Hesburgh Women of Impact (HWOI), an organization of Notre Dame alumnae dedicated to celebrating and supporting female leadership within the University, is hosting a mentorship program in partnership with the Meruelo Family Center for Career Development. The program matches undergraduate women with an alumna in their field of interest to guide and support them in career related preparation and goals throughout the spring semester.
Hesburgh Women of Impact was formed in 2016 by a group of alumnae led by Anne Thompson (‘79) and Cindy Parseghian (‘77), with the initial goal of fundraising to renovate Hesburgh Library’s north entrance. Since then, inspired by the legacy of Father Hesburgh, the organization has aimed to highlight the work and leadership of Notre Dame women, as well as fundraise for undergraduate financial aid.
As part of its mission to engage with future female leaders in the undergraduate student body, HWOI runs the mentorship program every fall and spring semester, with the exception of the fall 2020 semester, during which the program was paused.
Forty-nine Notre Dame alumnae have volunteered as mentors for the spring 2021 semester, bringing experience in law, finance, healthcare, sustainability and a variety of other fields. Mentors and mentees will be required to contact each other at least twice during the semester, but are given the flexibility to utilize the partnership as much as they would like in a variety of ways.
“The mentorship program typically runs the length of the semester, and we ask mentoring pairs to connect at least two to three times in some form — a phone call, a Zoom meeting, etc.” said Grace Prosniewski, program director of HWOI. “They can include mock interviews, resume reviews and short- and long-term goal setting.”
In a partnership that brings together women from all different classes at Notre Dame, mentors and mentees alike have much to gain from the experience. One mentor with experience in finance and education, Laura Schwartz Cesaro (‘09) has been working with undergraduate women through HWOI since 2018.
“I chose to become a HWOI mentor so that I could give back,” Cesaro said. “Sometimes the business world can still feel male-dominated, so I like to help women feel supported, prepared and confident as they enter into their careers.”
Cesaro works with students to gauge their goals and how they can benefit from the program early on. By staying in contact for the duration of the semester, she provides participating students with insight into their field of interest, as well as contact with other professionals.
This semester’s mentorship program is set to begin in early March, with applications due today, Feb. 17. Cesaro encourages undergraduate women to complete the brief form, which includes a few questions about the student’s goals and interests. She encourages students to take the opportunity to join the program, emphasizing the value of engaging with an alumna who can share new perspectives and career guidance with them.
Once a student is matched with a mentor in the program, they may continue to work with their mentor for future semesters. HWOI seeks to match as many undergraduates with mentors as possible, but space is limited. Should the program run out of space, undergraduates are encouraged to reapply or reach out to Career Services to find more similar opportunities.
“Our women love to interact with and support Notre Dame students. We are always eager to feature students and student clubs in our newsletters, mailings and social media,” Prosniewski said. “We also love to host students at our events — which are currently all virtual.”