ND Journey: Sophia Ochoa ’25 Expresses Creativity, Builds Community

Author: Shannon Rooney

Sophia Ochoa ’25 first heard about Notre Dame when she was a senior in high school.

Her uncle, a Notre Dame alumnus, talked to her about Notre Dame when he found out she was going through the college search process.

He talked up Notre Dame so much that, since Ochoa couldn’t get to the States from her hometown of Manila in the Philippines due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, she decided to attend an online information session.

The session was hosted by Notre Dame’s director of international recruitment.

“I immediately was enamored with how holistic Notre Dame was,” says Ochoa. “It was a good school as far as academics. I googled and found out it had a really good design program. It had all these extracurriculars people were so passionate about. And I was also really excited about the community and the constant opportunities for giving back to the community.”

Now a junior at Notre Dame, Ochoa is pursuing a major in visual communication design and a minor in digital marketing.

When she came in as a first-year student, she relied on the Asian community groups at Notre Dame, with whom she first felt a sense of community. She still talks with friends from the Asian First-Year Retreat and the Filipino-American Student Organization (FASO).

Sophia Ochoa '25

She has also found community where she lives in Cavanaugh Hall. And she values the Christian friendships she has formed with other students through Iron Sharpens Iron.

One of her favorite Notre Dame memories took place on her first night on campus, when she had arrived earlier than almost everyone on her hall’s floor. One of the resident assistants (RAs ) from another section came up  to invite her to hang out with a group while they made posters to welcome students who would move in the following day.

“That outreach and interaction–someone coming to check in on me and asking me if I wanted to participate–was really meaningful for me. It showed me that I did have a place here as early as my first night on campus,” says Ochoa.

Community is important to Ochoa and she has also found ways to explore that through her major and minor.

“I think that design is collaborative and very human-centered,” says Ochoa. She has always loved creating.

“I remember when I was maybe five years old or so, I already had notebooks of different fashion drawings that I knew I would make for myself one day and it slowly manifested into making real products,” she says.

As a child, Ochoa made clothes for her dolls and jewelry out of recycled materials, among other things.

“Essentially, I love the process of envisioning something in my mind and taking the steps to make it a real tangible thing that other people can enjoy,” says Ochoa.

As a visual communications design major and digital marketing minor, she gets to express this creative side of herself while learning how to make products and information accessible to people.

Through all her Notre Dame experiences, Ochoa has grown in many ways.

“For one thing, I’ve become a lot more independent,” she says, pointing to all the things she has done on her own despite being naturally shy and, of course, not having her parents nearby.

Among other activities, Ochoa served on the St. André Bessette Welcome Weekend Committee in her sophomore and junior years and was co-chair for the Cavanaugh Welcome Weekend team in her sophomore year. It’s fitting that she has taken on responsibilities for making other students feel welcome and included.

Check out the video above to meet Sophia Ochoa ’25 and learn more about her Notre Dame experience.


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