Alumni

Feel free to use the Balfour Alumni Network to reach out to people. Ask for career advice, tips about living in a city, or even try to make a new friend. The Network is here to help you, a valued member of the Balfour-Hesburgh Scholars Program family. Note: This is a complete list, for a list broken down by current locations, check the navigation tab.

Dee

  • Hometown: Los Angeles, California
  • Current Residence: Papillion, Nebraska
  • Year of Graduation: 2005
  • Area of Expertise: Renewal Sales, Software Sales
  • Contact Info: demetrius.hall@gmail.com, (210) 837-9970, LinkedIn
  • Advice: Balfour was a much needed support system for me at Notre Dame, I made lifelong friends. The program prepared me mentally and emotionally for the collegiate level.

Dom Acri

  • Hometown: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
  • Current Residence: Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Year of Graduation: 2018
  • Current Position: PhD Candidate in Medical Neuroscience, Indiana University School of Medicine
  • Contact Info: dominic.acri@gmail.com, LinkedIn
  • Advice: Make the most of your Balfour summers after the first year! The summer time can be a great time to take an extra class, gain research experience, and see a different side of South Bend. Whether you are looking to lighten your coursework during the fall/spring semesters, get career experience, or just have more fun living in northern Indiana, taking one or two Summers to chill on campus will really enrich your experience. For those of your who haven’t done it, working/volunteering with the first year program and hanging around SB is the best. Also take advantage of the alumni network. Talking with more senior balfours/alums helped me discern my career path. Don’t be afraid to reach out!

Rosemary Agwuncha

  • Hometown: Austin, Texas
  • Current Residence: Houston, Texas
  • Year of Graduation: 2018
  • Current Position: Medical Student
  • Contact Info: ragwunch@alumni.nd.edu
  • Advice: Make use of EVERY opportunity to use research grants, funding for conferences, and other learning opportunities beyond the classroom! Balfour’s Angel Fund, the Kellogg Institute for International Development (ISP program is awesome too), CUSE, Sorin Scholars, MSPS, Doan Scholars, the CSC, and the list goes on! So many opportunities exist to have once in a lifetime opportunities to learn and have incredibly enriching experiences nationally and abroad, you just have to ask and put in the work! Make friends with upperclassmen and they will definitely show you how to access and navigate these spaces and they can offer SUCH incredibly helpful advice, no matter what situation you may find yourself! I am forever grateful that I was able to reach out to upperclassmen who opened my eyes to all these opportunities and gave me advice along the way because it led me to incredible experiences and memories that I would never have dreamed of otherwise! If you don’t know, ask. Always. Also, please be sure to find a space that feels like home for you on campus. Within Balfour, minority student groups, your favorite extracurricular club, Campus Ministry, etc. It will make your time at ND much more special to have that support system and build lifelong relationships that you can always turn to.

Veronica Alonzo

  • Hometown: South Bend, Indiana
  • Current Residence: Dallas, Texas
  • Year of Graduation: 1997
  • Current Job Title: Associate Superintendent for Dallas Catholic Schools
  • Contact Info: valonzo@alumni.nd.edu
  • Phone: (214) 379-3166
  • Advice: Balfour helped me gain confidence in learning how to navigate the college scene. I’m first gen and couldn’t ask my parents or family for help so Balfour was the answer. I’m proud to say that I am still friends with a lot of my Balfour classmates even though none of us lived together on campus. Our friendship bond was strong. My advice is to remember you are not alone and it is ok to ask for help. There is strength in numbers and working as a community enables everyone to reach a state of interdependence. 

Genaro Andazola

  • Hometown: Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua, México (next to El Paso, TX)
  • Current Residence: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Year of Graduation: 2015
  • Current Position: Embedded Software Engineer, have MS in CS and BS in EE. 
  • Contact Info: gandazol@alumni.nd.edu, (574) 540-3704, LinkedIn
  • Advice: Balfour shows its value once you start your school year. Over the summer, it’s a fun time to make friends, get familiar with college classes, and learn about campus. However, once everyone is on campus, Balfour prepares you in ways you don’t realize – you know how to navigate campus, you grow accustomed to the pace of college courses, and you are aware of on-campus resources you can leverage: the Writing Center, free tutoring for freshmen through FYS in Co-Mo, how to use the library, and the Career Center. For me, this really showed when I talked with freshmen friends that were unaware of all the resources the University has to help you be successful as a student. Balfour also provides you with additional sources of funding. I received Angel funds to help me do study abroad, and these are pots of money which are exclusive to the Balfour program. Most importantly, Balfour gives you a network of classmates (your Balfour family!) that you can depend on. Many times, these Balfours were in your shoes just a few years ago, and they can provide advice on how to make the most of your time at Notre Dame. It’s a lot less intimidating to approach a familiar face than ask a University admin for help.

