Class of 2020
Tiffanie Cappello Lee
- Hometown: Tempe, AZ
- High School: Tempe Preparatory Academy
- High School Counselor: Karin Moffitt
On her way to becoming a chemical engineering major at Notre Dame, 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.
As a Hesburgh-Yusko scholar, Tiffanie hopes to link her interest in engineering to education models in developing nations.
Margarita (Mara) Diego
- Hometown: Makati, Philippines
- High School: Assumption College San Lorenzo
- High School Counselor: Maria Floriza Te
Throughout high school, Mara was passionate about serving others. She was active in her high school student government and served as the captain of the varsity soccer team. Ideals of servant leadership and Catholic social responsibility guided her to tutor at Holy Family orphanage and become the program manager of the Library Renewal Partnership, a nonprofit that builds libraries around the Philippines. She received the Gerry Roxas and the Junior Chamber International Youth Leadership Excellence awards.
She spent a gap year studying Spanish, ballet, and working with Asia Society Philippines on projects involving Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forums and transparency in Philippine elections. Her most recent efforts are focused on setting up the first center for eating disorders in the country.
Mara intends to study political science and journalism and to use the opportunities available to her through HYSP in preparation for a career as a public servant in her home country.
- Hometown: Meknes, Morocco
- High School: African Leadership Academy
- High School Counselor: Suzanne Hunter
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. The activities of the organization range from providing academic orientation services to organizing personal development workshops to projects such as Operation Classroom In-need, a student-to-student initiative that seeks to provide school supplies and better learning conditions to rural Moroccan schools. 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 lighting in Africa.
In high school, Achraf served as a columnist for Africa Youth Journal, and was actively involved in the International Relations Council. He represented the African Leadership Academy in the Harvard Model United Nations conference in Boston.
“Through the amazing opportunities provided by The Hesburgh-Yusko Scholars Program, I am excited to discover my role as a global citizen, committed to Fr. Hesburgh’s belief that one visionary leader truly can make a difference.”
Xinhui (Helen) Hong
- Hometown: Dongguan, China
- High School: ShenZhen College of International Education
- High School Counselor: Kaylin Liang
Helen has been focused on education since high school where she served as chairperson of the student union and as head prefect, which allowed her to mentor younger students. In order to raise students’ awareness of global issues related to poverty, Helen initiated volunteer trips and hosted the first Poverty Experience in school, which gave the students an opportunity to “walk in the shoes” of the impoverished.
As a Hesburgh-Yusko scholar, Helen intends to continue pursuing her passion for education. She hopes to research and establish sustainable methods of helping those in need, particularly in promoting equal education rights for less-privileged children.
“I am excited to work in a community of like-minded scholars, engage in their missions, and learn from their insights.”
Helen is also the winner of the HS Chau Foundation Scholarship from Notre Dame’s Greater China Scholars Program.
Samuel Jackson II
- Hometown: Huntsville, AL
- High School: Bob Jones High School
- High School Counselor: Kathryn Champion
In high school, Samuel served as the artistic and casting director of his school's lower-level theatre classes, and performed across the country as part of a national-award-winning theatre troupe. In total, he has been involved in over 40 full-scale theatrical productions, of which he was the director of over a dozen and the playwright of five. Samuel is also the founder and head-director of Deliverance, a summer theatre program that fosters the development of confidence, love and emotional vulnerability in young people.
While theater and mathematics are an unusual pair, Samuel enjoys finding unique ways to interconnect his dissimilar interests. He was a part of the creative team and original cast that created and developed "The Standard Deviation,” a statistics-based romance play that received first place in the one-act competition at the prestigious Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) in 2015.
While at Notre Dame, Samuel plans to major in both Film, Television, and Theatre (FTT) and mathematics.
- Hometown: Albuquerque, NM
- High School: La Cueva High School
- High School Counselor: Mike Reilly
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 is a finalist for the National Merit and AXA Achievement Scholarships, and 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.
