With majors in design and computer science through the Reilly Center Dual Degree Program, Hind Zahour knew very little about DNA — but she didn’t let that stop her from joining a COVID-19 research team last summer. When Zahour’s consulting internship was shortened due to the pandemic, she sought out an opportunity related to the global crisis and was invited to work with with an engineering professor, running code code to determine what genes are affected by COVID-19. The tangibility and creativity of Zahour's design major and concentration in industrial design have become the perfect balance to the technical coding work she does in computer science — and the combination has given her a more holistic way of thinking.
When Veronica Mansour landed her first role in musical theater as Marcie in It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown at age 8, she never imagined she would one day write a musical of her own. She still has trouble believing it now. A senior English and music major with a minor in musical theatre, Mansour spent last semester workshopping her original musical, An Old Family Recipe, which will be filmed over the course of a few weeks and released to the public in a live-streamed opening night this spring.
Sophomore Mariko Jurcsak remembers the moment she became hooked on ancient history. She was in her high school Latin class, reading a poem by the Roman poet Catallus about the death of his brother, when her teacher shared that he had connected with the poem after his own brother had passed away. Connecting with history on the basis of shared humanity gave Jurcsak a new perspective on the subject — and inspired her to major in Greek and Roman civilization in the Department of Classics.
What do Stephen Colbert and an ancient Greek political satirist have in common? After taking the advice of a professor to pursue any topic that interested her, junior Ella Wisniewski decided to answer that question in a research project on political comedy. That simple suggestion from Collin Meissner, an assistant dean for undergraduate studies, during a Glynn Family Honors Program seminar set her on a path that included a trip to New York, adding a second major, and embracing learning for the sake of learning.
A single sociology class in her first year changed the course of Kiersten Hogan’s undergraduate career — and opened her eyes to the connections between social structures and health. The coronavirus pandemic confirmed for her the importance of providing mental health support and services, particularly for minority communities, and she added minors in Africana studies and gender studies as a senior in order to better understand the populations she'd like to serve.
What’s senior Liam Karr’s secret to juggling three majors, writing a thesis, and still finding time to practice and perform with the Notre Dame Glee Club? A little time management and a lot of love for what he does.“I just totally do the whole ‘study what you love’ thing, and don’t really care if my schedule looks a little busy,” he said. A self-described “history nerd” with an interest in politics, Karr quickly discovered how much natural overlap there is between his first two majors. Deciding to pursue a third major — Arabic — was more of an unexpected development.
Patrícia Rodrigues is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Anthropology and a fellow in the Kellogg Institute for International Studies focusing her research on the historical and anthropological bases for indigenous claims to territory and legal protection of archaeological sites and ecological resources in Brazil. In this interview, she discusses her research on the Wauja people in Brazil, why she chose Notre Dame, and how the anthropology program's emphasis on transdisciplinarity makes it distinctive.
Whether he’s studying in Uganda or France, South Africa or South Bend — or speaking English, Luganda, French, or Swahili — Trevor Lwere has one topic at the forefront of his mind. No matter where he is, the economics and global affairs major is driven to investigate what different cultures and perspectives can teach each other about forming the best society. “Every time I move to a different place, I get curious about how different societies imagine how they should be organized and how they approach life,” he said.
Senior Meg Burns says that the tagline to her experience at Notre Dame could be, “It’s OK to change your mind.” After three semesters majoring in biochemistry, Burns decided to follow her passion and major in art history. Then, during her junior year, she dramatically shifted the focus of her senior thesis after having completed research in Dublin. Looking back, Burns said these moments became valuable learning experiences themselves.
Senior Sam Cannova’s affinity for problem solving has driven him to pursue a diverse range of experiences at Notre Dame. It has inspired him to dive deep into classic texts, volunteer for a nonprofit in the South Bend community, and travel to South Africa to conduct research on hip-hop culture. He entered Notre Dame intending to major in business but was inspired to try out some Program of Liberal Studies classes after hearing about the experiences of other students in the program.
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.”
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.
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.”
Parker Revers has a full-time job in Morgan Stanley's healthcare group after graduation, but dropped his finance major this year so he could spend more time studying history and complete a senior thesis. "I want to take classes that expose you to a new way of thinking or a new perspective, and history was always what was doing that for me," he said.
Georgia Twersky loves diving deep into data when she’s studying economics. But her experiences at Notre Dame have helped her see the value of understanding the people behind the numbers, as well. An international economics major with a Spanish concentration and a minor in peace studies, the senior has found numerous ways that her academic disciplines support one another, preventing her from missing perspectives that might be lost by focusing on just one area.
When neuroscience and behavior major Revell Cozzi decided to add a minor in philosophy, religion, and literature (PRL), she was driven by more than just an academic interest. Cozzi felt the minor provided her with a piece of herself she’d been missing in college life. “One of Notre Dame’s application essays asked us what Father Basil Moreau’s quote, ‘Education is the art of helping young people to completeness,’ meant to us,” the senior said. “I feel like having that interdisciplinary aspect is the best way to bring people to completeness."