Junior Lisa von Werder is passionate about art, design, music, and theatre. As a high school sophomore in her hometown of Shelbyville, IN, von Werder became interested in creating graphics. She learned how to use Photoshop and the following year, she took a computer graphics course where she discovered that she could turn her newfound passion into a career.
As a visual communication design major at Notre Dame, von Werder is taking courses that will lead to a bachelor of fine arts degree which, along with extracurricular experiences, are preparing her for a career she'll love.
Apart from her major, von Werder is active in extracurriculars at Notre Dame. She sings in the Notre Dame Chorale, along with their new a cappella group, and serves as the chorale's art commissioner. Last summer, she had the opportunity to sing on a week-long tour of Ireland with the chorale. Von Werder also hosts a weekly radio show on the student-run radio station and serves as the station's art director. In her free time, she loves attending a variety of fine arts and Asian cultural club events on campus.
All of this is made possible by von Werder's financial aid package, which she says is essential to her enrollment at Notre Dame. "Living on one teacher’s salary, my parents can’t afford to help me pay for anything other than books and art supplies, and I don’t have a full-time job or savings, so the scholarships and grants that I receive make it possible for me to attend Notre Dame," says von Werder.
Cost was von Werder's biggest concern as a prospective Notre Dame student. "But when I visited the campus and talked to the Office of Financial Aid, they showed me just how much the University and its donors could help. I had no reason to worry," she says. In addition to her generous financial aid package, von Werder applies for scholarships outside of the University and she works two jobs on campus. Those cover her remaining costs after scholarships so that she doesn't have to take out student loans.
Von Werder is making the most of her Notre Dame education, which she chose based on a number of factors that fell into place. "Ultimately, Notre Dame offered the best resources, the best campus, and most importantly for me, the best financial aid," she says.
Von Werder blogs about her Notre Dame experience for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. You can learn more about her and read her blog posts here.
Learn more about funding your Notre Dame education here.
Financial aid was a determining factor in Nic Klebusits' ability to attend Notre Dame.
"It is absolutely essential. There is no way I would be able to pay for school out of pocket without financial aid. With the amount of aid that I receive, I can pay for school without taking out any loans and will therefore be able to graduate debt free," says Klebusits.
A driven student in high school, the South Bend, IN, native had big goals for his college education. "[I wanted] to have a well-rounded education which includes elements of business, statistics, critical thinking, and writing." He found those elements at Notre Dame, through a double major in business analytics and philosophy. "[I haven't always been passionate] about philosophy but I grew to have an appreciation and love for it in high school and college," he says. "Regarding business analytics and statistics, I think I’ve always enjoyed math and what numbers can tell us about the real world."
Klebusits has also found an outlet for his favorite extracurricular activity. "I am an officer in the health and fitness club and I am also very passionate about powerlifting. That is my number one hobby and doing it really helps me blow off steam and center myself."
In fact, Klebusits has some advice on extracurricular activities for prospective students. "It is extremely important to find something that you love outside of school. Whatever it is, it will keep stress levels low as you will always have a way center yourself outside of the rigorous coursework."
And to students who are concerned about paying for college, Klebusits adds, "I will [say] and have said that the financial aid [at Notre Dame] is great and that if you’re worried about not being able to afford school, the financial aid department has you covered."
Learn more about funding your Notre Dame education here.
Don’t let fear of the cost keep you from applying. That’s junior Christine Allen’s advice to high school seniors.
Allen, a sociology major from Chicago, IL, grew up with the dream of becoming a criminal justice lawyer. She is passionate about solving social issues like racial and educational inequality and has plans to attend law school after getting her undergraduate degree.
But Allen’s decision to attend Notre Dame depended entirely on the amount of financial aid she would receive. Growing up, Allen was told she was intelligent and capable, but, she says, she was also told how expensive college is. “I knew my family, which always has been my mother, my brother and I, did not have any funds, so I knew I would never be able to cover the cost,” she says.
