As an undergraduate at Notre Dame in the 1970s, Ann Combs was often the only woman in her classes. But that didn't faze her — in fact, it prepared her for a successful 40-year career in public policy affecting retirement and health care benefits. Combs served in the Department of Labor under three presidents, culminating in being appointed assistant secretary for employee benefits security by President George W Bush. She also worked in the private sector, helping trade associations and private companies navigate Washington, D.C. Throughout it all, the skills she developed and knowledge she gleaned from her Notre Dame liberal arts education served her well in her career.
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Over the past four years, Tim Keller ’00 has found that leading his hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico, has much more in common with studying art than he initially thought. Being able to analyze and understand the context, history, and circumstances of Albuquerque has helped Keller recognize and address his community’s needs. It’s just one of the many surprising ways art history has re-entered his life since earning his degree — and one of the many skills he developed in his liberal arts education that have remained a constant throughout his career.
When the company he worked for let its entire business development team go, David Wallace, 61, founded Bay Ridge Consulting Group, became an independent consultant with Corporate Visions and Culture Partners, co-authored the business book, Brilliant Breakthroughs for the Small Business Owner and occasionally guest lectures at the Mendoza College of Business.“Sometimes I have to pinch myself,” he said. “Sometimes it seems like luck, but it was a lot of work to get here.”
Tambr, which is available on Google Play and the App Store, seeks to give all musicians a way to be heard while allowing them to monetize their music in a new and fair way. “Some musicians are livestreaming performances every week. They are really excited to have a new tool," said Go. "That’s the most gratifying thing for me."
In addition to teaching, Hedlin will assist with curriculum design and outreach, and work with faculty and staff to build a robust and intellectually serious community around the study of business and the practice of the liberal arts. “My courses are all about experiential learning," she said. "I want students to be active, to try something new together.”
For Shinjini Chattopadhyay, Ulysses provides a blueprint for understanding modern life in post-colonial times. The winner of Notre Dame's Outstanding Graduate Student Teacher Award will begin as a tenure-track assistant professor at Berry College in Georgia this fall.
Ann Hermann, who double-majored in computer science and Chinese, will research comparative tech policy and social media algorithms in the U.S. and China. Susan Peters, who majored in international economics with a concentration in Chinese, will examine effects of recent changes in China’s “cram,” or test-prep, school policies.
Melinda Henneberger, a 1980 University of Notre Dame alumna and columnist for the Sacramento Bee, won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, journalism’s highest honor. Henneberger was honored for “persuasive columns demanding justice for alleged victims of a retired police detective accused of being a sexual predator,” pieces she wrote while working as vice president and editorial page editor for The Kansas City Star. Graduates of Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters have now won Pulitzer Prizes three out of the last four years.
As a plastic and reconstructive surgery resident at Duke University Medical Center, Natalie (Jackson) Hibshman ’17 applies what she learned at Notre Dame and in medical school to improve the lives of her patients. But there's always more to learn. With every physical problem someone encounters, she’s found there are complicated mental and emotional dynamics entwined with it — and her liberal arts education prepared her to take on the task of treating patients holistically.
Fathers remain understudied when it comes to contributions they make to their children's health and well-being. “There’s a lot of interest in how dads and other caregivers can help shape the future health of children, and this new work provides insights about the biology that may contribute to those outcomes,”
Dinah Lawan won the 2022 Gary F. Barnabo Political Science Writing Prize for the best paper about a current national or global issue that provides a plan for specific action and a nonviolent resolution. Lawan recommended a peacebuilding approach to effectively dismantle Boko Haram, which has has killed more than 350,000 people in Nigeria.
The Illinois resident became interested in studying Chinese when her aunt moved to Beijing to report on the 2008 Olympics. Margaret Rauch thrived in her ND Chinese language classes, completing the highest level in her sophomore year. She then took Classical Chinese and designed an independent research project—three semesters of directed readings that examined Su Xuelin, a May Fourth Intellectual who converted to Catholicism and wrote horny Heart.
