Class of 2023
- Areas of Study: Computer Science
- Hometown: Atherton, CA
Grace Connors is passionate about applying technology to help the vulnerable.
Grace is in the first cohort of Notre Dame’s Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science degree program with a double major in Peace Studies. She is also in the second cohort of the iTreds Data Science Scholars program. She hopes to gain skills in each of these fields to apply her passion for coding and data science to international peace issues. Outside of the classroom, Grace serves as a campus tour guide and a tutor with NextStep Learning, an organization providing literacy training to South Bend public school students. She has also served as a member of the hall council and as a teaching assistant for Elements of Computing I.
In high school, Grace co-founded GirlTech, a club she started with her sister to support girls in STEM fields. In addition to planning bi-weekly meetings and a monthly speaker series of powerful women in tech, she also worked on a Design Thinking workshop with a Stanford professor and a session on mental health and tech for her school’s annual Social Justice Teach-In.
Recently, Grace has worked with her family on the creation of the Connors Family Foundation for Catholic Activities, where she serves as a board member. The focus of the foundation is to help the Church and the poor through creative uses of technology and startup methodologies
Bingyu (Lily) Deng
- Areas of Study: Finance
- Hometown: Shanghai, China
Lily is a sophomore Hesburgh-Yusko and Greater China Scholar, originally from Shanghai, China, studying Finance and Applied Math, with a minor in Musical Theater. On-campus, Lily serves as the Chief Financial Officer of Student International Business Council, the largest student organization on campus. She is also an active member of Notre Dame Chorale and the Student Trademark Licensing and Human Rights Committee. Throughout various experiences, she has not only enhanced academic skills within finance but also contributed to serving the larger Notre Dame and South Bend community.
Lily also works at the Notre Dame IDEA Center as the business development analyst, where she works with ND professors to market and license their innovative technologies in fields such as biochemistry, material science, and electrical engineering. The experience has helped Lily broaden her horizon and see how academic research connects with real-world applications.
Lily spent two summers volunteering at Envest Microfinance, an investment fund that disburses loans to microfinance institutions (MFIs) in developing countries around the world. Lily was able to apply her business expertise to analyzing investment opportunities, while at the same time interacting with local MFI managers in Nicaragua and Kenya and learning about how microfinance is alleviating poverty issues in their countries.
In her free time, Lily loves traveling and cooking. She is also a huge fan of Broadway (Favorite musical: Les Misérables)!
- Areas of Study: Economics
- Hometown: Saint Charles, IL
Ryan Kelly is a Hesburgh-Yusko scholar from St. Charles, IL. He attended St. Charles East High School. He is currently an Economics Major.
In high school, Ryan was a teen advocate, chef, and gardener for Fox Valley Food for Health. He also served as a Confirmation Leader for St. Patrick parish. He showed leadership as captain for the St. Charles East math, volleyball, and golf teams and worked as an AP Chemistry Lab aide and math and science tutor. Additionally, he worked as a courtesy clerk at the grocery store and a server's assistant at a restaurant.
During his time at Notre Dame, Ryan has volunteered at the Robinson Learning Center to help prepare young students for college and career options. This included course direction, help with standardized testing strategies, and other general discernment.
- Areas of Study: Applied & Computational Mathematics & Statistics
- Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
Cameron MacKenzie is studying Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics with a concentration in Biology at Notre Dame. He is interested in using statistical modeling and machine learning in areas of genetics, tissue modeling, and epidemiology. He is currently involved with independent research on a computer vision algorithm to classify types of skin cancers. He is also interested in Latin American studies, education, and music.
In high school, Cameron traveled to El Salvador, where he studied the Salvadoran Civil War in the rural province of Morazán. He organized and spoke at fundraisers as a board member of Family to Family foundation in Phoenix, raising over $30,000 to support education of children in rural El Salvador. He has also taught English to refugees preparing for U.S. citizenship, volunteered numerous times with asylum seekers at the U.S.–Mexico border, and served for two years as a professional piano accompanist for a choir in Scottsdale, AZ. In his first year at Notre Dame, Cameron volunteered weekly at local elementary school Lincoln Primary Center, and he currently serves as commissioner for this program in Duncan Hall. He also serves as cantor for Sunday masses in Duncan Hall each week.
