This annual award is earned by students who demonstrate exemplary research skills and utilize a breadth of library services, resources, and expertise for their research or creative projects.
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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.
Andrew Grose, who majored in Spanish and preprofessional studies, has been named valedictorian. Harisa Spahić, a biochemistry major with minors in anthropology and science, technology and values, is salutatorian.
With renowned musicians on the faculty, new opportunities to participate in student-led music groups, and a beautiful new home for the department in O’Neill Hall, it is an exciting time for piano students at Notre Dame. The program is full of extremely students who possess not only exceptional performance skills but also outstanding intellectual ability and a strong desire to pursue the balanced blend of performance and scholarship that makes the Notre Dame music major distinctive.
Crystal Avila's senior documentary, Beneath the Trees (Debjao de los árboles), recounts her grandfather's journey from his small village in Mexico to the United States border and his time in Yuma, Ariz., where he got a job picking cotton for 35 cents a day. The film premiered in February at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, where it was one of 10 films selected for the fest's Oscar-qualifying competition. It will screen this weekend at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival, where it is nominated for best short documentary film and Avila is up for the best female filmmaker award.
In anthropology, “snowball sampling” refers to growing the number of participants in a research study by asking subjects to refer friends and acquaintances. For senior Candice Park, it was her research experiences at Notre Dame that snowballed, as each opportunity led her to the next — culminating in her senior thesis for the Department of Anthropology.
Throughout the month of March, students in the Moreau First Year Experience course have been visiting the McDonald Center for Student Well-Being to try out a new board game created by Carly Hagins, an MFA student focusing on industrial design. “Quad: A Game of Conversations” works to spark discussion between players about social life at Notre Dame, in the hopes of breaking down the initial misperceptions that often lead to unhealthy drinking habits.
It started two years ago with a handful of Notre Dame undergraduates and a desire to share their love of music. Today, that passion has resulted in two thriving student groups — the Classical Music Club and the Composers’ Consortium — with more than 200 members.
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
When King Fok was 6 years old, he suffered from an orthopedic condition that caused him to spend two years on crutches. Uncovered by his health insurance, the condition was Fok’s first glimpse into how socioeconomic status impacts health care. That childhood experience informed his decision to major in Arts and Letters pre-health at the University of Notre Dame. As a future physician, he hopes to make medical care more efficient, inclusive, and accessible to all. A sociology class his freshman year helped him discover a perfect major to pair with pre-health.
The College of Arts and Letters is launching a new, interdisciplinary minor in data science. Housed in the Department of Sociology with support from the College of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering, the program will be open to students in any college. “Data science impacts every industry today,” said Sarah Mustillo, professor and chair of sociology. “It is becoming increasingly important for solving problems and making decisions."
When the city of South Bend needed ideas for a new community technology center, it turned to Ann-Marie Conrado’s design research practices class at the University of Notre Dame for help. Part of the collaborative innovation minor in the Department of Art, Art History and Design, the class brings together students from multiple disciplines, from design and engineering to business and anthropology, to solve complex design problems. In this case, the city wanted to create what it called an “inclusive technology resource center” to help residents on the wrong side of the digital divide take advantage of technology for personal and professional growth.
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.
An international economics major with a concentration in French and a supplementary major in peace studies, Brittany Ebeling has been named the 2018 Michel David-Weill Laureate, allowing her to pursue a fully funded two-year master’s degree program at the prestigious Paris Institute of Political Studies, or “Sciences Po.” The scholarship is awarded each year to one American who exemplifies the core values of Sciences Po alumnus Michel David-Weill, namely, academic excellence, leadership, multiculturalism, tolerance, and high achievement.
Twenty-nine University of Notre Dame students and alumni were awarded Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants during the 2017-18 academic year, placing Notre Dame second among all research institutions in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Of the 29 students to receive Fulbrights last year, 22 were Arts and Letters students — which would place the College eighth in the nation among all doctoral institutions. Arts and Letters alone produced more Fulbright winners than the University of California at Berkeley, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, Cornell University, and Johns Hopkins.
Michael Feijoo loves finding ways his everyday life relates to big-picture questions. That’s one of the many reasons the junior finds value in majoring in theology and Arts and Letters pre-health. His combination of academic passions also brought him twice to Ecuador, where served with Timmy Global Health, a nonprofit organization that provides sustainable medical care to South American countries.
When Francesco Tassi arrived at Notre Dame, he was sure he would major in finance. But a lecture on refugees set him on a different path — one that led him to travel through Italy for three months to study refugee integration firsthand. Tassi, who was born in Italy and moved to the United States in third grade, traveled widely in high school and spent time living with host families in several countries. Those experiences sparked a passion for learning about and understanding cultures.
