Class of 2020
Tiffanie Cappello Lee
- Areas of Study: Economics
- Hometown: Tempe, AZ
At the University of Notre Dame, 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, an 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 was supported by the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights.
During her Global Inquiry summer, Tiffanie worked with Dr. Thana Campos, this time at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile in Santiago, to get their work on pandemics published. During the second half of her summer, she researched with Prof. William Goggins at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. There she conducted literature reviews on global health-related subjects ranging from the environmental impact of dietary changes in China to the impact of water population on health. This project is currently being funded by the University of Exeter.
During her junior year, Tiffanie co-organized a global health conference for Notre Dame in collaboration with four university departments. The conference focused on how to approach social problems within clinical and political contexts. She also continued working with Dr. Ferdig to help develop a tool to predict the reaction of Malaria parasites to potential treatments. In her second semester, Tiffanie studied abroad in Hong Kong, focusing her studies on quantitative urban policy and Chinese economic history.
Tiffanie’s Professional Venture summer brought her to Chicago where she interned with AArete, a management consulting firm, and worked within the healthcare consulting industry. After graduation, she started her career with L.E.K. Consulting in Chicago.
Margarita (Mar) Diego
- Areas of Study: Economics
- Hometown: Makati, Philippines
Mar, who is originally from the Philippines, was the first in her family to pursue her college education abroad and graduated with a B.A. in Economics and a minor in Education, Schooling, & Society. She attributed her fervid desire to pursue a career in development economics to her unique Filipino upbringing and exposure to various service and internship opportunities in the Philippines, Cambodia, and the U.K.
In addition to the instruction she received at Notre Dame, Mar was privileged to study abroad at the University of Oxford and, subsequently, land a position as a research assistant with Oxford’s Department of Economics. She spent her senior year applying these research techniques to her thesis studying the relationship between political nepotism and tertiary education investment decisions in the Philippines. Following graduation, Mar accepted a position as an Associate Management Fellow with the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Illinois.
- Areas of Study: Economics
- Hometown: Meknes, Morocco
Being a firm believer in the Medici Effect, Achraf trusts that the most powerful innovations happen when different disciplines, cultures, and industries collide.
Originally a science student, Achraf was always curious to learn about other disciplines and fields of study. By deciding to attend the African Leadership Academy, he was able to take classes such as business, entrepreneurship, and African studies for the first time.Achraf took advantage of his time at Notre Dame by taking a wide variety of classes and joining different clubs and organizations on and off campus.
For his Professional Venture summer, Achraf interned at Morningstar Investment Management (MIM) within the Business Intelligence department. He spent his summer learning about investment management as well as developing automated BI-KPI visualizations to monitor performance, provide insight, and enhance efficiency within Morningstar's sales, portfolio management, and equity research teams. He returned to Morningstar after graduation to partake in the company's highly-selective development program.
Xinhui (Helen) Hong
- Areas of Study: Economics and Spanish
- Hometown: Dongguan, China
At Notre Dame, Helen was involved in the Student International Business Council, International Ambassadors program, Iron Sharpens Iron, and Show Some Skin. Outside of class, she taught violence prevention and conflict resolution to school children through Take Ten, conducted economics research with Prof. Chloe Gibbs, and interned at the Office of Mayor Pete Buttigieg. In addition, she was a language tutor at the Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures and a legal associate for the Jubilee Initiative for Financial Inclusion (JIFFI), a nonprofit that provides low interest loans to members of the South Bend community.
Helen who was the valedictorian of her high school 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.
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 interned in Chicago for Empower Illinois, a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships for low-income children. During junior year, Helen studied abroad in Santiago, Chile, during the fall semester and Washington, D.C., in the spring semester. She interned at McKinsey & Company as a summer business analyst for her Professional Venture summer, where she returned to work full-time after graduation.
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 included founding a science bowl club to spread STEM awareness, captaining a Model UN team and several Science Olympiad events, and serving as an ambassador to the National Society of High School Scholars. She was a National Merit winner and state medalist for the violin.
Priyanka hopes to develop the next generation of cancer treatment and has been honored for her work at several national science fairs. Her project, focused on developing a novel cancer treatment, placed second in the Biomedical and Health category at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and she received Minor Planet (33580) in her name from the MIT Lincoln Laboratory.
