Spirituality is important to Aidee Barajas '23.
As an incoming student, she knew that Notre Dame offered a world-class education, but one characteristic appealed to her above all the rest: Notre Dame's spiritual identity.
In addition to offering opportunities to explore the topics she is passionate about—namely, immigration studies and social issues—Barajas wanted a university that shares her values. She has found those at Notre Dame.
Here, Barajas answers questions about her Notre Dame experience and tells us how she is preparing for a career that will allow her to make a difference in ways that matter most to her.
Why did you choose Notre Dame?
I actually matched with Notre Dame through QuestBridge, a scholarship program that connects students to some of the top universities in the nation. I chose to rank Notre Dame because I admired the commitment the institution has for a greater good. I am someone who is looking to find a closer connection with my faith and I knew that Notre Dame would be the best school for me because they are not only focused on the academic growth, which is very important, but also the mental and spiritual growth.
How did you choose your majors?
I chose my intended majors because I felt like they aligned the most with my passions and my intrinsic motivation towards giving back to my community. I want to become an immigration attorney so I will be going into law. American studies and sociology allow me to learn so much and adapt my classes to form an immigration and civil rights concentration.
Have you always been passionate about these subjects?
Yes! I am an immigrant who came here with my family around the age of five and I got lucky to have the opportunity to come here legally; however, that is not the case for everyone. That does not mean they do not deserve to be here just as much as I do and if going back to our native countries is not safe, then this country should do more to be compassionate and understanding that this is a humanitarian crisis, not simply political or economic. We must do more and I plan on becoming a key player to help move towards the immigration reform this country needs.
What is your favorite class so far?
My favorite class so far has been my social science University Seminar on Africana Studies with Professor Maria McKenna. The class focused on the displacement of minorities around the country and in major cities. The class was concentrated on sustainability and the earth so we analyzed how minorities are affected by natural disasters much more than white people in this nation and that goes back to the demographics of where people were grouped into.
Do you plan to do any research or creative projects?
Absolutely! I want to do research on the effects of separating families down at our southern border and the treatment that immigrants (whether they are legal or not) receive once arriving in the U.S. There is much more to it but I believe that is a good summary on the focus for my research.
What surprised you the most about academics at Notre Dame?
I think what surprised me the most about ND academics is that there is not a cutthroat environment that many people hear about among top universities. Everyone is really there to get a great degree and they do not mind helping out a fellow student; there is compassion.
What extracurricular activities are you involved in?
I'm involved in: Student Coalition for Immigration Advocacy, Balfour, QuestBridge, Texas club, Frontline, Food for Thought, Latino Student Alliance, and I translate documents from Spanish to English and vice versa for an organization called Al Otro Lado. I decided to get involved with all these extracurriculars because they tailor to my passions and help me from overwhelming myself with classwork.
What's your favorite Notre Dame memory so far?
My favorite Notre Dame memory so far happened around Christmas time. I am Mexican and in my culture we have this tradition called posadas which is a form of acting out the struggle of Mary and Joseph finding a home and it goes on for a few days and ends on Mother Mary’s birthday.
Every day there is singing, celebration, and great food. I had become very homesick around that time because it is when all my family gets together and it’s so beautiful. Campus Ministry and the Latino community on campus actually paired up and brought that celebration to campus and it was amazing to be able to feel the feeling of community on campus that I was missing.
What's your favorite place to eat on campus?
My favorite place to eat on campus has probably got to be North Dining Hall because of the assortment of food and the layout. Even though it is about a 10-minute walk from my dorm, I make that walk every day!
Tell us something most people wouldn't know about you until they got to know you.
Something most people don't know about me until they get to know me is that I love conversations that revolve around the psychology of the concept of happiness and books that touch on our motivation for life. An odd topic, but I got super into it after reading a book from Jordan B. Peterson and listening to his podcasts.
Your top three bucket list items:
1. Visit or study abroad in Switzerland
2. Visit Santorini, Greece
3. Go skydiving
If you had one piece of advice for prospective students, what would it be?
One piece of advice that I would give prospective students thinking about applying to Notre Dame is that they should look for a school that can prioritize more than just academics. There are plenty of schools that offer a great education but Notre Dame focuses on service, giving back, and spiritual growth, something that is so unique and hard to find elsewhere.