Short Stories

Author: Carol Schaal '91M.A.

With his Indiana electoral victory in November, Joe Donnelly ’77, ’81J.D. was able to ascend to the rarified air of the U.S. Senate — and he became just the fourth Notre Dame graduate to serve in that exclusive club.

The records kept by the U.S. Senate provide a glance at the cohort of Domer senators, whose names were culled from history by the University of Notre Dame Archives. All of them, including Donnelly, have been Democrats with backgrounds in law, but only two were popularly elected (one served before the Constitution was amended in 1913 to allow direct election of senators).

Their careers took place in the administrations of presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, with Barack Obama now added to the list. Only one, however, actually served a full term, and no one who tried was successful in getting his party’s nomination for the subsequent election. Donnelly is the only one who has been elected from a state east of the Mississippi River.

The first Notre Dame senator was John M. Gearin, Class of 1871, 1874M.S., 1903LLD(Hon.), who studied law at Notre Dame and went on to practice in Portland, Oregon, his home state. Gearin’s political career began in the state’s House of Representatives, and he had stints as the city attorney of Portland and district attorney for Multnomah County. In 1893, President Grover Cleveland appointed him as special prosecutor for cases of opium fraud. The Democrat went to the Senate to fill a vacancy for Oregon in Decem- ber 1905, following the death of a senator. He left the Senate in 1907, without trying for the nomination, and went back to practicing law in Portland. Gearin died in 1930.

Besides Donnelly, David W. Clark, Class of 1922, is the only other Notre Dame graduate to have been sent from a general election to the U.S. Senate. Clark also graduated from the law department of Harvard University in 1925, and the Democrat practiced law in Pocatello, Idaho.

He was the assistant attorney general of Idaho and won two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before claiming an Idaho Senate seat in 1938. Clark only served one term before being defeated for re-nomination in 1944. He resumed his law career and dabbled in broadcasting and banking before his 1955 death in Los Angeles.

Before the 2012 election, Edward P. Carville, Class of 1909, was the most recent Notre Dame graduate to have a seat in the upper chamber. A Democrat, Carville served as governor of and U.S. attorney for Nevada.

In 1945, he was, like Gearin, appointed to a Senate seat to fill a vacancy caused by a senator’s death. He was defeated for re-nomination to the Nevada seat in 1946 and left office in January 1947. Like the others, Carville also returned to private life in the legal realm, practicing law in Reno, Nevada, until he died in 1956.

“In the pub that night, serenaded by soft light and lilting guitar and a hundred strangers’ voices, I was given courage,” writes Patrick Hannon, CSC, ’88M.Div., in his essay “Bathed in Melancholy.” The essay is part of Unexpected Presence: Twelve Surprising Encounters with the Divine Spirit, edited by David Fortier (ACTA Publications). The book offers stories by those who find “the divine presence in the midst of [their] fragile, limited, ordinary, mortal existence.” Kathleen McGrory ’62M.A. is also among the authors included in the book.

Painter and photographer Christopher Kuhl ’77 was invited to show several of his paintings at the International Multimedia Art Festival in Yangon, Myanmar. The late November event was sponsored by New Zero Art Space in collaboration with the French Institute in Yangon. Kuhl, who represented the United States at the festival, has written on arts and culture for European Photography, Art in America and The artist lives in Marietta, Georgia, and has exhibited extensively in this country and overseas, and lectured in New York City and in the Middle East.

From corporate litigator to president of a hairstyling tools company sounds like an unlikely move, but Erin Potempa ’99 was only riding the wave with her younger sister, celebrity hairstylist Sarah Potempa. During a backyard chat at their parents’ Libertyville, Illinois, home, Sarah commented that she wanted to create a new type of curling iron. Erin, who says she “loved the idea of building something new,” joined Sarah in a three-year journey of research and development. The result was the Beachwaver, which sold out in its January 2012 launch on QVC.

Since then, the sister act has expanded Sarahpotempa, Inc., to include 12 styling tools, including the Wrap Up (to create top knots and buns), brushes, a tension comb and styling iron. The tools are also sold at Nordstrom, and, among other venues. As president of the company, headquartered in Union City, New Jersey, Erin handles all business development, legal matters, logistics, factory management and daily operations.

“We are trying to build an ethical company with an emphasis on family values and empowerment,” says Erin. “Working with my sister and with the constant support and advice of our parents has honestly been a dream come true.”

