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Collegiate Friars: December 2020

December 2, 2020

Catching up with engineering majors Michael Dillon ’19 (Notre Dame) and Colleen Corcoran ’18 (Air Force ROTC at Saint Louis U.).

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Michael Dillon at his first Fightin' Irish football game in 2019.

MICHAEL DILLON

Fenwick Graduation: 2019
Hometown: La Grange Park, IL
Grade School: St. Francis Xavier
Current School: University of Notre Dame
Major: Mechanical Engineering

Summer internship: This past summer I worked at Russo’s Pool and Spa in customer service. I conducted chemical water analysis and counseled customers on their specific pool and spa needs. In addition, I participated in a Virtual Investing Bootcamp Experience through Notre Dame’s Institute for Global Investing. For this program, I took courses in financial modeling and attended a series of lectures from professors, business leaders, and recent alumni concerning various careers within the financial industry.

Career aspirations: Currently, I am exploring different career paths and opportunities. I am interested in working in consulting or a technology-related field.

Fenwick achievements/activities: Math Team, W.Y.S.E., T.E.A.M.S., Cross Country, Tennis, Kairos Leader, National Honor Society, National Italian Honor Society, Faculty Award in Mathematics, Faculty Award in Chemistry, Illinois State Scholar, National AP Scholar, National Merit Finalist

Fenwick teacher who had the most influence on you: Many teachers at Fenwick influenced me as they cared deeply about their students and prepared us for college. Mr. Kleinhans introduced me to engineering during my physics class junior year. In his class, he demonstrated how important engineering is and explained to us the vast opportunities engineers can have. His class lessons and monthly “Engineering Eats” played a significant role in my choice of major. Mr. Kleinhans also served as a mentor for me as he moderated the T.E.A.M.S. and W.Y.S.E. teams along with Mr. Roche for all four years I was at Fenwick.

Mr. Finnell had an influence on me as both a teacher and adviser. He was my teacher for two years and my math team coach for four years. His strong passion for math resonated with me and encouraged me to join STEM-related extracurriculars.

Mrs. Esposito, Mr. McKinley, Mr. Arscott [now retired], Mr. Kotty and Mrs. Dactilidis all impacted me as they further developed my interest in math and science.

Fenwick class that had the most influence on you: The class that had the most influence on me was Speech with Mr. Arellano [who retired in mid-2020]. I still laugh thinking back to my self-speech when my legs were shaking uncontrollably. After concluding, Mr. Arellano joked, “You look like the San Francisco earthquake up there!” Over the course of the semester, my confidence improved, and I no longer felt nervous presenting. Speech class has had a lasting positive effect on me and my public speaking ability.

Best Fenwick experience/the one you would like to live again: The tailgate/student section for the regional math competition my senior year. On a Saturday morning in February, many of my classmates came to the math competition to tailgate and cheer us on at the awards ceremony. As each Fenwick award was called, the crowd cheered emphatically. I am pretty sure most math competitions do not have fans, so it was an exciting experience to have the support. This was a prime example of the community Fenwick has; there are very few schools, if any, where the math team is as celebrated and respected. Friar Pride was really showing on this day, and it was a ton of fun!

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The 2018-19 Math Team with the student section after winning the competition.

What Fenwick experience changed you the most: The relationships and friendships I experienced at Fenwick changed me the most. In my time at Fenwick, I made lifelong friendships with people from all different towns and backgrounds. Two years removed from high school, my classmates are still my best friends today, and I know they will continue to be! The saying “Once a Friar, Always a Friar” really holds true.

COLLEEN CORCORAN

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Colleen Corcoran is USAF ROTC at Saint Louis University.

Fenwick Graduation: 2018
Hometown: Elmhurst, IL
Grade School: Visitation
Current School: Saint Louis University
Major: Electrical Engineering

Summer internship: Due to the pandemic, my space reconnaissance internship with the National Reconnaissance Office was cancelled. However, I was blessed to still be able to go and complete Field Training, my bootcamp-style training for Air Force ROTC at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, AL. For summer 2021, I will be returning to Maxwell to help train the next class of cadets.

Career aspirations: I aim to commission as a civil engineering officer in the U.S. Air Force upon graduation. After I leave my mark serving in the Air Force, I wish to teach dance and devote myself to social-justice activism.

Fenwick achievements/activities: Kairos Leader, Banua, Friar Mentors, Student Council, Student body treasurer, Eucharistic Minister, State Math Team, Serendipity Dance Showcase, Best Buddies, Latin Club, National Honor Society, Regional & World Champion Irish Dancer

Fenwick teacher who had the most influence on you: Mr. Roche undoubtedly had the greatest influence on me. This man is a teacher in and outside of the classroom. As my freshman honors algebra teacher, he (along with Mr. Kotty, of course) convinced me to take a computer programming class. In this class, Mr. Roche created an open environment where I could exercise my brain like I never had before. I went on to exhaust the computer science curriculum at Fenwick because my experiences were continually so positive. Since Mr. Roche knew my overwhelming interest in the subject, he helped set up a pilot program for me to take a university-level data structures class my senior year. I got to sit in his classroom one more time, and now this course is readily offered to Fenwick students.

Outside of class, Mr. Roche’s impact is just as grand. He shares his positive presence with academic teams and girls’ running. Using this coaching authority, he administered one of my fitness tests for application to the Air Force Academy, during which I face-planted in the middle of the gym, but it was all okay in front of this amazing human.

Fenwick class that had the most influence on you: Mr. Sullivan’s Junior College Prep English. Unlike most of my friends who had Mr. Sullivan for freshman honors, I was in his infamous class of juniors. Up until that point, I never appreciated English class or English teachers. I credit this class with teaching me how to properly read and write as an adult. Mr. Sullivan’s class not only gave me practical skills, but also completely flipped my negative outlook on the subject. His command of the classroom and unique portrayal and passion for the subject set a positive tone for me in English classes through senior year and into college.

Best Fenwick experience/the one you would like to live again: My senior year, a group of my best friends had the ambition to start something big: the Serendipity Dance Showcase. I was more than thrilled to participate and help make this happen for them. In doing so, it allowed me to share my Irish dancing ability with my school. While most other athletes were continually recognized and supported for accomplishments in their sports at school, I was working my butt off in the studio and getting ranked globally with few opportunities to share that with my school. The dance showcase allowed me to share my talent and do it alongside my best friends.

What Fenwick experience changed you the most: My time in the physics program empowered me the most. During a recent professional development experience, I was told with strong conviction that I couldn’t be an engineer or enter a male-dominated career because I am a female. I thought these views were outdated and would not faze a person with my drive. I was wrong, but it made me think back to why I got myself into this in the first place: Fenwick physics. As much as the subject sucks sometimes, I was blessed with Mr. Kleinhans and Ms. Esposito to do nothing but help me embrace the challenge and encourage me to pursue engineering from the beginning. I am eternally thankful for the learning environment they provided.

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