Matthew Aubourg

  • Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
  • Current Residence: Baltimore, Maryland
  • Year of Graduation: 2021
  • Current Position: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health | MSPH in International Health – Social & Behavioral Interventions
  • Contact Info: mattyaub27@gmail.com, (813) 614-5709
  • Advice: Balfour was truly the best thing that happened to me at ND and I’m so thankful for every moment in the program. From the very beginning in the summer institute, I joined a family of bright, motivated, caring young people who have stayed my closest friends. Be sure to invest in your relationships through Balfour with your cohort. Also invest in your relationships with Balfour leaders like Dr. Lucero, Mama Wadley, and Charlie, as well as older students with their own wisdoms and advice to impart. Focusing on building relationships that add value to you and that you can add value to yourself is one of the most important ways to use your time at ND. Four years goes by way faster than you realize to cherish all your happy moments there and learn something from the ones that aren’t so great. Best of luck to you all!!! 🙂

Melissa Trevino Berendzen

  • Hometown: Deer Park, Texas
  • Current Residence: Austin, Texas
  • Year of Graduation: 2002
  • Current Position: Program & Project Management – Accenture
  • Contact Info: melissa.trevino@alumni.nd.edu, (310) 402-8727, LinkedIn
  • Advice: Provided me with a network of resources on campus that I utilized throughout my years at ND and beyond. These are the lifelong friends I’ve continued to stay in touch with. It’s the best program offered by ND and will set you up for success as you start out at ND. 

Meagan Brittain

  • Hometown: Madison, Mississippi
  • Current Residence: Madison, Mississippi
  • Year of Graduation: 2008
  • Current Position: Staff Attorney, Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance
  • Contact Info: meaganbrittain@gmail.com, (601) 832-6476
  • Advice: Notre Dame is a better institution because you are there and your presence is needed even though sometimes it may feel as if it is not wanted on campus. 

Jasmine Brown

  • Hometown: South Bend, Indiana
  • Current Residence: South Bend, Indiana
  • Year of Graduation: 2005
  • Current Position: Educator
  • Contact Info: jbiakmll@gmail.com, (574) 386-9508
  • Advice: Civic Engagement is the best gift you can give. What we do for ourselves will turn to dust with us, one day. But what we do for others and our community will remain forever. This will be your legacy. Be present, stay active, and press forward with purpose to leave your community in a better condition than how you inherited it. 

Keisha A. Brown

  • Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
  • Current Residence: Nashville, Tennessee
  • Year of Graduation: 2007
  • Current Job Title: Assistant Professor of History, Tennessee State University
  • Contact Info: keishab241@gmail.com, LinkedIn
  • Advice: For me, the Balfour community was one of the greatest ways that the program impacted me. During my time at Notre Dame, knowing that I had a family away from home to celebrate my successes or provide a much-needed encouraging word helped me thrive during my time at Notre Dame. Even after graduation, that same love and support has been extended to me. Forever grateful to be part of the Balfour family. My advice for younger Balfours is to always keep a sense of adventure. Do not be afraid to try new things or chart a new path. Each new adventure teaches us something new about life, about ourselves.

Jesse Carrillo

  • Hometown: El Paso, Texas
  • Current Residence: Houston, Texas
  • Year of Graduation: 2008
  • Area of Expertise: Education, Personal Finance
  • Contact Info: j.carrillo@alumni.nd.edu, LinkedIn
  • Advice: You belong and you are worthy. There will be many spaces you enter throughout college and beyond where that might fall into question. It is okay to struggle and it is okay to ask for help. You are doing so for yourself, your community, and the next generation.