She spent her 2017 Social Justice summer in Otuzco and Trujillo, Peru, volunteering with local medical clinics and promoting healthcare education through Vive Peru. Priyanka observed several surgeries and general patient care and checkups, and provided medical campaigns in remote areas to bring supplies and care to highly impoverished areas.
During her 2018 Global Inquiry summer, Priyanka conducted research at the Koch Institute of Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. Her project involved binding and inhibition of RNA-binding proteins LIN28A or LIN28B to reactivate let-7 and kill cancer cells.
In 2019, for her Professional Venture summer, she interned at Current, powered by GE, where she investigated red phosphor nanoparticle degradation mechanisms, developed a new process to improve particle separation, characterized of its morphology, and investigated powder morphology impact on LED chip performance.
Priyanka is now pursuing her Doctor of Medicine at the University of New Mexico Medical School.
- Areas of Study: Finance and 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 again brought many of these high school passions to life. He 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 County. Further, Brennan joined professionally-oriented clubs such as the Student International Business Council and The Observer to help with career discernment efforts.
Through The Hesburgh-Yusko Scholars Program, 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 businesses. For his Global Inquiry summer, he served as a Data Analyst in Parish & School Operations for the Archdiocese of Chicago. Finally, his Professional Venture summer took him to Chicago to intern with L.E.K. Consulting.
After graduation, Brennan moved to Chicago to join Bain & Company as an Associate Consultant.
- Areas of Study: Chemistry
- Hometown: Hillsboro, OR
During her freshman year, Sarah became involved in analytical chemistry research at the Camden Research Lab. There, she led and coordinated UWATCH ND, a project intended to study uranium contamination in drinking water. She developed testing kits, and coordinated with American Catholic Education (ACE) teachers to have elementary school students from across the United States test tap water. On-campus, she analyzed the samples using ICP-OES methods. Additionally, Sarah coordinated meetings with the Navajo Nation to develop plans to expand testing within Navajo classrooms. Sarah met with Senator Jeff Flake's office to communicate the contamination fears of the Navajo Nation, which has historically mined uranium.
Sarah then explored the effects of environmental pollution in minority communities that have been disproportionately impacted by negative health outcomes as a result of water and air contamination. She explored South Bend, Chicago, D.C., and Pittsburgh, and analyzed the political movements and awareness of constituents about their tap-water contamination. She met with community leaders and political advocacy groups who have been struggling to bring the contamination crisis to the forefront of policy decision-making.
In the summer of 2019, Sarah traveled to France to continue her study of environmental injustice. She questioned whether the historical differences of segregation between France and the United States would change the prevalence of the contamination on minority communities. She analyzed specific wording of French and American societies, as the French tend to not view segregation as a reality. However, she found that North African communities do tend to experience lower air and water qualities in France.
Sarah was awarded 11 funding grants during her time at Notre Dame to pursue her various research projects. She was awarded the University Library Research Award in 2018. Her research is notably multidisciplinary, and she pursued her interests through several institutions at Notre Dame, including the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, the Department of Art and Art History, and the IDEA Center.
After graduation, Sarah pivoted her studies to focus on another passion - fashion design. She is now a MFA Candidate in Fashion Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, New York.
- Areas of Study: Chemical Engineering
- Hometown: Pittsford, NY
During his time at McQuaid Jesuit, Matt was two-time president of the Habitat for Humanity Chapter, served on the Campus Ministry Board, led the Big Brother committee, which mentored 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 at Saint’s Place, a local charity dedicated to refugee resettlement.
As a Chemical Engineering major, Matt was greatly interested in sustainability, including green energy, resilient processes, and environmental impact. Matt is a two-time member of Student Government's Department of Sustainability and Social Concerns and served in Hall Government as Keough's Sustainability Commissioner for two years. For the 2017-18 school year, he 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. This work resulted in the implementation of the current Grind2Energy program in both dining halls, resulting in an annual emissions reduction of hundreds of thousands of tons of CO2.
For his Social Justice summer Matt 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. He conducted research on the catalytic production of methanol from carbon dioxide and hydrogen gas at the Friedrich-Alexander Universitat in Erlangen, Germany, for his Global Inquiry Summer. During his Professional Venture summer, Matt worked as an intern in the Global Management Trainee program for Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis, Missouri. Matt began his employment with Anheuser-Busch's Brewery Process Trainee program in September of 2020.
