Hear from some of our alumni about what it means to be a CST minor and where it takes them after graduation.
The CST minor was an indispensable component of my ND education and will continue to impact me even after I have left. It encouraged me to ask the deeper questions of what I am called to do in my life, and provided me with a support system of phenomenal mentors and professors who engaged in these questions with me. As someone who is interested in becoming a doctor, I had the chance to explore topics such as how a history of trauma impacts our risk of disease, the role of environmental factors in maintaining community health, and the necessity of relationships in our holistic mental and physical flourishing. CST is more than just an academic pursuit— it is a path of formation that impacts how we think about ourselves and how we can enact good in the world around us.
Bianca Widjaja '23, Neuroscience and Behavior (College of Science)
The CST minor was one of the most formative parts of my education at Notre Dame, especially as I was discerning service post-graduation. A program centered on experiential learning, from start to finish, gave me insight into what a life dedicated to the service of ourselves, others, and the world around us could look like. Being able to participate in programs hosted by the CSC, like Seminars and the SSLP, especially my junior and senior years, prepared me well for the choice to pursue a life of full-time service at Nazareth Farm. What I do at the Farm and how I think about it are directly informed by my education through the CST minor, and I am more confident in my faith as a result of reading so many foundational documents and seeing faith in action in the people in the program.
Madeline Ward '22, Political Science, Applied & Comp Math & Stats (Supp).
The CST Minor was an impactful piece of my undergraduate education for the ways that it illuminated the kind of adult I want to be. It led me to recognize that God calls me to a life in solidarity with the marginalized, uplifting them with the dignity that they are entitled to as human beings. I came to this recognition during my participation in a Summer Service Learning Program (SSLP) at Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services in Dallas, Texas. Although I could not change the dehumanizing system the immigrants I was serving were stuck in, I could be in solidarity, accompanying them through it, while providing a space of love and dignity. Providing this type of space to immigrants is what I have continued to do post-graduation, first as a year-long volunteer at an nonprofit immigration organization, and now in my job as a paralegal at an immigration law firm. I hope to continue to carry out the work of dignifying through accompaniment in all that I do in the years I have ahead!
Leah Fitter '21, Psychology and Spanish (Supp).
The CST minor gave me the irreplaceable gift of a holistic education. It challenged me intellectually, strengthened my faith, and gave me numerous opportunities to apply the knowledge I gained in the classroom in service of others. Ultimately, I was so moved by the values embedded within the curriculum that I wanted to pursue a year or two of service after graduation. So today, I teach at a high school on the border of Yakama Nation in Washington State through the University of Portland’s Pacific Alliance for Catholic Education program.
Theresa Eckel '21, Political Science & Philosophy
"The CST Minor showed me that there was a way to turn my passion for service into a successful career, which I had thought wasn't possible. By networking with CST professors, I found infinite career opportunities as they worked one-on-one with me. Some highlights I enjoyed from the program were conducting research and serving abroad in Uganda three times, classes with Professor Sedmak, and small discussion courses. All of these experiences pushed me toward my career in the nonprofit sector. I am incredibly grateful for this program and everyone who made it such a fruitful experience for me. "
Marisa Perino '20, English
"From studying CST I have come to learn my vocation: to leave this world, God's home for me, in a better condition than it was before. I want to combine this mission with my studies in sustainability and environmental engineering to develop new and more effective ways to improve water and air quality in the environment. I specifically want to work closely with a municipality where I can work towards helping poor and vulnerable men and women who may face these environmental issues. The work I have done through the CST minor has given me an appreciation for God's Creation, dignity of the human person, and preservation of the common good."
Gabriel Gaspar '18, Environmental Engineering
"I absolutely love my minor. Nowhere else would I have had the same level of hands-on, community-oriented Catholic education. The 15 credits of the CST minor have framed my entire education at Notre Dame in a way that has allowed me to see the true value in my education and how it can apply to bettering society. As a part of the CST minor, I attended as a participant and again as a leader in a week-long seminar to the Appalachian region of the southeast, exploring coal mining, education, and poverty there. I also spent two months one summer living in a nursing home in Mobile, Alabama through ND Center for Social Concern’s Summer Service Learning Program (SSLP). The time I spent at my SSLP expanded my knowledge of the world of dementia and solidified my passion for promoting both Alzheimer’s awareness and the compassionate care of the elderly. Finally, I am currently working on my final capstone project, which is a culmination of the passion I have developed and the knowledge I have learned about the application of the teachings of the Catholic church."
Lydia Piendel '18, Biology and Psychology
"The CST minor gave me the chance to study the intersection of my neuroscience major, my passion for working with children with disabilities, and my Catholic faith as I searched for my calling in my time after Notre Dame. I've been able to explore concepts like human dignity and solidarity from more angles and in more contexts than I ever anticipated. I spent this past summer in Chennai, India through the International Summer Service Learning Program at the Center for Social Concerns, and many of our weekly readings explored how CST allows us to understand our interactions with the world and concepts of development. My time there was influenced every day by the call to understand and implement CST to the best of my ability. When I returned to campus to complete the CST minor core class, I found that my experience informed my understanding of the encyclicals and concepts we worked through, helping me to see how the basic principles applied to life as I lived it. CST has given me the chance to consider how I live not just faith, but as an informed global citizen. I've been challenged to think about what it really means to work toward the common good and where I should put my talents. Pursuing this minor has shaped how I will practice physical therapy with a pediatric population as I work to continually recognize the light and dignity in every child I serve."
Kelly Heiniger '18, Neuroscience and Behavior
"The CST minor provides the tools for integrating my Catholic faith with my passion for medicine, merging my love of science with my desire to help others. It defines the "Notre Dame Education" as more than an individual resume builder, but as a universal means for serving others."
Christopher Boldt '18, Science Pre-Professional
"Less than a year after graduating, I have already experienced many benefits of having studied Catholic Social Tradition at Notre Dame. I decided to switch placements halfway through my year with Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest and because of my experience working with refugee resettlement through the CST Capstone, I was accepted by Catholic Charities Oregon in their refugee resettlement department. My research last year gave me useful knowledge of the resettlement process and I am finding the work very interesting, especially because it connects my background in CST and political science/world politics."
Katherine Gordon '14, Political Science
"Since I finished undergrad, I completed a master's degree in theology through Notre Dame's Echo program and am currently working at a large Omaha parish as the Director of Religious Education. In my spare time, I'll be continuing my CST education by virtually attending the USCCB's Catholic Social Ministry Gathering and Notre Dame's very own Catholic Social Tradition Conference! I'm excited to keep exploring the ways I can apply my CST minor for years to come."
Ally Zimmer '18, Theology & Psychology