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Keough School Student Stories

Keough School Student Stories

Meet some of our outstanding undergraduate students.

 

Students engage with the Keough School through its academic majors and minors, research opportunities, immersive seminars, language study, and much more.

Even amid the challenges of the 2020 pandemic, you’ll find many exciting ways to get involved and expand your understanding of the world.


Anja Renkes ’20

Anja Renkes graduated from Notre Dame in 2020 with a BA in theology and minors in Irish studies and studio art. As a student, she was a member of the Notre Dame Women’s Rowing Team. As the capstone project for her Irish studies minor and a supplement to her theology honors thesis, Anja created a collection of oil-and-wax paintings exploring Catholic popular piety at “holy wells” in Ireland’s countryside. Often taking the form of small stone monuments built over natural springs, these wells have for centuries served as devotional sites.

“People come to pray in times of anguish and times of joy,” Anja said. “Their faith is visually accessible, made apparent by the tokens they leave behind.” 

Anja traveled to Ireland as an independent research intern with the combined support of the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, Notre Dame’s Dublin Global Gateway, the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture, and the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program. Keough-Naughton visiting fellow Rev. Mícheál Mac Craith, former professor of modern Irish in the National University of Ireland, served as her academic advisor. 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Anja completed her paintings and thesis at her family’s home in Virginia, later showcasing her collection of paintings, Numinous Beauty, as a virtual exhibit. After graduation, she worked in Jackson Hole, Wyoming with Notre Dame alumna, artist, and gallery owner Kathryn Mapes Turner. Anja now is creating a professional website to highlight her latest work and create opportunity for future commissions. She plans to pursue graduate studies in theology. 

Are you interested in undergraduate research opportunities in Ireland? Each year, the Keough-Naughton Institute supports two undergraduate research positions through the Irish Internship Program:

Eligible undergraduate students must have a genuine interest in research and a major in English, history, Irish language & literature, anthropology, politics, archeology and film, television & theatre. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, university-related travel restrictions may apply.


Alexander Shyne ’22


Alexander Shyne is a mechanical engineering student who also is earning a minor in European studies through the Keough School’s
Nanovic Institute for European Studies. He is a member of Notre Dame’s Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC).

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Xander participated in two of the Nanovic Institute’s immersive seminars: “Berlin, Brussels, and Beyond” and “Europe Responds to the Migration Crisis.” While traveling in Berlin and Brussels, Xander was able to meet with clean energy experts at NATO and EU headquarters.

“Speaking with experts on clean energy implementation within Europe impressed upon me the importance of continued innovation in the field of energy,” Xander said. “Being able to explore humanities alongside engineering has allowed me the ability to explore topics I otherwise would never have known about, from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the struggles of maritime refugee rescue organizations in the Mediterranean. I am even taking the DaVinci humanities concentration within engineering to explore contemporary art! I hope that by learning all that I can, I can gain a unique outlook that will serve me and help me better serve others in the future.”

For students interested in learning more about European studies, see the Nanovic Institute’s winter session opportunities, including independent and group research projects organized through the Dublin Global Gateway, and spring course offerings. If you are interested in minoring in European studies or joining the concentration in transnational European studies through the Keough School’s supplementary major in Global Affairs, please contact Anna Dolezal


Elsa Barron ’21

Elsa Barron is a biology and peace studies major and sustainability minor whose academic interests lie at the intersection of science, global issues, and religion. She recently participated in the Madrasa Discourses Immersion, a program of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, which included contributing to the program’s blog

Through the Kellogg International Scholars Program, Elsa has been researching social factors that influence attitudes towards migrants in Europe and Africa. She has also studied migrant integration and interreligious dialogue in Athens through two grants from the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, and was selected to present her original research at the Notre Dame Student Peace Conference, an annual student-run conference highlighting student research on violent conflict and sustainable peace. 

Elsa’s current passion is grassroots environmental peacebuilding. She pursued this interest through two virtual internships during the summer of 2020: one with the Environmental Peacebuilding Association in Washington, DC, and the other with the Institute for Climate and Peace in Hawaii. 

Elsa has accepted a Boren Scholarship to learn Hindi and Urdu in India during the summer of 2021 while interning at an institute for sustainable and indigenous agriculture. 

“The Keough School has provided me with resources to imagine and explore globally while cultivating my interdisciplinary interest in environment and peace,” Elsa says. “The mentorship of many professors has been one of the most important links in that process. Faculty are incredibly willing to help students discover their interests, ask questions, and explore the answers.”


Maria Teel ’22

Maria Teel is a political science and French major who is earning a minor in international development studies. She has participated in programs facilitated by the Keough School’s Pulte Institute for Global Development, including the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative and the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. These two nationwide programs, sponsored by the US Department of State, connect young business professionals and social entrepreneurs across the Western hemisphere and African continent, respectively.

Maria is part of the planning team for the 13th annual Human Development Conference, a student-led conference organized through the Keough School’s Kellogg Institute for International Studies. The 2021 conference, which will focus on innovative responses to global adversity, will take place February 26-27. 

To gain experience in social entrepreneurship, Maria worked with the South Bend Entrepreneurship and Adversity Program. Supported by the Keough School’s McKenna Center for Human Development and Global Business, the program helps members of the South Bend community, particularly those facing economic or other hardships, in starting and growing a business. In 2019, Maria was awarded a Pulte Institute Student Fellowship, which enabled her to pursue an internship in social entrepreneurship.

After graduation, Maria plans to work in international development, focusing on education in developing countries.“Through the Keough School I have gained experience in both research and program planning and implementation across several focus areas,” Maria says. “These diverse experiences have allowed me to develop my academic and career interests.”

Through her minor in international development studies, which Maria is pursuing through the Keough School’s Kellogg Institute for International Studies, she is constructing an independent research project: in summer 2021, she plans to conduct fieldwork studying the language of instruction in Senegal. 

Students can engage with the Pulte Institute through research, project management, or outreach. To begin, please complete a student engagement form.


María Luisa Paúl Rangel ‘21

María Luisa Paúl Rangel is a political science and economics major from Caracas, Venezuela. Living amid Venezuela’s current political, economic, and social crisis led her to study democratization and foreign policy and also motivated her to understand the mechanisms of her country’s democratic erosion. 

María (in center of photo) is conducting research with political science professor Michael Coppedge, a faculty fellow of the Keough School’s Kellogg Institute for International Studies, studying Venezuela’s influence on other Latin American regimes. Maria is a research assistant to Professor Coppedge through the Kellogg International Scholars Program, which pairs select undergraduates in their sophomore year with faculty mentors for their remaining undergraduate years, gaining research skills with a goal of completing their own research project in their senior year. 

María’s project proposes transitional justice mechanisms and institutional reforms for Venezuela during a future transition towards democracy, given the country’s gross human rights violations, the presence of armed non-state actors, and the government’s participation in criminal operations. 

For two years Maria has co-chaired the Marketing Committee team for the annual Human Development Conference, a student-led conference organized through the Kellogg Institute for International Studies. The 2021 conference, which will focus on innovative responses to global adversity, will take place February 26-27. 

“One reason I chose to attend Notre Dame was the opportunity to research the erosion of democracy in Venezuela,” María says. “At the Keough School’s Kellogg Institute I was able to do this and so much more. I am blessed to be part of a community of engaging and motivated people who inspire me, challenge me, and deepen my knowledge. I’ve been able not only to research Venezuela but also to give voice to my country’s plight, something that has meant the world to me.”