Alumni Profiles

The Brotherhood:

Donaruma’s (‘85) Notre Dame roots run deep

ND Launches Video Production Signature Program

Notre Dame recently unveiled the Video Production signature program. Students will gain both classroom and ‘real world’ experience while learning the essential elements of video production in addition to developing strong skills in camera operation, audio mixing, graphics system operation, sound, editing, and overall viewing analysis. Production planning and video editing theory put creative control directly in students’ hands. The program, led by Mr. Brian Footit, incorporates experts in the industry to guide, mentor, and develop the skills of the students in the classroom. 


Donaruma’s (‘85) Notre Dame roots run deep

When William Donaruma ‘85 graduated from Notre Dame, he packed his bags and headed straight to Indiana to continue his Holy Cross education at the University of Notre Dame.

After earning his Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Theater, Donaruma traveled south to Florida to work as a production coordinator at Universal Studios.  He took on extra freelance jobs as a cameraman and editor for the corporate and sports worlds. His work opened up opportunities for stunt work and “movie magic,” so Donaruma added a few fight scenes, falls, bullet hits, car hits, and explosion to his growing film credentials.

Donaruma was working in Florida when he got the call from the University of Notre Dame.  They were looking for someone to manage their production area, and they wanted it to be him.  While he enjoyed his work in Florida and the offer wasn’t the highest paying career opportunity, he realized his potential was far greater back in Indiana.

In 1998, he returned to his beloved University of Notre Dame, launching a 20+ year career that earned him numerous distinctions including the Paul R. Fenlon Teaching Award and Kaneb Teaching Award for Excellence.  Today, Donaruma is a Teaching Professor in Filmmaking and serves as the Director of the Center for Creative Computing.   

While Donaruma recalls Notre Dame High School’s academic rigor and high standards, he also remembers learning just as much from his athletic experiences. “A lot of my growth came from my coaches,” he explained. “My athletic experiences were very formative.”

Donaruma’s time spent on the football field and on the track taught him discipline and mental toughness.  He acknowledges that his athletic experiences also taught him inclusivity and the importance of teamwork. “The inclusivity at Notre Dame [High School] forged relationships for the rest of my life,” said Donaruma.

He offered advice to current NDHS students to seize for opportunities.  “My job at the University of Notre Dame was an opportunity that popped up.   As my father had told me: ‘don’t worry about the money. Do what you do, do the best you can, and the rest will come.'

Motyl's ('97) leadership brings ND values to Texas

Motyl's ('97) leadership brings ND values to Texas

At Notre Dame High School, Michael Motyl was an athlete, peer counselor, and Spanish scholar. While athletics were a significant part of his daily life at school, Motyl shared that the relationships cultivated with his classmates, teachers, and coaches were among the most impactful characteristics of his ND education. “I wasn’t prepared for them, but they were a pleasant surprise. The teachers genuinely care and forge strong relationships with students.”

Today, Motyl ‘97 resides at the Mexican border in Brownsville, TX with his wife and new baby. Motyl serves as the President of both St. Joseph Academy and Guadalupe Regional Middle School, a tuition-free school strictly for economically disadvantaged residents of Rio Grande Valley.

Motyl recalled words spoken at this freshman orientation that still resonate with him today. “I remember they told us Notre Dame doesn’t want an eight o’clock to two o’clock student. ND wants you to get involved and give your talents to various sports and clubs,” he explained.

He holds his students to the same Notre Dame standard. “The advice at freshman orientation always rang true to me and at my schools. I want the same from my students. Give back. Be a part of something that is greater than just yourself.”

Motyl encourages his students and current ND students to stay involved and to stretch beyond the eight o’clock to three o’clock time constraints. “Take risks. You can learn things about your talents and your gifts that will help you along as you navigate to college and beyond. Your teachers are going to make sure you are successful.”

After ND, Motyl traveled up to Boston to study education and math at Boston College.  He knew he always he wanted to be a teacher, but he discovered something was missing. “At BC, I developed a need for service. I did not just want to punch a clock.”

