Growing up in southern California, Jennifer Sharron Richardson ’01 knew she wanted to go into the entertainment industry. But she had no idea she would one day be co-executive producing an award-winning late night talk show like Jimmy Kimmel Live!. It took a Notre Dame liberal arts education, a passion for softball, and a little luck to get her there.
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Three decades after its founding, the Gender Studies Program is thriving, with more than 70 students currently pursuing gender studies majors, supplementary majors, and minors at the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as more than 50 associated faculty across campus. Hundreds of students have found a home in the program over the years — including Sarah A. Mustillo ’96, the I.A. O’Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters.
Music theory and performance are often thought of as separate — you study the structures and history of music, or you master an instrument or your own voice. For Andrew White ’12, a doctoral student at the University of Chicago who studies how pianists practiced their instrument in the 19th century, putting the two together is “very intuitive.” White was able to make the two work in tandem as a Notre Dame undergraduate, where the Department of Music offers a unique blend of music performance and theory.
Taking a traditional path never much interested Mark Winkler ’11. He knew he wanted to go to medical school, but he sought something beyond a strictly science-based course of study. He says his majors in economics and Arts and Letters pre-health led to him to where he is now — a graduate of the Duke University School of Medicine and a resident physician in radiology and biomedical imaging at the University of California, San Francisco.
Sophia Bevacqua ’17, an art history major now serving a five-year fellowship at the Vatican Museums, works with seven laboratories dedicated to preserving and restoring the site’s vast collections. She works with the laboratories to determine which works of art will be restored, which methods will be used to do the work, and how much each project will cost. She then works to match upcoming restoration projects with benefaction from the museums’ pool of approximately 2,400 donors.
“A lot of people ask me, ‘Philosophy — do you even use that in business?’ And I actually do all the time, especially in the world of Silicon Valley,” said Dan Peate ’00. Peate is the founder of the technology companies DRIAV and Hixme, and is the managing director of Peate Ventures LLC, a venture capital fund. He credits his success in business to the skills he gained in asking foundational questions as a philosophy major. He seeks new employees who can demonstrate flexible thinking and thinks all students should broaden their abilities to work creatively.
Julia Steiner ’14 writes songs and plays them in a Chicago-based rock band called Ratboys. She grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, before attending Notre Dame, where she graduated with a degree in English. During her third year at the University, Steiner studied abroad in Dublin and attended Trinity College. She returned in summer 2014 to intern in the sports department at RTÉ, Ireland’s National Broadcaster. Here, Steiner reflects on her time in Dublin and the influence it had on her music.
After receiving her Ph.D. in medieval studies from Notre Dame in 2017, Megan Welton spent a year as an Arts and Letters postdoctoral fellow at the University of Notre Dame’s London Global Gateway in England. She is now a researcher on the NWO-VICI project, “Citizenship Discourses in the Early Medieval World” at Utrecht University.
Ailbhe Darcy’s new volume of poetry, Insistence, has been shortlisted for the prestigious T.S. Eliot Prize in Poetry. Darcy, who now lives in Wales, received an MFA in creative writing from Notre Dame in 2011 and a Ph.D. in English with an Irish studies graduate minor from the University in 2015. A poet, critic, and professor, she teaches contemporary Irish poetry and literature at Cardiff University.
Music has the power to inspire, to sustain, and to build community. And students and alumni of Sacred Music at Notre Dame’s Calvin M. Bower Doctor of Musical Arts program are playing a vital role in re-energizing the church and the academy through sacred music. With tracks in choral conducting and organ, the program offers an academically rigorous curriculum with a wide range of opportunities for performance, academic, and community engagement. The latest step forward for the DMA program is a generous gift from James and Molly Perry to endow and rename it in honor of Calvin M. Bower, professor emeritus of musicology.
It was a New Year’s Eve celebration that Mary McGraw '17 will never forget. McGraw was ringing in the new year with eight Benedictine nuns at Kylemore Abbey in Galway, Ireland. This intimate moment isn’t something that most study abroad students get to experience while in Ireland. In fact, most people will never know what it’s like to see these nuns behind closed doors. It took several months in Kylemore for McGraw to develop trust with the nuns and, ultimately, a relationship that allowed her to gain a unique perspective into their everyday lives. A studio art major with a photography concentration, McGraw was able to pull back the curtains and capture even more intimate moments through her camera lens — a project that led to her senior thesis.
Now a senior program office for IREX in Washington, D.C., Micah Johnston '06 spent his first year after graduation volunteering for the Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly in Chicago. He spent his days visiting the homes of elderly individuals who did not regularly see friends or family. “Spending a year in service helps other people, but it can also be a master class in learning about the world, learning about other people, incorporating that into the education you get at Notre Dame,” he said.
In this Q&A, Leslie Lockett, an associate professor of English and director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at The Ohio State University, discusses early medieval concepts of the mind, what initially hooked her on the Middle Ages, and her advice for graduate students who would like to follow her career track.
Sara Abdel-Rahim ’17 found her voice in the liberal arts — and she amplified it through research, internships, and leadership roles on campus. As a first-generation American citizen, the political science and Arabic major wants to battle against cultural and religious discrimination.
One visit to the Hesburgh Library’s medieval manuscripts collection, and Luke Donahue ’17 was hooked. “I saw them and thought, ‘This is it.’ This is what I want to study,” Donahue said. “I was intrigued that there are all these manuscripts from the Middle Ages that no one has researched, and I was determined — I wanted to help fill that intellectual gap.” While he initially planned to study physics, Donahue decided to major in theology and German and add a minor in medieval studies.