Jake Chang

  • Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Current Residence: Chicago, Illinois
  • Year of Graduation: 2020
  • Current Position: Data Scientist
  • Graduate Program: MS, Statistics
  • Contact Info: jchang4@alumni.nd.edu, LinkedIn
  • Advice: Balfour helped me to form a support network that helped me both throughout my time at Notre Dame and into the present!

Cristina Chavez

  • Hometown: Dallas, Texas
  • Current Residence: Washington, DC
  • Year of Graduation: 2020
  • Current Job Title: Engineering Analyst
  • Contact Info: cchavez1@alumni.nd.edu
  • Advice: The Balfour community was essential in getting my time at Notre Dame off to a strong start. The people I met over that summer helped me feel more confident during Welcome Weekend and the first few weeks of the school year. I knew that even if I didn’t make many friends right off, I had my Balfour friends behind me, ready to support me. Furthermore, without Balfour providing a scholarship to me, I would not have been able to participate in engineering study abroad after freshman year, which was very important to me as I did not study abroad during a semester. Those six weeks abroad were full of amazing experiences, and more importantly, gave me time to bond with engineers who became great friends and formed the core of my study group for the next three years. To the younger Balfours, I encourage you to take advantage of the tutoring offered through Balfour if you’re struggling in a class. As a former Balfour tutor, I thoroughly enjoyed tutoring and helping everyone succeed in tough subjects such as Calculus and Physics. 

Emmalyse Daniels

  • Hometown: Covington, Kentucky
  • Current Residence: New York City, New York
  • Year of Graduation: 2020
  • Area of Expertise: Education & Law
  • Contact Info: danielsemmalyse@gmail.com, LinkedIn
  • Advice: My advice for younger Balfour students is to take full advantage of the resources around while remembering to give back to those communities that have helped make you who you are! Be creative and intentional in giving back and do it in a way that works best for you and your individual circumstances. Keep an open mind and open heart! #FindYourBalance

Mayene de La Cruz

  • Hometown: Bay Area / Antioch, California
  • Current Residence: Bay Area / San Francisco, California
  • Year of Graduation: 2009
  • Areas of Expertise: Design (Graphic, Product, UI/UX, Visual, Interaction, etc.)
  • Contact Info: mayenedesign@gmail.com, (925) 588-8205, LinkedIn
  • Advice: I met others who became close friends and enjoyed being able to experience life at ND a little bit before the school year started; it helped ease a little bit of the culture shock coming from a different part of the country and helped me get familiar with my surroundings both on and around campus. I was definitely out of my comfort zone at first, but everyone was welcoming from my fellow Balfour peers to the mentors that were Balfour alumni. It helped to hear Balfour mentors/alumni talking about their personal experiences and also continuing a “big sibling” relationship even after the summer; it encouraged me to pay it forward as well by becoming a mentor and “big sister” to incoming Balfour students in the following years.

Jetaun Davis

  • Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
  • Current Residence: Atlanta, Georgia
  • Year of Graduation: 2005
  • Current Position: Associate Dean of Undergraduate Admission at Emory University; Master of Science in Communication at Northwestern University;  Higher Education Administration, Communications, & Career Coaching
  • Contact Info: jdavis7@alumni.nd.edu, LinkedIn
  • Advice: Leave no stone unturned. Try new things and explore as many opportunities as you can. Never will you have as many resources at your disposal as you do as a student at Notre Dame.

Dominique DeMoe

  • Hometown: Clayton, Delaware
  • Current Residence: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Year of Graduation: 2019
  • Areas of Expertise: Design
  • Contact Info: ddemoe@alumni.nd.edu, LinkedIn
  • Advice: There is time to figure out your life! It is okay to change your mind, your major, your minor or your profession while you’re learning things about yourself, growing as a person and/or navigating a new environment. Use college to explore your passions and interests. Do what makes you happy, say yes to new opportunities and don’t limit yourself or place yourself in a box.

Leo Edokpolo

  • Hometown: Rahway, New Jersey
  • Current Residence: Stamford, Connecticut
  • Year of Graduation: 2007
  • Current Position: Anesthesiologist
  • Contact Info: leonard.edokpolo@gmail.com
  • Advice: Balfour helped me to develop a comfortable presence at Notre Dame and to build a supportive network of friends prior to my official orientation as a Frosh-O. Several of those supportive relationships endure until today (more than 15 years later). As a young man with a minority background, it was nice to spring into freshman year at Notre Dame, knowing that there are plenty of people here at the university that I have a lot in common with. In fact I already met some of these people and I could already call them my friends.