He visits with family and friends in the United States, occasionally takes in a ND football game, teaches medical students in America and treats patients in Third World countries. Welcome to the “absurd life” of Dr. Vincent DeGennaro Jr. ’02, who recently moved from his work in Boston and Rwanda to teach at the University of Miami and participate in Project Medishare for Haiti. His medical missions have taken him from Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic to Rwanda and Haiti. Follow his Global Doc columns twice monthly at to find out where he is, what he’s doing and what’s on his mind.

Are you an uber-fan? As seniors at Notre Dame, Sean O’Brien ’12 and Evan Wray ’12 wanted to find a way “for fans to express their school spirit as fanatically as we do.” They came up with TextPride Emoji (, a mobile app that allows users to share their enthusiasm for a team through text messaging.

The app, says O’Brien, works as a message-creation device. “Upon opening TextPride,” he explains, “the user is able to type a message and add any amount of unique school images to that message.”

While the app is free, users must pay $1.99 to download each school image package. Licensed images from more than 40 Division I-A universities are offered, including Notre Dame, Michigan, Auburn, Florida, Miami, Georgia Tech and Texas — and each participating school receives a percentage of TextPride sales. Each PridePack includes from 20 to 25 images of such items as helmets, monograms, mascots and logos.

O’Brien, a political science major from Dallas, Texas, who deferred his law school entry to work on the app, and Wray, an economics major from Dayton, Ohio, who left his job as a financial analyst for NetApp to focus on their new company, moved to San Francisco to partake of the start-up culture of Silicon Valley. The co-founders named their company RevoApps, and they credit Notre Dame professors and graduates with support that helped them turn their idea into a reality, including mentors Joe Queenan, who previously was the acting client service director at Innovation Park, Frank Belatti ’69, a management instructor in the Mendoza College of Business, and angel investor Patrick A. Salvi ’78J.D. Among their staff is Mike Murray ’11, who serves as the company’s mobile developer. Eventually the founders hope to expand the PridePack offerings to include professional sports, military units and, says Wray, “anything that has a brand.”

While they don’t offer any predictions, O’Brien and Wray say they are excited about the financial possibility of their business. “We have all of these teams on board — so if we get a very small fraction [of fans] of each school, the numbers start to get really big,” says Wray.

Lindsey Jones ’02, former captain of the ND women’s soccer team, and former professional soccer player and coach Heather Dittmer have launched Upward Roots, a nonprofit organization in Oakland, California. The group aims to develop leadership in low-income and at-risk youth through a program that focuses on community service projects chosen and overseen by the students. Research has shown that such civic engagement, Jones writes, is “directly correlated to numerous positive outcomes, academically and in personal development.”

Since spring of 2011, Upward Roots has served students in six elementary and middle schools of the Oakland Unified School District. Sample projects, Jones notes, have included painting a mural on campus that advocates respectful behavior; planting a vegetable garden promoting healthy and sustainable living; running an anti-violence campaign promoting peaceful action at
school; and conducting a fundraiser for a local animal shelter.

While at Notre Dame, Mark Scozzafave ’03 recorded and sold two solo piano Christmas CDs. These days the Chicago resident, who works for Accenture, volunteers as a pianist at Old Saint Patrick’s Church. He recently recorded a new CD, Out Under the Sky, a collection of original arrangements that contemplates the music of the first Christmas. “It is inspired in part by the classical repertoire and music from the Polish and Celtic traditions,” he writes, “but more deeply by the humanity of those days under the Bethlehem sky: the wonder, the journey, the cold, the humility, the joy.” The 15-song CD can be found at Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby.

The senior thesis project of Charlotte Lux ’11MFA was awarded a 2012 Core77 Design award, which recognizes “excellence in all areas of design enterprise.” Lux developed a new approach to the diagnostic procedure for those undergoing stereotactic breast biopsy, which is generally an uncomfortable experience for patients. Her redesign proposes changes in the nurse-patient information exchange, the gown a patient wears, visual focal points in the testing room and the table on which a patient lies throughout the biopsy itself.

Her hope, Lux says of the project, “was to add to the current movement aimed at changing the way healthcare practitioners and medical equipment manufacturers approach the delivery of care.” She has shared her “human-centered” project design with breast-care clinicians and a representative of a medical equipment manufacturer, although further product development work would be required if a company wishes to implement her design.

Lux, who now works at IA Collaborative, a research, strategy and design consulting company in Chicago, says, “My current focus is a project aimed at helping people living with chronic illness lead healthier lives.”