Allen applied to Notre Dame anyway and was admitted. On a campus visit that February, she met with a financial aid officer and expressed her concern over affordability. She knew she could take out loans but was afraid she wouldn’t be able to pay them back. Thanks to a generous financial aid package, however, most of Allen’s costs were covered.
“This has brought me less stress in the sense that I didn’t have to worry about a hefty bill at the end of the semester and how I would cover it, and has allowed me to focus on my education, getting involved on campus with the different communities and organizations and working outside of that,” says Allen.
Ever willing to earn her education, Allen has also held a number of campus jobs, the latest of which is student researcher for the University’s Office of Strategic Planning and Institutional Research. This kind of work has given her more than just a paycheck--it has provided her with relevant work experience. “I work directly as an assistant to the survey program manager and consultant,” she explains. “I started this current semester, and I have been learning a lot from the research dealing with coding and even making surveys through Qualtrics.”
Now Allen, a first-generation college student, can work on her dreams. She fell in love with sociology at Notre Dame. “The courses range from racial and educational inequality, social problems in general, the history and foundations of sociology—I see many of the main points in today’s society—political sociology, and even art in everyday life,” she says. This summer, she’ll participate in the Summer Service Learning Program through Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns where she’ll be placed at a nonprofit organization focused on a particular social issue, though she doesn’t yet know which.
Another piece of advice she offers to incoming students: Take advantage of the resources available to you on campus. “There are so many opportunities—learning programs, research opportunities, internships, and study abroad programs—that can set up your future. You just have to get familiar with campus, and connect with students, faculty, and professors,” she says, all of whom can help pave the way for opportunities to make the most of your Notre Dame education.
Alumnus and computer science graduate Travis Gayle has always been fascinated by technology. As a kid, it started with video games but as he got older, Gayle saw the ways in which technological solutions were applied to real-life situations in the world around him.
"I grew up in an age where the shift to and integration of computer science was a rapid one. I saw the importance of it, but more than that, I saw it as an avenue to do something cool while still being marketable," says Gayle, who eventually chose to major in computer science.
The Jamaica, Queens, NY, native was an AnBryce Scholar at Notre Dame and, in addition to computer science, he had plenty of opportunities to pursue his other interests. Gayle is a passionate traveler and through the AnBryce program he was able to participate in a week-long global immersion trip to London. He also studied in Rome and in his junior year he returned to London for an entire semester.
Gayle's other extracurriculars made up a big part of his campus experience. He served on the board for the Wabruda brotherhood, worked as a resident advisor (RA) in Keenan Hall, and was a member of the Black Student Association.
Gayle says his holistic educational experience prepared him for his career and life after college in a number of ways. "Notre Dame has prepared me to succeed simply based on how challenging it was—especially in the College of Engineering. I worked so hard sometimes just to do average on an exam. That’s not to say that others didn’t as well. In other words, I pushed myself harder than I ever did in life at Notre Dame. The school will do that to you," he says.
His hard work paid off and Gayle graduated with multiple job offers. He now works for Pariveda Solutions in Atlanta, GA, coding, problem-solving client issues, tracking progress on projects, and assessing risk and impact of the company's work.
"The culmination of my experiences and sentiments while at ND helped me prepare mentally for the work I was going to be doing. Specifically, in computer science classes, there was a strong problem-solving aspect. At work, I’m working in new languages, but that same problem-solving from ND applies to my job now," says Gayle.
While he took full advantage of the academics and campus community at Notre Dame, Gayle says that without a doubt, his financial aid package was the deciding factor in his enrollment here. It was a defining moment when he received his Financial Aid Notification and the AnBryce Scholarship notification, "I found out while I was on a spring visit to campus and I immediately called my mom to tell her...With such joy I said, 'I’m going to Notre Dame!'
Take advantage of all Notre Dame has to offer, Gayle advises. "I would encourage every prospective student to consider Notre Dame and, while there, consider exploring things that are of interest to you as well as things that may not [be]." Don't be afraid to engage in classes outside your usual repertoire and try out different cultural groups, clubs, and programs, he says. It will all broaden your horizons and you may discover a new passion. "The world would be a lot more boring if we all knew everything and were certain about it already," adds Gayle.