MND Annual Fund

Mount Notre Dame remains strong and resilient thanks, in part, to the support of many benefactors to the Mount Notre Dame Annual Fund. Investments in this fund help us cover annual costs so that we can continue to live out our mission of “educating and empowering young women to learn, live, lead and serve”.  The trust our constituents have shown in valuing the mission of MND is greatly appreciated and we assure you that the core values established by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 1860 are just as important today as they were over 160 years ago.

Each year Mount Notre Dame asks our alumnae, parents, faculty/staff and friends to invest in our mission with a gift to the Mount Notre Dame Annual Fund. No matter the amount of the gift, your investment enables current students to receive an education that will serve them for a lifetime. You can be assured that your investment is paying rich dividends in the lives of these young women now and in the future.

For more information about the Annual Fund and how you can help, please contact Mrs. Abby Dean Held ’02 at 513-821-3044 ext. 105 or

2023 – 2024 Mount Notre Dame Annual Fund

This year we are excited to share the story of a young woman who has been empowered through a Mount Notre Dame education. We invite you to follow the story of Ms. Mary Bahala ’23, in both our outreach to you through the year, as well as on this website, as we will share pieces of her story, little by little throughout the year.

Part 1 – Meet Mary

Mary began life alongside her family in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The entire family worried daily about the safety of their family and home.  Eventually Mary’s family made the difficult decision to flee to Uganda as refugees. After several years in Uganda, at age seven, Mary’s family had the opportunity for a better life in the United States. Everyone in the family packed up their belongings and made the journey to America.

The hope for a BOLD FUTURE was becoming a reality as Mary and her family settled into the states and began to search for a place to live, work, and receive an education they knew would be the key to their family’s future.

Part 2 – Mary’s Journey: MND is Family!

Mary’s story truly began to unfold after arriving in the United States at age seven. With a single mother, who spoke no English, Mary knew learning the language was a necessity. While her mother took night classes, determined to master the English language, Mary and her brothers took ESL classes during and after school in their Lexington, Kentucky community. Through sheer determination, Mary made English her primary language.

She began flourishing at school, but with her mother working two jobs to help pay for their apartment, Mary realized quickly that she would become a major caretaker for her younger siblings in her mother’s absence.  Mary taking on this role at home allowed her mother to soar professionally working her way up to a role with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

The family moved to Reading, Ohio when Mary was 11 years old, and Mary briefly attended the local public school located near Mount Notre Dame. “Seeing the girls walk in and out of the doors of MND in their skirts, with their hands full of books and smiles on their faces, made me take notice. I was curious and had to find out what this school was all about,” Mary recalls. After further research and speaking with friends who were connected to MND, Mary decided Mount Notre Dame was what she wanted next in her life’s journey.

Despite her longing to attend MND, Mary grappled with a few challenges that accompanied her new dream. Could her family afford it? How would she balance duties at home and the demands of a college-prep education? What about daily transportation? Mary obsessed over these questions but decided to put her fear aside, opening up to her mother and sharing her deep desire to attend MND. Mary thought her mother would be shocked by the new direction she wanted to take, however, once Mary shared her deep passion for MND, it’s benefits like teacher, student ratio, class offerings, etc. her mother was immediately on board. Mary’s mother shared something with her daughter she never had before. “Education is the key to a better life, Mary. We will figure out how to make your dream a reality. Pray and God will answer. Pray.” Both women relied on their faith in God those next few months. Praying daily and putting in the work to figure out some of the logistical concerns Mary had about attending MND initially. In the fall of 2019, after many interactions with MND administration and prayers, Mary became an MND, Cougar.

Entering the halls of MND was a thrill for Mary. She couldn’t believe it! She was now one of the students she used to look up to, walking through the doors of MND. God had answered her and her mother’s prayers, by getting her into the school of her dreams, and awarding her a scholarship which made it financially possible for her to receive the MND education she so deeply desired.

