Maggie Skoch – University of Notre Dame

Maggie Skoch hails from Cleveland, Ohio and is completing her senior year at the University of Notre Dame, studying Theology and Arts and Letters Pre-Health. This fall, Maggie will attend the Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University in Chicago to pursue a career in psychiatry.

Diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder during her freshman year of high school, and seeing the impact of mental illness in her life and the lives of those close to her, Maggie has long had a vested interest in mental health and well-being. However, her first opportunity to enact significant change came when Maggie chose to take a medical withdrawal from Notre Dame to fully address her mental illness. After a hurried and ambiguous withdrawal, and a confusing and time-consuming readmission, Maggie made it her mission to work with administrators to reform the process upon her return. That year, as a result of her work, the withdrawal and readmission process at Notre Dame was significantly clarified, simplified and digitized, policies were made more clear and flexible, and readmitted students are now at the front of the queue for on-campus housing upon their return.

As a junior, Maggie served as President of Notre Dame’s chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, during which she sought to expand NAMI-ND’s membership and programming. During her tenure as President, Maggie tripled the number of active members, and organized Irish State of Mind: Mental Illness Awareness Week, which, through a variety of events, explored the impact and pervasiveness of mental illness and raised awareness of the resources available to students, reaching thousands of people both at Notre Dame and in the South Bend community. Maggie expanded on this work in the spring of her senior year, creating Irish Peace of Mind: Mental Well-Being Awareness Week, which fostered discussion and brought awareness to the importance of caring for mental well-being.

In addition to her involvement with NAMI-ND and other campus organizations, Maggie also served as an intern for Dr. William Stackman, the Associate Vice President for Student Services in the Division of Student Affairs beginning in the summer of 2015. This newly created role provided her the opportunity to work collaboratively with Dr. Stackman, the directors of various Health and Wellness departments, faculty, staff, and students to promote mental well-being at Notre Dame. Over the past nine months, Maggie has helped Notre Dame expand its on-campus mental well-being resources, including improved branding and marketing, parent resources, communications with faculty and staff, and withdrawal and readmission resources. Maggie helped close the communication gap between administrators and students by coordinating student meals with Dr. Stackman, providing students with the opportunity to develop a relationship with an administrator and allowing Dr. Stackman to receive feedback from students in all 29 dorms. She also organized similar meals with faculty and staff in each college or school to discuss the role educators play in student mental well-being.

As a member of the newly formed Healthy Campus Coalition, Maggie continues to work with students, faculty, and staff leaders to improve the well-being of the Notre Dame community. Through her internship, Maggie is creating an orientation program for readmitted students, updating and improving department websites, and producing a promotional video for the Health and Wellness Unit. Maggie is also putting valuable resources into the pockets of every student at Notre Dame by successfully advocating for the inclusion of health, well-being, and emergency contact information on all student ID cards, beginning in Spring of 2017, as well as creating an emotional well-being information booklet to be distributed to every Notre Dame student at the start of next school year.

Maggie is incredibly grateful for the opportunities she has had to improve the well-being of the Notre Dame family, and for the people who have supported and loved her on her journey. She looks forward to seeing how future Notre Dame students continue to work collaboratively with administrators to improve the well-being of the Notre Dame community, and is excited for the adventures that are yet to come.

We would also like to recognize our two outstanding finalists:

  • Alfred Delena, Stanford University
  • Avi Aggarwal, North Carolina State University

Thank you to our wonderful panel of judges this year:

  • Casey Acierno: Senior Manager, MTV Public Affairs
  • Dr. Joseph Behen: Executive Director of Counseling, Health, & Disability Services School, Art Institute of Chicago
  • Sonia Doshi: 2015 Jerry Greenspan Student Voice of Mental Health Award Honoree
  • Kerri Smith Nickerson: Grantee and State Initiatives Manager at The Suicide Prevention Resource Center/Education Development Center, Inc.
  • Michelle Tan: Editor-in-chief, Seventeen Magazine
  • Carol Ullman: Founder, Jerry Greenspan Student Voice of Mental Health Award

Learn more about the award and view previous honorees.