From northern Michigan to South America and back again

Climbing mountains, biomedical engineering and the Spanish language are keeping 2013 alum busy on two continents.

Carly Joseph has always been an athlete. She loves to run and her time at Notre Dame included significant contributions to Irish softball and cross-country teams.

But it seems her physical endeavors are picking up the pace even more just as her academics demand more and more of her time and attention.

Joseph is currently pursuing degrees in biomedical engineering and international Spanish from Michigan Tech, located in the state’s upper peninsula. However, her studies now have her in Valparaiso, Chile, where she’s taking Spanish at the Pontifical Catholic University. When her day is done in the classroom, Joseph heads to the nearest mountain.

“Rock climbing is one of my newer hobbies, and it nicely complements my other mountain passions, which include snowboarding,” she said. “Some of my favorite times while living here in Valparaiso have been climbing and chatting with locals on and around the mountains. I’ve been doing both outdoor and indoor climbing here. I’ve met some incredibly talented climbers and made lots of new friends there.”

It’s not the first time she’s been on the mountains in South America.  

After many years of competitive snowboarding, she made a transition into backcountry snowboarding toward the end of her time at NDP. Since then, she said she’s grown to love mountain sports in a whole new way. “In 2013, I took my first avalanche safety certification course. In 2014, I became a Wilderness First Responder. This year, 2015, started with an unsupported 35-day mountaineering expedition in the back country of Chilean Patagonia.”

Tying it all together
Joseph acknowledges that even though it may seem like all of these outdoor passions may not be the most relevant activities toward her academic career path, she firmly believes in complementing the rigors of high-intensity academics with the endorphins and adrenaline she experiences from climbing, running and the like. 

“The mountains have this magical way of teaching so many life skills—humility, perseverance and risk assessment, to name a few—that help me in my day-to-day life,” she said. “Climbing, running and snowboarding continue to allow me to meet people from all over the world and experience different cultures. All of these experiences are ultimately what keep my brain alive, engaged, and creative, and I believe they actually help me achieve my goals in academics.”

Achieving her academic goals, it appears, is something Joseph is quite familiar with. She graduated Notre Dame as one of the Class of 2013’s valedictorians with a cumulative grade point average of 4.356. She also was a member of the National Honor Society, president of the Spanish NHS and president of the NDP’s varsity club. She makes sure she gives NDP props for getting her where she is today in and out of the classroom.

“My experience at Notre Dame prepared me well for college,” she said. “Learning the importance of being well rounded has allowed me to continue my involvement in a diverse array of activities including undergraduate research and athletics. And the time-management skills I gained at Notre Dame were critical in making a smooth transition into university-level academic and extracurricular commitments. Finally, I believe that Notre Dame helped me develop leadership skills that have served me extremely well from the moment I set foot on campus at Tech. In my first year, I became a leader at our outdoor adventure program, a leader of our career fair, and co-founded a new engineering enterprise team.”

Sports injuries led to career pursuit 
Joseph’s initial interest in biomedical engineering stemmed directly from the various injuries she had growing up playing competitive softball and snowboarding. 

“I spent a lot of time in doctors offices, getting MRIs, and having follow-up assessments, etc.,” she said. “One of the orthopedic surgeons I visited noticed I had a genuine interest in understanding the science behind my injury and recovery outcome. So he offered to help me get a tour of the biomedical engineering lab that he worked with.” 

That experience, plus always asking questions to doctors and biomedical engineers during her early years at NDP, inspired her to pursue biomedical engineering at Michigan Tech, she said. 

Bonding and community
Now two years out of high school, Joseph still savors her time at Notre Dame. “My favorite memories from NDP are bonding with my teammates on cross country and softball, as well as attending and leading Kairos retreats,” she said. “Also, I can’t thank Sra. Tessada and Sra. Anderson enough for being excellent Spanish teachers. They paved the way for me to have a great foundation in Spanish that has been so important to me, especially while living in South America.” 

She also misses the community aspect of her Notre Dame experience. “It’s something that I didn’t quite realize how special it was until I left. It is truly incredible the support and encouragement that everyone at NDP gave me during my years there, and it continues to pay dividends to this day,” she said.

“I really would like to see future generations of students have a great experience at NDP as well. They will be the next leaders at their universities and in the world.”

Follow Notre Dame on Twitter at @NDPMA.
About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy

Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The school's upper division enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at