ACE offers opportunity to give back, earn master's
By NICOLE HADDAD
As many seniors anxiously prepare to leave for new careers after graduation, Ann Pangilinan and Cameron Gunville will be leaving the Saint Mary's and Notre Dame communities only to return nine days later. They are among 80 students who have been admitted into the ACE (Alliance for Catholic Education) program.
Based on three pillars — professional teaching, community living and spirituality — ACE is a two-year service program where Notre Dame and Saint Mary's graduates serve as teachers in southern Catholic schools without adequate resources.
Throughout the two-year commitment, ACE teachers pursue a master of education at Notre Dame through eight-week summer sessions at the University.
"ACE participants embody Christ's person and teachings, both to the students they serve and the peers with whom they live in intentional Christian communities," said Mary Jo Adams, associate director of ACE.
Adams explained that the benefits are long-lasting and abundant for both parties.
"First and foremost, ACE teachers are able to give their own talents and blessings to as many of our applicants desire. For two years of service, an ACE teacher participates fully in the role of an educator, counselor, friend, mentor, doctor, coach and community member," she said.
ACE teachers receive a fully-funded master's degree and are eligible to become certified teachers in Indiana. Additionally, ACE participants receive an annual education award from the Corporation for National Service to repay federal loans or to finance future graduate study.
Next year, Pangilinan will teach high school seniors chemistry and religion in Montgomery, Ala.
"At the beginning of my senior year, I knew I really wanted to teach," said Pangilinan, "but I had not completed the education program. The ACE program, however, would provide me with teaching experience and I would get to live in a different environment with different people."
"I was initially planning on going to medical school. I was working towards the MCAT at the end of my junior year and was offered an internship in the summer to do research," said Pangilinan, "but something didn't feel right."
Pangilinan explained how her experience as a teaching assistant helped her to realize her passion for working with students.
"As a chemistry TA, I was devising and teaching labs. I enjoyed seeing the students' faces and I could relate chemistry to students," she said.
Pangilinan didn't feel as though her Saint Mary's status was a disadvantage for her acceptance in ACE.
"I don't know if this is a rumor or fact, but I know it is a huge privilege and a great honor," she said.
"Going into the interview, the people were warm and inviting. I was viewed as a person, not just as a Saint Mary's student," Pangilinan said.
According to Pangilinan, the aspect of her application that helped her most was her teaching experience and her sense of being well-rounded.
"I worked with non-majors, tutored many students, and was a TA in a lecture setting," she said. "ACE is a rigorous program in a foreign setting and looks for students that can adapt well," she said. "My flexibility helped."
Additionally Pangilinan's firm religious convictions will help her succeed with ACE.
"My spirituality and deeply rooted faith will allow me to contribute to this program," Pangilinan said.
Gunville will be returning to Notre Dame this summer to attend education classes before leaving for Baton Rouge, La. to teach high school science and religion.
"The big thing was the service opportunity and being able to influence the lives of kids," Gunville said.
Like Pangilinan, Gunville was planning on attending medical school after graduation. But, he discovered that medical school and teaching are quite similar.
"Both doctors and professors have a sole goal of bettering the lives of other people," said Gunville. "A masters in education can only help you down the road when you're working with other patients," he said.
Gunville also feels that faith is an important aspect of the ACE program.
"As a person, I feel this is a big challenge," Gunville said, "I will grow as a person as well as spiritually."
"It's really exciting to try and tackle something new and to be able to share my faith with other people at the same time," Gunville said.
All News Stories for Tuesday, April 11, 2000