While exploring service opportunities, Motyl stumbled upon the Alliance for Catholic Education at the University of Notre Dame. As part of his master’s degree coursework at UND, Motyl was sent to teach in an under-resourced diocese (Diocese of Brownsville) in Edinburg, TX.

In 2015, Boston College awarded Motyl with an honorary Ph.D. in education for his “steadfast commitment to making tuition-free Catholic education available to economically disadvantaged students in the Brownsville community.” After receiving this honor, Motyl was named to Boston College’s “40 Under 40” list in 2017.

In Texas, Motyl supports his students' endeavors and aspirations. “What brought me down here was making sure kids have access to Catholic education,” explained Motyl. “At the end of the day, it is about growing closer to God, realizing our gifts, and figuring out how to use our gifts to make the world and community a better place.”

From Green Knight Nation to Center Stage: Troy Quinn ‘01

From Green Knight Nation to Center Stage: Troy Quinn ‘01

Troy Quinn ‘01 took his passion for music and turned it into an exciting, adventurous, and successful career; he is currently in his second season as the Music Director of the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra in Kentucky and was recently named the Music Director of the Venice Symphony in Florida.

While Quinn’s home base is Los Angeles, he frequently flies in and out of California for work. The symphony season is similar to the academic year, starting in September and ending in May. One of the aspects Quinn enjoys about his job is the flexibility. “I do not punch a clock, which for me is a wonderful thing, “ he explained. “I can be traveling to Florida one day and in the studio in LA the next.”

Quinn feels as much at home in the recording studio as he does on stage, having performed and recorded with many popular artists including The Rolling Stones, Barry Manilow, Josh Groban, Jennifer Hudson, and Jackie Evancho.  His recorded works have appeared on television shows including Fox’s Glee, NBC’s The Voice, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and in films like Storks and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

While at Notre Dame, Quinn ran track, sang, and was involved in campus ministry. He is thankful when he looks back on his busy high school years. “To juggle all of those things prepared me to juggle and deliver in my professional life. That was great training, not only logistically in terms of what was to come in my professional life, but also personally.”

“The foundation you get at Notre Dame sets the standard for the rest of your life - not only the Holy Cross values, but also the leadership skills and diverse activities that you can partake in,” explained Quinn. While Notre Dame prepared Quinn for his busy lifestyle, the culture of Notre Dame is something he still carries with him. “My job is to interact and collaborate with people. Cultivating those friendships and companionships was taught at Notre Dame.”

After graduation, Quinn continued his Catholic education at Providence College.  “A well-kept secret is that I didn’t really read music until I got to college - I did everything by ear,” he confessed. Declaring his major in arts and music during his sophomore year, Quinn specialized in voice and conducting. The nurturing environment at Providence College was similar to that at Notre Dame. The small school served as a great platform for performance opportunities and allowed Quinn to really hone in on developing his craft.

From Providence, Quinn headed to Manhattan to attend Manhattan School of Music (MSM), a private music conservatory in New York City. MSM’s rigorous coursework prepared Quinn for his next big adventure. Following his final performances at MSM, Quinn flew west to pursue his doctorate in conducting at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. Quinn is coming up on his tenth year of living on the Pacific coast and attributes both the geographic location and diverse music scene to “opening up the floodgates,” in terms of work and study opportunities that led him to where he is today.

Quinn offered some advice to current Notre Dame students as they begin to look at colleges and consider future careers. “No matter what you want to do in this world, persevering is the most important thing. There are going to be people who tell you can’t do something, and people who laugh in your face. You have to realize that if this is something deep in your heart that you want to do, then nothing will stop you.”

Dichele ‘09 discovers passion for digital media


Dichele ‘09 discovers passion for digital media

From the time he was young, Josh Dichele ‘09 craved opportunities to be creative.  He quickly realized that a nine to five desk job under fluorescent lighting was not exactly what he had in mind when it came to his future career.

