Class of 2023 Student Spotlight: Chris Stokes

Author: Center for Citizenship & Constitutional Government

Chris Stokes is a senior from Wilmington, MA who graduated with a degree in political science and a minor in Constitutional Studies.

Stokes, a product of the Massachusetts public school system, said he “got very lucky” with his acceptance into Notre Dame, seeing as he chose it mainly because of its prestigious name and reputation. Once on campus, Stokes decided to pursue a degree in political science, citing his desire to one day be an attorney. 

Stokes learned about the Tocqueville Fellowship and the Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government (CCCG) from the Constitutional Studies gateway course. He had signed up for the gateway course, which was being taught by Professor Phillip Muñoz, to fill a requirement for his degree in political science. He was inspired by the class to attend a lecture put on by the CCCG, which led him to pursue admittance into the Tocqueville Fellowship. 

Finding a real niche in the Tocqueville Fellowship, Stokes “has done everything he could to spend more time being a part of the CCCG,” he said. For him, this has meant serving as a student worker in the CCCG office in addition to participating in the fellowship. Although there were many great experiences, Stokes believes his favorite experience as a fellow was meeting Dr. Carl Trueman this spring. 

“I really enjoyed the chance to meet and learn from such an impressive intellectual and question him about his very accessible and insightful book,” Stokes said.

Stokes is also very grateful for the opportunity he had to take a course on religious liberty with Professor Phillip Muñoz and Judge Amul Thapar. Stokes believes that this course “really defined how he thinks about First Amendment jurisprudence and constitutional interpretation in general.”

Reflecting on his time at Notre Dame, Stokes says if he could have done one thing differently, it would have been to get involved with the CCCG earlier. “

My experience with the center as a fellow, student worker, and student have shaped how I think more than any other academic experience I’ve ever had … I wish I had started earlier,” he said.

After he graduates, Stokes will work in Washington, D.C., as a paralegal with the New Civil Liberties Alliance. He intends to work there until he eventually attends law school. When asked what he intends to do with his juris doctorate, Stokes replied that he would like to “work in public interest law doing whatever he can to force the government to actually adhere to its mandate in the constitution.”

Stokes shared his gratitude for the CCCG, the Tocqueville Fellowship, and all the experiences he had as an undergraduate through them because of the impact they had on his way of thinking: “My experience with the Center enabled me to think more deeply about all of the assumptions that I brought with me into Notre Dame - being a Tocqueville Fellow truly helped to define my college experience.”  

Article contributed by CCCG Writing Fellow Luca Fanucchi

Originally published by Center for Citizenship & Constitutional Government at on June 01, 2023.