Madeline Owen of Columbus, Ohio, has been named valedictorian and Alexis Waldschmidt from Naperville, Illinois, was selected salutatorian of the 2021 University of Notre Dame graduating class. A neuroscience and behavior major, Owen minored in poverty studies and was a Glynn Family Honors scholar. Waldschmidt, a biological sciences and Chinese major, is a member of the University’s Phi Beta Kappa honor society and Dean’s List.
Senior Dain Kim had never been to Notre Dame before she arrived on campus for orientation. As a student at an international high school in Seoul, Korea, she knew she wanted to go to college in the U.S. — in a city, preferably, like one in New York or California. Instead, she ended up in South Bend. Now a psychology and statistics major with a minor in computing and digital technologies, Kim plans to pursue a career working to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion programs — helping others like herself who need to adapt quickly to entirely new cultures or circumstances.
Luiz Vilaça is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology and a Ph.D. fellow in the Kellogg Institute for International Studies. His research focuses on the sociology of law, organizations, and politics. In this interview, he discusses how state organizations build the autonomy and capacity to investigate corruption, how Brazil startled the world by dismantling multiple schemes of bribery and kickbacks, and why it's important to examine these anti-corruption investigations from a sociological perspective.
The University of Notre Dame has launched the Center for Citizenship & Constitutional Government, a new hub of scholarship and education that strives to be a national focal point on Catholicism, constitutional government, and liberal democracy. The new center seeks to cultivate thoughtful and educated citizens by supporting scholarship and education concerning the ideas and institutions of constitutional government.
A supplementary major in education, schooling, and society (ESS) will be offered at Notre Dame beginning this fall allowing students to take ESS courses and complement their primary major in a more intensive way. ESS explores the questions of how humans learn and how society, politics, and the economy influence that learning. Since its start in 2002, ESS has grown into one of the largest minors in the College of Arts and Letters, with about 115 students in the program each year.
When Brianna Drummond walked into her first Russian class at Notre Dame, she didn’t know much about the language — including that it had its own alphabet. Now, nearly four years later, Drummond is reading poetry and prose in Russian, discussing how they connect to important historical events, and preparing for a full-time IT job at Ford Motor Co. that could draw on her knowledge of Russian. “I was motivated by the challenge (of advanced classes), combined with the fact that I had a team with me, and the professors were always checking in because it’s a small department, so everyone knows you,” she said. “I have so many friends now from the Russian major — it’s a great way to have a little community within the larger Notre Dame community.”
Alexander Beihammer, the Heiden Family College Professor in the Department of History and a faculty fellow in the Medieval Institute, has been awarded a $480,000 research grant from the Austrian Research Foundation for his project, “Medieval Smyrna/Izmir: The Transformation of a City and its Hinterland from Byzantine to Ottoman Times.” The project examines the development of the medieval city of Smyrna — now Izmir, Turkey — from its last heydays under Byzantine rule in the 13th century to the Ottoman conquest in the 15th century.
Nick Nissen ’16 saw his decision to major in Spanish while preparing for a career in medicine as a leap of faith — and one that has paid off. After Notre Dame, he went on to medical school at Brown University and is now completing his residency at Harvard Medical School. In addition to working in a hospital, Nissen is a doctor on the medical unit for ABC News, and recently appeared on Good Morning America to discuss the relationship between insomnia and COVID-19. He's also written and published a children's book on empathy and launched a podcast on mental health. “In the College of Arts & Letters, I felt encouraged by my advisors to go ahead and do something that was really interesting to me. And it worked out perfectly,” he said. “It is so empowering to say, ‘stop thinking about what everyone else is doing, stop thinking about what you feel obligated to do, and start thinking about what your true interests are.’ Because if you pursue your true interest and pursue it well, you'll be able to achieve your career goals through it.”
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Matt Hawkins wanted to teach his students the value of resilience — and the power of performance art. At a time when nearly all live theatre has been suspended for more than a year, Hawkins found a way to safely bring back the musical his students had spent months planning for and rehearsing during spring 2020. Last month, he directed a performance of Jesus Christ Superstar at Notre Dame Stadium, featuring most of the original cast.