While Dichele was in college, he spent most of his sophomore year developing web content for friends and family.  Dichele’s client list grew from people he knew to local companies, but as websites like Wix and SquareSpace started gaining popularity, Dichele quickly realized that his clients would no longer need to outsource their web design.  He switched his focus to marketing, and never looked back.

After receiving his B.S. in International Business from Quinnipiac University, Dichele began his entrepreneurship journey.  “As cliche as it is, I was in my mom’s basement trying to grow this into something that was actually a business.”

He started to try to expand his network, emailing over 400 individuals a week in hopes of attracting clients. “I was rejected countless times and took many clients for little to no pay just to help build my resume.”

Eventually, Dichele started to see his hard work pay off.  His client list snowballed, and now he has his own internet marketing and brand management business called the Dichele Group. Completely steering clear of the fluorescent office space, Dichele enjoys the flexibility and the independence of running his own business. The world is his office.

Since Dichele was always drawing and seeking out opportunities to be creative, he remembers enjoying photography class at Notre Dame. Former Principal Patrick Clifford’s ‘75 psychology class also was a course that intrigued him. While the lessons inside the classrooms sparked Dichele’s interest, it was what he learned from Mr. Clifford outside of the classroom that stuck with him.

“He came up to me in the hall and we were just chatting.  I told him I was intrigued by the class and that I respected his knowledge of the field,” explained Dichele. “We just really started to build this great relationship.  He was the first faculty member I really connected with,” said Dichele.

“One of the biggest things I learned at ND was the importance of relationship building.” This lesson is one that Dichele carries with him daily.  “By the time I reached senior year I truly felt as if ND was my family--faculty included.”

Service learning also continues to stick with Dichele long after graduation.  He is an active board member for Side by Side, a top performing charter school in Norwalk, CT. “The ND culture drives me to really feel like I need to evaluate myself and see what I'm doing here,” explained Dichele. “I always try to find some outlet to give back.”

Dichele stressed the importance of hard work and persistence to current ND students. “The more successful people I meet, the more I learn of the number of failures they’ve had. You can’t look at these moments as you being a failure, but rather, as a learning experience.”

Enthusiasm, motivation, and persistence are in Dichele’s recipe for success, but reading books after graduation is the secret ingredient. “It’s amazing to me that 42% of college graduates never read a book again!” said Dichele. “Read books in your area of expertise, but also outside of it.  It’s amazing how your perspective on what you do and how you can contribute will change by learning things outside your industry!”

Dichele’s business leads him to encounter new faces but often finds himself crossing paths with men that also share the Notre Dame brotherhood. He shared that he, his brother, and his friends laugh about how they can spot an ND man within seconds of meeting them. “ND changes how you carry and conduct yourself. Very professional and appropriate - a true gentleman, and that really comes off in their character.”

DePalma ‘89 named Executive VP of MNI Targeted Media


DePalma ‘89 named Executive VP of MNI Targeted Media

If you’ve picked up a magazine in the last eight months, chances are you’ve seen some of Klarn DePalma’s (‘89) work.  In March, DePalma was named the Executive Vice President of MNI Targeted Media (MNI), headquartered in Stamford, CT.

Using comprehensive demographic information, MNI assists clients with the strategic placement of their advertisements in both the digital and print media channels. To say that MNI’s reach is impressive is an understatement; with access to over 73% of magazines, their ad impressions per month, tend to reach the billions.

With the constant evolution of digital platforms, the ways in which we consume media are always changing. “People are changing their viewing habits, and moving over to streaming content. Now we can specifically target who is watching, which makes clients’ return on investment more efficient and effective,” said DePalma.  “The challenge is that it keeps changing.”

Although DePalma is stationed at the Stamford, CT headquarters, he travels to other MNI offices scattered throughout the country.  DePalma acknowledges the benefits of his travel, explaining, “the digital world and media world is moving so fast that every day is different.  I have a pulse on what is going on around the country, so you can see what is happening and changing, which helps us learn how to serve different consumers.”

