speakers. Those candidates are then reviewed by the Student Affairs Council and are approved by the Board of Trustees, which has the final say in the decision.“There is a difference in a department or student group inviting someone to speak on campus, versus inviting a Commencement speaker,” Kelly said. “Commencement speakers at Saint Mary’s also receive an honorary degree, the College’s highest honor, subject to approval from the Board of Trustees.”Kilbourne said she has spoken at over 50 Catholic colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada without her award ever presenting an issue.“I’ve spoken to Saint Mary’s in the past,” she said. “I’ve always had a wonderful time. I’ve spoken at Notre Dame.”Although the College extends an invitation to multiple speakers — as scheduling conflicts sometimes occur and a new speaker needs to be selected quickly — Kilbourne said she was not aware of this and thought she would be speaking, as she had accepted the initial offer.“That certainly wasn’t my understanding,” she said. “I received an offer, a contract was drawn up. It had not been signed, but it was in the works. In fact, I turned down another engagement for that day. … As far as I knew and understood, this was an offer for me to be the Commencement speaker, and it was then withdrawn for this reason.”Kilbourne said after her invitation was rescinded, she was told that an alumna or alumnae had found out about her award and put pressure on the College.“I’m sympathetic to the position that Saint Mary’s was put in,” she said. “I just feel like this was really too bad. It’s too bad it’s happening here, and it’s happening other places as well.”Kilbourne said she has no resentment toward the College, but rather is disappointed with the decision that was made.“It makes me sad, it makes me disappointed,” she said. “I really had some important things to say. I’m a graduate of Wellesley College — an all women’s college. I’m very supportive of women’s colleges, so I really had looked forward to speaking to the young women of Saint Mary’s. I was honored by the invitation, and I was looking forward to it.”Kilbourne said this situation is indicative of the times, as many campuses across the country have barred people from speaking because of political issues.“It’s very disturbing, the increasing divisiveness,” she said. “I’m a uniter, I’m not a divider. I really have always tried to bring people together on difficult issues. … This is happening from the left and the right, people being disinvited to campuses because they don’t meet certain tests. I think this is dangerous for education.”Kilbourne said she was not planning on speaking about Planned Parenthood, abortion or even reproductive rights in her speech.“I was going to speak about what I speak about, which is the influence of advertising on all of [us] and trying to help the young women, in particular, to resist the negative images of women in advertising.”Kelly said College departments and student groups go through a different process of bringing speakers to campus than the process used in selecting the Commencement speaker, due to the speaker’s additional honor of receiving an honorary degree at Commencement.“As an educational principle, Saint Mary’s encourages the free and vibrant exchange of ideas, and grants campus groups considerable freedom in determining the speakers who best contribute to a challenging and stimulating academic atmosphere,” Kelly said.Tags: Commencement 2017, Jean Kilbourne, Planned Parenthoodlast_img read more

