Three years ago, 10-year-old Ian McMillan of Granger, Indiana, was battling leukemia. Now at age 13, he is officially cancer-free. While his diagnosis and years of treatment brought pain and fear into the lives of Ian and his family, it also revealed some of the best qualities of the human spirit, created enduring and otherwise unlikely friendships, and led to the creation of a nonprofit business designed to help kids like him.
Through a University program that sends student-athletes to visit with hospital patients, Ian was introduced to senior Maxim Manyak (BBA ’23), a player on the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team. As a direct result of meeting Ian, he founded the nonprofit Pediatric Pep Talk, “where a smile a day keeps the doctor away.”
The app-based platform virtually connects children’s hospitals, their critically ill patients (mostly children fighting cancer) and their families with athletes across the country, allowing the young patients to “join” a team. The players send the young patients encouraging video messages to bring them joy and make them smile.
Pediatric Pep Talk features monthly video interactions between more than 800 athletes from all 26 Notre Dame varsity teams and 16 patients from Beacon Children’s Hospital, and an expansion beyond South Bend is underway.
Christian McKernan (BBA ’23) and his fellow Ukrainian-American classmate traveled to Kraków, Poland during the summer of 2022 to serve refugees displaced by the war in Ukraine. The service learning opportunity was supported by the Nanovic Institute for European Studies.
It began with a swear jar. But soon, the all-in-fun fundraising of the Executive MBA Class of ’23 cohort turned into a serious intent to give back and help others. The 36 students raised $15,000 to support a South Bend-based Latino support and advocacy group as well as $50,000 to build a house for a homeless veteran in St. Louis.
To support the South Bend community, Mendoza’s Graduate Programs hosted a gala to raise money for the local nonprofit, Cultivate Food Rescue. The event raised $12,500 for the organization.
Mendoza graduate students and staff celebrated Dia De Los Muertos or Day of the Dead by decorating and wearing calaveras or masks to celebrate the event.
During the summer, the Business Honors Program sent a group of their students to Mexico to learn about the intersection of business, ethics and politics. Students experienced a jam-packed schedule that balanced scholarly, cultural and social opportunities.
The Black Graduates in Management Club hosted a series of events to celebrate black excellence at Mendoza via Black History Week 2023. Events included a Sunday Service at Stayer, a fundraising event to support the Charles Martin Youth Center and black youth in the community, and a flash mob at the Duncan Student Center.
MBA students attend a silent rave, wearing over-the-ear headphones to listen to three different DJs and an assortment of glow-in-the-dark accessories for an immersive sensory experience. The rave was just one in a series of social events held during the year aimed at helping graduate students build stronger connections.