DePalma reminisced about the pep rallies at ND, a tradition that is still alive and well today.  He and his classmate were the MC’s during their senior year. “The first one was a success. It was funny, well planned, and we had fun with the freshmen,” DePalma recalled. “We had to outdo the first one.”

DePalma had his entertaining monologue ready to go.  He had spent hours writing and planning to make sure it would be a hit, but when he started speaking into the microphone, nothing came out.  

They had no audio. Thinking on their feet, DePalma and his classmate decided to yell as loud as they could. “From our perspective, it was great! Because it was Thanksgiving, graduates from previous years stood in the back. I don't think they heard a word.”

Aspects of DePalma’s Notre Dame education are forever infused into his professional life. Having been taught respect, inclusion, and teamwork,  he remembers leaving ND as a young man of character. “All of those lessons fall into what you need in today’s society to be a successful person. If I wasn’t taught those things, I would not be as successful as I am today.”

“High school is hard.  You’re really trying to figure out who you are and what you are.” Recognizing that high school can be a challenging time full of transition, difficult decisions, and personal growth, DePalma offered some advice to current ND students.  

The ability to adapt is essential when facing important decisions and trying times.  The character, compassion, and confidence that young men develop at ND provide the foundation for success.  “Always have a plan and work that plan. If that plan isn’t working, develop a new plan. The world continues to change and you have to change with it.”

Young Alumni in the Military - Fall 2018

Hassen brothers prepare to set sail

Congratulations to United States Navy Ensign Alexander Hassen ‘14!

On May 25, 2018, Alex was commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy during the 168th traditional graduation ceremony of the United States Naval Academy.

We are incredibly proud and humbled by Alex’s success, and look forward to United States Naval Academy Midshipman 4th Class Benjamin Hassen’s ‘18 expected graduation and commissioning in May of 2022.

 
Have you served in the military? Are you currently serving? We want to know! Please update your alumni record.

Villa '18 returns to Notre Dame

After graduating from Notre Dame, Carlos Villa '18 headed to Norwich University, the Military College of Vermont.  Last month, Carlos and fellow Norwich cadet stopped by for a visit while on leave. Carlos plans to enter the Air Force. There is nothing we enjoy more than catching up with alumni - come by and say hello!

Dave DeCaprio '90; MIT '93

 

Dave DeCaprio ‘90, MIT ‘93

Dave DeCaprio ’90 is CTO and Co-founder of ClosedLoop.ai in Austin, TX. A graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Dave has led several successful startups, and consulted with organizations on technology innovation including the Human Genome Project. In his spare time, Dave wrote the software for tennis players to strategically record their matches and gather statistics to improve their play. Cizr helps tennis players and coaches get better faster. That caught the eye of several NCAA Division 1 tennis teams who are currently using it. This includes Vanderbilt University, one of whose tennis players was recently named the NCAA Most Improved Player.

DeCaprio landed a job creating speech recognition software right out of college.  From there, he worked for small and large software companies working technical, hands-on, and management positions.  Nowadays, DeCaprio enjoys the fast pace and excitement of startups.

His invitation to work on the Human Genome Project ignited a passion for healthcare software.   DeCaprio’s work at ClosedLoop helps make predictions for proactive treatments based on individuals’ medical records and health data.  “I’m a math guy and a computer guy, but the ability to have a positive impact on the community and society, that’s what gets me really excited.”

DeCaprio credits his success in college to the academic rigor at Notre Dame. While taking the necessary requirements for high school graduation, he also had the opportunity to enroll in classes at the University of New Haven.  “I wasn’t on a traditional track for math, but ND supported me and the things I wanted to do. I learned that you can make your own path. If you want to do something, find the people who will help you and go do it. It’s what you have to do today.”  

The ability and the freedom to accelerate his coursework was key to getting him prepared for college.  “I went into MIT very well prepared and I saw kids who were not,” he explains. “It was a rude awakening for them particularly as I was able to go in pretty seamlessly from ND.”