One week into her senior year, Natasha Reifenberg headed to an academic health conference in El Salvador, presenting a policy brief based in research she had been involved in for the last two years. An opportunity usually reserved for distinguished academics, the trip was just one of many highlights in an outstanding undergraduate career that includes internships at the Global Fund for Women and United Nations Development Program and independent research opportunities centered around women’s issues and rights. Reifenberg attributes her accomplishments to her education in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters — particularly her philosophy major.
Students in the five-course minor in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design gain foundational knowledge in design research methods, visualization, visual communication, and product development. In the final class, Collaborative Design Development, the students work on industry-sponsored projects addressing real problems.
With skills forged in the classroom, Arts and Letters students are well prepared to tackle new opportunities and gain valuable real-world experience through summer internships. The Arts and Letters Summer Internship Program makes these experiences possible by offering students funding to offset travel and cost-of-living expenses for internships in any industry or location. The program, administered by Notre Dame’s Center for Career Development, has awarded nearly $700,000 in funding since 2010 to support more than 300 students interning around the world.
Break can act as a time for restoration after a week of midterm exams. Or it can be a time to pursue learning opportunities outside the classroom. For some Arts and Letters students, the week free of classes is the perfect chance to dive into their senior thesis research. For others, it’s a chance to travel to attend a film festival in Chicago or a museum in Washington, D.C. “That’s why I’m in the College of Arts and Letters — I’m very interested in the humanities,” said Jahlecia Gregory, a sophomore Africana studies major who visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture during break. “This trip has inspired me to find other ways that I can learn about different subjects that aren’t exactly in my major, but that I’m still really curious about.”
From the capital of Uganda, to American Indian reservations, to museums across the country, Notre Dame students travel around the world to carry out academic projects with help from the College of Arts and Letters’ Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program. With UROP’s financial support, students are able to engage in on-site research that can be used as the basis for a variety of independent projects, including a senior thesis. The experiences made possible through UROP not only lead to meaningful results, but also provide students with valuable life experiences they might not otherwise have.
Junior Katherine Smith has been selected for the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship to study or intern abroad during the spring 2018 academic term. Smith, an English and theology double major from Saint Charles, Minnesota, will study in Italy through the Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway.
Notre Dame senior Sarah Tomas Morgan has always had an interest in global issues. And the College of Arts and Letters has enabled her to explore that passion through her coursework and a variety of international and internship experiences. Coming into her first year, Tomas Morgan intended on majoring in political science. But after completing a University Seminar in the Program of Liberal Studies (PLS), her plans changed.
Notre Dame junior Alex Mansour admits he's not much of a sports fan. Yet, when confronted with a crunch-time challenge, he came through with a prime-time performance befitting any Irish athlete making a game-winning play. Mansour's assignment? Create the musical score for the 80-second video that would be shown on the Notre Dame Stadium video board just before the Irish team took the field. Three days before the 2017 Irish season opener against Temple, the video remained incomplete — and Mansour was on the spot.
The Institute for International Education ranked the University of Notre Dame third among doctorate-granting universities for undergraduate participation in study abroad during the academic year 2015-16. This represents an increase from the University’s ranking of #4 last year in the annual Open Doors report.
Informally, the 175-seat LaBar Family Recital Hall inside Notre Dame’s O’Neill Hall is known as the “jewel box” because of its elegant, classic design and intimate size. But in fact, all of O’Neill Hall is a jewel box — expertly and beautifully designed as a home to the students and faculty, the artists and instruments in the University’s Department of Music and Sacred Music at Notre Dame (SMND) program. The 100,000-square-foot, seven-story building on the south side of Notre Dame Stadium was made possible by a gift to the University from Helen Schwab and her husband Charles, in honor of her brother, Notre Dame alumnus and trustee Joseph I. O’Neill III.
The summer after his sophomore year, Notre Dame senior J.P. Bruno was packaging maple syrup, taking care of honeybees, and tending to an orchard on a biodynamic farm in Vermont. Three weeks later, he was sitting in the White House, interning for the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) as part of a semester in the Notre Dame Washington Program. These contrasting experiences provided Bruno, an economics and applied and computational mathematics and statistics (ACMS) major, with an assortment of skills that eventually led him to developing his senior thesis and receiving a job offer in economic consulting at the beginning of his senior year.
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.
In the past two years, 35 history majors in Paul Ocobock’s honors seminar have received more than $125,000 in funding to do original research around the world. And every student in his course who applied for funding received it — using the grants to explore archives in France, Ireland, Uganda, China, and South Korea, among other places. But to Ocobock, there is something even more important than his students’ 100 percent success rate in securing funding — the sense of community they develop as they plan their projects together, travel the globe to conduct research, then return to his classroom to begin work on their senior theses.