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Catching Up With Elena Brindley

A recent edition of Inside Irish, the Notre Dame Monogram Club newsletter, caught up with #ShamrockSister Elena Brindley: 

Elena Brindley was a four-year member of the Notre Dame rowing team. During her time with the program, the Fighting Irish won two BIG EAST titles and made four NCAA Championship appearances. She graduated in May of 2015 from the College of Science with a degree in biological science and psychology. She currently is in medical school at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell in New York.

How has the pandemic impacted your life and school work the most?

“The biggest change has been in day-to-day logistics, similar to what I imagine many people are facing. Instead of working in a hematology research lab every day or doing clinical rotation experiences in different specialties, my classmates and I are working from home doing data analysis, taking online courses, and volunteering however and whenever we can. I think it has affected different classes in different ways. Because I’m currently in the research portion of my training, the biggest change for me was having to stop active experiments in the lab, but many of the students in the Class of 2020 actually graduated early and have already started working in our health system to help manage the high patient numbers. I give them a lot of credit and will be cheering them on! On a personal level, my sister is an ICU nurse so she has been very busy, and like so many people, it will be a while before our family is all together again. That can be hard sometimes, but I’m grateful we’re all healthy and can’t wait to reunite!”

What is your daily routine? What occupies most of your time?

“Most days are spent working on my thesis project – analyzing data, writing, and meeting with my mentor and lab group online. Sometimes it seems hard to focus on that knowing everything else going on in the clinical world. Thankfully, our school has done an amazing job organizing COVID-related volunteer opportunities. We have been able to help with patient sample collection for the ongoing COVID-19 clinical trials through Northwell Health, help fit hospital employees with proper N95 masks, organize grocery shopping and baby-sitting for healthcare workers, reach out to local elderly patients by phone, take part in specific clinical research projects related to COVID-19, and just recently we actually started a course on the immunology of COVID-19. Thankfully there has also been plenty of time for exercise and catching up with family, teammates, and friends.”

How did being a Notre Dame student-athlete prepare you for your career in medicine and the current situation that we are in?

“It prepared me for everything I have encountered in medical school so far. The discipline of time management, knowing how to fully engage in a challenge as a member of a team, maintaining accountability for the goals and standards you set even when they become uncomfortable, relying on faith, and an overall sense of gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of something special are all things that were instilled in me by my family and really strengthened by my time at Notre Dame. The mantras of my coaches and teammates still motivate me on a daily basis. Especially now in this kind of great life pause when there is a lot of uncertainty and time to reflect, I know that the ability to stay focused and optimistic is something I learned from managing the whirlwind of student-athlete life at Notre Dame.”