Alumni News

Exploring Mars with David Mayer '03

The students in Kelsey Sewell’s Technology, Engineering, and Design recently worked together to build a Hexapod robot, which is similar to the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover that is scheduled to land on the Red Planet on February 18.  As a follow up to their assignment, they had the opportunity to meet via Zoom with ND Alumnus David Mayer '03.  

Mayer works for the National Geographic Survey at the Survey’s Astrogeology Center in Flagstaff, AZ.  He and his NGS team have been working with NASA engineers on a Mars mapping project that will determine the optimal place for the February landing.   He shared high-resolution pictures of the planet’s surface and explained in detail what the students were seeing and how particular aspects of the surface came about.  He also detailed some of the challenges the two agencies faced in completing the project.  Mayer is the son of Eugene Mayer '71. Mayer is seen in the second row, right. 

Robert A. Ludwig III ’18 – Time Well Spent

Milford native and UConn undergraduate Robert Ludwig III ’18 has been using his time well to broaden his view of the healthcare field and to get practical experience in his Allied Health Sciences major.  He is an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. John Salamone’s Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy that studies the relationship between the nervous system and behavior.  Two years ago, he was one of two freshmen to participate in the UConn Bridge to Guanin Alternative Break, a medical service trip to the Dominican Republic. 

Ludwig’s interest in a healthcare-focused profession started during his junior year at ND when he volunteered at Milford Hospital. He was uncertain about his major, but gained an appreciation for the healthcare field as a result of his Milford Hospital experiences. His current major affords him the opportunity to explore further and focus his interest.   Ludwig was certified as an EMT in September 2020, and in October he began part-time employment with Allied Community Resources, Inc.   He was looking for work that would help him develop connections in the field. The opportunity presented itself as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. He is employed as a Personal Care Assistant to an adult individual with Cerebral Palsy. With less time devoted to campus activities, the PCA job gives him practical experience and a deeper look at a specific career.  He is putting in about twenty hours weekly. “Working for a man with cerebral palsy has given me a new perspective on healthcare and made me realize how fortunate I am. I love developing a personal relationship with patients.”

At ND, Ludwig played soccer and golf. He participated in the Moreau Honors Program as a freshman and sophomore.   “Through Notre Dame, I learned the value of academics, service, and athletics. The relationships I formed in high school and the experiences I had gave me a benchmark for college and my career. The guys I met at Notre Dame will be my brothers for life.”

Like many college students, Ludwig was looking forward to this year’s Bridge to Guanin Alternative Break in the Dominican Republic.  He had been designated as a team leader.  There is a tentative plan to move this year’s spring break to May if circumstances allow. “I am blessed to have had the opportunity to meet and serve such a beautiful community of people. I can’t wait to go back this year as a trip leader with a new group and continue to make a difference.”

Ludwig is still contemplating his career choices. When he graduates from UConn in 2022 he is considering a gap year to get a more focused experience.  He is giving serious consideration to applying for admission to a Physician Assistant program.

Richard Shrestha ’18,  A Fordham University Changemaker

Fordham University’s Rose Hill Campus is a beautiful oasis located next to the New York Botanical Gardens. While Richard Shrestha ’18 enjoys the quiet of the 85-acre campus, his passion for helping others succeed frequently brings him out to the streets of the Bronx, particularly to meet with local businesspersons in the Fordham-Bedford neighborhood surrounding the campus. Shrestha is an Economics major with minors in Business Administration and Classical Civilizations.
Like many ND students who participated in the Moreau Honors program in their freshman and sophomore years, Shrestha went on to take AP and Honors classes in his junior and senior years. He was a four-year athlete in Cross-Country and Indoor and Outdoor Track. His 2018 yearbook quote reads: ‘When you want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you achieve it.’ You might say he is now part of the conspiracy when you consider his recent undertaking in the Bronx as the Executive Director of the Fordham Business Development Collaboratory (FBDC). “I have always enjoyed helping others, from the times I worked with local communities while at Notre Dame, to my current projects in the Fordham area. I never knew exactly what I wanted to do, but I did want to make a difference in people’s lives wherever I went.”

The FBDC is a student organization that Shrestha founded with fellow student and Bronx resident Diontay Santiago as a result of some of his research findings and the impact of Covid-19 on local businesses.  Shrestha participates in Fordham’s Social Innovation Collaboratory.  As the title indicates, FSIC is a laboratory where “... Fordham University students, faculty, administrators, alumni, and community members work together to promote social innovation for the achievement of social justice, social entrepreneurship, and environmental sustainability.” (Fordham website) FSIC’s emphasis on being a changemaker motivated Shrestha and was the driving force behind his research project.  “I was conducting a research project on consumer behavior in the Bronx. The project looked at a business’ financial planning and its relationship with financial institutions. I surveyed Bronx residents and local leaders. But then Covid-19 affected the direction of our study. As I was speaking to people, I realized how many of the small businesses that fill Fordham Road were going to be negatively impacted. From there, I reached out to some people who I knew would be passionate about supporting this cause, and we got to work.”

