Michel O’Brien, the valedictorian for the class of 2012 has enjoyed a full and rich Notre Dame experience. He will graduate this month with a political science major, a philosophy minor, and an International Business Certificate. Originally from St. Charles, Ill., O’Brien lived in Keenan and Siegfried halls during his years at Notre Dame. In addition to copious research and many academic pursuits, O’Brien also served as the president of the College Democrats, a vice president of Circle K, and an editor of a journal, Beyond Politics. Here he answers a few questions and reflects on his time at Notre Dame.
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University of Notre Dame engineer James Schmiedeler received the 2012 Rodney F. Ganey, Ph.D., Faculty Community-based Research Award for a project that uses the Nintendo Wii Fit platform to assist individuals dealing with weakness, paralysis, or impairments in balance and mobility as a result of strokes, accidents or illness. Schmiedeler, associate professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, developed “WeHab” with colleagues from the College of Engineering and College of Arts and Letters, working in collaboration with the therapy staff at Memorial Hospital in South Bend.
Wikipedia is often in the top results when people search for information online, but it isn’t always the most credible source. Enter a group of advanced Notre Dame undergraduates in psychology who have taken on the challenge to update, correct, or, in some cases, write new entries for the online encyclopedia. It’s all part of the new Association for Psychological Science (APS) Wikipedia Initiative—and Assistant Professor Gerald Haeffel’s Science and Pseudoscience in Psychology class is one of a select few across the country selected to participate.
Junior Ellen Carroll and senior Rian Dineen from Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters were among a select group of students invited to the national Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) Undergraduate Colloquium this spring. “This was a great opportunity for our students to broaden their intellectual networks through seminar work with their peers from other universities, including Duke, North Carolina, Penn, Tulane, Virginia, and Yale,” says John Roos, director of Notre Dame’s PPE minor.
Prominent in both Greek mythology and Catholicism, the labyrinth remains one of the most enigmatic and elaborate structures in history. Notre Dame senior Maria Martellaro traveled to Italy and France this past summer in attempt to unravel this mystery for her senior thesis on the labyrinth and its role in late medieval religious architecture. “How did this [element of a] classical, very pagan myth,” she asks, “work its way into becoming a Catholic symbol?”
Anthropology majors at the University of Notre Dame took their studies from the theoretical to the practical last summer, completing internships that had them doing archaeological fieldwork in Mongolia, cataloging artifacts in Chicago’s Field Museum, and collecting the oral histories of Irish immigrants on Beaver Island, Mich. Through these internships, students did more than gain experience in the field; they also had invaluable opportunities to work alongside experts and get insider looks at a variety of careers paths.
Michael J. O’Brien, a political science major in the College of Arts and Letters, has been named valedictorian of the 2012 University of Notre Dame graduating class and will present the valedictory address during Commencement ceremonies May 20 (Sunday) at Notre Dame Stadium. O’Brien is editor-in-chief of Beyond Politics: Undergraduate Journal of Politics, and serves as president of the Notre Dame College Democrats, leading one of the most active College Democrats chapters in the nation.
Collin Erker and Erin Moffitt, both juniors in the University of Notre Dame’s Department of Film, Television, and Theatre, spent four weeks wading through the Great Lakes’ coastal wetlands to create a documentary called Waterlogged.
“Ideas matter, and they can be a powerful force for global political change,” says Eileen Hunt Botting, a University of Notre Dame political theorist who charts early thinking on women’s rights in countries around the world. Botting and political science major Sean Kronewitter ‘13 cowrote an article on the subject which was recently accepted for publication in the academic journal Political Theory.
English and anthropology major Caitlin Wilson traveled down the rabbit hole for her senior thesis, which examines the connection between Victorian children’s literature and ethnography, or the anthropological study of customs and cultures.
Notre Dame senior history major Michael Johnson was one of just 10 undergraduates nationwide selected to receive the Gilder Lehrman History Scholars Award, which funded a five-week research trip to New York City this past summer.
Melissa Wrapp and Patrick McCormick, seniors in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters, have been named recipients of the Kroc Institute’s 2012 Yarrow Award, given annually to undergraduates who demonstrate academic excellence and commitment to service in peace studies. Wrapp, an anthropology and peace studies major, and McCormick, a political science and peace studies major, will accept their awards at the Kroc Institute’s undergraduate recognition ceremony on May 18.
ND Thinks Big, a student-organized event modeled after TED talks and Harvard Thinks Big, will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 22, in the Jordan Auditorium of the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. Sponsored by student forum The Hub and the Flatley Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement, the event features 10 speakers from the Notre Dame faculty and administration, who will each deliver a 10-minute talk about their research and current work within their respective fields.
Anna O’Meara, a senior art history major at the University of Notre Dame, has been invited to present her paper, “Cinema against Cinema: Imagery in the Films of Guy Debord,” at the 2012 National Conference on Undergraduate Research later this month. Her paper was selected from among more than 3,500 submissions.
For the past 45 years, Notre Dame students have worked to bring distinguished and forward-thinking writers to campus as part of the annual Notre Dame Literary Festival. Junior Arnav Dutt describes the festival as “one of Notre Dame’s best-kept secrets and one of its most storied traditions.”
Grade school and middle school teachers can get a technological boost thanks to the vision and creativity of several Notre Dame students, faculty, and staff affiliated with the Institute for Latino Studies (ILS). “Day of the Dead: Experience the Tradition” is an iPad app recently created and available to the public that immerses users in a multimedia cultural experience of interactive videos, photos and articles that teach about Day of the Dead, a traditional Mexican holiday increasingly celebrated throughout the United States. With its indigenous roots infused with Catholic practices, the holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to remember loved ones who have died.
After years of neglect and collecting dust, Native American artifacts at the Morristown National Historical Park have finally been rediscovered because of the work of Carleigh Moore, a senior anthropology major at the University of Notre Dame.
A research team based at the Julian Samora Library in the College of Arts and Letters’ Institute for Latino Studies (ILS) is one of three hemispheric teams to have its work featured in the launch of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston’s (MFAH) digital archive, which was formally released to the public during an international symposium held January 19–20 in Houston.
University of Notre Dame senior Brian Boll has changed his major several times: First it was anthropology, then English, then philosophy, followed by medieval studies. “I always was, and still am, interested in too many things, but there’s one interest that’s always seemed to get the upper hand: language, languages and their study.” Specifically, study of the Irish language.
One weekend last month, members of the Notre Dame community sat down to watch 16 films, ranging from comedies to dramas and documentaries, in one evening. But these movies weren’t made in Hollywood. That’s because the 23rd annual Student Film Festival showcased the work of many students in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre.
Vania Smith-Oka, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame, has been awarded the Center for Public Anthropology’s Ruth Benedict Global Citizenship Award—an honor granted to just one percent of faculty teaching introductory anthropology courses across the United States.
Senior Nicole Shea’s love for psychology began in a pool. “In high school, I worked with children with disabilities by teaching them swim lessons,” Shea says, adding that her desire to find ways to help such children only intensified during her first psychology courses at the University of Notre Dame. “I was just drawn to it.” Shea started working in the Department of Psychology’s labs even before she declared her major, and she has already contributed to a published paper and conference poster.
Economics majors in the University of Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters develop the analytical skills and social perspective needed to better understand complex economic forces at work in the world. They also hone the ability to express their ideas and insights both clearly and concisely. That’s exactly what Class of 2011 students Elizabeth Koerbel and Matthew Conti demonstrated in their senior theses, which won first and second place, respectively, in the University’s annual Bernoulli Awards competition.
University of Notre Dame students were awarded 13 Fulbright grants for the 2011-12 academic year, placing the University among the top universities in the nation. Eleven of the 13 are from the College of Arts and Letters. The U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program, Fulbright recently announced the complete list of colleges and universities that produced the most 2011-2012 U.S. Fulbright students.
They won’t hear a drill sergeant shouting orders. They won’t crawl in the mud. And they won’t be scaling tall walls. At this boot camp, a select group of Notre Dame students in the College of Arts and Letters will instead learn to navigate the business world, analyze corporate data, and propose solutions to key management problems. Held in Chicago during spring break each year, the four-day Arts and Letters Business Boot Camp allows liberal arts students to meet and network with employers and successful Chicago-area alumni.
A pair of documentaries by 2011 graduates of Notre Dame’s Department of Film, Television, and Theatre are “cleaning up” on the film festival circuit.
Notre Dame students in a College of Arts and Letters course called Foundations of Business Thinking are the only class in the nation invited to participate in the inaugural gathering of ConvergeUS, a new nonprofit initiative dedicated to social innovation through technology. Chaired by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone and TechNet CEO Rey Ramsey, the organization connects leading entrepreneurs, scholars, nonprofits, corporations, and technology experts in an attempt to find innovative solutions to pressing social problems.
Morgan Iddings expected some culture shock when she traveled from Notre Dame to Moscow for an intensive Russian language immersion. The first-year Russian student faced an added challenge when she realized her host mother didn’t speak a word of English. “Nevertheless, I ended up having a great experience,” Iddings says.
The University of Notre Dame’s Division of Student Affairs recently recognized six students with leadership awards. Five were students in the College of Arts and Letters.