At Notre Dame, Priyanka plans to study biochemistry and continue her research in order to make a lasting impact on her community.
- Hometown: Stewart Manor, NY
- High School: Regis High School
- High School Counselor: Hee-Sun Hong
While at Regis, Brennan, a National Merit Scholar, participated in 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 worked to raise 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. During the summer breaks, Brennan worked for the CEO of Catholic Guardian Services, a nonprofit affiliate of Catholic Charities in New York City.
At Notre Dame, Brennan intends to pursue a double major in finance and mathematics. He is confident The Hesburgh-Yusko Scholars Program will enrich his Notre Dame experience, offering greater insight on challenging global issues.
- Hometown: Hillsboro, OR
- High School: Liberty High School
- High School Counselor: Amanda Harkins
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.
At Notre Dame, Sarah hopes to combine her passion for service with her love of science. En route to medical school, she plans to major in biochemistry with possible minors in anthropology and peace studies. She tentatively plans to focus her Hesburgh-Yusko summer experiences on applying cost-effective medical solutions to local and global communities.
- Hometown: Pittsford, NY
- High School: McQuaid Jesuit High School
- High School Counselor: Margaret Gorton
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.
During the summer of 2015, Matthew researched at SUNY Geneseo’s Particle Accelerator Lab. He is a member of National Honor Society, an AP Scholar with Distinction, and a National Merit Finalist.
His intended major at Notre Dame is chemical engineering. With the knowledge gained through his studies and the experiences offered by HYSP, Matthew plans to confront prominent global environmental and health problems.
- Hometown: Springfield, MA
- High School: Cathedral High School
- High School Counselor: Janet Kelly
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.
Brendan plans to study economics at Notre Dame, with a focus on poverty and opportunity inequality. He hopes HYSP will help cultivate his desire and abilities to find solutions for systemic economic inequality through education and economic policy.
- Hometown: Vienna, VA
- High School: George C. Marshall High School
- High School Counselor: Miriam Filvarof
While growing up in Latin America, Patrick discovered a passion for international development through volunteer work at the Alcance Positivo program which works with youth at risk of joining gangs. That passion for human rights was further fueled in 2015 when Patrick was selected to study Arabic in Jordan with the State Department’s National Security Language Initiative (NSLI-Y). While there, he met with Syrian refugee youth and Jordanian policy leaders.
In high school, Patrick worked as a mentor to immigrant children from El Salvador and Guatemala, competed in and helped organize Model United Nations conferences, and co-lead his Key Club. He also worked to launch a voter registration campaign at his school to register 85 percent of his senior class to vote through the Inspire Virginia program. As the editor-in-chief of his school newspaper, Patrick developed a partnership with the school’s ESOL department to include articles in Farsi, Japanese, and Spanish.
Patrick will take a gap year to continue his Arabic studies while living in Rabat, Morocco, with the State Department language program. He is excited to pursue his interests in international development and diplomacy at Notre Dame as a Hesburgh-Yusko scholar in the fall of 2017.
- Hometown: Kigali, Rwanda
- High School: Bridge2Rwanda
- High School Counselor: Joy Beth Bodie
Perfect, a graduate of Bridge2Rwanda in Kigali, was the dorm captain and the president of his class. He served as the assistant head boy, president of a reading and writing club, and a sports writer and commentator in the "15 SPORTS AGENCY.” As a volunteer, he tutored at Acts4Rwanda, a Rwandan nonprofit dedicated to teaching orphaned and underserved children, and also distributed books to rural areas of Rwanda with the Isaro Foundation. After graduation, Perfect accepted an internship at his school to tutor and mentor new scholars as they began to prepare for college.
At Notre Dame, Perfect looks forward to studying civil engineering so as to provide affordable shelter to middle and low income families.
"We all have the ability to make the world great. However, the opportunities are not open to everyone. I intend to use The Hesburgh-Yusko Scholars Program as an opening door to explore my potential."
- Hometown: Dublin, Ireland
- High School: Belvedere College SJ
- High School Counselor: Roisin O'Donohoe
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.