The University of Notre Dame has long traditions in the research and teaching of Dante and is considered one of the leading centers in the world for the study of the great Catholic poet. As we approach the 700th anniversary of his death, Dante’s work still speaks powerfully, says Ted Cachey, professor of Italian and the Ravarino Family Director of Italian and Dante Studies. “I am often asked how Dante is relevant for today,” he said. “The answer is very simple: Dante confronted a world that was culturally, politically, and spiritually in profound crisis.”
“Since its founding, Notre Dame has valued the vital role the visual arts play as an expression of human creativity, religious experience and insight into the human condition,” University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., said. “By bringing the collections currently in the Snite Museum of Art to new life in the Raclin Murphy Museum, we will be able to share these treasures in all their richness with our University community, our neighbors in the region and the wider world.”
Claire Scott-Bacon is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Psychology’s clinical program and was recently awarded a Distinguished Graduate Fellowship from the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study. Her research focuses on issues related to the structure and assessment of criminal personality in clinical, forensic, and legal settings. In this interview, she discusses her work and its impact on the high rate of wrongful convictions and criminalization of mental health-related crimes in the United States.
Chosen on the basis of their research promise, interdisciplinary potential, and collaborative commitment, each of the graduate fellows is conducting a substantial research project related to resilience, the NDIAS’s organizing research theme for the 2021-2022 school year. Two of the fellows are co-sponsored by the Notre Dame Technology Ethics Center (ND-TEC) and are pursuing research projects that engage with questions related to the ethical use of technology.
A new installation by Sacred Music at Notre Dame’s Concordia choir is currently set up in the O’Shaughnessy Great Hall and accessible through May 20. Featuring 16 speakers arranged in a surround-sound pattern, each playing the voice of one singer, listeners are able to stand in the center of the room and feel as if they are on stage, or walk around the room to hear each voice in isolation. Each song represents a unique perspective from which to view the pandemic — with enough variety that a listener could find their own meaning in the pieces.
Notre Dame senior Augustine Pasin will study at the Yenching Academy of Peking University next year as one of 117 global Yenching Scholars. He is Notre Dame’s seventh Yenching Scholar since 2017. Yenching Scholars participate in an interdisciplinary master’s degree program in China studies at Yenching Academy, a postgraduate college of Peking University that brings together young people with a demonstrated talent for leadership and innovation.
Daniel Philpott, a Notre Dame professor of political science, has received the 2021 Distinguished Scholar Award from the International Studies Association’s Religion and International Relations Section. Philpott, the section’s awards committee noted, is a key figure in the first generation of scholars to incorporate religion into the study of international relations. His research focuses on the relationship between religion and democracy, ethics, peace-building, reconciliation, and religious freedom.
Notre Dame juniors Tarik Brown and Gregory Miller have been named 2021 Truman Scholars, becoming the University’s 10th and 11th Truman Scholars since 2010. Brown and Miller are among 62 recipients of the award from a pool of more than 840 candidates. They were recommended by 17 independent selection panels based on their academic success and leadership and likelihood of becoming public service leaders. Brown is a computer science major and Hesburgh Program in Public Service minor and Miller is an economics and applied and computational mathematics and statistics major and a Hesburgh Program in Public Service and constitutional studies minor.
Developing an entirely student-run undergraduate journal isn’t an overnight process. Even choosing a name can be painstaking. After settling on Americana — chosen for its brevity and clear affiliation with American studies — the journal’s staff launched the first online issue this spring, featuring more than a dozen articles, essays, and multimedia projects on issues including race, gender, class, media, transnationalism, and the history of ideas. The journal’s mission statement expresses that it aims to encourage high-quality research in American studies and the Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy in order to “foster an interdisciplinary conversation” and provide publishing opportunities for undergraduates.
Jorge A. Bustamante, the Eugene P. and Helen Conley Professor Emeritus of Sociology, died March 25. He was 82. A sociologist whose research centered on the dynamics of international migration, Bustamante’s work advanced public and academic discourse regarding circumstances at the U.S.-Mexico border. His devotion to advocating for human and labor rights for immigrants worldwide led to his native Mexico nominating him for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.
Housed in the Department of Economics, the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economics Opportuniites partners with organizations across the United States, turning research into action to lift people out of poverty. Interns work side-by-side with leading economists throughout the year, and some are able to travel to partner organizations over the summer to work on-site. “I chose LEO because this was an opportunity that I wouldn't really be able to get anywhere else,” said Josie Donlon, an international economics and Spanish major who spent a summer creating a real-time poverty tracker during the COVID-19 pandemic.