My South Bend Summer: Sister Maura Brannick, CSC, Health Center

Notre Dame is mission-oriented, most recently admitting a first-year class where 87% of students participated in community service in high school. Community work manifests itself not only in Notre Dame’s applicant pool, but also in its curriculum, clubs, and research. In fact, Notre Dame students, faculty, and staff clock in 93,000 hours of service in the South Bend area annually, with many more hours globally. Housed in Geddes Hall, the University’s Center for Social Concerns is an interdisciplinary institute responding to the complex demands of justice through a combination of justice education and research for the common good. Each summer, hundreds of Notre Dame students experience the Center’s Summer Service Learning Program (SSLP) all over the country, which is now rebranded as NDBridge. From receiving course credit to getting more exposure to healthcare, the SSLP was the perfect decision for me last summer. 

I worked full time at the Sister Maura Brannick, CSC, Health Center (SMBHC) in South Bend. SMBHC is a 100% financial assistance clinic that provides primary healthcare services to individuals without health insurance who fall below 200% of the federally designated poverty level. Only speaking Spanish, I received hands-on experience with direct patient care, taking on both clinical and clerical duties. From rooming patients and taking vital signs to recording medical histories, the clinic was not only an invaluable experience in my preparation for medical school, but it broadened my understanding of medicine. Before matriculating to Notre Dame, I felt that I was at a crossroads, torn between my professional interests in the sciences, but also, justice-based work. However, my SSLP catered to the intersection of my interests: medicine and society.

In addition to medical diagnoses, patients also struggled with home insecurity, joblessness, and immigration issues. These daily interactions with systemic barriers in healthcare supplemented my coursework in the Health, Humanities, and Society Minor and the Compassionate Care in Medicine Minor. Through my SSLP coursework, I also conducted independent research, exploring the role of transportation barriers for patients at the clinic, building upon my research with the Nanovic Institute for European Studies. Additionally, the SSLP contributed to my fulfillment of The Center for the Study of Languages and Culture’s Globally Engaged Citizens Program

Coupled with Notre Dame’s excellent science education through the College of Science, the SSLP provided me with the opportunity to change my perception on healthcare, centered around the dignity of each patient. As I move forward with my application to medical school, I am fortunate for the experiences afforded to me by the Center for Social Concerns and the SSLP. Now, the Center’s new summer service opportunity, NDBridge, represents Notre Dame’s mission, allowing students to consider their responsibility to the common good while at Notre Dame and beyond.


Originally published by Matt Kianpour at on January 31, 2023.