Nov. 17, 2016

By Megan Golden

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) awarded Irish senior Emma Claire Fontenot the 2016 Indiana Outstanding College Student of Spanish/Portuguese Award. Fontenot (Eden Prairie, Minn./Eden Prairie High School) was one of five Notre Dame students recognized by the AATSP.

The award recognizes students in Indiana who have demonstrated academic excellence in Spanish or Portuguese, passion for the Iberoamerican culture, overseas experience and outstanding community service.

“I was surprised. It’s very humbling, especially because so many people at this university could be recipients of such an award,” Fontenot said. “There are so many wonderful students as well as professors, mentors, staff and coaches that are so supportive of everyone, especially me. The success I’ve had has been because of the people surrounding me. It’s a really wonderful, humbling opportunity to receive the award.”

Fontenot is majoring in Spanish and working toward a pre-med supplementary major in the College of Arts and Letters. She has volunteered at St. Joseph Hospital and La Casa de Amistad, serving as an interpreter for those who cannot speak English and tutoring young, Spanish-speaking students.

Due to lacrosse commitments, Fontenot was not able to study abroad through Notre Dame’s offered programs. The University’s administration instead helped her find an alternative program, so she ultimately enrolled in Boston University’s six-week study abroad program in Argentina during the summer of 2016.

In 2015, Fontenot spent her summer volunteering in a Summer Service Learning Program (SSLP) as an interpreter at a medical and dental clinic in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny said she looks forward to all of Fontenot’s future accomplishments.

“I’m so proud of Emma Claire and all that she continues to achieve,” she said. “While recruiting Emma Claire, it was clear she had a strong vision of her four-year career as a student and an athlete.

“She has navigated a challenging and demanding academic schedule, holds a large presence in our student-athlete community through SAAC and Rosenthal Leadership Academy and is an incredible leader and hard-working player on our lacrosse team. Emma Claire has exemplified the art of a balanced lifestyle while achieving excellence in the classroom, on the field and in the community.”

Notre Dame professors Rachel Parroquin, Marisel Moreno, Maria Rosa Olivera-Williams, Ben A. Heller and Sandra Teixeira each submitted nominations to the AATSP.

“I genuinely love my Spanish classes at Notre Dame,” Fontenot said. “All of the professors are really incredible and you learn so much from them. They’re huge resources for the future, reaching out for possible service connections. They are just wonderful people who really make it easy to love the language.”

Fontenot accepted the award at the Indiana Foreign Language Teachers Association Conference at the Sheraton Hotel Indianapolis on Saturday.

For more on Fontenot’s involvement in the community, click here and follow @NDWomensLax on Twitter.


Megan Golden, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since August of 2016. In her role, she coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse and cross country/track and field programs. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Golden is a 2014 graduate of Saint Mary’s College and former Irish women’s basketball manager. Prior to arriving at Notre Dame, she worked in public relations with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox.