Class of 2020
Tiffanie Cappello Lee
- Areas of Study: Chemistry
- Hometown: Tempe, AZ
Beginning in her freshman year of high school, Tiffanie interned in a physics nanotechnology lab studying blood percolation in biomedical implants and censors where she co-authored a manuscript accepted to the Materials Research Society Conference. She also joined the Pancreatic Cancer Research Lab at the Translational Genomics Research Institute where she established a zebrafish model for pancreatic cancer and tested the effects of cancer drugs on various cancer cell lines.
During those busy high school years, Tiffanie was also committed to giving back. She served as chair for the Mayor of Tempe’s Youth Advisory Commission, which works closely with the Tempe City Council. She cofounded committees dedicated to increasing teen volunteerism and helping foster care teenagers. Tiffanie was also responsible for organizing a benefit concert for Filipino victims of Typhoon Haiyan.
At the University of Notre Dame, Tiffanie hopes to merge her love of the sciences to the philosophical realm by majoring in Chemistry on a Pre-Law track. During the school year, Tiffanie volunteered with Dr. Michael Ferdig in his lab researching the genetics and genomics of drug resistance and virulence in the Malaria parasite. She also worked with Hannah and Friends, and organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for those with special needs. As a Hesburgh-Yusko Scholar, Tiffanie spent her Social Justice summer at the University of Ottawa working under Dr. Thana Campos, adjunct professor of global health law, researching bioethics, legal theory, and moral philosophy in the realm of pandemics. The pandemics project is one supported by the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights.
Margarita (Mara) Diego
- Areas of Study: Economics; International Development Studies
- Hometown: Makati, Philippines
Throughout high school, Mara was passionate about serving others in student government and as the captain of the varsity soccer team. Inspired by teachings of servant leadership and Catholic social responsibility, she tutored at Holy Family orphanage and worked as the program manager of the Library Renewal Partnership, a literacy focused nonprofit building libraries around the Philippines. For these she received the Gerry Roxas and the Junior Chamber International Youth Leadership Excellence awards.
She remained in the Philippines for a gap year pursuing her in interests in Spanish and ballet and working with Asia Society on projects involving the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and electoral transparency before proceeding to Notre Dame. Here she won a grant allowing her to teach and conduct research in Cambodia. Her latest research evaluates the effectivity of U.S. colleges’ eating disorder interventions and the marginalization of women in Cambodia ascribed to existing educational and political systems.
Mara’s dream is to serve her countrymen in public office. With her international exposure thus far, she indirectly found her passion and calling in healthcare policy and provision. She seeks to gain experience working on global health issues with the World Health Organization, so she might later serve better in the Philippine’s Department of Health. Her focus is on improving maternal mortality in rural areas of the Philippines by identifying best practices of private and public interventions and determining how to use the country’s strong Catholic identity, often seen as hindrance, as leverage for change.
- Areas of Study: Economics; Pre-Health
- Hometown: Meknes, Morocco
At the age of 16, Achraf co-founded Youth 4 Community Development, an NGO that seeks to empower youth and create responsible citizens of Morocco by offering guidance and support. In his first year at ALA, he also founded BEAM, a student enterprise focused on renewable energy research as a means of solving the issue of access to energy in Africa.
In high school, Achraf served as a columnist for Africa Youth Journal, and was actively involved in the International Relations Council. While working at the Notre Dame Deloitte Center for Ethical Leadership, Achraf participated in the development and deployment of a new strategy for the center, and contributed to various research projects in terms of collection, analysis, and management of data and research literature. He also currently leads a research project concerning cryptocurrency and Blockchain. He also spent the year doing research on the economics of health care with Professor Mary Flannery.
For his Global Inquiry summer, Achraf did research the impact of education technology on the students’ progress in terms of their individual abilities. The results from the research will be used to develop the ED4.0 curricula utilizing the Backwards Design model to create an efficient and successful program.
