First-Year Journey: James Deegan '25 Finds Community, Explores a Career in Healthcare

Author: Shannon Rooney


James Deegan ’25 is a first-year student with plans for a career in medicine. He has an intended major in biological sciences and is interested in becoming either a physician or a dentist. Deegan has a special reason for wanting to enter a healthcare field. He is a survivor of childhood cancer. He hopes his studies at Notre Dame will prepare him to help people just like he was helped by doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals as a child. 

Plus, Deegan loves science and he’s a people person. He hails from Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, where his nuclear family lives—mom, dad, and two sisters. But he also has a huge extended family nearby, including over 30 cousins. The family gets together often and keeps in touch regularly, which Deegan says has made him “a family-oriented person.” 

James Deegan '25 (second from right) with classmates and the teaching assistant in his general chemistry lab

Valuing family has carried over into his Notre Dame experience, where he has found a community that supports his interests both inside and outside of the classroom.

For starters, Deegan’s faith is especially important to him and at Notre Dame, he has joined Compass Small Groups, a faith-sharing program through campus ministry. He started going to Compass with a group of friends he met at a campus retreat. 

“We all went to Compass as a group. We talk and we challenge each other with regard to our faith and sometimes just ask each other how everything is going,” he says. “I never thought I’d find a group of friends like that.”

Deegan has also found community in O’Neill Hall, his home on campus. He has played touch football for the hall team this year and he participates with his section in whatever activities are happening. He also played on the Notre Dame men's volleyball team for a few weeks. Deegan is part of the campus Pre-Professional Society and he volunteers with the American Red Cross Club, participating in blood drives and other activities. 

In addition to his biological sciences major, Deegan has found space to explore art. “I took some art classes in high school but I would mostly do it as a hobby, nothing too serious,” he says. But he has taken one art class at Notre Dame, Introduction to 3D Foundations/Sculpting, and is now considering a minor in studio art

“I love science but I think art is just different—it’s a way to just use your hands [and decompress],” says Deegan. 

Deegan (far right) ice skating with friends

Deegan has discovered another completely different interest here as well. In his first semester, he took a history seminar focused on World War II.

“I’m not usually drawn to history, but when I do get into it, it’s usually World War II,” he explains.

Through the course, he learned more about the historical context around the war in addition to developing new skills, like learning to write papers using the Chicago Manual of Style guidelines. He has also been to a history conference held on campus. 

Deegan continues to explore as much as he can through his studies and extracurricular activities. Check out the video above to learn more about his first-year experience.


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