Saint Mary’s alumna serves the U.S. Virgin Islands

first_imgEditor’s Note: This is the fifth story in a series featuring Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s graduates serving as members of Congress. This series, titled “Trading Golden Dome for Capitol Dome,” will run on Fridays.  As the federal government shutdown reaches its 11th day, Congresswoman Donna Christensen (D-U.S. Virgin Islands) said she is concerned for the almost 700 federal employees in the territory who are being furloughed or facing reduced pay.  Christensen, who graduated from Saint Mary’s in 1966 with a Bachelor of Science degree, is one of six non-voting members of Congress. The Virgin Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, District of Columbia, Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa all send delegates who are asked to weigh in on issues under legislation to Congress. Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo of Guam also attended Saint Mary’s, but her office declined repeated requests from The Observer for interviews. Christensen said the current shutdown of the federal government could have a dramatic effect on the economy of the U.S. Virgin Islands.  “We are a community that has been facing some severe economic lows with the closing of our largest private industry, government insurance falls and the impact of the recession which generally comes a little later than [when the impact hits the] mainland but stays longer and has a great impact,” Christensen said. “This is just making a bad situation far worse for us as we try to recover from our economic issues and challenges.” Her constituents began flooding her office with phone calls immediately after the shutdown, she said. “The first complaint I began getting was from the national park in St. John,” Christensen said. “St. John is a small island and two-thirds of it is a national park, so everything in St. John depends on the national park. … The calls came from taxi drivers, small business owners whose businesses are being impacted, the wedding planners who have people coming in to get married in one of the beautiful sites … our national parks cannot utilize that venue anymore, this has been a big issue.  “I traveled on Tuesday [September 1] and the customs board of protection was there and of course TSA [Transportation Security Administration] [workers] were there, but nobody was sure when they were going to get another paycheck. That is not a good environment in which to work.” No limitations Christensen, who was the first female physician to be elected to Congress, said she treasures the time she spent at Saint Mary’s. She credits the College as one of the key factors in the development of the confidence she now uses as a member of Congress, she said.  “Going to an all-women’s college … gave me confidence and I think that it prepared me well,” Christensen said. When she first came to Saint Mary’s, Christensen said she was planning on going into medical technology, but after reading an article published by the National Negro College Fund, she said she decided to changer her career plans and become a doctor.  “When I had doubts about whether I was capable of being a doctor, my biology chair, Dr. Clarence Dinnen, was there for support and encouragement,” Christensen said. “I thought that was very important.” This positive support helped her when others expressed concern about her ability to enter a “man’s field,” she said. “I remember one time a family member of a schoolmate said to me, ‘I don’t think you should do that, that’s not a good idea, going to medical school,’” Christensen said. “I remember being really taken aback by that, but then I dismissed it. The kind of confidence I gained, the education I received and the support I had from the faculty made it something that I didn’t think twice about. After Professor Divine sat me down and said ‘I could do whatever I wanted to do,’ I never worried.” After graduating from Saint Mary’s, Christensen said she received a Doctor of Medicine in 1970 from George Washington University School of Medicine and completed her residency in 1974. Coming home The day after she finished her residency, Christensen said she came home to the U.S. Virgin Islands. “I began working in a small emergency room in 1975, and after being home and hearing some of the issues that were of concern to my community I decided to become active in the community,” Christensen said. “It is home and there were things that were happening that I thought individuals needed to be more proactive about, so I decided to involve myself in different issues like the appointment of local judges, sale of land ⎯ that was important to my community and the private industry. But, I was doing it as an organizer myself, organizing different coalitions and different groups to advocate or oppose an issue.” At the time, Christensen said maintaining a private practice in family medicine and while adapting to life as a new mother drove her to find a formal way to participate in community organizing. “At this point I had a young baby and was working, so I decided to join the Democratic Party,” Christensen said. ” I joined by running for a seat on my local territorial committee. I won and became an officer. I did that because I thought the Democratic Party would be a good vehicle for me to do some of the things I wanted to do and I wouldn’t have to be doing it by myself.” After serving for 12 years as a Democratic National Committeewoman, Christensen said she was urged to run for national office in 1994. After losing her first primary race in 1994, Christensen said she ran again in 1996 and won the Virgin Islands seat.  “I had been practicing [medicine] and [working] in politics at the same time, so it wasn’t an abrupt transition, it was more of shifting the balance,” Christensen said. “In my practice you always find that there are a lot of social and other issues that impact the health of your patients. Many times people would come in just to talk about whatever problems they were having, and so I kind of looked at it as bringing my office work from a local level to a larger, national level. I did promise my patients that I would remain active in healthcare, even if I was not their private physician anymore.” Territorial interests Christensen said being a delegate of a territory is more challenging than being a woman or being a minority in Congress.  “Territories are not states, so in many instances the Constitution does not explicitly provide territories with the same rights and privileges as it does states,” Christensen said. “Therefore, I don’t get to vote in final passage [of bills] or to even voting in committee of the whole is a matter of contention because while the Democrats feel we should vote, the Republicans don’t. So when Democrats are in the majority we vote in the committee of the whole and when they are not, we don’t.” Christensen, who currently serves on the Committee on Energy and Commerce, is the first delegate from a territory to sit on an exclusive committee. Due to the expansive list of policy concerns that fall in the Committee’s jurisdiction, members who serve on one of the four exclusive committees – the other three being Appropriations, Ways and Means and House Financial Services – are not allowed to serve on other House committees.  She said she the support of the Congressional Black Caucus pushed her not only to sit on the at-large committee, but also on the Subcommittee on Health.  “Just getting on those committees were a big milestone for me,” Christensen said. “I was there when we wrote the Affordable Care Act, and that is an experience I will remember for the rest of my life and feel proud to be a part of it. I consider that a major event in my life.” Now, Christensen sits on the Subcommittee on Energy and Power. She said she not only works for members of her district, but also strives to push legislation through Congress for all of the territories. “I was also on the Committee [on Energy and Commerce] when we did the American Reinvestment Act ⎯ that was very important to help us recover from recession,” Christensen said. “My presence on that helped my territory to get a significant amount of funding, as well as the other territories. As a delegate from a territory, one of my responsibilities is to look out not only for my own, but for all of the territories.” A desire to serve  Christensen said her time as a part of the larger Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame and South Bend communities during this the Civil Rights Movement instilled in her a desire to serve. “After the summer where all of the riots, the bombings and all of that happened there was a change to me in Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame,” Christensen said. “We did become more socially conscious, and I think it was at that point that we started going into the South Bend community, Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students together. We would go into South Bend and help kids with homework and we developed Big Brothers, Big Sisters for some of the poorer kids in town.  ” … Even though we were farther away and we were not involved in the protests or the marches, I think the Civil Rights Movement had a profound impact on us and I think it elevated our social justice awareness and efforts.” Christensen said she was also at Saint Mary’s when she found out about the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and President John F. Kennedy’s death in 1963. “I was [at Saint Mary’s] during some very important times in our nation’s history,” she said. “I am sure the dialogue and how we dealt with those issues had a lot to do with why I am here [in Congress serving others] as well.”  Christensen said she feels proud to be an alumna of Saint Mary’s.  “When I first came here [to Congress] there were four Saint Mary’s women,” Christensen said. “Imagine that a small college like ours could have four members of Congress serving at the same time. I thought that was amazing and it is to Saint Mary’s credit [as an educational institution]. Now three of us are still here.  “I do treasure the time I spent at Saint Mary’s and I do count it as being responsible in part for the successes I have achieved through my lifetime.” Contact Kaitlyn Rabach at krabac01@saintmarys.edulast_img read more

