The Higgins Alumni Network (HAN), launched in 2014, connects current students to Notre Dame alumni whose professional or volunteer work engages labor questions from a wide variety of perspectives—as lawyers, researchers, teachers, managers, policymakers, union organizers, and social justice activists. HAN features two components:
Visits to campus by alumni for intimate conversations with students (usually one per semester). Sharing a meal with an academic or practitioner passionate about shared interests is a great vehicle for helping students discern vocation, envision life after college, and connect intellectual and social concerns with career goals. In today’s uncertain economic climate, where students face the pressure of making a living while also hoping to make a positive impact in their communities, alumni who faced similar questions not that long ago can play a calming and constructive part in helping students make informed, wise choices.
Creation of a network of Notre Dame alumni, faculty, staff, and students dedicated to the cause of workers’ rights and social justice. By connecting labor union organizers and officers, elected officials and government employees, nonprofit advocates and activists, academics and teachers, social entrepreneurs and enlightened managers, and labor and civil rights attorneys, HAN brings together members of the Notre Dame family to foster research, education, and policy initiatives to promote the common good.
Most recently, in fall 2018, Ms. Melody Gonzalez (ND POLS ’05) returned to campus to speak about her work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Fair Food Program. With CIW cofounder Lucas Benitez, Gonzalez spoke to an overflowing gathering of students, faculty, staff, and community members in the Geddes Hall Coffeehouse. She also visited classes and recorded a session of the Center for Social Concerns podcast, “Signs of the Times.”
Stay tuned for more visits by ND alumni who engage ‘the labor question” in their work as professionals, citizens, and activists.