Student Success Means More Than Just a Strong Education

Imagine beginning a new semester and having to pay for tuition and books with the money you saved up from your summer job. You thought you saved a lot, but that number dwindles very quickly with the cost of education, and financial aid, while extremely generous at Saint Mary’s College, doesn’t cover nearly enough. You hope that after the beginning of the semester expenses are paid, you have enough to get you through until your first paycheck from your off-campus job at a local restaurant or babysitting for a local family. Though the meal plan is robust, it doesn’t cover every meal, so you’re going to need groceries. On your way to your job one day, you run over a pothole and get a flat tire. There goes your last $200 that could have bought you a week’s worth of groceries, and now you’re not sure how you’re going to get them. 

Meeting a Need on Campus

Mother Pauline O’Neill, CSC, the first president of Saint Mary’s, ensured that every student was clothed and fed regardless of their finances. She led the College with the approach to meet the needs of the students in the mission of preparing them to make a difference in the world. The goals of the College haven’t changed.

“We have students who have a strong need and our job is to help them be successful whatever that takes. Fortunately, we are able to help our students in a lot of ways,” remarked Karen Johnson, who is Vice President for Student Affairs and a woman with an essential role in the creation of the Mother Pauline Food Pantry, now open on campus. 

The pantry had been a vision in Johnson’s mind for a while, and this March, the project was finally executed by student affairs staff in partnership with current students. 

Collectively, universities around the United States are dealing with ways to assist low-income students in order to meet their basic needs. The two main issues that currently need combating are food and books. 

The Mother Pauline Food Pantry meets a need on campus that sometimes goes unseen — not all students have access to the food they need. What Johnson wants all students to know is there is no reason they shouldn’t reach out when they are in any sort of bind. “Please don’t be afraid to ask for help,” she pleads. The new food pantry makes it easier for hungry students to do so. 

Students have the ability to request food items through a form and will receive the items as a package at the front desk of their residence hall. The food pantry not only contains non-perishable food items, but also essential hygiene items — feminine products, toiletries, laundry detergent, etc. 

The food pantry has a “no questions asked” policy. If a student — graduate or undergraduate — needs to request an available item, then they should. 

Serving the Student Body

College is a busy and stressful time for students. Late night studying and busy schedules make it hard for students to regularly practice self-care. Further, they might not have the means to do so. Saint Mary’s has always been concerned about the needs of students holistically, not just academically. 

Although there are many reasons why students may not reach out for help, the student affairs team wants students to know they are happy to help. Johnson comments, “There’s no stigma attached to it. We want you to have the food you need to be successful.” 

Get Involved 

Looking to get involved? Your donations and financial contributions are welcome.  All non-perishable items and toiletries can be dropped off at the Student Center, room 244. 

All financial contributions can be made online or by check. Please include a note that your contribution is to be directed to the Mother Pauline Pantry. Cash and checks should be mailed to: 

109D Le Mans Hall
Saint Mary's College
Notre Dame, IN

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