Senior Stephen Schafer, the University’s first salutatorian in 45 years, said he never had a preconceived notion of what he was going to do during the four years leading up to graduation.“I would say if anything defines my time at Notre Dame, it would be embracing uncertainty and diving into unknown places,” he said.Hugh Page, vice president and associate provost, dean of the First Year of Studies and chair of the valedictorian selection committee, said naming a salutatorian allows the University to “recognize in a more formal way two outstanding seniors” who will “represent the virtues and ideals animating a Notre Dame undergraduate education.”Schafer, a native of Edgewood, Kentucky, has a 4.00 cumulative grade point average and will graduate with degrees in finance and economics, according to a University press release. Schafer was also a Malpass Scholar, a merit-based award that provides students with the opportunity to learn and be involved with the process of managing the University’s endowment, the press release said.Schafer was a project leader for the Student International Business Council (SIBC) and Investment Club and a senior mentor for the Wall Street Club, the press release said. He spent the summer of 2013 studying abroad in China and participated in the two-week Ireland Inside Track program in the summer of 2014.After graduation, Schafer has plans to travel to Asia and Europe, he said. He will then go to work in investment banking at Goldman Sachs in New York City, where he interned during his undergraduate career.Before college, Schafer said he knew he wanted to go into finance, but he did not know what type of job he wanted to do.“I think that I came in and was open to a wide variety of experiences and took part in a lot of different events, a lot of different clubs,” he said. “Through that, I was able to experience basically everything in finance from wealth management to sales and trading, to investment banking and private equity.”Schafer said he learned early on how to manage his time efficiently and effectively.“I hit my athletic prime back in seventh grade — and since then, I started focusing on academics,” he said with a laugh. “If I wanted to just get away, I do that by studying.”A defining part of his time at Notre Dame, Schafer said, was his friendships with Notre Dame football players Sheldon Day and Ronnie Stanley.“We all met freshman year and ended up becoming roommates,” Schafer said. “… Last week, both of them got drafted into the NFL, and I was named salutatorian. … It’s a uniquely Notre Dame story.”Schafer said he strove to divide his time equally between his academics and his social life.“A lot of it just comes down to time management, which I think I did very successfully throughout college,” he said. “It may have been at the sacrifice of some sleep, but I would say I have a pretty balanced life in terms of going out and going to sporting events and what not.“ … Throughout my time here, it was more like I was jumping into everything — and wherever it takes me, it takes me,” he said. “It’s something I’m very happy I did and something I want to continue to do.”Tags: Commencement 2016, salutatorian, Stephen Schafer
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has questioned Government’s commitment to education in Guyana and took a swipe at it for delaying the process of meeting an agreement to raise teachers’ salaries.Jagdeo said President David Granger and his Cabinet have an obligation to address the concerns of teachers and should seek to have the issue of salary increases for teachers resolved quickly.He recalled that during his tenure as President, he personally sat with the leadership of the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) to discuss salaries and other benefits for teachers.Jagdeo said he worked too with the GTU to come up with a multi-year remuneration package for teachers, which included not only salaries, but aOpposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeohousing fund and duty-free concessions, among other incentives.He urged the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition to ensure that it responded to the concerns of the teachers, noting the importance of teachers to the education system and the country as a whole.“Granger has talked about education, but what about the teachers … they can’t even get a commitment,” he said, noting that it was unacceptable for teachers to be treated in that manner.Last month, two letters were sent to President Granger, one by GTU General Secretary Coretta McDonald and the second by Union President Mark Lyte.Both sought to enquire of the President and his Cabinet the reasons for the delayed remuneration package for teachers and also requested a timeline for its realisation.While Education Minister Nicolette Henry has said that the matter was now in the hands of Cabinet and that recommendations were made and submitted for initial evaluation, the GTU said it was fed up.Lyte told Guyana Times in an exclusive interview last month that the Union has learnt unofficially that the work of the High-Level Task Force of Public Education has been dealt with by Cabinet.However, he said the Union was yet to hear a word from the Government on its decision.Lyte recalled that the GTU had written President Granger about the slow pace atGTU President Mark Lytewhich the negotiations were proceeding and not being able to get a response, among other concerns.He said that that missive was dispatched on June 5. The Government responded and said that the Finance Ministry was advising Cabinet on the matter. The GTU only received that letter on June 29.Asked whether the Union was confident that a decision could be made soon, now that the matter was with Cabinet, he said there was not even the slightest optimism, given how the issue was dealt with.Lyte also recapped that the Task Force had completed its work and handed over its report to the Minister on April 6, but there was still no concrete word on when Cabinet could make a pronouncement.“All we are told is that the Finance Ministry is advising and that is not enough word for comfort,” he added.The GTU official also pointed out that the Government has been claiming that teachers were important, yet its actions seemed to disagree as there was no real genuine effort being made to address their needs.“And, just recently, we were being told that private schools are outperforming public schools and only when exam time comes, people feel it. But this is a result of the low motivation,” he explained.The establishment of the Task Force, which comprised Government and Union representatives, followed on the heels of threats of strike action from the GTU inPresident David Grangerretaliation for the slow pace of addressing the pay increase for teachers. This led to its establishment to fast-track the salary issue.In April, the High-Level Task Force was engaged in a meeting, where the factors affecting teachers were discussed, with the possibility of them receiving an increase in their monthly salaries. However, since May, it was revealed that the matter was within the remit of the Finance Ministry.The Union has proposed a series of increases. These, it said, were proposed with the aim of improving the financial stability of teachers, who are the most significant figures within society.A 40 per cent salary increase for public school teachers was proposed for the year 2016. Over time, the percentage would be increased for all categories of represented teachers.