Miracle moments: Political science major Elizabeth Gonzalez makes most of opportunities

Author: Brendan O'Shaughnessy

Elizabeth Gonzalez
Elizabeth Gonzalez is political science and Keough School of Global Affairs major with a minor in Latino studies.


You would be hard-pressed to find a more perfect Notre Dame story than that of Elizabeth Gonzalez.

In eighth grade, her principal in Crown Point, Indiana, called to say that an anonymous donor in her parish had paid to send her to Notre Dame for a week of academic camp. She quickly fell in love with a campus she’d never known existed and dedicated herself in high school to get there.

When she received her acceptance letter, her father pulled out a collection of Irish memorabilia he’d been secretly collecting for the last four years. But the moment was bittersweet because he had lost a job and she didn’t think she could afford to attend.

So Gonzalez and her parents and sister and grandparents bundled into a car and drove a little over an hour to light a candle at the Grotto on campus. “If I’m meant to be here,” she prayed, “let there be a solution.”

Her miracle manifested almost immediately.

While she was walking out, an older man on a bench asked her name. He said he’d just lost his wife and asked for her story, and then her parents’ phone number. That night, he called her parents and offered to support her education however she needed.

“We just started crying,” Gonzalez said. “We went to the Grotto to pray for that. And then on our way out, a solution was right there. It is just crazy.

“And I remember he said, ‘I have a feeling about you.’“

Seems that Jerry Hammes was a good judge of character. Between a sense of responsibility spawned from her good fortune and her innate drive as the first in her large family to attend a research university, Gonzalez has one of those Notre Dame resumes that you can hardly believe is possible.

A political science and Keough School of Global Affairs major with a minor in Latino studies, she has spent nearly every semester and break engaged in human rights work around the world: from an Indigenous community in Minnesota to Ukrainian refugees in Germany, from a diplomacy tour in Vienna and Brussels to the Clooney Foundation for Justice in the Netherlands, and from research on the Latino community in London to serving as a tutor at a Latino community center.

She’s been chosen for competitive programs like the Kellogg International Scholar Program and Phi Beta Kappa. As an undergraduate, she’s interning as a research assistant in a Law School class working on international human rights cases.

It’s a lot to process.

Read more of Elizabeth's story at nd.edu/stories/commencement-24