Social Justice

The Hesburgh-Yusko Scholars Program is committed to the University of Notre Dame’s mission of cultivating “a sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good that will bear fruit as learning becomes service to justice.” As a result, scholars devote at least eight-weeks in the summer after freshman year to social justice—the idea that we should recognize the inherent dignity of each person. Through this experience, scholars gain a better understanding of the many challenges facing society as well as how their actions can improve the lives of others.

Each scholar designs his or her Social Justice Summer Experience after identifying a local issue or global problem that he or she wishes to explore. Then, over the summer, scholars volunteer with community-based institutions and/or service organizations in the United States or abroad. This opportunity enables scholars to apply the knowledge and skills they’ve acquired in the classroom to address global problems in a tangible way, while gaining insights into the deeper issues at hand. Scholars have served at numerous organizations throughout the United States and the world.

Scholar Experiences

Marissa Bowman

Marissa Bowman, Class of 2016
Volunteer at Operation Smile – San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico

“Despite the hot and 12-hour long days on our medical mission to San Cristobal de la Casas, Mexico, I was energized and encouraged by the 60 other people who volunteered their time and talent to help others. My heart expanded with love and acceptance as I took care of the children who were often unloved by their own communities because of facial deformities.”

Amanda Conklin

Amanda Conklin, Class of 2017
Volunteer at the Women’s Microfinance Initiative – Buyobo, Uganda

“The summer of 2014 in Uganda was the most fascinating, challenging, exciting, and thought-provoking two months of my life. Through my work with the Women’s Microfinance Initiative, I was able to learn more about microfinance, come to know the people of Uganda, and see and feel the impact of the incredible organization. In addition to work, I had the opportunity to live in a remove village, attend a Ugandan wedding, go on a safari, and raft the Nile River. I feel so lucky to have experienced living in such a unique and beautiful country and to feel that I contributed to the empowerment of women in the region.”

Jonathan Rydburg

Jon Rydburg, Class of 2017
Volunteer at enFocus and The Music Village – South Bend, IN  

“I spent eight weeks of my summer as an intern at enFocus, a non-profit consulting firm in the South Bend community that serves both public and private escorts, offering process improvement, IT solutions and implementation, and operational analyses to its clients. I also volunteered with The Music Village, another local non-profit that attempts to build community through the arts. The internship was beyond rewarding. I got to see the inner workings of a startup, participate in meaningful work, and make incredible connections.”