- Areas of Study: Economics and Honors History
- Hometown: Springfield, MA
Brendan has always been highly involved in his local community. As a high schooler he led a campaign to save his local Catholic high school from being shut down. After it was announced that his school, Cathedral High, would not close, but instead would merge with another Catholic high school, he served as a student director of the team that helped make decisions to shape the new school.
During his first year at Notre Dame, Brendan became involved in Model United Nations and Student Government and also developed his interests in international economic development and human migration. He spent his Social Justice summer interning for a nonprofit, Casita de Barro, in San Jerónimo Tecuanipan, Mexico, that focused sustainable economic development on rural campesino communities.
As a sophomore, Brendan took on larger leadership roles as vice president of Notre Dame's Model United Nations and under-secretary general for the NDMUN II Conference. He also continued to pursue his interests in international economics and immigration, developing a Global Inquiry summer project that allowed him to live on the Colombia/Venezuela border and investigate the ongoing migration crisis through a journalistic lens, reporting and publishing in a local magazine.
As a junior, Brendan continued as a leader in the Model United Nations Club. During the spring semester, he jumped at the opportunity to further develop his Spanish and study Latin American history and economics at an elite Latin American university in Santiago, Chile. Following his time in Chile, Brendan spent his Professional Venture summer in Colombia, conducting research for his thesis on the history of public opinion about migration on the Venezuelan/Colombian border.
Brendan serves as a Teaching Fellow for Teach for America in Brownsville, TX.
- Areas of Study: Electrical Engineering
- Hometown: Musanze, Rwanda
Perfect is a graduate of the Bridge2Rwanda Scholars Program. In high school, he was president of his class and served as president and co-founder of a reading and writing club through the Isaro Foundation. As a volunteer, he tutored at Acts4Rwanda, a non-profit dedicated to teaching orphaned children.
At Notre Dame, Perfect pursued a degree in Electrical Engineering with the goal of making energy available throughout Africa. He was highly engaged in energy sustainable development and design research with Professor Abigail Mechtenberg, in which he set up an energy team in Rwanda that builds energy devices ranging from bicycle generators to wind turbines.
In summer 2017, Perfect worked with the Bowman Creek Educational Ecosystem, designing projects in conjunction with the City of South Bend that monitored moisture and water retention rates in rain gardens.
Perfect is now employed as an Electrical Engineer with ThermalTech Engineering in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
- Areas of Study: Computer Science
- Hometown: Dublin, Ireland
In 2015, Ralph created Locadot, a location analytics platform built to target the problem of missing persons. He was named among Apple’s Top Twenty Young Developers worldwide, and among the Top Ten Young Entrepreneurs in Ireland. In 2016, Ralph took first place in the All-Ireland Applied Mathematics Competition, and also the All-Ireland French Language Debating Competition. A McKinsey Global Leadership Scholar, he worked as a scholar at the University of Pennsylvania’s Translational Medicine Institute, and represented Ireland in the Google Science Fair.
Ralph interned in Johannesburg, South Africa, during the summer of 2017 with TechnoServe, a nonprofit that looks to stimulate economic growth in impoverished regions of the world. In November 2017, Ralph co-founded Streetlight Creations, a custom music platform that connects songwriters to customers for the purpose of creating inspired, original music. Streetlight Creations was awarded the IrishAngels Award at the 2018 McCloskey New Venture Competition. Ralph worked as a Machine Learning Intern at Google in New York City during the summer of 2018, using natural language processing and computer vision to recognize and filter harassment content online.
In March 2019, Ralph's startup venture, Owl Technologies, a company focused on rapid response to falling incidents among the aging population, was awarded the HAX Accelerator prize at the McCloskey New Venture Competition, a prize awarded to the most promising hardware startups. Ralph is also the first-ever recipient of The C-Prize, an award given to conservation nonprofits, for his nonprofit startup VIVAGUA, an app to aid in marine conservation. He traveled to Roatan, Honduras, in May of 2019 to deploy his first tool. Ralph spent the summer of 2019 working at the Googleplex in California, where he performed frontier natural language processing research.
Ralph is an avid musician and was both a member of the Notre Dame Glee Club and the president of The Notre Dame Undertones. He is also a passionate soccer fan. After graduation, he joined Google full-time in New York City as a Software Engineer.