A recent Fordham News article highlighted Shrestha’s and Santiago’s work in the Bronx: ‘In June, they launched the Fordham Business Development Collaboratory. The new initiative, which has a core group of 10 or so students, is split into teams responsible for assisting clients in finance, marketing, compliance, technology, and most recently, communications. Students offer their advice free of charge, relying on lessons they’ve learned in classes.’

The immediate goal of FBDC is to help local businesses negotiate the impact that Covid-19 is having on small businesses.  Their current client base consists of eight enterprises ranging from restaurants to small independent merchants to nonprofit groups.  “We are helping the business with everything from their marketing strategy, creating resources to learn about different ways to innovate their business, and helping build or develop online platforms.”

Shrestha knows firsthand about the challenges small businesses face at any time, much less during a pandemic.  His parents immigrated to the United States from Nepal in 2002. His father worked in Subway shops and eventually became a Subway franchisee.  “I was eight years old when he first bought it. I saw him always grinding away every day, putting in 12-hour days. So, I can sympathize with the small business owners who are trying to survive in the age of Covid.”

In many ways, Shrestha’s efforts at Fordham and in the Bronx is an outgrowth of his work with ND’s Interact Club, the high school version of Rotary International.  Notre Dame is proud to salute Richard Shrestha as he transforms the fundamentals of his Holy Cross education here in West Haven into practical applications in the Bronx.

ND Drama Club Members Receive Awards

ND Drama Club Members Receive Awards

You Can Live Stream ND’s Newsies Until October 31

The Notre Dame Drama Club's productions of The Outsiders and Newsies were nominated for 17 Halo Awards, a high school theater competition sponsored by Seven Angels Theater. In Seven Angel's virtual ceremony of the Halo Awards on June 23rd, our students were recognized for their achievements. As we were returning to school in September, Drama Club Moderator Mrs. Casey LaMonaca was proud to present Halo Award trophies in-person to Ethan Johnson '20 (Best Original Program Cover Design), Owen Clark '21 (Best Featured Dancer and recipient of the Molinari Dance Scholarship), and Antonio Mantero '21 (Best Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Musical).  In addition to their individual achievements, the Notre Dame Drama Club's production of Newsies took home the trophy for Best Contemporary Musical. The Drama Club looks forward to its innovative production of Wonderland High spring. This production will also be available for streaming.  

We are excited to share that we have streaming rights valid until October 31 for our award-winning production of Newsies!   The cost to access the live stream of the show is $15 and a portion of the proceeds will benefit Notre Dame.  Purchase tickets here.   The show streams at 7 p.m. each evening.  There is a 3 p.m. showing today, Sunday, October 25.  



Click here to read more about the Halo Awards and our ND honorees.

2nd Lt. Eric Nels Johnson ‘16 Celebrates Commissioning and Begins Service

2nd Lt. Eric Nels Johnson '16 Celebrates Commissioning and Begins Service

Upon arriving at Fort Sill, OK, a little over a month ago, 2nd Lt. Eric Johnson ’16 began a two-week quarantine before starting Basic Training on October 1. Basic will carry him through the holiday season until February 17, 2021. Then it is on to his duty station at Joint Base Lewis/McChord, Tacoma, WA, where he will be an officer in the 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment.

Johnson is a 2020 graduate of Marist College with a degree in History and Economics.  In his sophomore year at Marist, he was encouraged by a friend in Student Government to look into Marist’s Army ROTC program, which is linked to Fordham University’s Army ROTC. With a family history of military service (his maternal grandfather served in the US Army; his paternal grandfather in the US Navy; and, an uncle in the US Air Force), ROTC was worth investigating.  He checked it out and saw it as a wonderful opportunity to serve our country and pursue personal goals. At the time of his commissioning on May 12, 2020, he signed a seven-year commitment with the Army. One of his goals is to complete a Master’s and perhaps a Ph. D. program while in the service.

Johnson described his summer placements after sophomore and junior year at Marist.  He attended Basic Camp at Fort Knox, KY, in 2018.  This one-month experience is limited to cadets from military schools and ROTC candidates and focuses on the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in ROTC and the Army. The summer of 2019 brought him again to Kentucky for Advanced Camp where the Army assesses a candidate’s ability to lead and his understanding of military tactics.  At the end of that summer, he headed to Vermont for the Army’s Basic Military Mountaineer Course under the guidance of the Vermont National Guard. 

Johnson said that his ND experience eased his transition to college life. “The brotherhood and interconnectedness of students, teachers and coaches at ND made it easy for me to make new friends and get involved at Marist.” ND also prepared him for leadership and he especially noted his Coach Deacon Bill Parkinson and English teacher Lucy Abbott.  He credits both with mentoring him with spiritual and moral guidance. “Coach Parkinson’s emphasis on attention to the task in front of you and Mrs. Abbot’s sense of empathy will serve me well as an officer in the United States Army.”

Like every other 2020 college graduate, Covid-19 sent him home in mid-March. Thus, we have an unusual commissioning picture. It was in his family’s Fort St. Lucie, FL home that Johnson was commissioned in a virtual ceremony on May 21, 2020. He is pictured here with his grandparents, Anne and Vincent Sabine. Mr. Sabine is a Vietnam War Era Veteran.  

ND thanks all of the members of the Johnson and Sabine families for their service.