Evan McKenna, a second-year student at the University of Notre Dame, has demonstrated a deep commitment for education and community-building on and off-campus. Evan’s compassion, empathy, and dedication stands out to those around him. He has worked with local elementary school students, tutoring students on reading. After observing unhealthy behaviors among those he tutored, Evan has also become active in a conflict resolution program that provides students with positive alternatives to violence. Evan is also a leader among his peers, working to facilitate community volunteer opportunities among other Notre Dame students. He has helped reduce transportation barriers, fostered community building, and built opportunities for others. Evan is a proven advocate for social change. He has addressed county commissioners in Tennessee to advocate for the civil rights of the LGBTQ community. He has been active in providing resources and support for children affected by immigration raids. Evan is not only a student committed to social change, he is also a student unafraid to lead and use his voice to enact social change and advocate for those who need it most. He has demonstrated the ability to align values, passion, and dedication in service to the local community and the common good.
I am a sophomore undergraduate student at the University of Notre Dame studying Psychology and English. Growing up in a small town in Appalachia where education was constantly ignored and devalued, I quickly realized the power of a great education — and the dangers of a poor one. A captain of my Speech and Debate team in high school, I exercised my advocacy often, writing and performing speeches for community leaders on a variety of human rights issues including LGBTQ+ equality, the mental health epidemic in U.S. prisons, immigration justice, and education reform. I strive to walk the walk as well, often organizing groups of activists when such rights are jeopardized. I believe that education is our greatest asset, the fundamental solution to deep-rooted systems of inequity and oppression. My leadership at Notre Dame reflects these beliefs — I am active at the Notre Dame Center for Civic Innovation, serving brilliant but underprivileged students in South Bend; I visit elementary schools and teach children bullying and violence prevention strategies; I also hope to launch Speech, Debate, and public speaking programs across local schools, so that students may discover the life-changing intersection of advocacy and education.