Meet our Nanovic Ambassadors for Notre Dame Day 2017

Author: Jennifer Lechtanski


Header 2017 NDdayVOTE NANOVIC during Notre Dame Day. Your vote contributes to creating more student research experiences in Europe during academic breaks.

Caitlin O’Connor

The Nanovic Institute opened up the world to me, allowed me to pursue my passion of history outside of the classroom, and was truly the guiding force in my education at Notre Dame. Because of their generosity, I was given two opportunities to undertake archival research in London for my history senior thesis on British photography in the Great War, which allowed me to base my argument on primary documents that had largely been untreated by scholars and highlight the importance of an untapped photographic source base in the Imperial War Museum’s holdings. I was also given a chance to develop my German language skills in a summer program in Bavaria. These experiences allowed me to delve into the question that intrigued me in my classes, and come to much fuller, more robust answers and insights about the First World War and its cultural memory.

O Connor Caitlin 15 16

The many panels, lectures, and films sponsored by the Nanovic each semester did just as much to aid my growth at Notre Dame as my grant experiences. The opportunity to have conversations with world-renowned scholars, filmmakers, policy makers, and religious leaders opened my eyes to new ideas, new areas of study, and helped me to make real-life connections to things I was learning about in the classroom. Nanovic fostered in me a sense of intellectual curiosity that is far beyond what I would have gotten from my courses alone. I am incredibly grateful for the Nanovic and its dedication to the undergraduates of Notre Dame.

Caitlin graduated in 2016, with a major in History and minors in Business Economics and European Studies. She received The R. Stephen and Ruth Barrett Family Grant for Best Undergraduate Travel & Research Proposal to undertake archival research at the Imperial War Museum, London. Her findings served as the basis for both her honors thesis, “Bringing the War Home: Witnessing, Remembering, and British Photography during World War I” (winner, History Senior Thesis Award) and her European Studies capstone essay ”Inheriting Hell in Poetry from the Great War.” She is currently in the Rotational Management Program at Gap Inc. where she has been rotating through key functions in the product development pipeline. After the program concludes, she will take on a merchandising role in one of Gap’s brands.


Lis Thomas 15 16

Thomas Lis

The Nanovic Institute has had a tremendous impact on my education by allowing me to pursue independent research. Thanks to their generosity, I was able to make multiple trips to study at some of Europe's leading archives. The scholarship I was able to produce based on my work on these trips were instrumental in helping me to continue my education this upcoming fall. However, beyond the financial help, I am forever grateful for the advice and encouragement I received, along with all the friendships made, through working with the Nanovic Institute.

Thomas Lis graduated from Notre Dame in 2016 with degrees in History and Economics, and a minor in European studies. He was awarded the Katie Murphy McMahon and a Nanovic Research grant to travel to archives in Paris, Warsaw, and L'viv. These trips served as the basis for both his honors thesis, The Myth of Locarno: Versailles, Poland, and the Continuity of French Foreign Policy, 1919-1936 (winner, Undergraduate Library Research Award) and Martyrs, Again: Establishing a Polish-European Identity in Lwów, 1918-192 (winner, J. Rober Wegs Prize for Best Minor in European Studies Capstone Essay). He currently works as a hospital billing technical consultant at Epic Systems in Madison, Wisconsin. In fall 2017, Thomas will be attending the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law.


Dahlby Ellen 14 15

Ellen Dahlby

The Nanovic Institute of European studies created an academic environment that pushed me to reexamine the world around me. The staff encouraged me to challenge assumptions, to look for knowledge in unexplored places, and to apply my research to helping others. Through the generosity of the Nanovic Institute, I was able to forge deep, lasting relationships while conducting primary research on Romanian orphanages over my four years at Notre Dame. This experience motivated me to continue service to women and children post graduation, and I continue to see the fruits of my research on a daily basis.

European Studies is much more than researching Europe. It is encountering the people and cultures that impact current policy; it is listening to the stories of small towns that fought to survive harsh communist regimes; it is seeking to learn from the past to make our future better. The Nanovic Institute has been integral to my human formation as well as my intellectual formation. At the Nanovic Institute, I was encouraged to see education as a life-long pursuit for wisdom, and my love for the human person— captured through art, history, literature and personal encounter— as imperative to the pursuit of truth.

Ellen Dahlby graduated Notre Dame in 2016 with a degree in History and minors in European Studies and Peace Studies. During her undergraduate time, she was awarded a First Year of Studies Grant, a Summer Service grant, and a Language Studies Grant from the Nanovic Institute. These grants culminated in her Honors thesis "Mothers of the Nation, Children of the Decree: An Examination of Pronatalist Policy in Ceausescu's Romania", as well as multiple papers on healthcare discrepancies in marginalized populations and child care in Romania. She is currently working with Maggie's Place, a non-profit that provides shelter, care, and instruction to homeless pregnant and parenting women. She hopes to continue to work for the betterment of impoverished mothers and children.