Emily Shelburne '25 knew when beginning her college search that she wanted service to be at the heart of the school where she would spend the next four years living and studying.
Born in Uganda, Shelburne and her family spent several years working in education before moving to Abilene, Texas. These early life experiences led Shelburne to pursue a career in service to others. She began researching universities offering political science and global affairs majors and came across the Keough School of Global Affairs.
“I was very attracted to the school of global affairs,” says Shelburne. “Primarily what separated Notre Dame [from other schools] was their dedication to service and not just within one discipline. I thought it was very important that I had a school where I was not only getting an education where the major itself centered around service but Notre Dame as an institution that valued it. Service is embedded into the fabric of the Notre Dame community.”
In fall 2023, Keough launched a pilot mentoring program. Upperclassmen mentors like Shelburne are paired with incoming first-years as they transition into Keough, introducing them to research opportunities, discussing classes, and helping them become more connected to the school's resources.
“The program has allowed us to not only form an intergenerational friendship but also has allowed the bridging of gaps between the classes,” says Shelburne. “We’ve spent a lot of time talking about life over coffee. It isn’t strictly just an academic relationship; it’s also about building true friendships.”
Shelburne also served as a teaching assistant for a class that had a huge impact on her own life, taught by Professor Steve Reifenberg, Life Design: The Art and Science of Human Flourishing. The course explores different mindsets, skillsets, and habits to help students live a happier and more meaningful life.
In the greater Notre Dame community, Shelburne has extended her involvement as a member of the Black Student Association, Student Union Board, African Student Association, Questbrige, and the Transformational Leadership Program (TLP).
TLP is a scholarly initiative with a focus on Notre Dame students who have also, in some way, been historically marginalized or challenged. The program serves the students’ academic, professional, social, and spiritual development, helping them reach their academic and intellectual goals. (Watch our video to learn more about TLP resources.)
“TLP is a lot of people who might not have had a traditional Notre Dame background. It’s really nice to have that connection to other people who have that similarity,” says Shelburne. The program also provides a place for students to gather together for special events. “I’ve really enjoyed being able to be a part of establishing this newer community at Notre Dame,” says Shelburne.
In order to share her passion and knowledge of Notre Dame, she also serves as a digital media intern for Notre Dame Admissions. This involves showcasing ND life on TikTok and Instagram and writing for the Student Perspectives blog page. In spring 2024, Emily will be studying abroad in Rome and sharing about her experiences with prospective students.
Shelburne can’t talk about Notre Dame without sharing about her residence hall: Pasquerilla West Hall (P-Dub). With a smile on her face, she describes P-Dub dorm life as, “a very lively dorm community with a history of being very welcoming, open, and accepting.”
A favorite memory of her hall is her first night on campus during the first-year Welcome Weekend. Upperclassmen from P-Dub welcomed Shelburne and a group of other first-year girls to come and chat. The chat turned into the group staying up talking until 4:00 a.m., creating lasting friendships for the women of Pasquerilla West Hall.
For Shelburne, this memory serves as the first time she felt a true sense of belonging at Notre Dame and began to understand the impact the community has on one another.
“I felt like I could call this place home and I could call these people ‘my people,’” says Shelburne. “It was formative because I saw what the ND community looks like and what I need to do to contribute to it.”
Watch the video above to learn more about Shelburne’s Notre Dame experience.