Xinhui (Helen) Hong
- Areas of Study: International Economics (Spanish Concentration)
- Hometown: Dongguan, China
Helen, the valedictorian of her graduating class, chairperson of Student Union, and head prefect, established a peer mentorship program in her high school to offer college application support to younger students. In order to raise awareness of global issues related to poverty, Helen initiated volunteer trips, organized school wide fundraisers, and hosted her school's first Poverty Experience.
At Notre Dame, she joined Take Ten, a volunteer teaching program educating school children on conflict resolution and violence prevention. As a member of FUEL and Student Government, she is actively involved in promoting student wellbeing and involvement in the community.
Helen spent her Social Justice summer in Quito, Ecuador, working with UBECI, a non-profit organization committed to serving underprivileged children and their families. For her Global Inquiry summer, she will be interning in Chicago for Empower Illinois, a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships for low-income children.
Outside of class, Helen devotes her time to leading a consulting project in the Student International Business Council, facilitating a small group for Iron Sharpens Iron, conducting economic research with Prof. Chloe Gibbs, and interning at the Office of Mayor Pete Buttigieg. In addition, she is a language tutor at the Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures and a legal associate for Jubilee Initiative for Financial Inclusion (JIFFI), a nonprofit that provides low interest loans to member of the South Bend community.
Helen is also the winner of the HS Chau Foundation Scholarship from Notre Dame’s Greater China Scholars Program.
- Areas of Study: Chemical Engineering
- Hometown: Albuquerque, NM
Priyanka’s high school accolades include founding a science bowl club to spread STEM awareness, captaining a Model UN team and several Science Olympiad events, serving as an ambassador to the National Society of High School Scholars, and being a member of several national honor societies. She was a National Merit winner and a finalist for the AXA Achievement Scholarship. She was the only finalist from the state of New Mexico for the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. She has also been the JV Tennis team co-captain and loves to play piano and violin.
She hopes to develop the next generation of cancer treatment and has been honored for her work at several national science fairs. Her recent project, focused on developing a novel cancer treatment, placed second in the Biomedical and Health category at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.
Her 2017 summer was spent in Otuzco and Trujillo Peru volunteering with the local medical clinics and promoting healthcare education through Vive Peru. She volunteered for 10 weeks a total of 588 hours in clinical medicine and public health in remote areas of Peru, at an elevation of 8000 feet and areas impacted by recent massive flooding. She was involved in different surgeries, general patient care and checkups, as well as medical campaigns in remote areas to bring supplies and care to highly impoverished areas.
- Areas of Study: Finance; Political Science
- Hometown: Stewart Manor, NY
A graduate of Regis High School in New York City, Brennan participated in extracurricular activities ranging from the Christian service club to the speech and debate team to the school newspaper. He particularly enjoyed his time as chairman of his high school’s primary service effort, the Kibera Project. In this role, Brennan raised funds and awareness for St. Aloysius of Gonzaga, a secondary school in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya, which serves HIV/AIDS orphans in the area.
While at Notre Dame, Brennan has again brought many of these high school passions to life. He has continued to help the underprivileged through joining the Jubilee Initiative for Financial Inclusion, tutoring at the Robinson Community Learning Center, and working with Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Joseph’s County. Further, Brennan has joined professionally-oriented clubs such as the Student International Business Club and The Observer to help with career discernment efforts.
Thus far with HYSP, Brennan spent his Wilderness Leadership summer with the Colorado Outward Bound School rafting on the Colorado River and mountaineering in the South San Juan Mountains. Later, he spent his Social Justice summer living in St. Louis and working with Justine Petersen, a leading microfinance organization that serves underbanked individuals and small businesses throughout the Midwest. He hopes to carry lessons and newfound passions from these past summers to those in the future. In particular, Brennan wishes to dovetail his study of finance with his obligation to serve others.
- Areas of Study: Chemistry & Computing; Pre-Med
- Hometown: Hillsboro, OR
Driven by a passion for religious liberty and global peace, Sarah spent much of her time in high school advocating for unity within her local and global community. As president of Key Club, Sarah initiated the PDX Peace Walk and Movement which advocates for peace through vigils and remembrances of those lost in acts of violence around the world.
