Caitlyn Cano, a second-year student at the University of Notre Dame, is a leader locally and globally. Caitlyn is active in projects related to clean water, education, and nonprofit administration among other topics. As vice-president of the Notre Dame chapter of Engineers Without Borders, she has played key roles in working with communities in Central America to improve local schools’ access to clean water. In Indiana, she has led a project identifying gaps in social services for those reintegrating into society after incarceration. As part of this effort, she has worked closely with more than 15 social service organizations to help them enhance their policies and practices. Caitlyn has the talent, skills, and heart of a 21st century leader. She is a leader among her peers, working to recruit and organize other Notre Dame students for internships in the local community. Caitlyn is not only a student committed to social change, she is also a student unafraid to lead and use her voice to enact social change and advocate for those who need it most. She has demonstrated the ability to align values, passion, and dedication in service to the local community and the common good.
As a kid, I always knew I wanted to help people. First, I wanted to be an astronaut— I knew that would bring people a lot of joy. But once twelve-year-old Caitlyn found out you couldn’t have asthma and be an astronaut, I decided I’d be an engineer instead. All-grown-up Caitlyn is an engineer who had a great opportunity to help people in my involvement in Engineers Without Borders. From our massive implementation in Ecuador to the smallest weekly Zoom meeting, I’ve discovered what it means to be a social engineer. I learned that development comes alive at the community level, and I’ve gotten to foster genuine and sustainable partnerships across continents. Through a pandemic summer at home, I got to know my local community too. Notre Dame’s internship programs have allowed me to explore how people of all backgrounds come together to accomplish good. As a part of a team investigating what stood between social service providers and their clients in a turbulent year, I experienced what it meant to give fully of myself in any circumstance. Even though I can’t see the stars for myself, my greatest hope is still to make the world a brighter place.