Thousands enjoy “Rudy” on field where it happened

first_imgOn Friday night, thousands of students and community members watched as a “five foot nothing, hundred and nothing” character slipped through a poorly secured gate and into the North Tunnel of Notre Dame Stadium. As he emerged from the tunnel, a wide expanse of green spread before him, anchored by two goalposts. Rows of bleachers ascended to the sky. The diminutive character, dwarfed by the arena that expanded around him, walked awestruck onto the field he was seeing in person for the first time.Previously, this scene was a dramatization that existed only in the film “Rudy.” Yet on Friday night, that changed. Thousands of moviegoers relived the title character’s experience and viewed events from his vantage point as they attended Flick on the Field, a screening of the iconic Notre Dame movie on the stadium’s new video board.For co-directors of student life on the executive cabinet of student government, Caitlin Murphy and Tim O’Connell, the event was a capstone to several months of planning and coordination between the administration and various student groups.“We were approached about the idea by a couple of people our first few weeks,” O’Connell said. “We started to push it up in the next few weeks to vice president for campus events and security Mike Seamon, who immediately brought in higher ups in the administration.”According to Murphy, collaboration was key.“Intense planning started last week,” Murphy said. “Casey St. Aubin with the Division of Student Affairs was integral in planning the event.”Most of the planning was handled by the administration and happened over the summer, Murphy said. He said he and O’Connell both envisioned an event reminiscent of last year’s presidential debate watch on South Quad.In creating the event, Murphy said she wanted to take advantage of the stadium’s new facilities.“The jumbotron is brand new, and we asked, ‘how can we use it to create a spectacular student event?’” Murphy said. “There was also no football game this weekend, so we thought it would be a good event to hype up football to the freshmen.”According to O’Connell, the event provided a bonding opportunity for new students.“The date was targeted for freshmen,” O’Connell said. “We wanted to make sure they had something Notre Dame related to do on their first Friday night here,” O’Connell said.Murphy said Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) and stadium ushers were using the event as a dry run for game day security protocol.The field was packed with groups of students, some of whom were seeing “Rudy” for the first time. Others were simply excited to be on the field.“I’ve never seen the movie before, and I feel like you kind of have to,” freshman Charlotte Schmidt said. “It’s even more cool to see it with everyone from the school.”“I think it’s awesome that they’re having this event on the field,” senior Zach Myszka said.For many students, the screening marked their first experience with the renovated stadium.“I really wanted to see the new addition to the field,” freshman Caroline O’Callaghan said. “I felt like it would be cool to sit on the field and watch the movie.”The movie was shown on the very field which takes a center stage throughout the film. O’Connell described the sensation of watching the stadium scenes as “stadium-ception.”With a large turnout, there was an undeniable sense of community amongst the attendees. Sophomore Alice Felker explained that this aspect of the event was what drew her to attend.“It’s a big community builder,” she said. “A lot of the student body came out to celebrate Notre Dame and be on the field.”The film was marked with several instances of cheering from the assembled crowd. During one sequence that featured the “Notre Dame Victory March,” the student body clapped as it would during a football game. During the movie’s final moments, as the on-screen student body began to chant “Rudy! Rudy!” some of its real-life counterparts joined in. But the loudest ovation of the evening came when Rudy, after being rejected from Notre Dame three times, was finally admitted to the University.“When Rudy got his acceptance letter and everyone clapped, that was really special,” Murphy said. “I think we all felt the same way when we got our letters and just bringing that community together was a great moment.”Murphy said it was “very touching” knowing that they had created such a special experience.O’Connell said one of the purposes of this event was to introduce students to the new Duncan Student Center — part of which is due to open in several weeks. Nevertheless, the two said that the event represented the best of Notre Dame.“We’d definitely like to thank all of those who helped us,” O’Connell said. “We’re not going to pretend we did this by ourselves or could do it by ourselves.”Murphy said she echoes those sentiments.“We’re very thankful to everyone who worked the event,” Murphy said. “This really was an event that exemplified the spirit of the Notre Dame community.”Tags: division of student affairs, Flick on the Field, Rudylast_img read more

Librarian outlines library renovations to Senate

first_imgUniversity librarian Diane Walker presented to student senate Wednesday night on the updates to Hesburgh Library, which is undergoing an extensive, multi-year renovation. “We’ve been thinking about [these renovations] since 2012,” Walker said. “We’ve developed a master plan, because we knew it was going to be a multi-year, multi-phase project, and the master plan was meant to guide us through all of the phases of the project.”Walker said she wanted coherence in the execution of that plan.“In the end, it should all look like one, big connected project, not a bunch of individual ones,” she said. One of the first renovations was taking out the marble wall in the second floor of the library and opening it up so those on the second floor could see the stadium and quad outside. “For those of you who don’t know what it looked like before … it’s hard to appreciate just how difficult it was to navigate and understand what kind of activity we wanted to go on,” Walker said. “One of our goals was to make the intellectual and academic engagement in the library more visible. We wanted to partner with other University groups to provide research and learning services in the Hesburgh Library. We wanted to provide quality and study work space for a whole use of the library.”That “whole use” of the library, she said, applies to students, faculty and the almost 200 people who work in the libraries across campus. “We need to manage our effective growth,” Walker said.So far, the entrance and the first, second, fourth and tenth floors have undergone major renovations.“What’s important to note here … is how dark it [used to be],” Walker said. “And now you have windows looking out onto the courtyard.” Jessica Kayongo, a sociology librarian, said the next phases of the project — the complete first and second floors — should be completed by spring or summer 2018. “It’s all behind construction walls right now, and we’re sorry because we know that takes up study seats, but we think you’ll be pleased once we emerge from this project,” Kayongo said. There are intentionally many windows in the space, Kayongo said, lending themselves to natural light and transparency. “That’s a result of a lot of student feedback, saying there was not a lot of natural light in the library,” Kayongo said. “And … the artificial light was just not good, so we want to allow as much light to pass through as possible and make our activities as transparent as possible.”Additionally, there will be what is known as the “Grand Reading Room” in the location where the Fishbowl currently is by 2020. “There are a lot of seats in this space, so it would sort of be your quiet, heads down study space,” Kayongo said. “It will be a two-leveled space with a connecting stairwell.”Finally, there will be a museum-quality update to the special collections area. “This houses some of our most rare materials, and what we need to do is showcase it a bit more,” Kayongo said. “We think this is a great way to do that.”Tags: Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame Student Senate, renovationlast_img read more