Iheanyi Ekechukwu

  • Hometown: Myrtle Beach, California
  • Current Residence: Brooklyn, New York
  • Year of Graduation: 2014
  • Current Position: Senior Software Engineer at Github
  • Contact Info: iekechukwu@gmail.com, (843) 340-0830, LinkedIn
  • Advice: These peers will be your closest friends for years to come. I still see folks from my Balfour class every single year, cherish these moments and memories.

Gaby Elizondo

  • Hometown: Harlingen, Texas
  • Current Residence: Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Year of Graduation: 2013
  • Current Job Title: Aviation Industry, Consulting
  • Contact Info: gabriela.a.elizondo@gmail.com, LinkedIn
  • Advice: Balfour helped me create a community on campus in which I was able to be myself and process the culture-shock I experienced on campus, which began the moment I moved into my dorm freshman year. Balfour additionally helped give me confidence in myself, which enabled me to openly communicate my industry interests with my professors and opened up research and collaborative opportunities.  Balfour also opened up multiple opportunities for me to improve my writing, which is now something I do on a daily basis and for which I am very grateful.

Monika Fanous

  • Hometown: Bayonne, New Jersey
  • Current Residence: Bayonne, New Jersey
  • Year of Graduation: 2020
  • Current Position: Business Analyst at Dalberg
  • Contact Info: mfanous1@alumni.nd.edu, (201) 779-8002
  • Advice: The Balfour Program gave me a network of lifelong friends and a framework to succeed in. Throughout my four years of college, Balfours have always been there to help me with whatever I needed, whether it was career advice or just someone to talk to. As someone who had no background or connection to the business world, I feared I would not be able to succeed in it but Balfour was there to guide me through the process. Events like networking with Balfour alumni or attending career sessions helped me shape my future. Ultimately, Balfour helped me find a family of unique and caring individuals unlike any other.

Willian De Faria

  • Hometown: Perth Amboy, New Jersey
  • Current Residence: Somerville, Massachusetts
  • Year of Graduation: 2021
  • Current Position: Technical Assistant at MIT
  • Contact Info: wdefaria@mit.edu, wdefaria@alumni.nd.edu, (617) 800-3962, LinkedIn
  • Advice: Take advantage of the opportunities that Balfour provides for you. Whether you are looking to discover your passion or you are convinced on the career path for you, Balfour can give you the resources and guidance to get you where you need to be. Because of Balfour, I was able to explore different avenues beyond what I was doing in school; specifically, Balfour allowed me to see what working in industry is like relative to scientific researcher. Additionally, Balfour gave me the luxury of adding another major to my degree. The courses that I was able to take during the summer cleared my schedule for the fall and spring semesters, and I was able to take more interesting courses with less stress. Furthermore, Balfour provided me with a solid social base that will stick with me for the rest of my life; and this is without evening mentioning the amazing alumni network that is eager to help you in any way they can!

Michael Feijoo

  • Hometown: Queens, New York
  • Current Residence: Chicago, Illinois
  • Year of Graduation: 2019
  • Current Job Title: Clinical Informatics Specialist at Oak Street Health
  • Contact Info: mfeijoo@alumni.nd.edu
  • Advice: It was not until I became a Balfour-Hesburgh Scholar did I begin to appreciate how diverse my life truly is. Before college, I attended an all-boys, private, Catholic high school, where its students are overwhelmingly white. Thus, becoming integrated into a program full of individuals, each with their own unique and diverse background, was initially frightening. However, with time, I learned that many of our experiences and differences were things we had in common with each other. Some of us were both the first in their family to attend college. Some of us were both the first in their family to have English as their primary language. Some of us were both the child of immigrants. Some of us were both raised only by women. ‘Some of us were both’ was a phrase that I rarely had ever used before Balfour, and that was unfortunate. The reason is that “both” implies a connection. Because I was never exposed to a diverse environment prior to Balfour, I had commonly felt alone and disconnected. I felt alone when no one in my family was able to advise me on how to study and learn as a student. I also felt alone when no one understood how it was to be raised by immigrants, who struggle to understand the complexities of higher education. My feeling of being alone began to dissolve when I made connections in Balfour. It was in Balfour that I discovered the value of having the opportunity to use the word “both.” Balfour welcomed me and valued my diversity like no other group has done before. For that, I am forever grateful. My advice for younger Balfours is rather simple: read your emails. Some of my greatest experiences at Notre Dame, including Balfour, was from finding an opportunity that was advertised to me in an email. From reading an email, I was able to travel around Rome for three weeks for a course on Roman literature. Because of an email, I was able to apply for a seminar course that involved an all-expenses paid trip to London during my spring break; it was amazing. Notre Dame and Balfour have a lot to offer to their students, but you must be willing to pursue what is advertised. 

