First-Year Journey: Lena Dougherty '25, Pre-Professional Studies Major and Musical Theater Aficionado

Author: Shannon Rooney

Lena Dougherty ‘25 chose Notre Dame because “it ticked a lot of boxes.” She knew the academics here were excellent and she loved the community feel. 

In high school, Dougherty transferred from one school to a different school in New Jersey, where she found there were more opportunities to be part of a community. There she founded the Drama Club and thespian troupe.  

“I just need to be around other people who are passionate about what they’re passionate about, regardless of what those passions are,” she says.  

Lena Dougherty '25 at Notre Dame Stadium

Those are the kind of people Dougherty says she has found at Notre Dame. Whether she’s exploring her love of musical theater, checking off the requirements of her intended major in pre-professional studies, or meeting with classmates in the Hesburgh-Yusko Scholars Program, Dougherty has connected with other passionate students.  

What is she passionate about, in particular? For one, Dougherty has set her sights on a potential career as an ear, nose, and throat doctor. She, herself, is hard of hearing and proficient in American Sign Language. She wants to become a physician in order to help other people.  

Second, Dougherty is a classically trained vocalist. She is a talented actress and singer and she loves musical theater. By the end of her first semester at Notre Dame, she had already been part of the dance ensemble in the PEMCo (Pasquerilla East Music Company) performance of Young Frankenstein. Established in 1997, PEMCo is Notre Dame’s student-run musical theater group. 

“It was extremely important for me to continue my involvement in theatre at Notre Dame, and I was lucky enough to find the amazing community of PEMCo my very first semester,” says Dougherty. 

Dougherty continues to enjoy being involved in the Notre Dame community in numerous other ways. 

When asked what her favorite memory from the past semester is, she says, “It was our first night football game this past fall…It was right after we came back from fall break, and we didn’t have any classes going on yet, so there was no stressing about homework or anything. [My friends and family] spent the whole day hanging out together. Then we went into the game and they did a light show—and we won the game. It was a really fun memory.”  

Watch the video above to learn more about Dougherty’s first year at Notre Dame.


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