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Student Stories

Student Stories

Meet some of our outstanding undergraduate students.


Get involved with the Keough School through academic majors and minors, research opportunities, immersive seminars, language study, and much more.

Shea Murphy ’22

Majors: history; film, television, and theatre
Minors: Irish studies, digital marketing

Growing up as a descendant of Irish immigrants, Shea Murphy had always been curious about Irish history and culture. As a young child, she enjoyed Irish food, music, and dance. For a middle school history project, she researched the 1916 Easter Rising. At Notre Dame, she took the Irish studies course “Irish Hands that Built America,” which inspired her to pursue a minor in Irish studies through the Keough School’s Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies.

“I realized I wanted to devote much of my studies to Irish history and culture,” Shea said. “The course served as the perfect entry point into Irish history, framing it in the context of Irish immigrants to America.”

At the urging of her senior history thesis advisor Colin Barr, Murphy applied for a research grant from the Keough School’s Nanovic Institute for European Studies. After being awarded the Barrett Family Grant, Shea traveled to Dublin to conduct research at the National Library of Ireland and the National Archives of Ireland on the role of politically active women during Ireland’s revolutionary period.

Having never conducted archival research, Shea tapped Notre Dame faculty experts and National Archives staff for guidance on how to maximize her in-person research. Once she was in Dublin, she examined collections of suffragette correspondences and militant women’s prison records from the early 20th century.

“I was aiming to locate the voice of the women I had been studying in diaries, letters, newspaper articles, and government documents,” Shea said. “To hold the diaries of women I had long admired and studied and to touch the grueling firsthand records of hunger strikes I had previously learned about secondhand was incredible. It was one of the most enriching and influential experiences I’ve ever had.” 

After graduating from Notre Dame in May 2022, Shea began an MPhil in British history at the University of Cambridge in England. Her research will focus on the Troubles—the 30-year period of conflict in Northern Ireland.


Connor Patrick ’23

Major: History
Minors: Real estate; sustainability studies; philosophy, politics & economics (PPE); Portuguese & Brazilian studies; liturgical music ministry

In 2022, Connor Patrick traveled to Singapore over spring break to study “sustainability storytelling,” a practice that channels the power of stories to tackle sustainability challenges. Connor’s research project, funded by the Keough School’s Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies and the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture, focused on a LEGO dinosaur exhibit at the Singapore Zoo that was created to raise awareness of climate change, extinction, and endangered species. 

“Creative solutions are needed to raise awareness of the detrimental effects of humanity’s impact on the environment,” said Connor, who also is an affiliate of the Keough School’s Klau Institute for Civil and Human Rights. “The goal of my project was to evaluate the efficacy of these LEGO dinosaurs as a method of sustainability storytelling.”

Created through a  partnership between the LEGO Group and Mandai Wildlife Reserve, the “Back from the Brink of Extinction” trail consisted of life-sized LEGO dinosaur figures that led zoo visitors to exhibits on endangered species, with the goal of sparking an encounter between zoo visitors and these species and prompting reflection on anthropogenic climate change.

“I found the trail to be a creative and effective way of raising awareness of anthropogenic climate change and the current mass extinction—a short period of geological time in which a high percentage of biodiversity dies out.”

When Connor first learned about this research opportunity in Singapore, his advisor, Mendoza College of Business professor Rev. Oliver Williams, C.S.C., who is a faculty fellow of the Liu Institute, encouraged him to apply. “I had never been to Asia before and had never written a grant proposal before,” Connor said. “I just decided to take a radical leap to learn more about the big world that’s around us, and I’m grateful for the experience.”


Hannah Reynolds ’23

Majors: Economics, global affairs
Minor: Education, schooling and society

Hannah Reynolds is an undergraduate research assistant for the Keough School’s Pulte Institute for Global Development, a role she sought out by contacting Pulte Institute Executive Director Michael Sweikar. Sweikar connected Hannah with researcher Danice Brown Guzmán, who was conducting an evaluation of Read Haiti, a literacy program for Haitian schoolchildren. Hannah assisted with data collection, data cleansing, and survey creation, all of which provided valuable experience that enabled her to eventually pursue her own independent research in Uganda.

“It gave me a vision of what a project should look like after data collection, and how I should organize it,” Hannah said. “I want to go into a career in development, and it was helpful to see how researchers grapple with issues of data in development and also how I could use my skills.” 

After gaining research experience, Hannah decided to pursue an independent research project in Uganda’s Agago district, where she lived at a vocational school for girls and studied the community’s views on vocational education. Funded by the Keough School’s Kellogg Institute for International Studies, the project provided its challenges, but Hannah felt prepared. 

“We talked about what it would be like not only to live in a place where you’ve never been before but also to do research there,” Hannah said. “Kellogg also helped us learn the best ways to build relationships with people on the ground. They push you just enough—you have to figure things out on your own but if you need help, they will be there for you.” 

In addition to her research, Hannah also served as co-chair for the Kellogg Institute’s Human Development Conference, a student-led conference. She is co-president of the Women in Economics Club and is a member of the Notre Dame Triathlon Team. She plans to pursue graduate work and a career in public policy. 


