ND Journey: Luke Strawn '25 Explores Neuroscience, Faith, and Rock-climbing

Author: Shannon Rooney

Several priorities came to the fore when Luke Strawn '25 was searching for the right college. He had grown up going to Catholic schools and his faith is important to him, so he searched for a Catholic university. He also wanted to do a pre-med track, and he wanted to rock climb. He also needed it all to be affordable.

“A lot of those factors just kind of came together [at Notre Dame],” says Strawn.

Now a junior at Notre Dame, Strawn has found opportunities to explore all of these areas.

Originally a classics major, he was also pre-med, with the goal of eventually becoming a physician. But he made friends with some other students who were majoring in neuroscience and behavior and the more they talked about their classes, the more the major piqued Strawn’s interest.

Inspired by his grandmother, who passed away with Alzheimer’s disease, Strawn also wanted to go into Alzheimer’s research. The neuroscience major, with its focus on the inner workings of the brain, seemed like a perfect fit.

Since Strawn remained interested in classics and other fields, he has added a few minors to his schedule: anthropology, compassionate care in medicine, and Greek and Roman civilizations.

When asked about which of his classes has been most impactful, Strawn points to the course Rebels and Mythology, which he said was a fascinating and tough course.

Luke Strawn '25 on a climbing trip

He enjoyed the subject, worked hard, and as someone who didn’t always love to read, says, “It helped me retrain my brain and just think differently than I would in a science class.”

Strawn also rock climbs at the Smith Center for Recreational Sports. Having been a climber for the last seven years, he chose Notre Dame partly because of the ND Climbing Club and the availability of a climbing wall on campus.

He was president of the club as a sophomore and says he took joy in doing a lot of cool things with the club, like creating official merchandise and hosting a movie watch on Library Lawn, which was a large event that took nearly three months to plan.

The club's main activity is taking climbing trips. They climb at Red River Gorge in Kentucky twice a semester, for example.

“That was super fun and we taught around 100 people how to climb outdoors. It was a very cool experience,” says Strawn. He says that being an integral part of a club on campus taught him about accountability, leadership, and collaboration.

Strawn manages to find time once a week to attend Mass as well. “When I initially came here, I thought I would go to the Grotto and Basilica a lot,” he says, “But in Dillon Hall, where I live, they have a really nice chapel and [in going to dorm Masses], I’ve gotten to know a lot of the RAs and the rector and the guys really well.”

Weekly Mass has been a good break from studying for Strawn and he enjoys the time to focus on his faith and spend time in community.

Strawn is now in Athens, Greece through the Notre Dame study abroad program there. The program focuses on experiential learning and outdoor exploration, and, with his interest in classical civilizations, it’s a good fit for Strawn.

Watch the video above to learn more about Luke Strawn’s Notre Dame experiences.

Neuroscience And Behavior

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