Alumnae Profiles

Southern Belle

Ally Drake knows what she wants to do after college. The communicative disorders major will go on to obtain her master’s degree in speech pathology, with the goal of becoming a certified speech and language pathologist. “I plan on working with the autistic community in either hospitals or schools,” says Ally. The native of Georgia says that she is very passionate about her major. “My youngest brother T.J. is autistic and this inspired me to pursue my career as a speech pathologist. I was so excited when I found out that Saint Mary’s was offering communicative disorders as a major for the first time this year.”

Ally says her favorite class is introduction to sociology taught by Professor Leslie Wang. “Dr. Wang has such a passion for sociology and you can tell this the moment you step into his classroom,” says Ally. “The course material is so interesting because it directly relates to our lives and those around us.”

“The best experience of her life,” says Ally is the time she spent studying abroad in Rome. “There is not a day that goes by where I do not think about my wonderful experience in Rome—we call this ‘Rome Sickness,’” says Ally. “I remember before we left Dr. [Peter] Checca held a meeting and told us to look around the room because these girls, who we didn’t know at the time, were going to soon be our best friends. I would be lying if I said I believed him then because I didn’t. However, looking back on that day, I realize that he couldn’t have been more correct. All of us who went abroad that semester share a special bond that I know can never be replaced.”

Ally stays active on campus, participating in the Notre Dame/Saint Mary’s Best Buddies Chapter. “Best Buddies is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities for one-on-one friendships,” explains Ally.

When it comes to choosing what she likes most about Saint Mary’s, Ally is hard-pressed to narrow it to one thing. But if she had to choose, she’ll tell you she really values the women she’s met here. “Because I’m from Georgia I came here not knowing too many girls or what to expect. I cannot express how happy I am with my decision to come to Saint Mary’s because it has more than surpassed my expectations—and I still have two more years to go.”

Keep Smiling


Junior Kendall Davis gets ready to slide at a "Heifer Carnival"
held by students to raise funds for Heifer International.
Kendall Davis is always optimistic. The junior and Los Angeles, Cali. native, with a sunny disposition possesses serious dedication to a number of causes.

She is a member of Sisters of Nefertiti, a student club dedicated to celebrating African-American history and heritage, and the Communicative Disorders Club. Kendall also works as a teacher’s assistant at the Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) located on the Saint Mary’s campus.

She supports her fellow classmates in their endeavors on campus as well because she knows they are all working hard to make a difference in the lives of others. She says, “Saint Mary’s has helped in opening my eyes and supporting causes that can change the world.”

After changing her major twice, from nursing, to elementary education, to communicative disorders with a minor in intercultural studies, Kendall is sure of what she wants now. “I chose communicative disorders because I can help people, work with children, and help them regain a sense they lost or were born without (sense of hearing).” After graduation, she hopes to work with the deaf community, in the field of audiology.

When she’s not out making the world a better place, Kendall is marching in time with the Notre Dame band. She says she’s “not musically talented,” but that didn’t stop her from getting involved with the “Greatest Band in the Land,” as she likes to call it. Kendall is a manager for the marching band, and while she doesn’t play an instrument, she has made music a part of her life in other ways.

Kendall is part of what she calls “a group of ‘closet ballerinas’ taking dance professor Indi Diekgrafe’s introductory ballet course. It is her favorite class. “The closet ballerinas that compose the class have minimal or no dance training, but that does not stop us from jumping around the room from first to fifth position like professionals,” Kendall says.

Kendall has discovered more about who she is through her campus activities. The experiences she has taken part in and people she has met have offered her an understanding of herself as someone who is kind and committed to the causes that are important to her—or as she describes herself, “the smiling face that can be stubborn but optimistic always.”

—Sarah Sheppard '11

Giving Back

When it comes to supporting a cause she believes in, first-year student Molly Farrell is serious. The Wheaton, Ill., native has raised $300,000 for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation through a direct mail campaign. As stated on their Web site, the Foundation is "dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research, and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy."

Molly is familiar with this mission and its success first hand-she suffered a spinal cord injury that left her paralyzed from the neck down. Yet after seven weeks, she was able to move her big toe in therapy. That led to her participation in an experimental therapy called Lokomat, involving a robotic device moving her legs in a walking motion over a treadmill, stimulating her nerves. "Slowly I regained movement and was able to walk out of the hospital. Today I walk with crutches and continue to gain more recovery," describes Molly.

Saint Mary's provided Molly with an advisor, Iris Giamo, Specialist for Students with Disabilities, who helped her to make the transition to college. "Ms. Giamo helped me choose a room that would work best for me, pick classes that I needed but also were conveniently located, and she made sure that the campus was accessible. She has been a huge help to me," says Molly.

Molly's favorite class so far has been introduction to communications. "It was a great class to have in the first semester of my first year because there was a lot of interaction with other students, helping to start new friendships." While she hasn't declared a major, she is considering communicative disorders, and has a career goal to someday work for a not-for-profit agency. "I would like to work with people who have had a spinal cord injury, in some capacity helping them in their recovery."

In the meantime, Molly continues her work with the foundation. "I believe that it is because of hard work and the research like Lokomat, that the Foundation is doing-that is the reason why I am walking today. It is my way to give back to them and I am so thankful I can."

 

Diving Right In

Mary Kate Daday comes from a family of swimmers. The former co-captain of the Saint Mary’s swim team is one of six siblings, all of whom love the water just as much as she does. At Saint Mary's, she found a second family in the Belles swim team. “My favorite part about being on the team [was] getting to know the girls, being together at practices, and bus rides to away meets,” Mary Kate says.

Although she remarks upon her “crazy schedule,” the swimmer found time to explore each of her varied interests, academic or otherwise. “I have always wanted to work with children,” says Mary Kate. Two summers ago, she worked at a health camp for children with disabilities in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The job was just right for Mary Kate, a psychology and communicative disorders graduate who loves caring for children. She was a counselor in the camp’s preschool unit, assisting 3-5 year-olds with everything from therapy sessions to overseeing their mealtimes. She was also charged with three campers whom she watched over “24/7.”

The experience not only moved and inspired Mary Kate—it gave her a chance to see speech and language pathologists in action. “I plan to go to graduate school in speech and language pathology,” she says. “I do not know exactly what area of speech and language pathology I want to work in, but probably in a hospital or clinic working with children.” Mary Kate is a member of the communicative disorders program, which has been a minor at Saint Mary’s since the mid-nineties and just became a major last year. “I have enjoyed and learned so much in each one of my communicative disorders classes—from anatomy and physiology to evaluation procedures,” she enthuses. “I can’t wait to see what the future brings.”

Despite a “crazy schedule,” this swimmer had no trouble keeping her head above water. Mary Kate's professors helped her organize her schedule to fit in studying abroad, playing a varsity sport, and pursuing two majors. Mary Kate is particularly thankful for her experiences in the Saint Mary’s Rome program, and echoes most Rome students’ feelings when she says, “I gained a lot of independence and was able to live in a new culture all on my own.”