Community Living after ACE
Community is one of the three pillars of ACE Teaching Fellows, bringing together teachers who initially don’t know each other well, but often end up creating lifelong bonds.
Sometimes those ties hold fast as teachers start their own new communities after graduation. That’s what Maggie Holohan, Erin McNulty, and Dorie Taiclet discovered as they found themselves in South Bend after graduating last summer.
Maggie and Erin lived together in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as part of ACE 25, and Dorie lived in Austin, Texas. As they prepared for life after graduation, all three decided to move to South Bend – Erin and Dorie to teach and Maggie to attend Indiana University School of Medicine in South Bend.
Initially, Dorie explored the idea of finding a one-bedroom apartment as a way to have a new experience. “Going from college to ACE and having all this community time, I thought maybe it would be nice to live on my own,” says Dorie.
But when Dorie learned that Maggie and Erin were also moving to South Bend, she was excited by the potential of living with them and began to send them Zillow links to houses in the area. Of the way it all came together, Maggie says, “We felt comfortable with the idea of living with people who understood ACE. We also realized that it would be more fun to have a community of three than a single roommate.”
The bonds of community that brought the three of them together had been born and cultivated in their ACE houses. “When I was applying to ACE,” says Erin, “I talked to [ACE team member] Mary Pickens Corsones and looked at the website. Based on what I heard and read about ACE, I envisioned making lifelong friends. Actually going through ACE, in the day-to-day moments, my community members were the people I could rely on, my family when I wasn’t with my family.”
Maggie remembers having similar expectations. “The process of applying to ACE made me expect community to be a group of people I could rely on, explore a new city and have adventures with, and become lifelong friends with,” she says.
Dorie says that one of the helpful things about living in community was experiencing the joys and challenges of teaching with a group of people who understood them in a way that no one else could. “There were high highs and low lows, and it was helpful to know that people were going through the experience with me,” Dorie says. “When I had a bad day, I knew it meant that one of my community members probably also had a bad day and we could talk about that together. In community, I learned that I could put aside my day to hear about your day.”
Their experiences in their ACE houses has shaped their new community in South Bend. “We have the ACE community mindset of always thinking of others,” Dorie says. “Erin will get a coffee and ask if anyone wants one, and it’s the same way when any of us are going to Target or the grocery store.”
Even with the different schedules that Maggie, Erin, and Dorie have, they still enjoy planned and spontaneous community time. They even developed a routine that’s reminiscent of ACE community dinners. “On Fridays we get takeout together and that’s been a fun tradition,” Erin says. Sometimes, that tradition includes fellow ACE graduates Joe DiSipio (ACE 25, Sacramento) and John Cunningham (ACE 25, Mission). “A fun fall tradition has been that on football Saturdays we’ll watch the Notre Dame game with Joe and John, and John will usually make us chili,” Maggie says.
They say that a lasting lesson from ACE has been the way community can bring out the best in each other. “ACE taught us that no matter where you live, if you build community with the people you’re with, you can have fun anywhere,” Maggie says.
Learn more about ACE Teaching Fellows at ace.nd.edu/teach.