Cameron plans to continue his education after Notre Dame by attending medical school.
Thapelo (Sasi) Masasa
- Areas of Study: Computer Science
- Hometown: Mohlaes Hoek, Lesotho
Thapelo Masasa is a computer science major from Mohale's Hoek, Lesotho, and an Ashinaga Africa Initiative alumnus. Thapelo participated in community service that included building dustbins for the Nansana community and sewing reusable pads for struggling communities in Mubende.
Thapelo is passionate about machine learning and has been working on a chatbot that uses natural language processing to improve the customer care experience. He spent the summer of 2021 interning with Google, where he worked on improving the machine learning feature of Google Co-Lab.
- Areas of Study: Computer Science
- Hometown: Nairobi, Kenya
Gerry Migwi is a Hesburgh-Yusko Scholar from Nairobi, Kenya. He is an alumnus of the African Leadership Academy (ALA) and is majoring in Computer Science. Gerry speaks fluent Swahili and Kikuyu.
Gerry is working on a project backed by the Notre Dame IDEA Center where members can access unsecured loans while earning interest on savings through the Ethereum Blockchain.
Prior to coming to Notre Dame, Gerry was the lead programmer for the African Blockchain Initiative and IT representative for the ALA Student Government. He worked as a teacher at Kihara Day School and built homemade filtration systems for children's homes. He also worked on his family’s farm as a herdsman.
Gerry spent the summer of 2021 interning at Lyft as a software engineer
- Areas of Study: Electrical Engineering
- Hometown: Mount Pleasant, SC
Mackenzi NierDuffy is a Hesburgh-Yusko scholar from Mount Pleasant, SC. She studies Electrical Engineering, with a passion for the environment and sustainability. She intends to use her degree to combat the global warming crisis and develop renewable energy technology.
In all of her endeavors, Mackenzi has been led by her desire to help others. One of her social justice passions is fighting drug abuse, as she witnessed a close family member struggle through addiction. In high school, Mackenzi served as a videographer and speaker for Wake Up Carolina and The Edge, two organizations dedicated to fighting the opioid epidemic in her community of Charleston, SC..
On-campus, Mackenzi is involved in the Society of Women Engineers and worked as a student manager for the Notre Dame Hockey Team. She also pursues her athletic interests and plays interhall volleyball and field hockey for the Notre Dame Field Hockey Club. Mackenzi is involved in her dorm and serves as the Shamrock Week Commissioner. She plans and executes a week full of events for the dorm each semester.
For her Social Justice summer, Mackenzi planned on volunteering at the Pademelon Park Wildlife Refuge in Bicheno, Tasmania, to aid the injured animal population of Australia. However, due to the Coronavirus outbreak, she was unable to travel to Tasmania. For her Global Inquiry summer, Mackenzi conducted research on art and literacy programs across the globe for the Empowerment Factory, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering positive self-esteem and life skills in community youth in Providence, RI.
Ese-Onosen (Ese) Omoijuanfo
- Areas of Study: Neuroscience and Behavior
- Hometown: Shaker Heights, OH
Ese-Onosen Omoijuanfo is majoring in Neuroscience and Behavior, with the hopes of becoming more involved with medical policy. She volunteers at Memorial Hospital in South Bend and with the medical mission department of the non-profit Glean Ministries.
Her academic interests include medicine, science, philosophy, and international development. Ese-Onosen is pursuing research in the Biological Sciences Department involving the impact of the microbiome in intestinal health, intestinal epithelial control of intestinal inflammation, and obesity.
Before attending the University of Notre Dame, Ese-Onosen was homeschooled while her family traveled internationally. She volunteered with her family's non-profit as the social media department manager, helped run medical missions overseas, supported a group for single mothers, and raised awareness and collected donations for a Christmas exchange for children. She also conducted research at Case Western University and won the 2018 Mark Smith Outstanding Research Performance Prize for the Case Western Reserve NIH sponsored YES program.
Recently she has been involved in organizing and running the YES/SEO research program at Case Western Reserve University for high school students.
