Arts and Letters students research, travel, explore careers over fall break

Author: Megan Valley

Maya Jain 600pxMaya Jain

Even during fall break, College of Arts and Letters students were hard at work.

They toured Latin America to perform sacred music. They gathered to collaborate on senior thesis projects and dissertations. And they traveled to major cities across the U.S. to explore career options and network with Notre Dame alumni.

“Mid-semester breaks are a great chance to dedicate yourself to immersive experiences that supplement academics and enrich the college experience spiritually, socially, and intellectually,” said senior Maya Jain.

“During breaks, I have enjoyed a Center for Social Concerns seminar, a choir tour, a pilgrimage, and most recently, a senior thesis boot camp. I am so grateful for the variety of opportunities Notre Dame offers to learn outside of the classroom.”

Ganir ChileFr. Phillip Ganir, SJ (far right) and the Notre Dame Vocale in Chile

Bringing Dante to life in Latin America

Fr. Phillip Ganir, SJ, a master of sacred music student, traveled to Latin America with a group of 12 graduate and undergraduate students to perform excerpts of Journeying La Divina Commedia, an interdisciplinary event with American composer Robert Kyr.

Notre Dame Vocale presented the program—developed in collaboration with Sacred Music at Notre Dame, the Devers Program in Dante Studies, and the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre—to the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and El Colegio Nacional in Mexico.

Such interdisciplinary projects are the best part of the sacred music program for Ganir.

“Where else but at Notre Dame would we be able to create a stage version of Dante?” he said. “At first it was a little overwhelming to stage, but they focused on a few themes, which made it more manageable.

“In Paradise, there is new music—music we haven’t heard before. And it was really exciting to explore what the new music of the heavens could sound like.”

Ganir said that international travel is becoming increasingly important for the group, which has previously traveled to Ecuador and Rome.

“The interactions we have abroad are so powerful,” he said. “Music becomes this wonderful, international language that we can share. There’s such a richness with collaboration and you really do get to deepen the encounter with people.”

Building a community of scholars

Senior Thesis BootcampMaya Jain and other students participating in senior thesis bootcamp at the Hesburgh Library

Jain, a theology major, attended the Hesburgh Library’s senior thesis boot camp over fall break.

She is writing her thesis on the idea of escape versus transformation—the idea that after the Fall, God could have chosen to abandon the world, but instead chose to transform the circumstances by sending Jesus. That divine example can inspire humans’ response to the challenges we all face, Jain said.

Each day, the group of 13 undergraduate students gathered in the library to conduct research, write, and learn more about the library’s resources.

“It was really helpful to have the support of the librarians and staff,” Jain said. “And getting encouragement from the other students, knowing you were all doing the same thing, was also really beneficial.”

Librarians gave presentations each day on how to track progress, how to use notation software, and how to make the most of archival research. Tutors from the University’s Writing Center were on hand as well to help students draft and revise their papers.

The workshop was valuable for students at any stage of the process, she said.

“It was very much tailored to wherever you were—I was in the research stage, while another student completed a whole draft of his thesis,” Jain said. “We had big whiteboards where we wrote down our goals and indicated whether we made them or not. It was so helpful to have that community.”

Career TrekEmily Beaudoin (third from left) at the Public Policy Career Trek’s visit to the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law

Exploring the world of public policy

Senior gender studies major Emily Beaudoin visited policy organizations in Chicago over fall break, with help from The Career Center.

A total of 39 students participated in Career Trek programs this fall —visiting Boston, New York City, and Chicago to explore industries from biotechnology to retail fashion to industrial design.

Beaudoin, who participated in Notre Dame’s Washington Program last spring, wants to work in public policy to address global women’s issues.

“I was exposed to the policy world in D.C., but I recognize it’s a very hard career area to break into with just a bachelor’s degree,” she said. “I was interested in hearing more about how I can get in and what I need to do in terms of master’s programs or law school.”

During the career trek, students met with alumni and other professionals who talked about their roles in the organizations and their career paths.

“My takeaway was to keep your end goal in mind, but also to acknowledge that your first job might not be related to that,” Beaudoin said. “It’s about gaining the necessary skills and education. Keep your dream job in mind, but acknowledge that there are many different pathways to get there.”

Exploring her future in the policy world made Beaudoin value her liberal arts education even more.

“As I look at careers, I’m realizing how valuable it is to write really well, to be able to look at data and research and be able to distill it,” she said. “I realize now how important and transferable those skills really are.”

Originally published by Megan Valley at on December 13, 2016.