When he got to Notre Dame, Corey Robinson ’17 didn’t know what to major in — because he wanted to major in everything. He met with advisers in more than 20 departments, considering everything from Arts and Letters pre-health to Irish language and literature to aquatic biology. And he still wasn’t sure. That’s when his advising dean suggested the Program of Liberal Studies.
Gabriel Said Reynolds greets his students on the final day of his Introduction to the Quran course. He is in a small classroom on Notre Dame’s campus. His students are in Orlando, Colorado, Canada, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and beyond. Such arrangements are not uncommon in the world of massive open online courses (MOOCs), but this one is different. It breaks new ground in the online learning space by bringing students participating in the MOOC around the world together with undergraduate and graduate students that Reynolds teaches in a traditional course at Notre Dame.
Congratulations to the Class of 2018! This video, screened at the Arts and Letters Diploma Ceremony, features several seniors reflecting on their time at Notre Dame and in the College of Arts and Letters. In it, the new graduates discuss how a liberal arts education helped them develop skills, shaped their minds, and opened up a world of possibilities for their futures.
Now in its third year, the College of Arts and Letters' Idzik Computing and Digital Technologies Program is helping students supplement their education with technological and programming skills. The program was endowed and renamed this year in honor of its generous benefactors, Paul and Ruth Idzik. Designed to help students obtain skills needed for success in the modern digital world, the CDT minor can be extremely appealing for prospective employers who are already attracted to the communication, organization, and analytical skills honed through the liberal arts.
Christine Swanson ’94 has written and directed multiple award-winning films. Her husband, Michael Swanson ’93, is an Emmy-winning producer and studio executive who has worked on hit Universal Television shows. The married Department of Film, Television, and Theatre alumni also make movies together through their Los Angeles-based production company, Faith Filmworks. Grounded in their Notre Dame liberal arts education and inspired by their deep Christian faith, the Swansons use their skills to tell the type of uplifting stories they feel are missing from big Hollywood studios.
For Victoria Braga ’11, a semester in Egypt as an undergraduate gave her a new perspective on the United States — and shaped her future career path. Braga came to Notre Dame with an interest in international relations, but her study abroad experience inspired her to pursue a career as an attorney and a position in the U.S. government. Today, the Arabic and political science major works as a trial attorney in the appellate section of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Immigration Litigation.
Four alumni of Notre Dame’s international economics program returned to campus in March to speak to current students about their experience with the major, valuable classes they took, and the skills they developed that are now paying dividends in the real world
As an orthopedic resident at Loyola University Medical Center, Daniel Schmitt ’11 sees a wide variety of patients. Schmitt, who majored in anthropology and biology, relies on his liberal arts education to connect with his diverse patient base and treat them comprehensively at the Level I trauma center — a hospital providing the highest level of surgery to trauma victims.
A truly unique production model, First Time Fans brings together Notre Dame alumni filmmakers and pairs them with current students to tell inspiring stories about extraordinary people on an extraordinary campus. A joint venture of the College of Arts and Letters, the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre, and the Athletics Department, First Time Fans is a filmmaking co-op where alumni are given the creative canvas to tell a Notre Dame story through the eyes of someone new to campus, using the backdrop of a Fighting Irish athletic event.
Evelyn Diaz’s career has taken her to the top of Chicago’s governmental, social service, and nonprofit sectors. And at every stop along the way, Diaz ’92 has relied on skills she cultivated as an English major in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters.
Growing up in South Bend, Carly Murphy ’01 always admired Marc Chagall’s Le Grand Cirque when she saw it in the Snite Museum of Art at Notre Dame. This piece of art sparked a love of French culture in Murphy, who went on to major in French and art history in the College of Arts and Letters. Now vice president of global client development at Sotheby’s international art auction house, Murphy returned to campus last semester to speak to a gathering of students, reflecting on her Notre Dame education and offering advice on entering the art world.
NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson and his son, a College of Arts and Letters graduate and former football player Corey Robinson will be the featured keynote speakers during the University of Notre Dame's Martin Luther King Celebration luncheon on Jan. 22 (Monday).
For his entire academic career, Sean Reardon ’86 has sought to use his passions — the humanities and quantitative research — to make a difference in the field of education. One of the nation’s leading experts on educational inequality, Reardon researches how opportunities and outcomes vary in the United States for students of different racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic backgrounds. Reardon’s path to his current position, Professor of Poverty and Inequality in Education at Stanford University, is long and sprawling. It includes stops on a South Dakota Indian Reservation, a New Jersey Quaker school, and further academic work at Harvard and Penn State — but it all began at Notre Dame.
The Medieval Institute's new series of alumni spotlight interviews kicks off with alumna Nicole Eddy, who received her Ph.D. in 2012. Eddy has recently been hired as the new managing editor for the Medieval Library series at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection.
Nikole Hannah-Jones, a 1998 Notre Dame graduate, has won a fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation — commonly known as a “Genius” Grant. Hannah-Jones, who majored in history and African American studies (now Africana studies), is an investigative reporter for The New York Times Magazine, covering issues of racial inequality, especially in education. In 2015, she produced three Peabody Award-winning radio stories for This American Life illustrating how school desegregation can lessen the achievement gap between white children and students of color, and her first-person article, “Worlds Apart: Choosing a School for My Daughter in a Segregated City,” won a 2017 National Magazine Award.