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An Intersection of Acronyms: My Experiences with ACE, AICSN, and ESS

Collin Gortner '20 - ACE 27


Like many students at the University of Notre Dame, acronyms have been a big part of my educational experience. 

I am involved with ACE (Alliance for Catholic Education), AICSN (American Indian Catholic Schools Network), and ESS (Education, Schooling, and Society). Before coming to Notre Dame, I had not heard of any of these programs (let alone their acronyms) and I never would have guessed that they would become so meaningful to me during my time on campus.
AICSN Summer Institute 2019

ESS is one of the most engaging and important minors on campus. I have taken an array of fascinating ESS courses, such as Dr. Brian Collier's course on the history of American Indian education in the spring semester of my junior year. I am grateful for this class for many reasons, but I'd like to highlight two in particular. First, I learned a great deal about historical and contemporary American Indian issues, with an emphasis on matters related to education. Second, it was because of this course that I spent this past summer at Notre Dame as an AICSN intern. 

AICSN partners with seven American Indian Catholic schools across the country to facilitate collaboration, provide professional development opportunities, and conduct research. My internship responsibilities included writing school histories, editing the AICSN website, coordinating social media campaigns, and assisting with professional development opportunities (including golf cart driving lessons with nuns from Nigeria). I attended professional development sessions, closely examined educational inequality, and learned about the beauty of various forms of Catholic identity in diverse schools. These internship experiences supplemented my ESS classroom experiences.
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I would have never applied for the AICSN internship and I certainly would not have had such a rich experience without the foundational knowledge and skills I gained from my ESS classes. At the same time, AICSN informed the way I view my ESS minor and has influenced the topics I am interested in.

Ultimately, my experiences with ESS motivated me to apply for an internship with the ACE Teaching Fellows. My time with AICSN affirmed this decision and deepened my passion for education. 

I am extremely grateful for my experiences with each of these programs. Participating in any one of them would have been great for my personal and professional development, but the intersection of these acronyms has been even better. 

 Interested in learning more about ACE, ESS, and AICSN? Visit the websites below!