“A woman who walks in purpose doesn’t have to chase people or opportunities. Her light causes people and opportunities to chase her.” -Unknown
There is truly nothing quite like a dame, and according to this week’s HCND campus celebrity Alison Leddy, there’s nothing quite like a Notre Dame.
The founder and president of Notre Dame’s newest club Notre Dames has a lot to say when it comes to femininity and the support of all women.
AL: “I’ve always been passionate and confident about who I am as a person, and a major part of who I am is female. I’ve grown up in a family filled with sisters, female cousins, and great aunts. In addition to this, I had a really great experience with the women at my all-girls high school. These aspects really taught me the benefits of a sisterhood and creating solidarity amongst women.”
RR: Have you seen these facets integrated into your life at Notre Dame?
AL: “Coming to Notre Dame, I’ve experienced a really great community life, but I think that we can expand on that, especially with regards to female friendships. Having these friendship with women cross those boundaries of dorms and majors is an important aspect that I hope to help foster.”
RR: When did you discover that this was something you wanted to explore further?
AL: “I realized sophomore year that my only friends were the ones who lived across the hall and girls in my major. I thought that I was truly missing out on a lot. I went to Dublin for a semester last year, and I found some of my best friends there, and I would’ve never met them given the circumstances. So having Notre Dames as a meeting place for different women across campus is something that I’m very enthusiastic about.”
RR: What does Notre Dames seek to accomplish as a club?
AL: “Our mission is to strengthen the female voice on campus and bring awareness to issues that affect women, whether it’s on-campus, off-campus, or even across the country. One of the pillars of our group is having weekly discussions called “Talk It Out Tuesdays” or TIOT. In that space, we talk about an issue of the week. So far this year, we’ve talked about dorm parties and the NFL and women. Basically it’s a way for us to exercise our voices and talk about things that matter to us. I think that people are so busy all the time with academics that when it comes to social time, it’s purely social time, so this is a way for us to be a little more critical of our surroundings and critical of pop culture as well as have an avenue for us to tell our stories.”
RR: What is one word that describes Notre Dames?
AL: Energetic. I think that these conversations can be really energizing for people, whether it’s something that they’ve never talked about before and is a learning experience or it’s something that they’re really passionate about and is a way for them to share their ideas with others. We’re trying to make Notre Dames super fun, casual and informal. I really designed the structure of the club around students’ schedules, so nothing should ever make you feel obligated.
RR: Can anyone join Notre Dames?
AL: “We’re trying to be as inclusive as possible. Any one of any gender is allowed to join, as long as you’re an undergraduate at Notre Dame or Saint Mary’s.
RR: What does the future of Notre Dames look like in terms of events and meetings?
AL: “In addition to the TIOT pillar, we have another pillar which focuses on alumni relations and bringing more female alumni to campus. We’re planning on having more Notre Dame alums come back to campus so we can hear their stories since we’re walking in their footsteps. I want to do mixers as well as discussion panels about all types of issues, and really get those role models out there and make those connections. Our third and final pillar is dedicated to fun bonding experiences. For example, during midterm week, we’re planning an event called “Venting with Ventis” in which you can come and distress alongside your Notre Dames friends with coffee/caffeine and free hugs.”
RR: What are you most excited about for Notre Dames as a club?
AL: I’m excited to meet tons of new people through this club and here their perspectives, I think that’s really valuable to me as a person. The overall idea of Notre Dames is to facilitate relationships between our members, so I hope that through these conversations that we can mend the divide between Saint Mary’s girls and Notre Dame girls. We’re all just dames at the end of the day, so we should treat each other the same way.
RR: What’s been the most rewarding part about creating Notre Dames?
AL: I’ve been working on this idea since sophomore year, so creating a space on campus for women has been something that I’ve always been passionate about. While I was abroad, I formulated my ideas a little bit better, and then finally laid out my ideas on pen and paper last semester. We had a crazy positive reception when we first started out on social media. When Notre Dames launched three weeks ago, we received over 400 likes on Facebook within 24 hours! It was unreal to see my club being so well-recieved. People keep sending me emails saying they read an article that was posted on the Facebook page or that they talked with their friend at dinner about the topic of the week. Those things are very meaningful to me, because even if you can’t come to an event, the idea that people are engaged and talking about the topics/issues that Notre Dames brings up makes me feel like this club is making a difference.
Thank you for your time, Alison!
Images: 1 and 2 provided by interviewee, 3