Irma Ibarra, who spoke Spanish and English when she arrived in South Bend, majored in Italian, studied in Rome, took Beginning French, and wishes she had taken a Portuguese course. Studying French helped Kyle Dorshorst gain a deeper appreciation of French music, literature, art, and culture. Maria Teel loved that her language skills could bridge gaps between people, including at the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. When Fouad El Zoghbi came to Notre Dame, he spoke French, English, and Arabic. Then he studied Spanish. Learning a new language, he said, expands your mind in unimaginable ways.
The Office of the Provost presented Kimberly Belcher, Ann-Marie Conrado, Blake Leyerle, Forrest Spence, and Michael Macaluso with Joyce Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and presented Maureen Dawson with a Dockweiler Award for outstanding advising.
Notre Dame alumna Geraldine Mukumbi has been named a 2022 Knight-Hennessy Scholar. She is Notre Dame’s second consecutive Knight-Hennessy Scholar and third in the past four years. An English and Africana studies major, she will now pursue a doctorate in curriculum studies and teacher education at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. She is interested in interventions in the English classroom that can inspire students to be lifelong readers — particularly, the role that young adult fiction can play in improving the quality of literacy for multilingual students.
University of Notre Dame alumnus Charles Sheedy and his wife, Ellen, have made a leadership gift to his alma mater to endow an innovative new program that will offer specialized coursework, programming and resources for undergraduate students interested in finding deeper meaning in the practice of business through the liberal arts. The Sheedy Family Program in Economy, Enterprise and Society will be open to College of Arts and Letters students with a minor in business economics or a Mendoza College of Business minor, or Mendoza majors who have a major, supplemental major, or minor in the College of Arts and Letters.
Now a cultural anthropologist and professor of comparative American studies at Oberlin College, Gina Pérez ’90 strives to foster that same love of ideas among her students that she discovered in the Program of Liberal Studies at Notre Dame, encouraging them to take fresh looks at topics people have contemplated for centuries. Driven by her faith, Pérez's has spent her post-Notre Dame career engaging with communities both in the U.S. and Latin America through service, activism, and research. “I believe that ideas and conversations can change the world for the better — because they lead to informed and thoughtful action and engagement with the world,” she said.
Catherine Brown Tkacz recovers positive traditions about women that have been largely forgotten since what Brad Gregory aptly calls the Unintended Reformation. She said at least 11 biblical women have been recognized as prefiguring Christ in his passion, a dynamic way of emphasizing that everyone, male and female, is called to be holy.
A love of language led Mary Agnes “M.A.” Laguatan ’85 to Notre Dame. Four years later, that interest had blossomed into a curiosity about the rest of the world — and a calling to live out her values in the service of others. Now an executive with the global office of Ronald McDonald House Charities, Laguatan’s time at Notre Dame allowed her to discover her place and purpose in the world, one defined by helping others and offering dignity to those in need at home and abroad.
The University of Notre Dame is among the top producers of Fulbright Program students for the eighth consecutive year, according to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which administers the Fulbright Program on behalf of the U.S. Department of State. Among research institutions, the University finished second with 26 Fulbright recipients for the 2021-22 academic year, tied with Georgetown and Harvard and ahead of Princeton, Columbia, Stanford, and Yale.
Among Notre Dame's 26 recipients were 20 Arts & Letters undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni — meaning the College of Arts & Letters produced more Fulbright winners than Penn, the University of Chicago, Michigan, Northwestern, New York University, Johns Hopkins, MIT, and Duke.
The U.S. Senate today confirmed the nomination of University of Notre Dame alumnus and former senator Joe Donnelly as ambassador to the Holy See. A 1977 graduate of Notre Dame with a bachelor’s degree in political science, Donnelly went on to earn his law degree from the University four years later. He represented Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes Notre Dame, for three terms and served one term in the U.S. Senate.
College of Arts and Letters alumna Irla Atanda has been named a Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Fellow and alumna DeJorie Monroe has been selected a Charles B. Rangel Graduate Fellow. Atanda graduated from Notre Dame in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in American studies and a minor in international development studies and Monroe graduated in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and minors in Latin American studies, Middle Eastern studies, and theology.
