For Arienne Thompson Plourde ’04, the first step toward a successful journalism career was to study history and Japanese. Although it might seem an unlikely combination for an aspiring journalist, it gave her a strong foundation to build on — and just as importantly, four years to study what she loved. “For me, I always knew that I wanted to be writing and thinking and reading — and being immersed in the world of letters. It was almost like breathing. What else could I have done?”
Latest News » Alumni
Molly Spencer ’94 knows how much words matter. As a writing instructor in the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and and the author of two books of poetry, she appreciates the connotation, the shades of meaning, the nuance in every word. “People often ask me how it is that I teach policy writing and write poetry because they seem like such opposite pursuits. But I feel that they’re actually very closely aligned — policy practitioners and poets all care so deeply about the world,” said Spencer, who majored in economics. “And as in poetry, in policy work it’s important to get the words just right because of the way policy shapes our society and our everyday lives.”
Retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page, a 1967 University of Notre Dame graduate and the first African American justice to serve on Minnesota’s highest court, will join G. Marcus Cole, the Joseph A. Matson Dean of Notre Dame Law School, for a virtual “fireside chat” at noon Jan. 18 (Monday) as part of the University’s commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
At Notre Dame, Choi chose to major in economics and enjoyed pursuing courses on statistics and the economics of education for her major, as well as classwork in psychology and theology. Now, after a cookbook, a doctoral degree, and a spot on the Cooking Channel, she’s using emerging technology and her extensive knowledge of the role food plays in people’s lives to reinvent the idea of a recipe.
When Lily Falzon ’18 started at Notre Dame, she thought she wanted to be a doctor. But a course on culture in medicine she took while studying abroad gave her a different perspective on health care and inspired her to study sociology and Chinese instead. It also led her to research China's success in building an integrative health care system — and her own Chinese ancestry. After graduation, Falzon was named a Yenching Scholar at Peking University in Beijing.
A small but growing number of tenure-track faculty have roots in Multicultural Student Programs and Services (MSPS), a program of the Division of Student Affairs at Notre Dame that provides access to opportunities and resources for historically underrepresented students to thrive at Notre Dame and beyond. “Because of MSPS, I was lucky enough to have professors that took an interest in me and pointed me in the right direction to come to the idea that graduate school was something that I could do,” said Camille Suarez, a 2013 Arts & Letters graduate.
The College of Arts and Letters is introducing Beyond the Dome — a new set of tools and resources to help guide Arts and Letters students through the career discernment process. The program features a number of opportunities that are exclusive to A&L students — including a peer-mentoring program, an online discernment tool linked to a job-matching board, an alumni speaker series, and a year-by-year guide to career readiness — that are designed to enhance and increase awareness of the resources at the Meruelo Family Center for Career Development.
Carrie Sweeney ’03 has spent much of her career learning on the job in fast-paced, high-tech environments. As she has risen through the ranks of companies like Google and Pinterest, Sweeney has drawn on the strong foundation she built as a Program of Liberal Studies major at Notre Dame. “Spending those four precious years on campus doing something that you can’t do any other time — shaping your worldview, your ethos by engaging with great texts — that’s just irreplaceable,” Sweeney said. “You can go learn about balance sheets afterward, whether that’s on the job or by getting an MBA. But there’s never going to be a time in life when you can really grapple with foundational ideas as effectively as you can while you’re at Notre Dame.”
The Kylemore Abbey Global Centre, along with six partners from across the University of Notre Dame campus, has launched the Kylemore Book Club, an open, multimedia, educational enrichment program featuring Notre Dame’s expert faculty. The debut program, “Literature and Film in Lockdown,” is led by Professor of English and the Donald R. Keough Family Professor of Irish Studies Barry McCrea.
Michelle Gaseor ’11 doesn’t meet many other history majors in the tech world. But in her career, which has taken her from educational publishing and user experience design to the forefront of conversational artificial intelligence, she continually builds upon the foundation she established in the College of Arts and Letters.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
By the time Conor Hanney ’14 sat down to start his senior thesis for his film, television, and theatre major, he knew exactly what he wanted to do for a living — write for live-action TV targeting the kids and family demographic. And within 16 months of graduation, that’s exactly what he started doing. Hanney, a writer, lyricist, and composer for Netflix, works on various family programming, including the live-action comedy series The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia, The Healing Powers of Dude, and Prince of Peoria. He is currently working on the upcoming Kenny Ortega musical series Julie and The Phantoms.
