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Arts and Letters Students to Lead Notre Dame Student Body

Author: Renée LaReau

Alex Coccia and Nancy Joyce

Alex Coccia and Nancy Joyce, both juniors in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters, have been elected undergraduate student body president and vice president for the 2013-14 academic year.

Coccia, an Africana studies and peace studies major, and Joyce, an Arabic and economics major earning a minor in peace studies, will take office on April 1.

Though peace studies students have served as student body presidents in previous years (Lizzi Shappell in 2005-06 and Patrick McCormick in 2011-12), this is the first time both president and vice-president are peace studies students.

“We’ve been given a lot of opportunities at Notre Dame and now it’s our turn to give back by creating even more opportunities for students,” Joyce says.

“Our top priorities—creating a space for dialogue and laying the groundwork for policy change—were informed by peace studies,” Coccia says.

Both students became interested in peace studies before ever setting foot on Notre Dame’s campus. Coccia became passionate about justice-related issues as a high school student.

“Peace studies was the one area I knew I would major in,” he says. Coccia has been interested in Africa since eighth grade, when he first learned about the genocide in Darfur.

Joyce participated in Notre Dame’s Global Issues—Toward a Just Peace seminar as a high school student. Both students took Professor George Lopez’s Introduction to Peace Studies class, and both students have participated in Notre Dame’s International Scholars Program, sponsored by the Kellogg Institute for International Studies.

Joyce currently serves as vice president of Notre Dame’s Arabic Club and is a member of the Junior Class Council. She received a grant to study Arabic at the Qasid Institute in Amman, Jordan from the Notre Dame’s Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures. She also has played on Notre Dame’s Women’s Tennis Team.

Coccia serves as co-president of the Progressive Student Alliance and was a leader of the 4-to-5 Movement, a coalition of students, faculty, and staff dedicated to policy change in support of LGBTQ students. Coccia also traveled to Uganda as a member of Notre Dame’s 2011 National Championship Fencing Team, and has conducted thesis research in Rwanda.

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