Professors implement mindfulness, meditation practices in classrooms

first_imgCommunication studies professors Marne Austin and Terri Russ are redefining learning through their implementation of mindfulness in their classroom setting.Professor Austin said she defined mindfulness as a commitment to always being present in the current moment.“Mindfulness is a practice of presence and of radical presence with each other,” she said. “It means that we must strive to be present to ourselves in our own lives. This requires purposefully slowing down to be here entirely in each moment.”After noticing the negative effects that many cultural trends have had on learning, Austin said she chose to implement mindfulness in her classes.“So often in our culture and society we pride ourselves on business and like to pretend that we are very good at multitasking,” she said. “Studies are showing more and more is that multitasking can’t actually happen effectively. If we are doing multiple things at once it means it’s only getting a fraction of our attention. It’s no wonder that we are losing our connections with each other and the things that we’re doing if we’re only partly present.”Austin uses two main mindfulness practices in her classes: breathing exercises and compassionate listening. These practices allow students to slow down and open themselves up to endless educational possibilities, she said.“In class we start by pausing,” Austin said. “The idea is that there’s nowhere else we’d rather be, nothing else we need to do, except be here and we can trust that we have this inherent brilliance and that we all matter and have something to offer.”Austin said she has noticed a great change in the classroom as a result of these small enhancements.“Students have more courage and feel safe to ask questions,” she said. “The energy shifted. When we were able to divorce our being from the things we said and the questions we asked, then anything could be said and learned.”Russ said she begins classes with what she calls a “mindfulness moment,” often employing use of freewriting.“Just write for the next 10 minutes,” she tells students. “Don’t stop writing. If you don’t know what to write, [then] write ‘I don’t know what to write.’”Professors tend to feel crunched for time to teach everything they need to during class time, so the idea of giving up a few minutes for a mindfulness exercise can seem risky, Russ said. However, Russ said she finds this to be a worthwhile use of class time.“It allows not only for more focused discussion, but also deeper discussion,” she said. “So the cost-benefit analysis of that is that I end up gaining some class time by taking away some class time.”Implementing mindfulness into their daily lives helps students focus outside the classroom as well, Russ said, so long as it doesn’t become another item on an increasingly long to-do list. She said she has even given a keynote address titled “I’m Too Busy to Be Mindful.”“We’re very task-oriented as a society,” she said. “We like our checklists. We like to know exactly what we’re going to do [and] how to get things done. Mindfulness, then, becomes another task. By making it another task, we think ‘I’m too busy to be mindful.’”Mindfulness is said to improve focus and productivity, but Austin and Russ agree that it goes beyond this.Mindfulness‘ positive effects go beyond simply improving one’s focus and productivity, Austin said.“When you start practicing mindfulness, you do it personally because it’s this self-care, but it’s through this that you transform the world around you,” Austin said.Tags: classroom practices, meditation, mindfulness, teaching methodslast_img read more