Greensburg manufacturer lays off 16 workers

first_imgDelta Faucet laid off 16 hourly employees due to supply and demand. (Image: Google)GREENSBURG, Ind. – Delta Faucet is laying off 16 workers in order to bring operations in line with demand.The company told the Greensburg Daily News that the moves are not specific to one department.The products made in Greensburg have seen fluctuating supply and demand, the newspaper reported.The faucet manufacturer invested $12 million into the plant last year and has also received training grants and tax credits to encourage the hiring of Hoosiers.Delta currently employs 300 in Greensburg and the company said that furloughs will continue until demand justifies more staffing.last_img read more

Former Artesia High star James Harden is now an NBA superstar

first_img“Learning how to play both ends of the floor at a high level and being locked in and being focused,” he said. “When you play against overseas guys, you have to be focused because you don’t really know their game.“You have to make sure you take every opponent very strong. You make sure you lock into the film sessions and things like that.”Harden averaged 27.4 points — second in the league — 7.0 assists and 5.7 rebounds during the regular season. All are career bests. He made 208 3-pointers — fourth in the league — and averaged more free-throw attempts (10.2 per game) than anyone else.The latter statistic has become sort of a calling card for him. He loves to attack. When asked ahead of Game 4 how he can be more effective, his reply spelled that out. “I think the aggressiveness will determine the passes I should make and the shots I should take,” he said. “It’s a combination of those two. I take control when I need to and I’m a playmaker when I need to be as well. The aggressiveness factor will take care of all of that in going out there and being a beast.”A beast, he has been all season.“Good player,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “He can pass the ball, he can shoot the ball, gets to the line, keeps improving. It’s like any other good player, he has traits that he does very, very well at an elite level in the NBA.”Teammate Josh Smith appreciates what Harden has done.“He’s done a good job at playing within himself and making his teammates better,” Smith said. “We’ve been doing a good job at helping him reach the goals he’s been able to accomplish this season. Teams pay a lot of attention to him. He’s able to draw a lot of attention and so he becomes a decoy.”Harden does have at least one detractor regarding his frequent trips to the free-throw line.“He knows how to throw his body around and throw his arms around and a little bit of flopping,” Barnes said of the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Harden.When Harden found out he did not win the MVP award, he tried to downplay it after his team’s shootaround ahead of Game 1 of this series.“It’s tough,” he said. “But it’s the second round of the playoffs. I got more, better things to worry about and that’s the Clippers.”The Clippers have given the Rockets and Harden plenty to worry about. Harden is averaging 24.5 points, 9.0 assists and 4.7 rebounds through four games. He’s averaging 9.0 free-throw attempts, but in two of the losses he combined for just 11.He admits the Clippers’ stout defense has been disruptive.“We’re not really moving on the offensive end,” said Harden, 25. “We’re pretty much stagnant, so it makes it easier for them to kind of load up and play their normal defense. They’re a really good defensive team and they’re not going to change.”If the Rockets don’t force a change, they will be done.“We’ve got Game 5 back at the house and it’s really win or go home,” he said. “Our backs are against the wall, and we’ve got to show up.”Staff writer Mark Medina contributed to this reportHARDEN FILEHigh School: ArtesiaCollege: Arizona StateHeight: 6-foot-5Position: Shooting guard2014-15 statistics: 27.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 7.0 apg Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error HOUSTON >> James Harden makes his living making life miserable for opposing guards. Whether he’s pulling up for a 3-point shot, or taking the ball into the paint for a basket or to draw a foul, he has been a handful this season. So much so that the Artesia High graduate finished second in the NBA’s MVP voting behind Golden State’s Steph Curry.“He’s tough,” said the Clippers’ Matt Barnes, whose team Tuesday will take on Harden and the Rockets in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals at 6:30 p.m. at Toyota Center. The Clippers lead 3-1.“He’s mastered drawing fouls,” Barnes continued, “which makes it very difficult to guard him, on top of probably being the most skilled one-on-one player in the game.”Clippers coach Doc Rivers is equally complimentary.center_img “He can just do everything,” Rivers said. “He can go left or right, you know, he’s a great shooter and … he’s never playing at the same speed. So it makes it very hard to get a body on him.”When Harden toiled at Artesia, it was obvious he was a quality high school player — he averaged 18.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists his senior year. But Harden has turned himself into an NBA superstar, and his dedication is likely a big reason why.That commitment paid off when he played for Team USA in the 2014 FIBA World Championships this past summer.“FIBA helped me out a lot with learning how to be a leader and learning how to play at a high level,” said Harden, also know as “The Beard.” “Those games, we were competing for a gold medal (and got it). So that carried over into the season and training camp.”Specifically, Harden intimated the experience helped him with his overall level of concentration.last_img read more