Cozzi felt the minor provided her with a piece of herself she’d been missing in college life.
“One of Notre Dame’s application essays asked us what Father Basil Moreau’s quote, ‘Education is the art of helping young people to completeness,’ meant to us,” the senior said. “I feel like having that interdisciplinary aspect is the best way to bring people to completeness.”
Cozzi, who is fascinated with how people work and how much there is to learn about the brain, knew she wanted to major in neuroscience. She was attracted to Notre Dame’s program, in particular, because it allows students to pursue interdisciplinary studies.
Her love for reading and her personal experience with religion made PRL the perfect fit.
Cozzi describes her family as Catholic but admits that religion was not a priority for her in high school. She arrived at Notre Dame feeling uninformed about her faith and afraid to ask too many questions.
“I didn’t think Catholicism and science could go together because I had never learned about it, and I was really scared to ask because I didn’t want to find out they didn’t work together,” Cozzi said.
“Having this minor has helped me be more open-minded overall. It’s a different kind of writing, it’s a different kind of thinking, and it’s really important to have. I don’t think I’d be the person I am today if I’d given up on that side of myself.”
A casual remark from one of her professors during her first year changed everything.
“In my intro to biology class, one of my professors said, ‘My two favorite people in the world are Darwin and Jesus,’” she said. “I didn’t know you could even do that. That’s when I learned that you can be Catholic and be a scientist.”
Cozzi decided to take Professor David Fagerberg’s theology class on C.S. Lewis and discovered a love for the intersection of literature and religion. She said it may be her favorite class she has ever taken.
“I love learning about how authors can create stories that have a double meaning,” Cozzi said. “I really like the critical analysis of texts and trying to see the reasons behind everything. It’s like a puzzle.”
Cozzi also found that PRL offers her a new perspective in her search to understand human behavior and motivations.
“I think an important aspect of learning about how people work is looking at the works they have produced,” Cozzi said. “That was a side I felt like I was missing in the beginning of my undergraduate education. I felt like I needed it to better understand people.”
Further encouraged to explore theology and literature, Cozzi decided to study abroad in Jerusalem in fall 2018 — a semester that inspired her to reflect on her faith and values and solidified her decision to pursue PRL.
“My decision to add the minor was less about the courses I took abroad and more about being there,” Cozzi said. “It made me reevaluate everything I was doing and what was important to me. I knew that I didn’t want to just be doing science.”
On campus, Cozzi had struggled with comparing herself to others, but the distance allowed her to consider what she personally valued.
“I felt like I was just trying to keep on a timeline, but being that removed, I was able to see that I was imposing this timeline on myself. The timeline other people do is not necessarily the one for me,” Cozzi said. “I need to be able to explore all aspects of myself and be true to myself along the way.”
Initially intending to take mostly religion and literature classes, Cozzi has also discovered an interest in the philosophy aspect of the minor. She says that the classes have broadened the way she thinks.
“Having this minor has helped me be more open-minded overall,” she said. “It’s a different kind of writing, it’s a different kind of thinking, and it’s really important to have. I don’t think I’d be the person I am today if I’d given up on that side of myself.”
Cozzi plans to go to medical school eventually, but will first pursue full-time service work by teaching in the Alliance for Catholic Education program. She said her interest in entering the classroom stems from her love of learning and the desire to help instill that love in others from an early age.
“I didn’t always love science — what I liked first was literature and reading, and my love for that ended up expanding and I wanted to learn more about everything,” Cozzi said. “That’s how I got where I am today, and I’m very happy with where I am and who I am.”
“I didn’t always love science — what I liked first was literature and reading, and my love for that ended up expanding and I wanted to learn more about everything. That’s how I got where I am today, and I’m very happy with where I am and who I am.”