One of his fondest memories at ND was orchestrating a surprise 40th birthday party for a faculty member.  He managed to assemble the entire school community to pull off the surprise and he admits he had to get the school’s administration to bend a few rules for the unconventional party plan. “That culture of willingness - to accept breaking a few rules for the right reason- is exactly what you need to start a company. Anybody that has done of something of significance had to break rules along the way,” he explains. “You just have to learn how to do that, and how to do that in the right way.”

DeCaprio observed “The world is changing at a much faster rate than when I graduated.  A lot of what’s happening now is figuring out how to build something of value in an environment that’s changing.”  He offered a few words of wisdom for current students. “At ND I learned to work very hard. Whether it was the newspaper deadline or opening night in the theater, I had to put in the hours and work hard.  And when the time came to go to print or to be on stage, I had to be ready. That’s what it takes to be successful today.”

Schierholz '83, Yale 87

ND Launches Technology, Engineering, & Design (T/E/D)

ND’s new Signature Program in Technology, Engineering, Design (T/E/D)  was custom-designed by our faculty alongside Fortune 500 engineers and program managers with over 50+ years of collective experience.  The program spans four categories: Engineering Basics, Elective Skills, Specialized Engineering, and Capstone Project. Students learn the fundamentals of Engineering and Design and then study the major engineering disciplines of electrical, mechanical, software, and manufacturing. The Signature T/E/D program culminates with a senior year Capstone Project where student teams develop a new product through the life-cycle of a complete engineering design project. In the process, students manage not only technical customer requirements, but also a material budget and project schedule, emulating real-world engineering development programs.  Notre Dame’s T/E/D program aims to position our students to be leaders in a growing professional field.

Adam Schierholz ‘83, Yale ‘87

Adam Schierholz ‘83, Yale ‘87

Sikorsky’s Regional Executive for Latin America, Adam Schierholz ‘83 returned to campus in June to talk about his career, his studies at Yale in engineering, his rise in international business and the many lessons from ND that ring true today.

“For the last 25 years, I’ve worked in international business.  I didn’t leave ND aiming to go into international business. I went to Yale and studied engineering.  Ultimately, I fell into the business side of the engineering world. You evolve and get to the road you were meant to be on eventually.  For some it happens sooner, for others, later. Looking back, ND was the starting block for me. It’s like the block that sprinters lock their feet into at the start of a race.  For me, the starting blocks came from my time at ND.

One of the many challenges I see in the workplace today is trying to reach consensus on complex issues and dealing with an amalgam of people with varying ideas on where we need to go and how to get there.  This is particularly difficult in global settings where international customers might communicate or operate differently due to culture.

Much of my work is building relationships with people from diverse cultures, backgrounds and parts of the world.  I spent time in Spain and loved it. It was the best business and personal time of my life. It opened up my perspective.  All of this is consistent with ND values and experience: to open your views of the world, and go after things that are different and rewarding.

When I think about it, there are a number of lasting lessons from my ND experience that still ring true today.  I often refer to the words of Brother Francis Feeley, CSC, my Spanish teacher junior year, who reminded us “It’s good to be a great man; it’s great to be a good man.”   The work I’ve done to build a strong team at work stems from lessons I learned from Coach Tom Marcucci ‘66 He wasn’t afraid to reprimand forcefully but he also wasn’t afraid to share praise.  I have tried to carry that on in what I do. I correct people who work for me when they do something wrong and I have ample praise for them when they get it right. And then there’s a talk Brother George Schmitz, CSC ‘65 gave at our Peer Counseling retreat about shoes.  “Polished oxfords, work boots, docksiders...what do shoes say about a person?” He challenged us to look beyond the surface to see the person in the shoes. That’s advice that still holds true today.

ND is a special place.  It’s different. They ask more of you than other schools.  You’re asked to be a person of higher character. If you accept the challenge, it will serve you well the rest of your life.

I was especially lucky to have attended ND.  I’m the youngest of 5. And while we were taught right from wrong at home - and to know the difference between the two -  that message was reinforced each school day. There is a lot of that missing out there in the world. It’s pretty simple stuff and ND does it extremely well.”