Our First Shining Star!

Mark Godding has accomplished many firsts in his young life, and is certainly destined for a bright and rewarding future. The 22 year-old New Bedford Star Kids Scholarship Program alumnus was not only the program’s first participant from New Bedford, but also the first graduate of the prestigious University of Notre Dame to receive a degree with dual majors in neuroscience and behavior in the school’s 273-year-old history.

alumniGodding credits New Bedford Star Kids for providing countless opportunities that have changed his life. He is grateful for his sponsors, William “Biff” and Mary Jane MacLean of Fairhaven, who sponsored the young student from the time he was a third grade student at the former St. Anthony Elementary School in New Bedford to his graduation from Bishop Stang High School in North Dartmouth four years ago.

“They gave me an opportunity,” Godding reflects. “You need an enriched environment to succeed. They were instrumental in providing those enrichment opportunities.”

The recent grad adds that the MacCleans took a personal interest in him and remained in contact while he was at college. Godding also credits his mother Joan Godding, a single parent who over- came substance abuse and now works with women in recovery, for her constant encouragement and powerful example of determination.

“She was very willing to humble herself and tell her story,” he shares. “She tells me that she lives vicariously through me. New Bedford Star Kids has given me a lot of opportunities that she never dreamed of.”

Godding emphasizes that through the program, sponsors have an oppor- tunity not only to make a difference in a child’s life, but also to impact their families. He adds that many years later, the MacCleans remain good friends with his mother.

“New Bedford Star Kids wasn’t just a way to pay for school,” Godding emphasizes. “New Bedford Star Kids is a community.”

The enthusiastic young man recalls the many friendships that he developed with New Bedford Star Kids staff, benefactors and fellow students during the past several years, the fun he had at Cathedral Camp during summer breaks, and the outstanding academic support he received one summer from New Bedford Star Kids volunteer Gary Sullivan, a teacher in the New Bedford Public Schools, who tutored the young student in pre-calculus so that he could take calculus at Bishop Stang.

In recognition for his academic accomplishments while in high school, Godding received a full academic scholarship to Notre Dame. He spent a semester abroad in England, where he worked with autistic children, and volunteered one summer in Calcutta, India, where he worked with the Missionaries of Charity caring for the homeless and dying.

He adds that one of the highlights of his recent graduation was having his parents Joan Godding and Mark Godding attend his graduation ceremony.

“It was great to have them there and to share the campus,” he says.

Godding notes that graduation was also very special because Dr. Timothy Flanigan, founder of the Star Kids Scholarship Program, also attended the ceremony as his son was also a member of the graduating class. This fall, Godding will enter the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University to prepare for a career as a physician.