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"The mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart."

Connor Ruff | Frassati Intern - Cohort 3 | Computer Science '22 | Archdiocese of Chicago

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"The mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart."

To a Notre Dame student, these words, plastered around University advertisements and brochures, perhaps have become a bit trite. But the Frassati Internship dares you to consider this idea beyond just your First Year Experience course and gives you the opportunity to do so.

In times of trial and uncertainty, the ability and the willingness to adapt speaks volumes to an organization's mission and determination, and no one could have predicted the events of Summer 2020. Myself, along with eight other Frassati interns, shared some apprehension about the fate of our internships amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. However, from our first onboarding session, the Frassati Team assured us of their commitment to our personal and professional development, no matter what. In the end, we were each paired with various national and philanthropic organizations based in Chicago, St. Paul & Minneapolis, and Washington D.C., and had the fortune of a full-time internship, albeit virtually. With that expression of consideration for our personal journeys and futures from ACE, I was ready to give back.

I was placed in the IT Department of the Archdiocese of Chicago. As a computer science major, I was beyond excited to apply the technical skills I gained from my education in a real-world setting. However, what I did not expect was just how much more I needed to learn.

My various assignments allowed me to wrestle with my own understanding, while developing more sophisticated technical skills along the way. When using Python to automate everyday tasks, I not only put my technical skills to work in an impactful way, but was also exposed to how code is maintained, shared, developed, and deployed on a system-wide level. In researching and comparing different front-end development frameworks, I became acquainted with the importance of being thorough and articulate in formulating a plan for a large project before a single line of code is written. Through modifying SSIS packages to correct irregularities in an organization's database, and through testing those changes with documentative SQL scripts, I got a greater appreciation for the value of data management and an understanding of the architecture of a data warehouse for a large-scale organization.

rufffrassatiblog2Across the many projects I had the privilege of taking part in, I learned more than what could be taught in a classroom, and I can certainly say I am a more confident and capable computer scientist because of it. But don't worry, I haven't forgotten the words of Father Moreau just yet

"The mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart," said Father Moreau, and this rang true throughout the internship. The Frassati Internship is built around six dispositions: community, humility, servant leadership, gratitude, and as Frassati himself would say, "Verso l'alto," a life well-lived. Each week, we'd meet via Zoom as a cohort community and discuss how each of these dispositions animated our relationships and informed our work. We allowed ourselves to be honest and vulnerable, and I learned a lot about myself through this dialogue with people that I now get to call my friends. And ultimately, I found a greater sense of community and a greater understanding of my own vocation -- how I can use my gifts and talents in service of others.

They say once you're part of the ACE family, there's no way out; the ACE community is part of you, and you are part of the ACE community no matter where you go and what you do. Reflecting on my experiences this summer, I hope this is true.


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