Isabel Bolanos

Isabel Bolanos
Class of 2022
  • Major: Management Consulting/Sociology
  • Citizenship: Guatemala
  • High School: Guatemala
  • Contact: ibolanos@nd.edu

What is your favorite campus tradition?

My favorite campus tradition is singing the Alma Mater after every football game, it is truly an indescribable feeling. I remember the first football game I attended, when I first sang the Alma Mater, I had chills all over my body and it wasn’t because the total stranger I was hugging singing next to me had a beautiful voice but rather because I had never felt such a sense of community in an academic institution. The Alma Mater pulls us together, as one family, forever loving our home under the dome.

What is your favorite spot on campus?

My favorite spot on campus is the Grotto. I could honestly not imagine my life here at Notre Dame without it, it is the place where I feel most at ease and it elevates my faith. I go to the Grotto when I need to find that inner strength that sometimes gets lost in the stress of studying, when I celebrate achievements, when I pray for those in need, and most importantly when I feel I need to ground myself back to what really matters. If it’s raining, sunny, snowing, windy, or basically any weather condition, trust me, the Grotto doesn’t lose its magic. It is truly my safe haven and I am truly grateful that such a majestic and moving place is just a couple minutes away from me.

What is your best Notre Dame memory?

This question is like choosing your favorite food or your favorite movie, it is so hard to pick one and exclude the rest. I would say that at Notre Dame, I have found happiness in the smallest of things such as dining hall dinners that last for hours and study sessions where you find yourself socializing rather than studying or even going to mass with my friend group and roommate every Sunday. Tailgating is definitely one is my best memories at Notre Dame, the campus is electrified and people are so happy you might think its Christmas season but don’t get confused, that’s the Fighting Irish school spirit.

What is your favorite Dining Hall Meal?

My favorite Dining Hall Meal is the make your own Stir Fry station, the taco station, and the pasta fry station.

What is your favorite thing about dorm life?

My favorite thing about dorm life is feeling as if your support system is not only comprised of few individuals but rather of a whole building of women that have your back and want you to succeed. The sense of sisterhood and belonging is what I consider my favorite thing about dorm life.

What clubs/activities are you involved in?

I am involved in the Student International Business Council, Social Entrepreneurship branch which has been an amazing experience as I have been able to travel with a group of students to several top consulting firms in the Chicago area. I am also involved in the Students Consulting for Nonprofit Organizations where I have provided consulting services to two non-profit organizations in the South Bend area making me get more involved with the community outside of Notre Dame. I am a board member in the Association of Latino Professionals For America chapter at Notre Dame whose purpose is to connect Latino leaders for impact. I am also the Notre Dame ambassador for FUNDEGUA, a non-profit organization founded by Guatemalan young professionals who had the opportunity to receive their undergraduate education abroad and want to promote involvement from Guatemalans studying abroad in aiding them fund programs for underprivileged women and children in Guatemala.

What made you choose Notre Dame?

Above everything else, family and faith have always been the most important thing to me. When my friends joke around as ask if I would ever get a tattoo, I tell them that if I were to, that the only thing that is so close to my heart and permanent is something representative of my family or my faith. From the moment I arrived at Notre Dame, I felt both of these aspects embodied in the tiniest of details and this not only made Notre Dame unique from other Universities but it also resonated deeply with the women I aspire to become and the people I want to be surrounded by. The sense of educating both the mind and the soul gives me a sense of purpose that no other university came close to, especially regarding Notre Dame’s commitment to service. The common phrase, “actions speak louder than words” is true of Notre Dame education. This university’s core values are still seen every day on campus and that essence I consider will never be lost and is what made me choose Notre Dame above everything else.

What is your favorite part about being an international student at Notre Dame?

My favorite part of being an international student is the curiosity that I stir in people, especially non-international students. When students find out that I am an international student from Guatemala, they approach me with curious eyes wanting to know and get more of the beautiful Latino culture. I consider that the exchange of cultures and curiosity that ultimately shatters cultural stereotypes is my favorite part of being an international student.

How did you adjust to life on campus?

I adjusted to life on campus by truly being open to activities, people, and acknowledging that this was a big change but that my attitude would define how well I adapted. So, I tried to have a positive attitude and be welcoming of everything that came my way making my transition a fairly smooth one.

How do you celebrate your culture/heritage at ND?

I celebrate my culture by being involved in projects that deal with some sort of Latino impact. For example, in the Student International Business Club, I did consulting for an orphanage of kids with HIV/AIDS in Honduras. In the other club SCNO that I am involved in, I helped El Campito a daycare in South Bend for Hispanic children improve their fundraising initiatives. Lastly, being a member of the ALPFA board I embrace the professional diversity that Hispanics bring to the table in the business world.

What advice do you have for international students?

Be bold, stay true to your roots, don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone but most importantly trust your gut because only you know where you belong. Happiness is an inside job, always choose to be happy. I hope you can see yourself here at Notre Dame and like me, be able to look back and know that coming to Notre Dame has been the best decision of your life.