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“In so many ways Noelle is the consummate Jesuit-educated student-athlete,” says Dan Coonan, Santa Clara athletic director. “She was a brilliant student, a gifted athlete, and leader on her team. She has a huge heart, which is evidenced by her commitment to community service and social justice. She is an inspiration to us all.”
As a key leader and participant in Santa Clara’s women’s track and cross-country teams, Lopez believes that the intense training on the field instilled a high level of discipline that carried over to all other aspects of her college career.
“Overall, running definitely teaches certain virtues,” says Lopez. “Patience is a good one, and there’s a certain optimism that has to go along with running. I think the discipline is really huge, too.”
She credits Santa Clara with supporting and encouraging her wide range of interests, and this was one of the main reasons she chose to attend the University.
Speaking of Lopez, Professor of Philosophy William Prior states, “She was encouraged to question everything she learned, which is central to philosophy as a discipline, and I’d say the most important thing she derived from Santa Clara is this critical perspective.”
At Santa Clara, Lopez had the opportunity to become involved with student organizations and clubs that hold social justice central to their mission. She was a 2008–09 Hackworth Fellow at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, where, annually, three seniors receive funding, allowing them to design ethics programs for their fellow students. For her Hackworth Project, Lopez along with her peers explored the question: “What do we mean when we use the term social justice?” To experience social justice issues firsthand, Lopez participated in community-based learning and immersion trips to Mexico and the Salinas Valley.
“We have great expectations of Noelle,” says Christopher Kulp, associate professor of philosophy and a key supporter of Lopez’s efforts to apply for the Rhodes scholarship. “True, she doesn’t yet have a doctorate and she isn’t yet a professional, but it sure looks like she’s on her way. She has enormous potential.”
Students have found the perfect recipe to build community with a game of broomball. It's simple. Put on your sneakers. Get a bunch of brooms and a round ball. Have fun.
It was an idea that worked in reality as freshman Kromm “kept in mind the inverse relationship between speed and friction” when running on ice in her sneakers with a broom-like stick. “I must have looked pretty funny,” she says. “But it was fun. Plus, I only fell once!”
The informal class setting and the subsequent game also afforded students the opportunity to strengthen their community. “It was the perfect excuse to get to know some of the other residents and interact with a faculty member I may or may not take a class with,” says Kromm.
Kesten says it’s all about integrating all the different pieces. “We’re giving them a holistic educational experience by bringing together the academic, the residential, and the social components,” he says. “They learn, they mature, and they acquire leadership skills from working and playing with their peers and professors.”