A neuroscience and behavior major, Giglia traveled to Ireland four separate times as an undergraduate — once for a semester at University College Dublin through the Dublin Global Gateway, and three times for Summer Language Abroad programs at Oideas Gael in County Donegal. After graduation, she was awarded a Naughton Fellowship to complete a master’s degree in neuroscience at Trinity College Dublin. She now works as a research assistant in the neurology department at Trinity, focusing on motor neuron disease.
University of Notre Dame alumna Ashley Zhou will study medical science at the University of Cambridge this fall as a member of the Gates Cambridge Scholar class of 2020. Zhou is a 2019 Notre Dame graduate from Gaithersburg, Maryland. She received a bachelor of arts degree in neuroscience and behavior and minored in innovation and entrepreneurship.
Mary Cecilia Mitsch ’10, director at the Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York, works with visual artists represented by the gallery to prepare their works for sale. Understanding and cultivating the emotional connection with the artworks is central to her role at the gallery. “To get to work with these objects that mean something bigger than us or are reflective of humanity is really important to me,” she said.
Before Beth Gee ’10 studied abroad in Tokyo during her junior year, the Japanese and political science major had never left the United States. Now, as a U.S. foreign service officer, Gee travels for a living. She is currently working at the American Embassy in the Republic of the Congo — where she employs the language, communication, and critical thinking skills she cultivated as a student in Arts and Letters.
With a Side of Knowledge is a podcast produced by the Office of the Provost at the University of Notre Dame. The 10th episode of the show’s third season, “On Democracy and Difficult Questions,” was released Thursday, Dec. 5, and features Chris Beem, managing director of the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State University.
Erin walked into the fall career fair her senior year — and walked away with a job at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. She visited the FBI’s booth, secured an interview for the next day, and was promptly offered an entry-level position. “My job hunt was very easy because of that one choice,” she said. “I just went to the career fair, and that was it — that was how it all started.” Now an analyst, Erin has connected to a network of Notre Dame alumni at the FBI — and said graduates from every major are valuable to the bureau.
Katie Bugyis, who received a bachelor's degree in history and a Ph.D. in medieval studies from Notre Dame, recently joined the faculty as an assistant professor in the Program of Liberal Studies, concurrent assistant professor in the Department of Theology, and faculty fellow of the Medieval Institute. In this Q&A, she discusses her return to Notre Dame, how she became interested in medieval studies, and why the Program of Liberal Studies is the best home for her teaching and research.
Before leaving for a Summer Language Abroad program in St. Petersburg, Russia, after her junior year, Kristen Stone ’11 had never been outside North America. After graduation, she spent seven years living and working abroad in Russia and South Africa. Her Arts and Letters education prepared her for a career in education, journalism, and now consulting.
When theology and Arts and Letters pre-health alumnus Andy Miles took a job teaching math and science, he returned to not just to the middle school — on its own, a place of considerable influence with regard to his intersecting views on education and the faith — but to the very classroom he helped renovate as an undergraduate.
After Kaleem Minor graduates with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the College of Arts and Letters this spring, he’ll head to California for a job he’d never dreamed of. In fact, less than a year ago, the soon-to-be analyst for a $35 billion alternative investment firm knew next to nothing about the world of finance. A trip over spring break last year changed his perspective — and his career path. Minor was one of 16 Black Notre Dame students who participated in an “alternative investment trek” to the West Coast to learn more about careers in the financial services industry.
As president of Allegis Group, a staffing and services company that works with upwards of half a million people a year, he lays out the firm’s investments, growth, and direction in the digital age — and sees a big part of his job as helping employees and clients in ways that go beyond day-to-day tasks.
Sganga, a film, television, and theatre and political science major and journalism minor, recently finished her masters in international human rights law from Oxford University while working as a political reporter for CBS News. She then began a new role as one of the 2020 presidential campaign reporters. Sganga counts her time in London, during a semester abroad and a summer internship, as influential in making her a better reporter and a more empathetic person.
Samantha Caesar ’14 is an immigration attorney in Washington, D.C. Here, she writes about how a Notre Dame education and experience abroad in Ireland led her to a fascinating and fulfilling career.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program, offering grants to research, study and teach abroad.
Congratulations to the Class of 2019! 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.