It was a New Year’s Eve celebration that Mary McGraw '17 will never forget. McGraw was ringing in the new year with eight Benedictine nuns at Kylemore Abbey in Galway, Ireland. This intimate moment isn’t something that most study abroad students get to experience while in Ireland. In fact, most people will never know what it’s like to see these nuns behind closed doors. It took several months in Kylemore for McGraw to develop trust with the nuns and, ultimately, a relationship that allowed her to gain a unique perspective into their everyday lives. A studio art major with a photography concentration, McGraw was able to pull back the curtains and capture even more intimate moments through her camera lens — a project that led to her senior thesis.
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Now a senior program office for IREX in Washington, D.C., Micah Johnston '06 spent his first year after graduation volunteering for the Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly in Chicago. He spent his days visiting the homes of elderly individuals who did not regularly see friends or family. “Spending a year in service helps other people, but it can also be a master class in learning about the world, learning about other people, incorporating that into the education you get at Notre Dame,” he said.
In this Q&A, Leslie Lockett, an associate professor of English and director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at The Ohio State University, discusses early medieval concepts of the mind, what initially hooked her on the Middle Ages, and her advice for graduate students who would like to follow her career track.
Sara Abdel-Rahim ’17 found her voice in the liberal arts — and she amplified it through research, internships, and leadership roles on campus. As a first-generation American citizen, the political science and Arabic major wants to battle against cultural and religious discrimination.
One visit to the Hesburgh Library’s medieval manuscripts collection, and Luke Donahue ’17 was hooked. “I saw them and thought, ‘This is it.’ This is what I want to study,” Donahue said. “I was intrigued that there are all these manuscripts from the Middle Ages that no one has researched, and I was determined — I wanted to help fill that intellectual gap.” While he initially planned to study physics, Donahue decided to major in theology and German and add a minor in medieval studies.
When he got to Notre Dame, Corey Robinson ’17 didn’t know what to major in — because he wanted to major in everything. He met with advisers in more than 20 departments, considering everything from Arts and Letters pre-health to Irish language and literature to aquatic biology. And he still wasn’t sure. That’s when his advising dean suggested the Program of Liberal Studies.
Gabriel Said Reynolds greets his students on the final day of his Introduction to the Quran course. He is in a small classroom on Notre Dame’s campus. His students are in Orlando, Colorado, Canada, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and beyond. Such arrangements are not uncommon in the world of massive open online courses (MOOCs), but this one is different. It breaks new ground in the online learning space by bringing students participating in the MOOC around the world together with undergraduate and graduate students that Reynolds teaches in a traditional course at Notre Dame.
Congratulations to the Class of 2018! This video, screened at the Arts and Letters Diploma Ceremony, features several seniors reflecting on their time at Notre Dame and in the College of Arts and Letters. In it, the new graduates discuss how a liberal arts education helped them develop skills, shaped their minds, and opened up a world of possibilities for their futures.
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.
Christine Swanson ’94 has written and directed multiple award-winning films. Her husband, Michael Swanson ’93, is an Emmy-winning producer and studio executive who has worked on hit Universal Television shows. The married Department of Film, Television, and Theatre alumni also make movies together through their Los Angeles-based production company, Faith Filmworks. Grounded in their Notre Dame liberal arts education and inspired by their deep Christian faith, the Swansons use their skills to tell the type of uplifting stories they feel are missing from big Hollywood studios.
For Victoria Braga ’11, a semester in Egypt as an undergraduate gave her a new perspective on the United States — and shaped her future career path. Braga came to Notre Dame with an interest in international relations, but her study abroad experience inspired her to pursue a career as an attorney and a position in the U.S. government. Today, the Arabic and political science major works as a trial attorney in the appellate section of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Immigration Litigation.
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
As an orthopedic resident at Loyola University Medical Center, Daniel Schmitt ’11 sees a wide variety of patients. Schmitt, who majored in anthropology and biology, relies on his liberal arts education to connect with his diverse patient base and treat them comprehensively at the Level I trauma center — a hospital providing the highest level of surgery to trauma victims.
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.
Evelyn Diaz’s career has taken her to the top of Chicago’s governmental, social service, and nonprofit sectors. And at every stop along the way, Diaz ’92 has relied on skills she cultivated as an English major in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters.
Growing up in South Bend, Carly Murphy ’01 always admired Marc Chagall’s Le Grand Cirque when she saw it in the Snite Museum of Art at Notre Dame. This piece of art sparked a love of French culture in Murphy, who went on to major in French and art history in the College of Arts and Letters. Now vice president of global client development at Sotheby’s international art auction house, Murphy returned to campus last semester to speak to a gathering of students, reflecting on her Notre Dame education and offering advice on entering the art world.
NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson and his son, a College of Arts and Letters graduate and former football player Corey Robinson will be the featured keynote speakers during the University of Notre Dame's Martin Luther King Celebration luncheon on Jan. 22 (Monday).
For his entire academic career, Sean Reardon ’86 has sought to use his passions — the humanities and quantitative research — to make a difference in the field of education. One of the nation’s leading experts on educational inequality, Reardon researches how opportunities and outcomes vary in the United States for students of different racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic backgrounds. Reardon’s path to his current position, Professor of Poverty and Inequality in Education at Stanford University, is long and sprawling. It includes stops on a South Dakota Indian Reservation, a New Jersey Quaker school, and further academic work at Harvard and Penn State — but it all began at Notre Dame.
The Medieval Institute's new series of alumni spotlight interviews kicks off with alumna Nicole Eddy, who received her Ph.D. in 2012. Eddy has recently been hired as the new managing editor for the Medieval Library series at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection.
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.
Alexis Belis ’00 arrived at Notre Dame with a plan. Following in her father’s footsteps, she was ready to major in physics, tackle the requirements for medical school, and become a doctor. She nearly missed her true calling. Today, she curates ancient art at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
Corbett Family Hall strikes a stunning silhouette rising above the east side of Notre Dame Stadium. But for the Departments of Anthropology and Psychology, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Below the club seating, terraces, and press box on the building’s top three levels, faculty and students from these two social science departments will come together in the new 289,000-square-foot structure, made possible by a leadership gift from Notre Dame alumnus Richard Corbett. With classrooms, laboratories, and offices all under one massive roof, research and teaching efforts are united in a way that will bring untold benefits.
The University of Notre Dame will premiere Sorin: A Notre Dame Story, a one-person play about the life and work of the University’s founder, Rev. Edward Sorin, C.S.C., on Aug. 30 (Wed.) at 6:42 p.m. in the Patricia George Decio Theatre of the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. This production celebrates the 175th anniversary of the University through the collaborative creative work of four notable alumni of Notre Dame's College of Arts and Letters: director Patrick Vassel '07, playwright Christina Telesca Gorman '91, performer Matthew Goodrich '09, and projection designer Ryan Belock '11.
Erin Rice ’17 has been named one of the top five graduating industrial design students in the nation by the Industrial Designers Society of America. Rice is the seventh student in the last 10 years from Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters to win the Student Merit Award at IDSA’s Midwest District Design Conference.
“The liberal arts education is one of the best things Notre Dame offers,” said Kaitlin Sullivan ’10, now a product policy manager at Facebook. Sullivan majored in political science and minored in philosophy, politics and economics. After graduating, she completed two years of service with Jesuit Volunteer Corps working in a rape crisis center. While working on a master's degree in public policy at George Washington University, Sullivan interned at Facebook and started a small project addressing gender-based hate speech on the social media platform, ultimately leading to her current job.
Libby Hasse ’08 always knew she wanted to join the Peace Corps. She just didn’t realize what an impact it would have on her career. The experience still resonates today in her work as an attorney at the Tahirih Justice Center — a national nonprofit that provides pro bono legal services to immigrant women.
A record 30 College of Arts and Letters students and alumni have been awarded grants by the Fulbright U.S. Student Program to study abroad in 2017-18. The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program, offering students grants to conduct research, study and teach abroad.
Carlos Lozada ’93, an associate editor and nonfiction book critic at The Washington Post, majored in economics and political science in the College of Arts and Letters. “What the liberal arts education at Notre Dame really did for me was it helped me to learn how to think, how to marshal my arguments, and how to learn from people around me,” he said. “To be a journalist you have to have this inherent curiosity and inherent skepticism, and I think those two qualities were really stoked and inspired at Notre Dame.”
Barry Lopez believes we are on the verge of global upheaval — in the way democracies function, in the way economies work, in the way countries cope with unprecedented numbers of refugees and the effects of climate change. But he also believes that Notre Dame students are “unusually qualified to do something about it.” A renowned essayist, fiction writer, and former Department of American Studies faculty member, Lopez received his bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters in 1966 and a master’s degree in 1968. He returned to his alma mater last month to give a lecture on sustainability — and to offer his encouragement to current students.
“It's very easy to lose track of how to form arguments in a way that can really change minds. At Notre Dame, this ability is really drilled into you from day one,” said Katie Beirne Fallon ’98, senior vice president and global head of corporate affairs at Hilton Worldwide. A governemnt and international studies major at Notre Dame, she previously served as director of legislative affairs at the White House for President Barack Obama, working to improve the relationship between Congress and the Office of the President.