Class of 2020
Tiffanie Cappello Lee
- Areas of Study: Economics; Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics
- 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 is one supported by the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights.
During her Global Inquiry summer, Tiffanie spent the first half working again 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 in Hong Kong. There she conducted literature reviews on global health related subjects ranging from the environmental impact of dietary changes in China to 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.
Margarita (Mara) Diego
- Areas of Study: Economics; International Development Studies
- Hometown: Makati, Philippines
Margarita is a proud Hesburgh-Yusko Scholar hailing from the Philippines. With the support of the program, she is the first in her family to pursue her college education abroad and expects to graduate with a B.A. in Economics and a minor in Education, Schooling, & Society. She attributes 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, Margarita 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 will be spending her senior year applying these research techniques to pursue a thesis studying the relationship between political nepotism and tertiary education investment decisions in the Philippines. Following graduation, she hopes to return to Oxford to pursue the M.Phil. in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation in preparation for a career in policy design and impact evaluation at the United Nations or World Bank.
Mara’s end-goal is to return to the Philippines to address institutional deficiencies hindering its inclusive growth.
- Areas of Study: Economics
- Hometown: Meknes, Morocco
Being a firm believer in the Medici Effect, Achraf trusts that the most powerful innovations happen at the intersection where ideas from different disciplines, cultures, and industries collide.
Originally a science student, Achraf was always curious to learn about other disciplines and explore other 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 has taken advantage of his time at Notre Dame to explore other disciplines 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 division. 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.
"Throughout this summer experience, I was able to further explore and strengthen my passion for investing and the financial markets, as well as hone the necessary skills that would allow me to pursue a career in the financial services industry."
Xinhui (Helen) Hong
- Areas of Study: International Economics (Spanish Concentration)
- Hometown: Dongguan, China
At Notre Dame, Helen is 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 economic research with Prof. Chloe Gibbs, and interned 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 members of the South Bend community.
Helen 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 as a summer business analyst for her Professional Venture summer.
Helen is also the winner of the HS Chau Foundation Scholarship from Notre Dame’s Greater China Scholars Program.
- Areas of Study: Chemical Engineering & Biomolecular Engineering with fulfillment of Pre-Med Requirements
- 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, 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.
She 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 received Minor Planet (33580) in her name from MIT Lincoln Laboratory.
She spent her 2017 Social Justice summer in Otuzco and Trujillo Peru volunteering with the local medical clinics and promoting healthcare education through Vive Peru. She volunteered for 10 weeks and a total of 588 hours in clinical medicine and public health in remote areas of Peru, at an elevation of 8000 feet in 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.
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. From a library of small molecules, 76 molecules were screened using small-molecule microarray. These were tested for their ability to trap LIN28 by two novel biochemical assays that she developed that summer; vitro polyuridylation and plasmid with light-emitting enzyme luciferase.
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, characterization of its morphology, and investigated powder morphology impact on LED chip performance.
- 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 again brought many of these high school passions to life. He continues 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 Council and The Observer to help with career discernment efforts.
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 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 will move to Chicago to join Bain & Company as an Associate Consultant.
- Areas of Study: Chemistry & Computing; Pre-Med
- Hometown: Hillsboro, OR
In 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 Navaho nation to develop plans to expand testing within Navaho 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, who 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. In this, 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 the 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.
Sarah was awarded 11 funding grants during her time at Notre Dame towards the pursuit of her various research projects. She was awarded the University Library Research Award in 2018. Her research is notably multidisciplinary, and she has 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.
- 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 at Saint’s Place, a local charity dedicated to refugee resettlement.
As a Chemical Engineering major, Matthew is greatly interested in sustainability, with interest in subjects like green energy, resilient processes, and environmental impact. Matthew 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 2017-8 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. 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 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. Matthew 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, Matthew worked as an intern in the Global Management Trainee program for Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis, Missouri. Matthew will be employed in Anheuser-Busch's Brewery Process Trainee program beginning in September of 2020.
- Areas of Study: Economics; History
- Hometown: Springfield, MA
A proud resident of 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 Model United Nations and Under-Secretary General for the NDMUN II Conference. He also continued to follow his interest 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 research and reporting and publishing in a local magazine.
As a junior, Brendan continued as a leader in the Model United Nations Club, leading the team in awards during the fall semester. During 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 by studying abroad 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.
- 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
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 has also worked as a scholar at the University of Pennsylvania’s Translational Medicine Institute, and represented Ireland in the Google Science Fair.
Ralph worked 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 purposes 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 is 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 will be working for Google in New York City, continuing to explore the field of natural language processing.
- Areas of Study: Africana Studies
- Hometown: Accra, Ghana
Naana Ocran is originally from Ghana and is a rising senior at the University of Notre Dame where she is pursuing a double major in Africana Studies and French.
Previously, she served as the President of the African Students Association at Notre Dame She also 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 which 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 brings approximately 4000 participants for high-level discussions alongside the UN General Assembly in September.
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.
Nicholas (Nick) Ottone
- Areas of Study: Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics (ACMS)
- 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. He 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 the 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 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. As a student in Political Science, he wrote a senior thesis focusing on the racial resentment scale and nonwhite Americans' racial attitudes. After graduation, he will pursue a Ph.D. of Political Science 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 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 has enjoyed learning about the intersection of entrepreneurship and social good. During his Social Justice summer internship with TechnoServe in Johannesburg, South Africa, 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 has pursued his interest in philosophy and served as a teaching assistant 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.
Hunter will return to Goldman Sachs in New York City as an Analyst in the Investment Management Division after graduation.
- Areas of Study: Business Analytics
- 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. Takunda is naturally drawn to establish new projects which aim to establish a legacy. He founded a non-profit organization at the age of 16 years that is still fully operational in South Africa. He is also a founding member on two boards, the International Students 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 kickstarted his career by joining Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC as a Business Analyst where he will work on the bank's process and infrastructure improvement team. 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 has interned for Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, Catholic Charities USA, the Ripon Society, the House Ways and Means Committee, and the Senate Finance Committee. He did a semester through the 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 will be working for Uber Freight in Chicago starting in July 2020.