Tritons, Tritons, What’s Your Story?



NDA ’13 alumna Andrea Mariani is currently stationed in Japan.

Andrea Mariani and Tim Weiss

NDA '13 alumna Andrea Mariani is currently stationed in Japan.
NDA ’13 alumna Andrea Mariani is currently stationed in Japan.

Advisers’ Note:  During our week of in-service for the new school year, staff members were asked to tell their stories. . . “Why are you at NDA? Why are you who you are?”  We asked some of the teachers who shared to send us their stories and then posted a similar request to alumni.  Our first story came from Andrea Mariani, who is serving our country in Japan.

Q: Why did you attend NDA?
A: I attended NDA mostly for more challenging academics than compared to the surrounding schools. I also attended for the Catholic aspect of the school. Having that at a school my brothers, sister and I attended was a big deal for my parents and me.
Q: Where are you now and what are you doing with your life?
A: I am currently enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, and I am stationed in Okinawa, Japan. I will be living in Japan for three years. I am a military police, and I am a part of the canine unit. Here, I have my own dog that I train on a daily basis in detection and attack.
Q: What memories do you appreciate from your days at NDA?
A: I appreciated having all three of my brothers in school with me at the same time, then soon after my sister. Somehow we were always late, we would “push the envelope” with staff, and whenever we would see each other in the halls we would do something to embarrass the other person: Sibling rivalry at its finest. 
Q: How did NDA influence the person you have become?
A: NDA taught me not to be afraid of trying new things, and work hard for what you want. If you wanted good grades, you had to earn them. If you wanted to play a sport you had to go out and try out for the team. It helped me to realize that nothing in life is handed to you, so if you want something, go out there and get it.
Tim Weiss, an alum who is now a V-P at another Wisconsin Catholic high school, sent us HIS STORY. 
Q.  Why did you attend NDA?
A.   I’m not sure I had much of a decision when it comes to why I went to NDA. I think it is more appropriate to say that I was sent to NDA by my parents. For them, a Catholic education was the highest priority. Don’t get me wrong, given the choice, I would’ve chosen NDA. It was where most of my friends were going, my older siblings went there, and I was part of the 3rd generation attending NDA (and its predecessors).
Q.  How did NDA influence the person you have become?
A.  I could go on for a long time about what I appreciate about attending NDA. I had an incredible high school experience that was so formative for me. Good friends, great teachers, strong academics and a wealth of activities to choose from. Most important, though, was learning to be a servant leader. From NDA Serves to Phon-a-thon to simply a general expectation of community and school service, I began to value giving back for the gifts I was given. I also think having teachers that began to challenge my thinking and encouraged me to ask “why” helped me to gain a better understanding and perspective on things while thinking of ways to impact change. I credit my development at NDA as leading directly to my decision to join AmeriCorps, which taken with high school, were my most formative experiences.
Q.  What memories do you appreciate from your days at NDA?
A.  When I think back to high school, my best memories were my involvement in Student Government. I started as a homeroom rep my freshman year and was part of the process to reconfigure Student Government my sophomore year. The summer before my junior year I can remember meeting at Mrs. Brown’s house a few times that summer with the Executive Board to create a constitution, appoint ambassadors and plan for the upcoming year. As students, we were given a greater voice in what was happening at school. By senior year, I had the opportunity to serve as Student Body President and have an even greater voice at the school.
      Beyond student government, I have great memories of some incredible teachers. Whether it was debating with Ms. Mahlock or Mrs. Mellberg in English class, the eccentricities of Mr. Kiser, the challenge to earn brownies from Mrs. Hollenback, the subtle humor of Fr. Gilsdorf or the self-directed learning that Sra. Nuthals and Mr. Geiser encouraged, there are no shortage of positive memories in the classroom.
Q.  Where are you now and what are you doing with your life?
A.   All of these experiences have led me to where I am now. I serve as the Vice President of Advancement at Racine St. Catherine’s. I am now in a position to help students receive a similar Catholic high school experience that has benefited me so greatly. I didn’t know it at the time, but all those nights helping at the Phon-a-thon, were the beginnings of my fundraising career. I can’t think of a better way to show my appreciation for the opportunity I was given than by using my gifts to help a new generation of Catholic school students.

Need more inspiration?  Hannah Jadin contributed this reflection.  It’s powerful!

Where are you now and what are you doing with your life? I am a 6th-8th grade Social Studies and Science teacher, along with the middle school grade level chair, for one of the highest performing Choice schools in Milwaukee. We believe in the 3 C’s of Christ, College, and Character. Every day I get to work with the most amazing kids of Milwaukee and change their lives and shape their futures through a high quality education.

What memories do you appreciate from your days at NDA? The memories I still cherish to this day include Mrs. Nelson’s physics class, Dr. Mulroney giving out referrals for not wearing socks or not having a polo on underneath our fleeces, the football games and overall fan camaraderie of the sports teams, Mrs. Brown’s brownies, and how each and every teacher I had truly cared about my education.

How did NDA influence the person you’ve become? NDA set me up for success by giving me a top-notch education and allowing me to spread that on to other students in our state that are deserving of just as amazing of an education. During high school, I made numerous trips with Sr. Laura down to Racine to tutor inner-city kids similar to the ones I am teaching now. This gave me early guidance on what I wanted to do when I moved on to college. I cannot thank every teacher that I had at Notre Dame enough for passing on what “great teachers” do, say, show and love.


Advisers’ note:  NDA alumnus Jake Sedlar, who always loved film and always planned to pursue film-making as a career, is living his dream.  When we saw his post on Facebook, we asked him to tell his story and explain what he’s doing on the other side of the world.

I’m a freelance production sound mixer for film/tv.  I work on a bunch of different shows.  For years I’ve been trying to get on a travel channel show, and it finally happened.  Last year I traveled domestically a lot–20 different states.

A month ago I was booked for last week on a low budget short film on Long Island. I got a call from another client asking if I was available August 18-24. I said “no” but asked what the project was. When they told me it was a travel channel shoot in Abu Dhabi, I immediately found someone to replace me on the short film.

The project was a show for Travel Channel called 50/50. They take random people on the street on 50-hour vacations worth $50k. This episode teamed with the Today Show so they found a couple in the audience and Al Roker came along We filmed/stayed at the Emirates Palace, a $3 billion hotel, and Qasr Al Saran, a one square mile resort in the middle of the desert. Dunes, dhow racing (an ancient style of Arab sail boat) around the Persian Gulf, camel riding and more–all happening here.

Because we teamed with the Today Show many of the segments we shot were broadcast on NBC last week. You should be able to find them online.

The episode will air October 4th on Travel Channel. We’re hoping it gets picked up for Season 2 and we’ll be able to film 8 more episodes.

With a day off we took the opportunity to drive an hour to Dubai and explore the city a little bit. It was an experience, but unless it’s for work I won’t be back. I found the country as a whole as basically saying “Look what we can do!” Every building in Dubai was trying to be unique and different, and because of that, none of them stood out–except the Burj Khalifa and that was only because of its height.

I’ve definitely got a great job though. It’s always different and more often than not it’s pretty exciting. I work with different people in different places every day and I get to see and do things I’d never think to search out on my own.