Although Ralph's intended major is physics, he is also interested in drama, music and soccer. He hopes to continue pursuing a breadth of interests as a Hesburgh-Yusko scholar, while always remaining focused on his ultimate goal: to make a difference.
- Hometown: Accra, Ghana
- High School: African Leadership Academy
- High School Counselor: Suzanne Hunter
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 will work to discover how to empower Ghanaian artists to be sustainable while original.
Nicholas (Nick) Ottone
- Hometown: Salinas, CA
- High School: Palma School
- High School Counselor: Irina Short
A graduate of Palma School, Nicholas was 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. He also served as Student Ambassador for the City of Salinas to Ichikikushikino, Japan.
A valedictorian, National Merit Finalist, and AP Scholar with Distinction, Nicholas plans to study applied mathematics and film at Notre Dame. Through Hesburgh-Yusko, he plans to pursue his passion for advocacy on behalf of inmates and research causes of mass incarceration in America.
- Hometown: Lake Oswego, OR
- High School: Catlin Gabel
- High School Counselor: Kate Grant
Isabel attended the Catlin Gabel School on the Knight Scholarship, which is awarded based on the pillars of academics, leadership, service and athletics. There, she was involved in theater, outdoor education and student government. She was elected class president her sophomore and junior years, and senior year, she was the first female in twelve years to be elected student body president. She also interned at the campaign office of Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon and in Nike's Global Marketing department.
Isabel has a passion for women's rights, and looks forward to coupling this with her interests in journalism during the HYSP summer experiences. Isabel plans to major in marketing, with minors in Spanish and Journalism, Ethics and Democracy (JED).
Luis (Hunter) Urrea
- Hometown: El Paso, TX
- High School: Cathedral High School
- High School Counselor: Luis Lujan
Hunter is passionate about the development of future leaders on the border. For four years he worked with the National Hispanic Institute, leading the El Paso delegation to second place at the Texas Ambassador Great Debate, and was elected vice president of the national youth legislative session. He served as head coach of NHI at El Paso where he trained freshmen in the areas of public speaking and critical thinking, and challenged them to develop practical solutions to border issues. He taught adult citizenship classes and co-founded the Equity Project, a program addressing sexual stereotypes and prejudicial attitudes in society.
With interests in public policy on the border, Hunter plans to study political science and research immigration. As a Hesburgh-Yusko scholar he will use summer enrichment experiences and resources to develop economic and social opportunities for underserved communities.
- Hometown: Masvingo, Zimbabwe
- High School: African Leadership Academy
- High School Counselor: Bowen Kelley
In February 2015, Takunda was part of the ALA delegation that participated in the Georgetown Model United Nations conference in Doha, Qatar, where he received the “Best Delegate Award.” Since then, Takunda has developed a passion to be at the forefront of resolving issues of African and global importance. He headed the organizing team for the African Leadership Academy Model African Union 2016 conference which saw the participation of 200 young people from around the world.
Takunda is a co-founder of Circle of Influence Projects Society (CIPS), an organization which helps high school students run small-scale projects in their communities to create a peaceful and prosperous southern Africa. Through CIPS, Takunda is ensuring two disadvantaged boys can attend school. He was selected as a 2015 Global Teen Leader by the We Are Family Foundation and was invited to join the Global Youth Advisory Council for Ashoka’s Youth Venture.
At Notre Dame, Takunda plans to double major in management consulting and political science. Through the Hesburgh-Yusko Scholars Program, Takunda hopes to grow as an active player in the study and practice of international relations, with a particular emphasis on Africa.
- Hometown: Carmel, IN
- High School: Carmel High School
- High School Counselor: Cathleen Johnson
Alex is 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. In that capacity, Alex oversaw many projects 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 plans to continue serving those around him, with a particular emphasis on the relationship between Notre Dame and the South Bend community. Alex is planning to major in political science and minor in business and economics in order to pursue his passion for diplomacy and public service.