Jessica Heintz (STEM: Biology - Medical School)

Although there are many things I could say about the value of my theological education at the University of Notre Dame, two things in particular come to mind. To begin, I majored in biology, and I will admit that I did not mull over the finer points of my science courses beyond the classroom anymore than I had to. However, the class that fulfilled my second theology requirement (War, Peace, and Conscience with Professor Michael Baxter, Fall 2010) was the complete opposite and undoubtedly one of the best classes I ever took at Notre Dame. Very few courses over my four years at Notre Dame kept me thinking about their topics outside of the classroom, and this theology class was one of the most engaging.

At the end of each theology class, I would find my mind still reeling over the discussion topic for the day as I packed up my bag and wandered back to my dormitory. During meals, I wanted to engage my friends in conversation about the class and all that I was learning. The papers and other assignments for the class were not just something to check off a list and get done as soon as possible. I really cared about the topics and wanted to take the time to understand the material and form my own educated opinions. Thus, although I greatly valued my science education at Notre Dame, it was a theology class that left the greatest mark on my heart and mind.

I feel that many other STEM majors would say the same thing at the end of their time at Notre Dame. It would be a disappointment if students missed out on the beauty of theology classes. If not required, many students might not have the opportunity to participate in a theology class due to the myriad of other required courses and demands that accompany a STEM major. Furthermore, some students might decline to take a theology course because they do not realize what they are passing up on. Help keep students' eyes open, help them see the bigger world around them, which is one that extends beyond science and engineering labs.

The second point I wanted to share is in regards to my minor in Catholic Social Tradition. I picked up the minor during my sophomore year, and that decision has had a truly enormous impact on my life. While I already knew I liked biology, I discovered I loved CST. I did not know it was possible to feel so passionate about something you were studying until I took up my minor. Once I began studying CST, I knew that whatever I did with my life, it had to be something that allowed me to live out the principles of my minor. Additionally, my CST minor was like a breath of fresh air in the midst of my heavy science course load. It let me use a different part of my brain that I had no idea even existed.

Because of my CST minor, I decided to pursue medical school, which would provide the perfect balance of my interest in science and my strong desire to help other people. I wanted to serve others and be God's hands in this world. After doing a year of postgraduate service abroad in Guatemala, I will be starting medical school in the fall of 2015. This journey has been challenging at times but overall such an incredible adventure of a blessing. I simply cannot imagine what my life would be like now if I had not been exposed to and become involved with CST and theology during my time at Notre Dame.

I sincerely hope that by sharing some of my story the committee reviewing the Core Curriculum may be inspired to leave the theology requirements intact. They help students grow in ways they did not know were possible and awaken hidden passions. May God bless you in your work.

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