FirstGen@ND: Cheyenne Stewart '26 Neuroscience and Behavior Major in Glynn Family Honors Program

Author: Jessica Frazier

Sophomore Cheyenne Stewart grew up in a single-parent household after losing her father to cancer when she was seven years old. With her mother working in education, earning a degree was a goal for Stewart early on.

"It was important for me to work hard and overcome those challenges as my mother did. Like many others, I enjoyed tremendous encouragement and guidance from her," Stewart says.

Originally from Hungary, Stewart immigrated to the United States with her parents, settling eventually in Terre Haute, Indiana. Having lived in small towns and entering university as a first-generation student, Stewart sought a supportive community that could embrace her unique story and life experiences.

Cheyenne Stewart '26 poses with a group of friends in Notre Dame stadium.

“I knew I wanted to find a community that would foster the people like me that have come from all these different backgrounds. I couldn’t wait to get to Notre Dame because I’d heard of the friendships, lifelong memories, professional connections, and collaborations developed here,” she says.

Stewart has found many ways to get involved with community life at Notre Dame, including serving as a Eucharistic minister and lector during hall and Basilica masses. She’s also taken on the role of director of the Department of Diversity and Inclusion, First Generation Low Income Division within student government.

In this role, Stewart and her team host special events in order to raise awareness of the available resources at Notre Dame for fellow first-generation students and provide additional support.

One resource Stewart has personally utilized is the Office of Student Enrichment (OSE), which aims to enable students to engage in developmental opportunities, foster communal learning, and pursue personal growth.

The OSE offers financial aid for college expenses, including providing funds for football tickets, professional outfits, laptops, travel expenses, and winter clothing.

Stewart is studying neuroscience and behavior in the Glynn Family Honors Program through the College of Science. Transitioning from a smaller high school with more limited resources, Stewart initially felt intimidated about entering a STEM field. However, she found academic assistance at Notre Dame to help her with challenging coursework.

“It’s been the first place where I have found valuable support, like teaching assistants, study groups, and professors who are willing to help,” says Stewart. “You just have to voice your needs and follow the leads to the right resources.”

Presently, Stewart is actively engaged in a research lab with Professor G.A. Radvansky, focusing on memory research, a field that initially sparked Stewart’s interest in neuroscience.

Stewart has also appreciated Notre Dame’s resources and connections to travel abroad. In spring 2022, Stewart joined a group of 30 students in Panama with a Global Medical Brigades group, providing medical care through a mobile clinic.

Cheyenne Stewart '26 serves with Global Medical Brigade.

“My trip to Panama was one of the most influential moments, not just from the medical perspective and having hands-on involvement, but having the camaraderie on that trip was one of the most unique experiences I’ve had,” she says. “The way we supported one another was the definition of what the Notre Dame family is and that is exactly why I chose Notre Dame and why I feel it is such a home.”

As Stewart continues into her second year at Notre Dame, she marvels at her journey—from a small Hungarian town with under 2,000 residents to becoming a leader on campus. 

“I feel so fortunate to be at Notre Dame with all these exceptional professors, peers, staff, and means right in front of me. There’s such a loving environment where everyone can find something that fits their needs and interests. I especially value the kindness and collaboration of students and faculty alike. There are numerous non-academic support systems on campus such as rectors, priests in residence halls, RA’s (resident assistants), and various directors. Besides, I am amazed at how the upperclassmen are there to guide us. The supporting community is such a distinct aspect of Notre Dame,” Stewart concludes.

Watch the video above to learn more about Stewart’s experiences at Notre Dame.