They came to Notre Dame from across the United States, and as the six members of the Latino Studies Scholars Program’s inaugural cohort walked across the Commencement stage on May 23, they were prepared to go out into the world and support and empower Latino communities.
Launched in 2016 by the Institute for Latino Studies, the merit-based scholarship and academic program — the first and only of its kind at an American university — strives to prepare transformative leaders who have the passion and leadership potential to expand the common good. The program has grown rapidly, with 18 LSSPs on campus this year, and nine more committed to Notre Dame for this fall. ILS aims to offer 16 new scholarships per year by 2024.
Major: Political Science
Minors: Theology; Digital Marketing, and Journalism; Ethics, and Democracy
Hometown: Corpus Christi, Texas
Aaron Benavides made the most of his time on campus in a multitude of leadership roles, and received the Blessed Basil Moreau, C.S.C., Leadership Award this spring. It recognizes a graduating senior who demonstrates “significant effort to advance the Catholic character of the University.” As a junior, he interned for The Catholic Herald, a London-based Catholic weekly magazine. He spent a summer at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C., an opportunity made possible by ILS’s Cross-Cultural Leadership Program (CCLP). After graduation, Aaron will intern with GMMB, a political consulting firm and PR/ad agency in Washington, D.C.
Majors: Neuroscience and Behavior, Latino Studies
Hometown: Mundelein, Illinois
Jisel Gomez spent her summers completing an internship at Clinica Monseñor Romero in Los Angeles through CCLP and being selected as a Rush Alzheimer's clinic health educator, serving the Hispanic population in Chicago just 45 minutes from home. She will join the Alliance for Catholic Education as a science and math teacher in Dallas, Texas, before pursuing medical school. Jisel is the first in her extended family to graduate from college.
Majors: Accounting, Political Science
Hometown: Miami, Florida
Kelly Liang will follow in the footsteps of her mother, an accountant, and her grandmother, a small business owner, by pursuing a career in finance. She volunteered extensively with La Casa de Amistad by tutoring youth after school and served as an event intern at ILS her senior year. In June, she will be working in Chicago with KPMG in their tax practice. She hopes to eventually attend law school to study immigration law to defend refugee and temporary protective status families seeking asylum in the United States due to the effects of climate change, war, and globalization in their home countries.
Majors: Computer Science, Film, Television, and Theatre
Minor: Latino Studies
Hometown: McAllen, Texas
Stacy Manrique, a student in the five-year Reilly dual-degree program, will walk at commencement this weekend but spend one more year on campus completing her computer science studies. She served as stage manager for an FTT production and completed an internship at UnidosUS in Washington, D.C., through the CCLP. Last summer, she completed an internship at a federal government agency and will do so again this summer. Over winter session, she served as a research apprentice for ILS Faculty Fellow Anne Garcia-Romero, studying Latinx stories. Stacy looks forward to merging her interests in the creative arts and film industry to her programming expertise.
Major: Science Preprofessional
Hometown: Santa Ana, California
Alejandra Osorio is headed to the University of California, Irvine Medical School’s PRIME-LC Academy, geared toward prospective medical students who will focus their service and leadership to transform health outcomes for Latinx populations. To prepare for her career leading public health projects as a physician, she will conduct a cancer awareness program in Puebla, Mexico, and assume a full-time research assistant position at the UCLA Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture before applying to medical school in 2022.
Majors: Economics, Political Science
Hometown: Elkhart, Indiana
Diego Reynoso, among many other accomplishments, completed an internship designing youth entrepreneurship projects in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as part of CCLP. After graduation, he will spend two years with the Alliance for Catholic Education, teaching at a middle school in Denver, Colorado. He then plans to attend law school, where he will focus on criminal justice reform to defend young men of color facing an uphill battle in the nation’s justice system. He also aspires to run for local political office at some point in his career.