- Areas of Study: Africana Studies and French
- Hometown: Accra, Ghana
Naana Ocran pursued a double major in Africana Studies and French while at the University of Notre Dame. She served as the president of the African Students Association and worked as an administrative assistant for Legacy and Legacy Ghana helping organize and market their flagship business conference: The Festival of Ideas. During summer 2019, she interned with Concordia, a non-partisan nonprofit that aims to promote cross-sector collaboration by bringing together social impact-minded change makers. In this role, she was part of the organizing team for their annual summit, which brought together approximately 4000 participants for high-level discussions alongside the UN General Assembly.
Naana is fascinated by the integration of the arts in the development of Africa and the gap between economic sustainability and artistic expression. In light of this passion, in 2017, she spent her Social Justice summer interning with the Association for Craft Producers Nepal as a marketing and programs Intern. During her Global Inquiry summer, she embarked on an independent research project in Dakar, Senegal, where she explored the connection between government-funded art programs in the 1960s and national identity development. After graduation, Naana returned to her hometown of Accra, Ghana.
Nicholas (Nick) Ottone
- Areas of Study: Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics (ACMS) and Political Science
- Hometown: Salinas, CA
During his time at Notre Dame, Nick led the Department of University Policy for Student Government, wrote for the student newspaper's culture section, and shaped seminars for students at the Center for Social Concerns. Through the Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics Department, he interned with the Horizon Education Alliance and produced analyses for their after-school programming. As part of the Kellogg International Scholars Program, he assisted Dr. Michael Coppedge with research involving the Varieties of Democracy project. In the Institution for Educational Initiatives under Dr. Matthew Kloser, he researched STEM educational practices.
Nick spent his Social Justice summer volunteering at the Center for the Homeless in South Bend, and he spent another summer researching the segregation and discipline practices of South Bend schools. For his Professional Venture summer, he interned at 84.51 as a Data Science intern specializing in Machine Learning. As part of the Washington Program, he interned with the Brookings Institution in their Department of Communications, and he returned as a remote contractor in 2020.
As a student in Political Science, Nick wrote a senior thesis focusing on the racial resentment scale and nonwhite Americans' racial attitudes. Nick is a Ph.D. of Political Science candidate at Yale University.
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 his high school's 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 High School 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 enjoyed learning about the intersection of entrepreneurship and social good. During his Social Justice summer, he interned with TechnoServe in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he focused on 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 pursued his interest in philosophy and served as a teaching assistant in the Philosophy Department. He was an active member of the Student International Business Council and took on the role of 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.
Hunter returned to Goldman Sachs in New York City as an Analyst in the Investment Management Division after graduation.
- Areas of Study: Business Analytics and Political Science
- Hometown: Emalahleni, South Africa
Takunda graduated with a double major in Business Analytics and Political Science. During his four years at Notre Dame, Takunda split his time outside of class working as a career assistant, playing for the men's rugby team, and conducting research centered on oil, gas and minerals, which culminated in a senior thesis on the connection between oil production and civil wars.
Takunda attended the notable African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa, a premier pre-college institute that aims to develop the next generation of African leaders. He founded an education-focused non-profit organization at the age of 16 that is still fully operational in South Africa. He was also a founding member on two boards, the International Student Advisory Board at Notre Dame and the Ambassadors Advisory Council of the Global Citizens Initiative based in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Professionally, Takunda aspires to grow and develop in the field of 'Digital Economy,' where the financial services industry intersects with technology. Thus, Takunda kick-started his career by joining Goldman Sachs & Co., LLC, as a Business Analyst, where he works on the bank's process and infrastructure improvement teams. As part of his long-term plan, Takunda aims to move back to Africa with the experience and network to play his part in helping the continent realize its fullest political and economic success.
- Areas of Study: Political Science
- Hometown: Carmel, IN
As a Hesburgh-Yusko Scholar, Alex was 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 served as the director of community engagement and outreach for ND Student Government from 2019-2020 and was a tour guide for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
While in high school, Alex was the co-founder of Design for CHS, a service-based club that focuses on designing innovative service projects to tackle community issues, including a shopping experience for the underserved that provided over 2,000 free articles of clothing. He also served as co-president of his 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.
Alex interned for Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, Catholic Charities USA, the Ripon Society, the House Ways and Means Committee, and the Senate Finance Committee. He participated in Notre Dame's Washington Program and studied abroad in China in the spring of 2019, interning at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
While at Notre Dame, Alex majored in Political Science and minored in Business Economics and Asian Studies. After graduation, he accepted a position as a Management Fellow with the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, based in Illinois.