Sarah is also highly engaged in the scientific community. In 2015, she was named an American Association of University Women (AAUW) Outstanding Woman in Science. In 2016, she was awarded the Naval Academy Research Award and was named an Intel International Science and Engineering Fair finalist.
Throughout her freshman year, Sarah was involved in analytical chemistry research and was awarded the 2017 Undergraduate Library Research Award. After attending a CSC US Healthcare, Poverty, and Policy, and the Annual Student National Medical Association conference, Sarah partnered with the St. Joseph's county Health Department to leading an initiative aimed to simplify health-insurance navigation for patients within the South Bend community.
- Areas of Study: Chemical Engineering
- Hometown: Pittsford, NY
During his time at McQuaid Jesuit, Matthew was two-time president of the Habitat for Humanity chapter, served on the Campus Ministry Board, led the Big Brother committee, which mentors younger students, and managed finances for the school spirit organization. He played varsity football for two years, receiving the National Football Foundation’s Scholar Athlete award, and varsity rugby for four, serving as captain his senior year. For six years he also volunteered Saint’s Place, a local charity dedicated to refugee settlement.
As a Chemical Engineering major, Matthew is greatly interested in sustainability, with great interest in subjects like green energy, resilient processes, and environmental impact. Matthew is an member of Student Government's Department of Sustainability and Social Concerns and is serving in Hall Government as Keough's Sustainability Commissioner for the second year. For the 2017-8 school year, Matthew worked as a research intern at ND's Office of Sustainability, where he studied and presented solutions for Notre Dame’s food waste problem, including composting and anaerobic digestion.
During the summer of 2017, he volunteered in Colorado with the solar energy NGO GRID Alternatives, which offers discounted solar power systems and free solar job training to qualifying low-income applicants. In the summer of 2018, Matthew will be researching the catalytic production of methanol from carbon dioxide and hydrogen gas at the Friedrich Alexander Universitat in Erlangen, Germany.
- Areas of Study: Economics; History
- Hometown: Springfield, MA
Brendan, a National Merit Finalist, helped to lead the “Save Cathedral” movement, fighting to keep his small Catholic high school from closing. When it was announced that Cathedral would merge with another local school to form an entirely new school, he served on a student committee to help plan the new school. Brendan also served as captain of the varsity cross country and track teams, NHS president, and class treasurer, and has been involved in several local and global service initiatives focused on alleviating poverty.
On campus, Brendan is involved in the leadership of the Model UN Club and a member of the Health and Wellness Board within student government. He will be spending his summer in San Jeronimo Tecuanipan, Mexico, working with the organization Casita de Barro to start a sustainable agriculture co-op with the families in the local community.
- Areas of Study: Electrical Engineering
- Hometown: Musanze, Rwanda
Perfect is a graduate of Bridge2Rwanda Scholars Program. He was president of his class and served as president and co-founder of a Reading and Writing Club through Isaro Foundation. As a volunteer, he tutored at Acts4Rwanda, a non-profit dedicated to teaching orphaned children.
At Notre Dame, Perfect is pursuing a degree in Electrical Engineering, his goal is to make energy available throughout Africa. He is engaged in Energy Sustainable Development and Design Research. He worked with Professor Abigail Mechtenberg to set up an energy team in Rwanda that builds energy devices ranging from Bicycle generators to wind turbines.
In 2017 summer, Perfect worked with Bowman Creek Educational Ecosystem, designing projects with the South Bend Community. He specifically worked on designing a system that monitors moisture and water retention rate in rain gardens built in South Bend.
- Areas of Study: Computer Science
- Hometown: Dublin, Ireland
Ralph was named the 2016 Top Young Applied Mathematician in Ireland and his team also won the All-Ireland French Language Debating Competition. A McKinsey Global Leadership Scholar, he has also worked as a scholar at the University of Pennsylvania’s Translational Medicine Institute, and represented Ireland in the Google Science Fair.
In 2015, Ralph created Locadot, a multifaceted location analytics platform, built to target the problem of missing persons globally. He was named among Apple’s Top Twenty Young Developers worldwide, and was one of the Top Ten Young Entrepreneurs at the Web Summit 2014. He is also the founder of his school’s first coding club.
