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.
For his Social Justice summer, Achraf spent time in Chios, Greece tutoring and mentoring young Middle Eastern and East African refugees.
Xinhui (Helen) Hong
- Areas of Study: Economics
- Hometown: Dongguan, China
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.
Helen is also the winner of the HS Chau Foundation Scholarship from Notre Dame’s Greater China Scholars Program.
At Notre Dame, through the resources offered by the Hesburgh-Yusko Scholars Program, Helen intends to explore her passion in education through traveling to different countries. In the first semester at Notre Dame, she joined Take Ten, a volunteer teaching program educating school children on conflict resolution and violence prevention. During Thanksgiving break, she traveled to Beijing as a delegate for the Yenching Social Innovation Forum hosted by the Yenching Academy of Peking University and participated in a three-day forum on the theme of “Bridging China’s Education Gap.” As a member of FUEL, the branch of the Student Government for first year students, and through the Center for Social Concerns, she was actively involved in promoting student wellbeing at Notre Dame and student involvement in the community.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Matthew is an assistant member of NDEnergy's Student Energy Board and is involved in Hall Government as Keough's Sustainability Commissioner. During the 2017, he volunteered in Colorado with the solar energy NGO GRID Alternatives.
- 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, 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.
Perfect ispursuing a major in Electrical Engineering while at Notre Dame, his goal being to help those who don't have access to electricity, mainly in developing countries. During the summer of 2017, Perfect worked with the Bowman Creek Educational Ecosystem, designing projects to help the South Bend community.
- 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.
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.
- 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,also servied 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. He also served as Student Ambassador for the City of Salinas to Ichikikushikino, Japan.
At Notre Dame, Nicholas studies Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics. While on campus, he has acted in 2017's production of Show Some Skin, participated in the Center for Social Concerns' Realities of Race Seminar over spring break, and currently writes for the Observer's Scene section. For his Social Justice summer, Nicholas stayed in South Bend and volunteered at the Center for the Homeless. He looks forward to continuing work as Policy Commissioner of the Gender Relations Committee of Student Government for the 2017-2018 school year.
- Areas of Study: Political Science
- Hometown: Portland, OR
Isabel attended the Catlin Gabel School in Portland, Oregon on the Palma Scholarship, awarded 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, became the first female in twelve years to be elected student body president. She interned at the campaign office of Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon and in Nike's Global Sports Marketing department during high school.
Freshman year, Isabel was a member of the Judicial Council Peer Advocacy Program and served on the Policy Board of student government. She worked to develop a financial literacy program for survivors of domestic abuse in partnership with the SOS Family Justice Center in South Bend. Additionally, she has worked on self-defense language for Notre Dame's Du Lac policy, and furthered the push for the Callisto sexual assault reporting system and release of aggregate data on sexual assault. She enjoyed interning on Mayor Pete's campaign for DNC chairman, along with acting in Show Some Skin. Isabel will be working in Delhi and Kolkata this summer for Apne Aap, a grassroots campaign combatting gender-based violence and human trafficking. She looks forward to studying Political Science with minors in Peace Studies and Journalism, Ethics & Democracy (JED).
Luis (Hunter) Urrea
- Areas of Study: International Economics
- Hometown: El Paso, TX
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.
As a Hesburgh-Yusko scholar he will use summer enrichment experiences and resources to develop economic and social opportunities for underserved communities.
- Areas of Study: Finance
- Hometown: Masvingo, Zimbabwe
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.
Takunda spent his 2017 summer conducting research on the mining industry in Africa.
- 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 called Civic Duty which has conducted voter registration drives and other political engagement activities for local area high school students. Alex also participates in student government, Model UN, NDVotes, received the CUSE Outstanding Freshman Award, and interned at US Congresswoman Jackie Walorski’s District Office.
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.