Notre Dame alumnus Adm. Christopher Grady, the first and only four-star flag or general officer from Notre Dame, has been nominated vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the No. 2 military officer in the country. A history major and three-time monogram winner for fencing, Grady is commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Naval Forces Northern Command, and Naval Forces Strategic Command.
As a managing director in Accenture's Information Security group, John Blasi ’90 is constantly evaluating new security technologies. His goal is to stay ahead of would-be hackers and other malicious activity and to protect the company’s more than 500,000 employees worldwide. To do so, the Chicago-based executive needs more than just technical skills in the people he hires — he needs a multidisciplinary team that is creative, adaptive, and responsive. He needs liberal arts majors.
Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., extended his congratulations to Notre Dame alumnus Joe Donnelly on his nomination today as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See. “Joe has been an exemplary public servant in Congress, an invaluable friend of Notre Dame and of me personally, and he is an ideal choice to represent the United States at the Vatican,” Father Jenkins said. “He will bring to this role a deep understanding of the issues currently facing our nation and the world, a genuine Catholic faith and an understanding of the role the Church can play in our world. On behalf of the Notre Dame family, I offer my congratulations and prayers as he prepares for this new responsibility.”
Members of the Hispanic Alumni of Notre Dame (HAND), a University of Notre Dame Alumni Association affinity group, gathered virtually Sept. 21 for the second annual Hispanic alumni success stories panel. The event is one of several hosted by the Institute for Latino Studies in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month.
The event, titled “Call to Action: Crossing the Political Divide to Address Climate Challenges,” featured American studies alumna Anne Thompson and U.S. Sen. Chris Coons exploring the global climate crisis broadly while also focusing on changes big and small that could help turn the tide. When asked if the political will to do something about the climate crisis has changed, Coons indicated that he thought it has, “but the challenge is that it has not been changing fast enough,” he said. Citing significant technology breakthroughs on various sustainability fronts, such as solar, wind and other renewable energies, the senator broadened the conversation to focus on the moral and human toll.
Matthew Canonico ’20 has won the Dante Society of America’s Dante Prize for best undergraduate essay — the third time since 2014 that a Notre Dame student has received the award.
A mathematics and Italian major, Canonico combined his two academic interests to explore deeper truths in Dante’s Divine Comedy.
“There are a lot of hidden treasures in Dante,” he said. “Sometimes when reading Dante, something would click, and I’d get tingles down my spine. It’s an inexhaustible piece of art that, 700 years later, is still inspiring scholarship.”
Nick Nissen ’16 saw his decision to major in Spanish while preparing for a career in medicine as a leap of faith — and one that has paid off. After Notre Dame, he went on to medical school at Brown University and is now completing his residency at Harvard Medical School. In addition to working in a hospital, Nissen is a doctor on the medical unit for ABC News, and recently appeared on Good Morning America to discuss the relationship between insomnia and COVID-19. He's also written and published a children's book on empathy and launched a podcast on mental health. “In the College of Arts & Letters, I felt encouraged by my advisors to go ahead and do something that was really interesting to me. And it worked out perfectly,” he said. “It is so empowering to say, ‘stop thinking about what everyone else is doing, stop thinking about what you feel obligated to do, and start thinking about what your true interests are.’ Because if you pursue your true interest and pursue it well, you'll be able to achieve your career goals through it.”
How does one find meaning and a mission in our restless world? How can we make decisions that help ourselves and others? How do we find the path that leads us to discover the deepest desires of our hearts and aspirations to make the world a better place? “The Heart’s Desire and Social Change,” a new podcast series and online community produced at Notre Dame, helps us explore these issues and navigate these big questions in our lives. Rev. Dan Groody, C.S.C., vice president and associate provost at Notre Dame, will host the program, which is based on the popular theology course of the same name that he teaches to undergraduates and students in the Inspired Leadership Initiative, which sponsors the podcast.