Follow Her: to Founder’s Week!

Every year, Emmanuel dedicates a week at the beginning of Spring semester to Founder’s Week, a celebration of the Sisters of Notre Dame. These women are a group of nuns founded by St. Julie Billiart in 1804, who later founded Emmanuel College in 1919. This week has events for every EC Saint, but is especially jam-packed for members of the 1804 Society, a student leadership group dedicated to preserving the values of the Sisters of Notre Dame. This year, as Emmanuel celebrated its Centennial, I celebrated my third year as a member of this organization, and wanted to share some of the my favorite parts of the week! From Church services to panels, it truly provided something for everyone to enjoy!


Sunday, January 27th: 1804 Society Commissioning


Photo Courtesy of the 1804 Society

We kicked off the beginning of Founder’s Week by celebrating the newest members of the 1804 Society! The ceremony was a morning Church service where everyone came dolled up in their uniforms, and members of the newest Cohort’s loved ones came to support. The ceremony was a typical Catholic mass, but also included an induction portion where new members each gave their “bigs” a sunflower in exchange for the pin that goes with their uniform. Commissioning is always an exciting and heartwarming experience, and I loved getting to hear speeches from both the 1804 Society’s Leadership team and everyone’s favorite duo, Father John and Karl. After the service ended, we all took pictures together  dressed up and holding sunflowers, which as a big social media person is one of my favorite parts.


Monday: Tabling and the Follow Your Heart Dinner


Photo Courtesy of the 1804 Society

I began my Monday by tabling in the JYC to give people more information about Founder’s Week, the 1804 Society, and the Sisters of Notre Dame. It didn’t hurt that we gave out free goodies like lanyards and ID holders to put on phones either! I then attended a panel called the “Follow Your Heart” dinner that night. In addition to having great food, this event allowed 1804 Society members and other guests to learn about the stories, career paths and advice of three Emmanuel faculty members. This year the panel was made up of Diana Estime (Saint Ann’s Residence Director and my amazing boss), Jeff Smith (Director of DIversity and Inclusion/Multicultural Programs), and Dr. Busconi (Senior Lecturer of Biology). I really enjoyed getting to hear from people that have all contributed wonderful things to Emmanuel.


Tuesday: Year of Service


Tuesday night, I found myself at another event listening to members of the EC community share their experiences. This time, it was alumni, some of which are now faculty members, talking about the “Year of Service” programs they were a part of. Groups of students sat at different tables while alumni from each program rotated from table to table and discussed their programs, locations and experiences. The alumni represented a variety of groups including the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps and City Year, just to name a few. Some of the locations they discussed were also locations Emmanuel students attend for Alternative Spring Break, a service trip that takes place in March and includes volunteer work ranging from building houses to serving food. This was an informative networking experience that definitely made me want to look into doing a year of service after graduation more!


Thursday: Founder’s Address

Sister Janet speaking for the Founder’s Address

Finally, I ended Founder’s Week by listening to Emmanuel’s president, Sister Janet (also the longest serving active female college president in the U.S.), give a speech about the history of Emmanuel and the Sisters of Notre Dame. The room was filled with student and faculty leaders from all areas of campus, and the energy and pride was contagious. Sister Janet provided a lot of insight about what went into the creation of EC, and captured the personalities and stories of the founders, first teachers and first graduates quite well. It made me proud to be a Saint and member of the 1804 Society because it means getting to be part of such an interesting legacy and community.



My friends and I enjoying Founder’s Week festivities

As this week came to a conclusion, my gratitude for being a student at EC and surrounded by such uplifting people is strongly reinforced, and I hope if you attended any of these or other Founder’s Week celebrations that you felt the same way!