In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Matt Hawkins wanted to teach his students the value of resilience — and the power of performance art. At a time when nearly all live theatre has been suspended for more than a year, Hawkins found a way to safely bring back the musical his students had spent months planning for and rehearsing during spring 2020. Last month, he directed a performance of Jesus Christ Superstar at Notre Dame Stadium, featuring most of the original cast.
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Notre Dame senior Augustine Pasin will study at the Yenching Academy of Peking University next year as one of 117 global Yenching Scholars. He is Notre Dame’s seventh Yenching Scholar since 2017. Yenching Scholars participate in an interdisciplinary master’s degree program in China studies at Yenching Academy, a postgraduate college of Peking University that brings together young people with a demonstrated talent for leadership and innovation.
Notre Dame juniors Tarik Brown and Gregory Miller have been named 2021 Truman Scholars, becoming the University’s 10th and 11th Truman Scholars since 2010. Brown and Miller are among 62 recipients of the award from a pool of more than 840 candidates. They were recommended by 17 independent selection panels based on their academic success and leadership and likelihood of becoming public service leaders. Brown is a computer science major and Hesburgh Program in Public Service minor and Miller is an economics and applied and computational mathematics and statistics major and a Hesburgh Program in Public Service and constitutional studies minor.
Developing an entirely student-run undergraduate journal isn’t an overnight process. Even choosing a name can be painstaking. After settling on Americana — chosen for its brevity and clear affiliation with American studies — the journal’s staff launched the first online issue this spring, featuring more than a dozen articles, essays, and multimedia projects on issues including race, gender, class, media, transnationalism, and the history of ideas. The journal’s mission statement expresses that it aims to encourage high-quality research in American studies and the Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy in order to “foster an interdisciplinary conversation” and provide publishing opportunities for undergraduates.
Housed in the Department of Economics, the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economics Opportuniites partners with organizations across the United States, turning research into action to lift people out of poverty. Interns work side-by-side with leading economists throughout the year, and some are able to travel to partner organizations over the summer to work on-site. “I chose LEO because this was an opportunity that I wouldn't really be able to get anywhere else,” said Josie Donlon, an international economics and Spanish major who spent a summer creating a real-time poverty tracker during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Julian Bonds loves helping young people, so it’s only natural that the English and history major would seek a career in education. Through his interdisciplinary Arts & Letters courses, research, and interests outside of the classroom, Bonds has developed his knowledge of the education system, its benefits and flaws, and his potential role in it. “Three things have been embedded in almost all of my Arts and Letters classes — creativity, passion, and a relentless drive to learn more about a subject,” he said. “Regardless of the career path I ultimately choose, I hope to always remain willing to be creative, eager to engage with things I am passionate about, and relentless in learning more about everything in order to better help the young people I work with.”
The Department of Film, Television and Theatre (FTT) will produce † on the field of Notre Dame Stadium at 8 p.m. Friday, April 9. Tickets are free and available only to students, faculty and staff with a Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s or Holy Cross ID. FTT had planned to put on the production last April, but the pandemic prevented that from happening.
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.
The musical production My Heart Says Go has come a long way since Jorge “Jay” Rivera-Herrans ’20 began writing it in his dorm room at the University of Notre Dame. Rivera-Herrans had recently switched majors – from pre-med to film, television, and theatre (FTT) – and that became his inspiration for the production. But going from concept to a fully developed musical has been a winding journey.
At Notre Dame, students in a course called the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act Clinic are drafting dossiers to the U.S. government to request sanctions against the perpetrators of serious human rights abuses or corruption. Notre Dame is one of more than 250 consortium members that Human Rights First partners on such efforts — but the only one that involves undergraduates. Students who take the course gain valuable experience that prepares them for careers in human rights or anti-corruption, and several have now founded a student group to continue the work they started in the class.
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.
For the second consecutive year, the University of Notre Dame has been ranked as the best in the world in theology, divinity, and religious studies by the influential QS World University Rankings. The No. 1 ranking is based on academic reputation, employer reputation, and research impact. With an overall score of 92.8, the Department of Theology placed ahead of Harvard University, the University of Oxford, Duke University, and Durham University.
When Stacy Manrique joined a group of Notre Dame students visiting Mexico’s prestigious Monterrey Institute of Technology two summers ago, it felt like a homecoming. It wasn’t just the fact that Manrique is a native of Monterrey. She was also delighted to connect with students from “El Tec” — young women and men just as passionate about technology and social responsibility as she is. Manrique, who is majoring in computer science and film, television, and theatre through the Reilly Center Dual Degree Program, looks back at this and many other experiences she’s had through the Institute for Latino Studies as touchstones in her educational journey.