PrismND officers advocate for LGBTQ+ community

first_imgOctober is LGBT History Month, celebrating the history and resilience of the LGBTQ community. But PrismND, Notre Dame’s only official LGBTQ+ student organization, is committed to promoting pride and allyship year-round. As they plan for the year ahead, PrismND’s officers said they want to facilitate love and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community on Notre Dame’s campus.Senior Kendrick Peterson, president of PrismND, said Notre Dame’s Catholic identity makes Prism’s LGBTQ+ advocacy work “a unique challenge.” Although the Catholic Church opposes same-sex marriage and transgender identities on doctrinal grounds, it also stresses the dignity of the human person. That emphasis on human dignity, PrismND officers said, aligns with Prism’s mission.“There’s a huge element of Catholic Social Teaching — those elements that Notre Dame really does try to emphasize,” said junior Matt Sahd, co-vice president of PrismND.Peterson said many Catholics on campus believe LGBTQ+ individuals should be able to live their identities freely.“You should allow LGBTQ+ people to live authentically because they belong to our community and they sit on the margins of our society, and we need to help those people,” he said.PrismND officers said many members of Notre Dame’s LGBTQ+ community need affirmation and support. In spring 2018, the University published the results of its Campus Climate Survey, revealing that many transgender and non-binary students say they don’t feel a sense of belonging at Notre Dame. Additionally, many transgender and non-binary students reported experiencing adverse treatment by students, staff and faculty.Taz Bashir, a fifth year architecture student and co-vice president of PrismND, said the survey results made PrismND “explicitly aware of how disadvantaged our transgender community is and how a lot of our queer individuals on campus do not feel like they’re welcome.” In response, PrismND has prioritized advocacy work for the transgender community this year. Bashir said he hopes PrismND can “provide spaces that are both safe and welcoming and respectful to everyone and their stories.”Although PrismND was officially founded in 2013, Sahd said PrismND can trace its roots back to 1996 when the University created the Standing Committee on Gay and Lesbian Student Needs. In the years since that first University committee was created to support the LGBTQ+ community, the officers said the support for LGBTQ+ students has improved significantly. Even though some student groups and administrators still oppose PrismND’s work, Bashir said those voices are no longer mainstream.“All these views are largely on the fringe. And the reality is, your average Notre Dame student is an ally now. I couldn’t have said that five or 10 years ago,” Bashir said. “We see our community as one that welcomes us, and when we see the attacks against us, we recognize that isn’t common opinion.”As the only LGBTQ+ student group on campus, PrismND officers said they face the challenge of catering to a highly diverse community. To meet this challenge, the officers said they’ve intentionally reached out to communities and student groups that haven’t traditionally been involved with the group.Jenny Gomez, secretary of PrismND, is a senior at Holy Cross. She said the organization has become much more diverse since she first joined.“My freshman year, the only person I knew — besides myself — who was going to PrismND meetings was a gay, white, cisgender male,” she said. “We’ve grown to the point that we have probably the most diverse board that Prism has seen in its [history].”According to its bylaws, PrismND is an apolitical organization, meaning the organization does not endorse political candidates or engage in political activism. However, as an organization committed to defending the LGBTQ+ community, Prism officers said they often find themselves forced into contentious debates.“No matter what, we’re an apolitical organization,” Peterson said. “However, advocating for queer identity can be seen as political.”The officers said they want to collaborate with a diverse array of student groups across the ideological spectrum. Last November for the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, PrismND held a prayer service with the pro-life student group Notre Dame Right to Life to honor the memories of transgender individuals who had lost their lives. As the year continues, Peterson said he hopes more student organizations will reach out to PrismND, bridging the divide between different communities on campus.“Prism is an organization about love,” he said.Tags: Catholic Social Teaching, LGBTQ, Pride, PrismNDlast_img read more

Step One! Kyle Taylor Parker & Steven Booth Will Star in the National Tour of Kinky Boots

first_imgEverybody say yeah! Kyle Taylor Parker and Steven Booth have been cast as Simon/Lola and Charlie Price, respectively, in the first national tour of Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper’s Tony-winning Kinky Boots. The high-heeled and fabulous show is set to begin performances September 4 in Las Vegas before continuing to cities across the country. Additional casting will be announced soon. In Kinky Boots, Charlie Price (Booth) has reluctantly inherited his father’s shoe factory, which is on the verge of bankruptcy. Trying to live up to his father’s legacy and save his family business, Charlie finds inspiration in the form of Lola (Parker). A fabulous entertainer in need of some sturdy stilettos, Lola turns out to be the one person who can help Charlie become the man he’s meant to be. As they work to turn the factory around, this unlikely pair finds that they have more in common than they ever dreamed possible…and discovers that when you change your mind about someone, you can change your whole world. Other casting includes Darius Harper, Ricky Schroeder, Juan Torres-Falcon, Hernando Umana, Damien Brett, Stephen Carrasco, Lauren Chapman, Amelia Cormack, J. Harrison Ghee, Blair Goldberg, Crystal Kellogg, Ross Lekites, Patty Lohr, Mike Longo, David McDonald, Bonnie Milligan, Horace Rogers, Anne Tolpegin and Sam Zeller. View Comments The design team for Kinky Boots includes scenic design by David Rockwell, costume design by Gregg Barnes, lighting design by Kenneth Posner, sound design by John Shivers and orchestrations by Stephen Oremus. Parker, who performed as one of the Angels and as the Lola understudy in the Broadway company of the show, and Booth (Avenue Q, Glory Days, Dogfight) will be joined by Lindsay Nicole Chambers (Hairspray, Legally Blonde, Lysistrata Jones) as Lauren, Joe Coots (TV’s Inside Amy Schumer, The Full Monty national tour) as Don, Craig Waletzko (Guys & Dolls, Young Frankenstein) as George and Grace Stockdale in her touring debut as Nicola. Directed and choreographed by Tony winner Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots opened on Broadway on April 4, 2013 and continues to play at the Hirschfeld Theatre. The musical took home six 2013 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score (Lauper), Best Choreography (Mitchell), Best Orchestrations and Best Sound Design.last_img read more