ND Energy Writer | December 28, 2016
As another year draws to a close, it seems appropriate to give thanks for the many blessings we have at the University of Notre Dame. Our esteemed faculty, talented staff, and exceptionally bright students give us reason to be grateful and proud to be a member of the Notre Dame family. It is through faculty and staff efforts that our students may prosper and excel, so that upon graduation, they are ready to meet the world with all of its challenges and opportunities to succeed. ND Energy is privileged to be a part of this exciting time in our students’ lives and equally delighted to share the following story of one of the many outstanding students at Notre Dame. We hope you enjoy reading it.
Patricia Kay ’17 knew that she wanted to learn about the environment when she came to Notre Dame as a first year student. Wavering between environmental and chemical engineering, she settled on chemical while adding an environmental minor. After attending an Energy Studies minor information session, she reasoned that energy was the most urgent, pervasive aspect of the environmental challenge and the one that offered the most career opportunities. She jumped in with both feet her sophomore year, joining the minor, volunteering for ND Energy’s Student Energy Board (SEB), and gaining a research position in Assistant Professor Amy Hixon’s lab.
The main attraction of the Energy Studies minor for Patricia was the variety it offered beyond technical coursework. On top of a full slate of chemical engineering topics, she was able to study both business and political aspects of the energy challenge. For her capstone credit, she spent a fall break in coal country, participating in and later returning to help lead the Center for Social Concern’s Appalachia experiential learning seminar. Seeing the situation in Appalachia first hand exposed her to the social justice issues that she feels should strongly influence all business, political, and technical decisions related to the environment. During her first immersion, an Energy Exploration sponsored by Wheeling Jesuit University, she and her group learned about the history of coal in Appalachia, met with representatives on both sides of the issue including a WV Coal Association leader and the Center for Coalfield Justice advocacy group, saw the impacts of mountain top removal and coal processing slurry ponds, and participated in service activities in the community.