Ralph worked in Johannesburg, South Africa during the summer of 2017 with TechnoServe, a multinational nonprofit that looks to stimulate economic growth in impoverished regions of the world.
In November 2017, Ralph co-founded Streetlight Creations LLC, a custom music platform that connects songwriters to customers for the purposes of creating inspired, original music. His company has received grants from the IDEA Center and is one of their four-cylinder teams. Streetlight Creations was awarded the IrishAngels Award at the McCloskey New Venture Competition 2018.
Ralph will spend the summer of 2018 working for Google in New York City, on a project using machine learning to recognize and flag harassment online.
Ralph is a member of the University of Notre Dame Glee Club and The Undertones, and an avid soccer enthusiast. He is excited to pursue his breadth of interests as a Hesburgh-Yusko Scholar.
- Areas of Study: Africana Studies
- Hometown: Accra, Ghana
Naana is a writer who is passionate about the arts in Ghana. At the African Leadership Academy, she served as the chief events manager of Sm'Artrepreneurs, a student-run enterprise on campus that provided opportunities and professional skills for student artists. In order to develop the spoken word scene on campus, she was a facilitator of a club called Speak, which presented performance pieces about Pan-Africanism and feminism to provoke thoughtful discussions. She was also the director of administration for ALA Model African Union 2016 and helped to recruit 136 delegates and 28 advisers with 23 different nationalities. She is the secretary and a facilitator for Young African Leaders Foundation, which serves as a platform to encourage young Africans to address and solve problems in their communities.
As a Hesburgh-Yusko scholar, Naana is working to discover how to empower Ghanaian artists to be sustainable while original. She serves as the president for the African Students Association.
Nicholas (Nick) Ottone
- Areas of Study: Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics (ACMS)
- Hometown: Salinas, CA
Nicholas, the valedictorian of his high school and a National Merit Finalist, served as the editor-in-chief of the yearbook, captain of the Mock Trial and varsity tennis teams, and founder of the school's first online newspaper. Through Palma's Edmund Rice Society, he led a ministry at a local prison which produced two publications of student and inmate writings concerning father-son relationships and differing perspectives on John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Nicholas has also participated in mission trips to Mexico and Peru, where he built houses and orphanages in poverty-stricken areas of Tijuana and Lima.
At Notre Dame, Nicholas studies Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics and Political Science. For his Social Justice summer, Nicholas stayed in South Bend and volunteered at the Center for the Homeless. He was Policy Commissioner of the Gender Relations Committee of Student Government, created First Year: Unfiltered in conjunction with Show Some Skin, and writes as a Staff Writer for Scene at The Observer. He enjoys working as a research assistant for Professor Michael Coppedge as part of the Kellogg International Scholars Program along with working with the Center for Social Concerns as a member of the Seminar Task Force and leading the Realities of Race seminar. This next summer, Nicholas will work with the Department of Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics at Notre Dame to create data visualizations for Horizon Educational Alliance while writing about school desegregation in South Bend.
- Areas of Study: Political Science
- Hometown: Portland, OR
Isabel attended Catlin Gabel in Portland, Oregon on the Palma Scholarship, awarded for academics, leadership, service, and athletics. There, she enjoyed theater, outdoor education, and student government. She was elected class president her sophomore and junior years, and senior year, she became the first female in twelve years to be elected student body president. She interned at Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici's campaign office and in Nike's Global Sports Marketing department.
Isabel majors in Political Science and minors in Gender Studies. She has also taken a concentration of classes in Africana Studies and Sociology. Freshman year, Isabel was a Judicial Council Peer Advocate, actress in Show Some Skin, and member of the Student Government Policy Board. She developed a financial literacy program for survivors of domestic violence through the local SOS Family Justice Center. After freshman year, Isabel traveled to Delhi and Kolkata, India, and interned for Apne Aap. She visited red light areas and collected stories from prostituted and trafficked women and children.
