Domers in the News

Author: Notre Dame Magazine

The Rabbit Hutch, the debut novel by Tess Gunty ’15, arrived in August to rave reviews. The Guardian called the book “inventive, heartbreaking and acutely funny,” and The New York Times lauded it as a “prismatic and often mesmerizing debut, a novel of impressive scope and specificity.” That reception foreshadowed a prestigious accolade to come — the National Book Award for Fiction, which Gunty received in November. Her prize-winning novel depicts residents of an affordable housing complex in the fictional Rust Belt town of Vacca Vale, Indiana (readers from South Bend, Gunty’s hometown, might notice a resemblance). Gunty’s second novel, Honeydew, is scheduled to be published this year. . . . Daniel Parolek ’95 coined the term “missing middle housing” to refer to affordable, multifamily residences like duplexes and fourplexes that urban zoning laws and suburban sprawl have reduced or eliminated in much of the country. Parolek, who co-founded the Berkeley, California-based firm Opticos Design with his wife, Karen Hankins Parolek ’95, to promote sustainable, walkable communities, has worked with the City of South Bend to revive its missing middle. In September, the South Bend Tribune chronicled efforts informed by Parolek’s consultation — along with the work of the nonprofit Near Northwest Neighborhood Inc. and its director, Kathy Schuth ’99 — to add more such housing after the city council rescinded a prohibition put in place a century ago. . . . Feranmi Okanlami ’15M.S., an All-America track athlete as a Stanford undergraduate, suffered a spinal-cord injury at a 2013 pool party that left him paralyzed from the chest down. Through surgeries and rehabilitation, he has regained some movement, but still uses a wheelchair and has become an inspiring advocate for others with disabilities. Now a physician and director of student accessibility at the University of Michigan, Okanlami received a surprise $1 million grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, which tries to improve life for people with spinal-cord injuries. “‘Disabusing disability’ was a trademark that I coined a couple years ago to try to demonstrate that disability doesn’t mean inability,” Okanlami said in October on Good Morning America, which orchestrated the announcement of the Neilsen gift. Until he suffered his injury, Okanlami added, “I did not realize how ableist our world was, how inaccessible the world was and how I was unintentionally complicit.” . . . A lot of people have opinions on Elon Musk’s business dealings, but Kathaleen McCormick ’04J.D. is empowered to render binding legal judgments on the billionaire’s Twitter purchase and Tesla pay package. Legal cases on both subjects have come before McCormick, the chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery, which oversees internal disputes involving companies incorporated in the business-friendly state. The Twitter case ended in October when Musk agreed to follow through with his off-again, on-again $44 billion purchase of the social media company. A month later Musk was before McCormick once more, defending his estimated $56 billion compensation deal from the electric carmaker he founded against a shareholder attempt to rescind it. A decision from McCormick was thought to be weeks or months away at press time, though she reminded the parties at the trial’s conclusion that they could still reach a settlement. . . . Brianna Turner ’18, a forward for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, received the league’s 2022 community service award. Involved in numerous causes such as gun-violence awareness, homelessness advocacy, LGBTQ equality and the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner from her Russian imprisonment, Turner has used her platform as a professional athlete to be a voice on issues that are important to her. The honor includes a $20,000 donation to be made by the WNBA and State Farm to charities of her choice. The money will benefit Equality Texas and Athlete Ally, which support LGBTQ rights, and Billy’s Place, an organization for children and families experiencing grief.