Thanh Nguyen ’23

Majors: Political science, peace studies

Thanh Nguyen’s interests in religion and peacebuilding led her to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where she was one of 14 students participating in “Religion, Identity, and Peace and the Periphery of Europe,” a faculty-led immersion trip offered through a collaboration between the Keough School’s Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion, Nanovic Institute for European Studies, and Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.

“Growing up, I was always surrounded by a strong faith background, whether it was my Vietnamese Catholic family or my Muslim and Hindu friends,” said Thanh, a past president of Notre Dame’s Vietnamese Student Association. “The trip’s focus on religious peacebuilding and narratives of trauma and collective memory really spoke to me. We have so much to learn from peacebuilders in different cultural contexts.”

While learning about the country’s main ethnic groups—Serbs (Orthodox Christians), Bosniaks (Muslims), and Croats (Catholics)—and their histories of conflict from seasoned peacebuilding professionals and academics, Thanh and her fellow students also met with their peers from these ethnic groups and formed fast friendships rooted in a shared commitment to peace. 

“The friendships I built with people my age were the most meaningful and impactful part of my time in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Thanh said. “We have kept in touch and formed our own small international group. My new friends’ interests in diverse areas like art, psychology, environmental peacebuilding, and theology continue to inform and inspire my own projects. And I think that’s really the heart of peace work: building relationships that mutually nourish and sustain us.” 

Thanh has participated in several other international opportunities through the Keough School. She traveled to Oman during spring break 2020 as part of the course “Holy Cross-roads: Religion and Politics from South Bend to South Asia,” offered through the Ansari Institute. In summer 2022, she interned at the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem, an opportunity that was funded by the Keough School’s Kellogg Institute for International Studies. After graduating from Notre Dame, Thanh plans to pursue a career in legal advocacy.

Dane Sherman ’23

Majors: American studies, peace studies
Minors: Gender studies, philosophy

For Dane Sherman, the Keough School is a place where his twin academic interests—faith and peacebuilding—come together. In summer 2022, Dane traveled to Nepal as part of the Madrasa Discourses Immersion, an opportunity for peace studies students to engage in deep conversations about religion, society, and modernity with young Islamic studies scholars from South Asia. 

“It gave me a chance to immerse myself in a different world,” said Dane, who had heard about the opportunity from peace studies and master of global affairs graduate Elizabeth Boyle.  “I talked with students from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan about faith and the other things they find important in life. We found common ground and had valuable discussions about the challenges of retaining religious traditions and yet staying modern and relevant in a changing world.” 

In the classroom at Notre Dame, Dane cites Julia Kowalski’s course “Gender, Sexuality, and International Development,” and Emmanuel Katongole’s course “Improvising Peace” as impacting  him academically and personally. In Kowalski’s course, he discovered that he loved anthropology and thinking about ethical questions related to global development. “We did these very intense readings, gained a vocabulary, and a new way of thinking,” Dane said. “We talked about how to develop a country in a way that is not colonialist, and that reins in different forms of oppression and harm.” Katongole’s class, Dane said, enabled him to think about what peace looks like and how faith traditions play a role. “It was one of the most transformative classes I’ve ever taken,” he said. 

As a junior, Dane served as co-chair of the Notre Dame Student Peace Conference, a student-led conference, where he gained experience reviewing academic abstracts and interacted with scholars and activists from 26 countries. He also is currently pursuing an independent research project that focuses on the experiences of LGBTQ students’ experiences at Catholic institutions.

Photo: Dane Sherman (right) with Bashir Amin, a madrasa student from Bangladesh, in Nepal during the Madrasa Discourses Immersion trip.

Christina Daw ’25

Major: Finance
Minors: Social entrepreneurship, business technology

Christina Daw is passionate about social entrepreneurship—a for-profit business model that aims to create social or environmental change. This passion stems from growing up in Baranquilla, Colombia, where she frequently encountered aspiring entrepreneurs. 

“Colombia is a developing economy, and there are many low-income workers who desire economic autonomy and being their own boss,” said Christina, a member of Notre Dame’s Student International Business Council. “Microbusinesses are a big part of the atmosphere. I became interested in anything with social impact because I knew it was our future.”

After taking the course “Marketing and Social Entrepreneurship” with Professor Michael Morris, a faculty member of the Keough School’s McKenna Center for Human Development and Global Business, Christina contacted Morris about a summer internship opportunity with the McKenna Center’s South Bend Entrepreneurship and Adversity Program, (SBEAP). Managed by the McKenna Center in partnership with local nonprofit groups, the 12-month program provides support and training for aspiring entrepreneurs who face financial, social, or other forms of adversity. As a part-time summer intern (she also interned with Notre Dame’s Investment Office), Christina co-authored a case study and helped organize the program’s summer training boot camps. 

 “Many people think being entrepreneurial is a personality trait, but it’s in fact a set of skills you can learn to reach financial autonomy and build a stable life,” Christina said. “I appreciated the atmosphere of empathy that Professor Morris established in class and the sense of community among the 30 participants.”

Following this experience, Christina opted to pursue a minor in social entrepreneurship and engagement, also offered through the McKenna Center, in addition to her finance major. 

“Finance is a traditionally powerful field that needs to be inclusive,” Christina said. “Our generation is very concerned about inclusivity and social impact—we have to be. I want to help create financial opportunities that are innovative and seamlessly integrated with genuine social impact.”