Twenty-six University of Notre Dame students and alumni — including 20 from the College of Arts and Letters — have been awarded Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants to teach or study abroad during the 2020-21 academic year. Notre Dame has been a top producer of Fulbright students for six consecutive years.
Firing a portable X-ray fluorescence scanner at 2,000-year-old artifacts last summer, Claire Stanecki discovered the value of hands-on education. A 2020 graduate who majored in anthropology and Spanish, Stanecki’s Arts and Letters education has been defined by exploring nontraditional forms of learning — from conducting research at a museum to studying the benefits of bilingual education in a local school. “The ability to learn about something and actually go interact with it is so incredibly mind-blowing,” she said.
At Notre Dame, senior Emily Pohl found a passion for social change — and put it into action. An international economics major with a concentration in French, Pohl worked to combat the cycle of poverty by researching and implementing microfinance initiatives. She is graduating with a portfolio of real-world research experiences, a published journal article, and a position at LEK Consulting in Chicago. And it was her Arts and Letters education that empowered her to take action.
The Program of Liberal Studies’ motto — Learn what it means to be human — is a phrase that Notre Dame senior McKenna Cassidy has taken to heart. She grappled with big ideas in her Arts and Letters courses, traveled to Italy to research Renaissance mealtime rituals, and followed her passions to a career in the wine industry. “That motto is a wonderful goal for each individual,” Cassidy said. “It is important to understand who I am and why I’m here, and I’m grateful for the space that the College of Arts and Letters has created for me to discern that question.”
Agustín Fuentes, the Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C. Chair in Anthropology, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers. He is among more than 250 members of the 240th AAAS class, which includes singer-songwriter Joan Baez, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, and filmmaker Richard Linklater.
Seniors Kendrick Peterson and Andrew Jarocki are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, but they brought their perspectives together for research they hope will make an impact on the South Bend community. The pair chose to team up for their Hesburgh Program in Public Service capstone project — searching for a solution to reducing recidivism that Democrats and Republicans can agree on.
What Karen Graubart didn’t find in archives in Spain and Peru was, in some ways, as valuable as what she did. An associate professor in the Department of History, Graubart has spent more than 15 years conducting archival research on women and non-dominant communities in the Iberian Empire for her first two books. But she is also considering how the archives themselves have shaped her research — by questioning who is represented in them and why.
Brady Stiller of Madisonville, Louisiana, has been named valedictorian and Love Osunnuga from Granger, Indiana, was selected as salutatorian of the 2020 University of Notre Dame graduating class. Stiller is a biological sciences and theology major and guided small groups of first-year students in weekly philosophical discussions as a dialogue facilitator in the God and the Good Life Fellows Program directed by Meghan Sullivan, the Rev. John A. O’Brien Collegiate Chair and Professor of Philosophy. Osunnuga is a biological sciences and honors mathematics major and a member of the Glynn Family Honors Program.
Nikole Hannah-Jones, a 1998 University of Notre Dame alumna and an investigative reporter for The New York Times Magazine, has won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for criticism, journalism’s highest honor. Hannah-Jones was recognized for her introductory essay to the newspaper’s landmark The 1619 Project, an ongoing and interactive series she created that focuses on the 400th anniversary of when enslaved Africans were first brought to what would become the United States.
Gilburt Loescher, a longtime Notre Dame political scientist and an international expert on refugee and humanitarian issues, died April 28 of heart failure. He was 75. In 2003, he was in Baghdad, Iraq, when a suicide bomber attacked United Nations offices at the Canal Hotel. Loescher was among the more than 150 people injured in the attack, his wounds life-threatening, with doctors giving him only a 25 percent chance of survival. It took rescuers more than four hours to extract him from the rubble, amputating his legs in the process.
What does palm oil — cheap, easy to produce, and endlessly versatile — explain about state-building in a region wracked by violence? Plenty, according to Ph.D. candidate Camilo Nieto-Matiz, a comparative political scientist who studies how states increase their capacity in subnational peripheries, poor areas with little state presence, in times of conflict. In other words, he examines how governments undertake fundamental tasks like providing security, collecting taxes, and building schools and roads — all of which are necessary for development, democracy, and political order.
“I think being a lifelong learner is important, both in a career and in life,” said Chris Wilson ’85, senior partner at Stonehill Capital Management in New York. Wilson started at Notre Dame as an engineering major, but realized early on that it wasn’t a good fit for him. “I thought, ‘Somebody really needs to know the forces acting on that bridge and somebody really needs to know that really well, but it doesn't have to be me,” he said. Fortunately, he loved the elective courses he had been taking in government, so he switched majors.
Sophie White, a professor in the Department of American Studies, offered an exceptional glimpse into the lives of the enslaved — through their own words — in her latest book, Voices of the Enslaved: Love, Labor, and Longing in French Louisiana. She recently won two awards for the work — the Kemper and Leila Williams Book Prize and the 2020 Summerlee Book Prize. White also received an honorable mention for the Merle Curti Award for best book in American social history from the Organization of American Historians.
Katie Jarvis, an associate professor in the Department of History, has been awarded the Louis A. Gottschalk Prize from the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies for her work, Politics in the Marketplace: Work, Gender, and Citizenship in Revolutionary France. The book is the first study of the Parisian market women — the Dames des Halles — during the French Revolution and explores how the Dames’ political activism and economic activities shaped the nature of nascent democracy and capitalism through daily commerce.
Morgan Peck didn’t know what she wanted to major in when she was applying to colleges. But an enthusiasm for learning and an openness to new experiences has helped her discover three disciplines she loves — sociology, Spanish, and constitutional studies. And all three — plus her desire to serve others — intersect in an issue she hopes to devote her career to. “In immigration law, I see a combination of my passion for learning about the Spanish and Latino cultures and my desire to help people,” she said. “That's something that's been instilled in me since I was very young — build a career by doing good.”
Maryam Rokhideh, a Notre Dame doctoral candidate in peace studies and anthropology, has been named a 2020 Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellow in Women’s Studies. Ten highly-selective fellowships are awarded annually to humanities and social science Ph.D. candidates whose work addresses women’s and gender issues in interdisciplinary and original ways.
In a world with more than 70 million displaced persons, the average refugee will spend more than 17 years displaced, with many settling long-term in refugee camps dependent on humanitarian aid. The continued prevalence and growth of protracted refugee camps has become unsustainable for host states and insufficient for refugees, who have the right to dignified and productive lives. In 2019, the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) Research Technical Assistance Center (RTAC) commissioned Notre Dame’s Department of Anthropology and Pulte Institute for Global Development to help them understand the personal, economic, and social complexities that may affect refugee and host community self-sufficiency.
Adriana Pratt ’12, head writer and a senior producer for Good Morning America on ABC, majored in political science and minored in the Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy. Multiple newspaper, magazine, and broadcast internships helped her land an assistant position at ABC News when she graduated, and she has been at that network ever since. Internships are the primary qualification she looks for when hiring — for the skills students gain from those experiences and the insight it gives them into working in broadcast TV.
La Donna Forsgren writes because she has something to say — and because the people she writes about had something to say, too. An assistant professor in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre, Forsgren’s research shines a light on the essential role African American women have played in theatre history. She has written two books on female dramatists in the Black Arts Movement and is now working on a third focusing on women in contemporary black musical theatre.
Acclaimed organist Kola Owolabi will join the faculty of the Department of Music and Sacred Music at Notre Dame this fall as professor of music and head of the Graduate Organ Studio. Owolabi — whose expertise includes a broad range of organ repertoire, composition, choral conducting, church music, and improvisation — will replace Craig Cramer, who is retiring at the end of the academic year.