Charting a Course

Author: Emily Vincent

Although I’ve only attended Notre Dame for 2 years, I’m already on my third major. How does this happen, one might ask? I had never truly believed the advice of people who told me to study what I was passionate about. I was convinced I could just put my head down and grind through the coursework of what I considered to be a “good” major, no matter how much I disliked it. It took a semester of Chemistry classes, followed by two semesters of International Economics classes, to finally realize that it was not worth it to spend my time fighting the natural inclination towards classes that aligned with my true passions: humans, travel, and China.

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Since my first day of freshman year, I have been enrolled in intensive beginner’s Chinese. This was a heavy 5-credit commitment for a class that I kept telling myself was just an extracurricular. My attraction to Chinese was simple; I had visited China once on a service trip in high school, and I found both the culture and language fascinating. I aced my first year of Mandarin while struggling through the classes geared towards my major, and decided it was time to re-evaluate. I’ve always been very interested in travel and culture – my parents are travel junkies, and I was born in Belgium and briefly lived in Australia before coming to the US to start elementary school – but I had never really considered how those interests could factor into my studies. Fast forward to the present: I am majoring in Anthropology and Chinese, and I’m writing this very blog post from Beijing, China.

The University of Notre Dame wants you to succeed. It wants you to find a passion, curate it, and then use it as a force for good in the world. Over the past several months, I have been planning a research project regarding foreign NGOs in China involved with the care of abandoned children. China recently passed a law regulating the operations of foreign NGOs, and I wanted to learn more about what this law means in its application. With funding from the Hesburgh-Yusko Scholars Progam (a merit-based scholarship program that you can apply to while applying to the University) and CUSE (the Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement), I was given the funding to implement my research this summer over the course of two months.

Through my blog, I hope to give potential students a taste of the depth that Notre Dame’s education provides, from traditional classroom learning to summer research funding to a greater appreciation of one’s role in the world. If you chart a course with your studies and launch from the dock with determination, Notre Dame will be the wind in your sails to get you where you want to go.