Sophomore year, Isabel served as the Student Government Director of Gender Relations, where she adapted Title IX policies, drafted self-defense language for DuLac, publicized sexual health resources, and advocated to adopt the Callisto reporting software through the Committee for Sexual Assault Prevention. Isabel works for Know Your IX, writes Op-Eds for The Observer, and interns with Goodwill Group Violence Intervention (GVI), a South Bend non-profit that combats gun violence. She will continue working with GVI this summer to produce videos and create marketing materials (website, social media, brochures).
Luis (Hunter) Urrea
- Areas of Study: International Economics
- Hometown: El Paso, TX
Hunter, the valedictorian of his high school and a National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar, served as student body president and dedicated four years to the National Hispanic Institute, leading the El Paso delegation to second place at the Texas Ambassador Great Debate. He taught adult citizenship classes to members of the Cathedral community and co-founded the Equity Project, a program designed to address sexual stereotypes and prejudicial attitudes in society with a focus on students in middle and high school.
While at Notre Dame, Hunter has enjoyed learning about the intersection of entrepreneurship and social good. During his Social Justice summer internship with TechnoServe in Johannesburg, South Africa, he worked in the development of local entrepreneurs attempting to make the transition to supplying their products and services to new markets through third party organizations.
In South Bend, Hunter has pursued his interest in philosophy and serves as a TA in the philosophy department. He has been an active member of the Student International Business Council and has taken on the role of a project leader within the consulting division. Hunter was a member of the team representing Notre Dame in the Accenture Innovation Challenge. Their team was one of four teams in the United States selected to present in the national finals in Atlanta, Georgia.
- Areas of Study: Finance
- Hometown: Emalahleni, South Africa
Takunda is a rising Junior who joined the University as a Hesburgh-Yusko Scholar in May 2016. A Zimbabwean native who also grew up in South Africa, Takunda serves on two advisory boards that share a focus on youth development, Ashoka Youth Venture Global Council and Global Citizens Initiative Ambassadors Advisory Council. At age 16, Takunda co-founded a social enterprise that trains students to be start projects that aims to fix a problem they care about, the Circle of Influence Projects Society (CIPS). Five years later, CIPS has expanded to successful platform for youth-led initiatives across South Africa, noteworthy is the establishment of CIPS T/A Praise Nursery School, a kindergarten and daycare center catering for over 100 students. In 2014, Takunda
was one of twenty-eight teenagers worldwide who were recognized as “Global Teen Leaders” by the We Are Family Foundation, which was founded by guitarist Nile Rodgers. Takunda has featured severally on South African television and radio outlets and has spoken at international conferences, bearing the torch for the agenda to give young voices a space to collaborate, innovate, and deliver calls to action across religious, ethnic, and national lines. During his freshman year, Takunda realized a growing interest in conducting independent research on Africa’s Mineral Resources. He is aiming to write a senior thesis comprising of a set of recommendations of how the extractive industry could achieve more efficiency as a development vehicle on the continent. Takunda is pursuing a double major in Data Analytics and Political Science.
- Areas of Study: Political Science
- Hometown: Carmel, IN
Alex was the co-founder of Design for CHS, a service-based club at his high school that focuses on designing innovative service projects to tackle community issues, including the establishment of an after-school tutoring program for inner-city students and a shopping experience for the homeless that provided over 2,000 articles of clothing. He also served as co-president of the school’s Model United Nations chapter, Speaker of the House at Hoosier Boys State, and was an Indiana delegate to the United States Senate Youth Program in 2016.
As a Hesburgh-Yusko scholar, Alex is the president of a nationwide, student-run non-profit organization, Civic Duty that conducts voter registration drives and other political engagement activities for local high schools. Alex also participates in student government and Model UN, received the CUSE Outstanding Freshman Award for his research, and interned at US Congresswoman Jackie Walorski’s District Office.
During the summer of 2017, Alex was the Immigration and Refugee services Intern at Catholic Charities USA and in the spring 2018 semester, interned for the Ripon Society, a public policy organization, as part of the Washington Program. Alex will be interning for the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade during the summer of 2018.
While at Notre Dame, Alex is majoring in Political Science and minoring in Business Economics and Asian Studies to pursue his passion for diplomacy and public service.