From the moment she stepped foot on MND’s campus, Mary knew she wanted to make the most of her high school years. Gratitude for those who supported MND swarmed in both Mary’s head and heart. Knowing that others loved and believed in the mission of MND just as much as Mary herself did, pushed her to keep her energy high and her heart open to all that was to come. With a heart full of ambition and an eagerness to get involved, she threw herself into various extracurricular activities. As a freshman, Mary joined Model UN where she found her voice. With her sharp intellect and unwavering passion for global issues, she thrived in debating with her peers and other students, representing Mount Notre Dame with pride and distinction.

But Mary’s dedication didn’t end there. She was also deeply involved in Campus Ministry, finding a deeper understanding of her faith as a young woman in the Catholic church. Whether she was helping MND’s campus minister, Mrs. Jen Dodds, to organize retreats, lead prayer groups, or volunteer in the community, Mary was committed to serving others recognizing that her family couldn’t have made it to where they were in life without the support and love of others who helped them along the way. Mary grew in her faith and touched the lives of everyone she encountered, earning her the respect of her peers and teachers alike.

One of Mary’s most profound experiences while a student was leading her peers on a Kairos retreat fall of her senior year. Guiding her friends on a journey of self-discovery and spiritual renewal, Mary’s genuine compassion for others shined. Through conversations, storytelling, and reflection, Mary helped her peers find strength in vulnerability and courage in adversity.

Despite her extremely busy schedule, Mary still found time to follow yet another passion of hers, theatre. Working with Mr. Kyle Imbronyev, MND’s Theatre Director, Mary learned the ins and outs of theater life, helping to build sets, work the sound boards, and even acting in various roles throughout her four years at MND. She had developed a presence both on stage and in life. Mary was coming into her own, as an empowered young woman.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Mary was her unwavering dedication to her family. As the eldest girl of 10 children, Mary took on the role of caregiver, helping her mother by assisting her siblings with homework, cooking meals, and reading bedtime stories.

Despite the challenges of balancing her responsibilities at home and school, Mary excelled academically. She was in all college prep classes, some honors, as well as AP. Her determination to succeed was fueled by her dreams to attend college and do what she had seen her mother do when Mary herself was just seven years old; dive into education! Mary realized the importance of something Mount Notre Dame’s founder, Sister Julie Billiart always said “teach them what they need to know for life”.

Part 3 – Empowered for Life 

Mary’s final two years at MND were full of accelerated growth as she continued to embrace the numerous opportunities available to her and her classmates.

In her Junior year, Mary applied to a variety of colleges and universities, quickly realizing her top choice for college was the University of Kentucky, where her family’s American dream had begun. By senior year Mary was not only accepted to UK, but she had been exclusively invited to interview with the Dean of UK’s Law School, putting her in the running for one of the most coveted spots a freshman can obtain, a spot in the UK BLUE (Bachelor’s to Law Undergraduate Education) program – which she was accepted into! The pride, excitement, and joy of accomplishing this dream was shared by not only Mary and her family, but her extended family at Mount Notre Dame as well. Mary knew that God was calling her to do something brilliant and BOLD in life.

As Mary’s senior year came to an end, Mary found herself overwhelmed with gratitude for the support she received over the years at Mount Notre Dame. The teachers, staff, and community of MND had been more than just educators. They were mentors, confidants, and champions of her life and dreams.

Mary’s story would not have been possible without faith and support from generous donors like you. Your belief in the power of a Mount Notre Dame education, and your commitment to creating opportunities for young women like Mary have made her journey and BOLD FUTURE possible. If you have not already, please consider supporting more young women like Mary through a gift to the MND Annual Fund. Together we can Empower Young Women, For Life!

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Matching Gift Program

Double or triple your investment! CLICK HERE to see if your company provides matching gifts. If they do, please mail your company’s matching gift form c/o Mount Notre Dame, 711 East Columbia Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45215 or email

President’s Circle

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