- Areas of Study: Computer Engineering
- Hometown: Gitega, Burundi
Emie-Elvire Sabumukama is a Hesburgh-Yusko scholar from Gitega, Burundi. After her high school graduation, Emie was admitted to Bridge2Rwanda, a highly competitive gap-year program that assists talented students from Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, and South Sudan on their applications to global institutions in the hopes that they will contribute to the transformation of their communities. Through Bridge2Rwanda, Emie interned with Meto, where she had the opportunity to explore the role of data in making an impact in increasing access to higher education for students from underprivileged areas. Emie was also selected as a LeFrak-Friedberg Scholar.
At Notre Dame, Emie is pursuing a Computer Engineering degree. She is planning to keep exploring her interest in data science through the Interdisciplinary Traineeship for Socially Responsible and Engaged Data Scientists (iTREDS) program. Emie spent her first summer working on the Food Information Network project at the Center for Civic Innovation at Notre Dame, where she researched healthy food and recipes, food providers, and potential constraints to food access for local individuals. She gathered that information into a database–using Python–to adequately recommend healthy food and recipes. She spent summer 2021 interning at diiVe, where she used data science to solve pressing issues and build personal and professional skill sets to make a global impact.
- Areas of Study: Finance
- Hometown: Louisville, KY
Riya Shah is a Hesburgh-Yusko scholar from Louisville, Kentucky, who studies Finance, Political Science, & Constitutional Studies. During her sophomore year, she served as the director of national engagement on the executive cabinet of Student Government, where she coordinated campus events such as the mock election, mock presidential debate, Civic Engagement Week, and Rock the Vote. She also created the Political Council, bringing together the leaders of College Democrats, College Republicans, BridgeND, and ND Votes to work on campus-wide initiatives and events to promote voter engagement, civil discourse, and an improved political atmosphere at Notre Dame.
She serves on the boards of BridgeND and College Democrats, the ND Votes task force, and as executive treasurer for Walsh Hall. Riya has worked on campaigns for the Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, and Charles Booker's campaign against Amy McGrath for US Senate in the Kentucky Democratic Primaries. Her interests range from politics to the opioid crisis to law to finance, investment, and economics.
Thomas Antonio (Thomas) Silva Gonzaga
- Areas of Study: Electrical Engineering
- Hometown: Cruz das Almas, Brazil
Thomas Gonzaga is majoring in Electrical Engineering, focusing on the study of energy. Since high school, Thomas has been fascinated by renewable energy. At Notre Dame he conducts research in the Radiation Lab and is a part of the Power & Computing squad at IrishSat.
During summer 2020, Thomas interned at SER Energia, a pioneer company in the solar energy market in Brazil. During this internship, he was able to learn more about the technical and economical aspects of renewable energy, which deepened his interest in the topic.
For his Global Inquiry summer, Thomas served as a research intern to Professor Prashant Kamat, who has made significant research contributions to the field of material science. Through the internship, Thomas studied the use of different perovskites in the production of solar cells.
Before coming to Notre Dame, Thomas was also involved in educational initiatives. As a part of Brazilians in Action for International Education, he mentored and assisted underprivileged Brazilian students who desired to pursue an education abroad. He is also very interested in soccer, which led him to become a social media manager at PL Brasil, a sports blog that publishes news about the English soccer league, the Premier League.
- Areas of Study: Biological Sciences
- Hometown: Houston, TX
Meghan is a Biological Sciences major with a minor in Anthropology. She is interested in how both fields create a more holistic picture of the human person.
Meghan is passionate about community engagement. In high school, Meghan was active in her community. She volunteered at the Houston Special Olympics and established OutLoud Dance Studio, a dance program for children with special needs. This experience deepened her commitment to finding creative ways to help others. It also served as an inspiration for her current research at Notre Dame, which focuses on discovering ways to better the quality of life for individuals suffering from neurological disabilities. Meghan currently works in the Hyde Lab, where she studies retinal regeneration in the Zebrafish model. She specifically investigates the dynamics of the extracellular matrix to better understand how Zebrafish regenerate neurons in the hopes of developing therapies for neurodegenerative diseases such as macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s diseases. She spent her Global Inquiry summer on campus conducting this research.
At Notre Dame, Meghan also serves as co-president of the Notre Dame Texas Club, holds commissioner positions in hall government, and works as a university tour guide. Meghan is also a member of The Shirt Project, an entirely student-run business that designs The Shirt for the upcoming football season and whose proceeds fund The Shirt Charity as well as student clubs and organizations on campus.
