Three A&L Ph.D. students win Graduate School awards

Author: The Graduate School

Vargas Photo 600
Dominique Vargas
Abigal Jorgensen Headshot
Abigail Jorgensen
Tyler Giles
Tyler Giles

Three College of Arts & Letters Ph.D. students have won major honors from The Graduate School at Notre Dame, including the Eli J. and Helen Shaheen Graduate School Awards in the Humanities and the Social Sciences and the Social Justice Award. The award winners will be formally recognized for their achievements at the Graduate Commencement Ceremony to be held at Notre Dame Stadium on May 14.

Dominique Vargas ’21 from the Department of English is the recipient of the Shaheen Award in the Humanities. A ground-breaking literary scholar of race and ethnicity, Vargas has been singled out for her original and creative work on the role that nonlinguistic and sensate forms play in mediating indigenous, Latinx, and multiethnic writing in the hemispheric Americas. Vargas is the author of several publications, with placements in leading journals, and a dissertation that is being turned into a book. She has also received exceptional marks for her pedagogical innovation and passion as an instructor of record. Vargas will start the next chapter of her career as assistant professor of English at California Lutheran University, beginning fall 2022.

Tyler Giles ’21 from the Department of Economics is the recipient of the Shaheen Award in the Social Sciences. Giles is an applied microeconomist who has focused his innovative and pioneering research on the intersections of economic policy, crime, and risky behaviors. Using a rich, self-constructed dataset linking individuals across criminal justice records and to financial health information, Giles’s research documents the significant and sometimes unintended consequences of understudied criminal justice policies, especially for individuals from marginalized groups. In fall 2022 Giles will take up an appointment as assistant professor of economics at Wellesley College in Massachusetts.

Abigail Jorgensen, Ph.D. candidate from the Department of Sociology is the winner of the Social Justice Award, given annually to a graduate student in the Notre Dame community who has tackled complex societal issues through his or her scholarship, teaching, and service. Pursuing “justice for the marginalized,” Jorgensen has dedicated much of her life — both as a scholar and as a community member — to supporting and giving voice to a segment of society whom she considers to be too often overlooked or ignored: mothers. Her research examines how transitions into or away from motherhood shape mothers’ self identity and political behavior in ways that aren’t always evident or captured in current sociological representations. Not content to concentrate only on theoretical ideas, Jorgensen has been equally focused on living out her values in the South Bend community she calls home. Serving as both a birth and a bereavement doula, her goal is to help mothers and families work through the often-difficult transitions into and out of life. She has established multiple community support groups for new mothers, as well as for those who have lost children, and she has been a tireless champion for other graduate students at Notre Dame who — like herself — are also parents who may need additional physical and emotional support.

Originally published by The Graduate School at on May 05, 2022.