With 29 finalists — including 24 from the College of Arts & Letters — Notre Dame ranked 7th this year in a tie with New York University, according to the U.S. State Department, which administers the Fulbright Program via the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Children love to act things out. Some pretend to be a mother or a father, others act as a shopkeeper or pose as a singer. At age 6, John Draves wanted to be a priest. Now a senior at Notre Dame, he never abandoned that passion for his faith. As a seminarian in the Congregation of the Holy Cross, Draves uses his faith as backdrop through which he pursues his academic interests — majors in American studies and philosophy and a minor in theology.
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.
Notre Dame senior Margaret “Meg” Burns, an art history major from San Antonio, Texas, has been awarded a 2021–22 Luce Scholarship. The scholarship provides a stipend, language training, and individualized professional placement in Asia, with a goal of enhancing the understanding of Asia among potential leaders of American society. Burns is Notre Dame’s 10th Luce Scholar in total and its third since 2014.
Seven Notre Dame students with majors or minors in the College of Arts & Letters have been awarded spring Gilman Scholarships to study abroad, for a total of 15 students so far for the 2020-21 academic year. Two Notre Dame students, both Arts & Letters majors, have been named alternates for the award.
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.
The University of Notre Dame has launched the Initiative on Race and Resilience, a new interdisciplinary program focused on the redress of systemic racism and the support of communities of color both within and beyond the Notre Dame campus. Led by the College of Arts & Letters with additional support from the Office of the Provost, the initiative will bring together scholars and students in the humanities, arts, social sciences, and other disciplines to challenge systemic racism and promote racial equality through research, education, and community empowerment.
With a record number of students enrolled in the sustainability minor and an increasing interest in careers incorporating sustainability, there was no question of canceling this semester's Environmental Career Trek. In light of the pandemic, the sustainability minor partnered with the Meruelo Family Center for Career Development to host a virtual career event. More than 100 students from a wide variety of majors participated in panel discussions featuring more than 20 sustainability professionals.
This year’s unprecedented mid-year break led the University to create for the first time a Winter Session. This unique two-month period between semesters has removed the guardrails of what academics, researchers, counselors and service coordinators could normally imagine. Assistant Dean Collin Meissner said what could have been dead time has instead spurred some very creative ideas inspired by “just sheer intellectual enjoyment.”
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.
Four Arts & Letters undergraduates have been named winners of the 2020 University of Notre Dame Library Research Award. This annual award, given by the Hesburgh Libraries, recognizes undergraduate students who demonstrate excellence in research skills by using a breadth of library resources and services for their course assignments, research projects, and creative endeavors.
Each summer and school year, a dimly lit computer lab in the basement of Jenkins-Nanovic Hall on Notre Dame’s campus hums with the activity of undergraduate interns working to find solutions to complex, poverty-related issues. As an intern for the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities, Emily Merola ’20 helped collect data for the Catholic Charities Fort Worth's Stay the Course project and Padua program. “It was really great to be close to the actual operations of the provider and know that each data point is a person,” Merola said. “I think everybody knows, but sometimes you need that salient reminder.”
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.
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.
Francie Shaft has discovered intersections between her theology and Japanese majors through her classes and research — both on campus and in Japan. Those opportunities would not have been possible, she said, without the support she found at Notre Dame. “Notre Dame wants you to start pursuing what you’re passionate about, even as a freshman. If I didn’t have these people who have believed in me from the start, I don’t think I would be as creative and as bold in the sorts of experiences I want to have.”
As with so much of life during the coronavirus pandemic, Notre Dame Stadium is operating under "business as unusual" — with choir rehearsals taking place in the Leahy Gate, near the south endzone. “Before now, the gate had been just a passageway and the only way to get from the first floor of O’Neill to other buildings,” said Mark Doerries, director of graduate studies and head of the graduate choral conducting program for Sacred Music at Notre Dame. “But now it holds rehearsals, classes and study space — a living incubator of music and teaching.”
Political science major Oneile Baitlotli spent most of her junior year planning the summer research project abroad she needed to earn a minor in International Development Studies: a study of how to help low-income families in her native Botswana gain access to affordable early childhood education. But in March, the coronavirus largely suspended overseas travel and closed international borders. And Baitlotli and nearly a dozen other juniors in the Kellogg Institute for International Studies’ IDS program were forced to abandon their original capstone projects. With help from their faculty advisors and the Kellogg Institute, they developed new research projects they could do virtually within a matter of weeks.