- Areas of Study: Sociology
- Hometown: Hauula, HI
Kayla Swiderski is studying American Studies and Sociology with a minor in Education, Schooling, and Society. Kayla is very passionate about inclusivity and representation in public education and is hoping to pursue these interests after graduation. Outside of the classroom, Kayla is involved with several extracurricular programs, including TutorND, a virtual tutoring program for the children of Notre Dame faculty and staff, and the Notre Dame Hawai‘i Club. As one of the co-presidents for the Hawai‘i Club, Kayla helped to oversee the planning and execution of the annual Spring Lū‘au, one of the largest cultural club events on Notre Dame’s campus.
Kayla spent the summer of 2021 teaching kids in Arizona through the ACE PATH Program. She spent the spring 2022 semester studying in Washington, D.C., through Notre Dame’s Washington Program.
Ntandoyakhe (Ntando) Tshuma
- Areas of Study: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
- Hometown: Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Ntandoyakhe Tholani Tshuma is a Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering major. His passion lies in the Biomedical Engineering field where he aims to develop better medical devices and to improve the accessibility of health services on the African continent. He is specifically interested in the development of cost-effective and efficient medical devices and the development of effective public health policies.
At Notre Dame, Ntando has been an active member of the ChemECar design club and the African Students Association. In ChemECar he has been working on developing a model for a gas pressure powered car that does not emit any greenhouse gases.
Before Notre Dame, Ntando went to the African Leadership Academy where he was one of the designers in the African BlockChain initiative. He is a strong believer in the development of sustainable systems of accountability within government systems, which is what fueled the creation of the BlockChain based voting system at the African leadership Academy. Ntando was also the chair of the Electoral Supervisory Council at the African Leadership Academy. Ntando founded Enriching Young Lives to help underprivileged children in his community access school resources and learn how to create sustainable wealth. Additionally, he served as the logistics and operations manager for Smartpreneurs, who participated and made it to the top 20 of the CFO CharterQuest competition.
- Areas of Study: Anthropology
- Hometown: Somers, NY
Meredith Wilson is from Somers, NY, studying Anthropology and Global Affairs. During her first year at Notre Dame, she was fortunate to become involved with the Department of Gender Relations within Student Government, which amplified her passion for working with gender-related issues on campus. She has subsequently immersed herself further in these endeavors, serving as Student Government's director of gender relations during the 2020-2021 term and participating in the Gender Relation Center's FIRE Starter student program in the Sexual Identity and Gender Identity & Intersectionality subgroups.
Passionate about bridging divides and fostering unity amongst divisions, Meredith has also served as the Chief Outreach Officer for BridgeND, as well as a member of the Outreach Team for BridgeUSA, an organization that promotes civil discourse and bipartisan cooperation on college campuses. She conducts research with Professor Tracy Kijewski-Correa, exploring how we might redesign conglomerate structures with the knowledge that future pandemics may occur.
- Areas of Study: Business and Public Policy
- Hometown: Midland, MI
Justin has always been interested in understanding how global geopolitical changes influence domestic public policy due to spending part of his childhood as an expat.
In high school, he launched Storybox Books, an education-focused social venture designed to address gaps in early literacy development in communities across the globe. Under his leadership, Storybox Books expanded its operations to nine states and three countries, donating over 10,000 books through partnerships with 14 schools and NGOs. Justin was also Vice President of Midland County Youth Action Council, a youth-led endowment which allocates over $75,000 in philanthropic grants each year to nonprofits and educational organizations. Finally, Justin earned his Eagle Scout award in 2018.
Today, his interests center on foreign affairs and political risk analysis. Accordingly, Justin is a Kellogg International Scholar researching free speech and tech policy under Dr. Elliott Visconsi. He has also served as an intern on a US Senate campaign and at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Furthermore, Justin has demonstrated a commitment to understanding the legislative process— he lived in Washington, DC to intern with the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship and House Committee on Energy and Commerce. In summer 2022, he is interning with the Atlas Network at their headquarters near Washington, DC and at their think tank partners in Australia and New Zealand.
Justin studied European politics and history at Trinity College Dublin in Fall 2021, and participated in Notre Dame’s Washington Program for the spring 2022 semester.