Matthew Gaborek

  • Hometown: Johnstown, Pennsylvania
  • Current Residence: East Lansing, Michigan
  • Year of Graduation: 2021
  • Current Position: Student at Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Contact Info: mgaborek@alumni.nd.edu, (814) 418-8965
  • Advice: Balfour helped to prepare me for college both academically and socially. It helped me to broaden my horizons and encouraged me to interact with people who have different backgrounds and opinions than me.

Adriana Lizette Garcia

  • Hometown: Los Angeles, California
  • Current Residence: Los Angeles, California
  • Year of Graduation: 2012
  • Current Position: Associate Program Director, Pepperdine University
  • Contact Info: agarci16@alumni.nd.edu, (818) 422-4633, LinkedIn
  • Advice: Be yourself; be proud of your background, your hometown, your culture, and all the beautiful gems that make up your own narrative. They are exactly what make you YOU! And more importantly, those are the very things that will help you connect and flourish in the ND community. Because of my love for Tajin and ballet folklorico, I was able to lead the Ballet Folklorico Azul y Oro dance troupe and share yummy food with my colleagues. Those were some of the best memories I had at ND!

Alejandro Garcia

  • Hometown: Oxnard, California
  • Current Residence: San Diego, California
  • Year of Graduation: 2005
  • Current Position: Manager of Operations at Advancing Students Forward
  • Contact Info: agarcia8@gmail.com, (619) 906-9090, LinkedIn
  • Advice: The Balfour Program was instrumental in my success at Notre Dame. Many lifelong relationships and memories were made during that first summer. It was an opportunity to get to know fellow students from all parts of the world, and share stories, traditions, and values. It also helped me realize that I had a story to share even at such a young age, and it was important. All the hills and valleys that you go through in life will serve the purpose of making you who you are. Own it. Embrace it. Share it.

Bright Gyamfi

  • Hometown: Knightdale, North Carolina
  • Current Residence: Evanston, Illinois
  • Year of Graduation: 2016
  • Current Position: History PhD Candidate at Northwestern University
  • Contact Info: bgyamfi@alumni.nd.edu, (919) 888-8246, LinkedIn
  • Advice: The Balfour Program funded my research travels to Ghana, England, and Trinidad & Tobago. More importantly, it provided a supporting community.

Adriana Holguin

  • Hometown: El Paso, Texas
  • Current Residence: San Diego, California
  • Year of Graduation: 2000
  • Contact Info: acholguin@gmail.com, (831) 295-1361, LinkedIn
  • Advice: Embrace the friendships made in the Balfour program. These relationships will last for decades and when you’re all together many years later, you’ll remember all the fun, crazy, and unique memories you made during your Balfour summer. What an impacting and self-shaping experience for students under the Dome! And…Be thankful for electronic calendars, because some of us older gen Balfours had to use a Balfour-issued Stephen Covey planner to plan our ND lives and we used paper “coups” to buy our Balfour meals. 

Kenzell Huggins

  • Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
  • Current Residence: Chicago, Illinois
  • Year of Graduation: 2016
  • Current Position: PhD Student, Anthropology
  • Contact Info: khuggins@uchicago.edu, (904) 487-8376
  • Advice: The Balfour Program gave me the confidence and tools to hit the ground running as a freshman. For incoming students, I would highly recommend being bold and active within the university as an academic community. Go to office hours, meet with those professors, look at the labs and library resources. The university should be an institution meant to support the intellectual interests of its community, and that mission includes you!

Grant Johnson

  • Hometown: South Holland, Illinois
  • Current Residence: South Holland, Illinois
  • Year of Graduation: 2018
  • Current Job Title: Copywriter
  • Contact Info: gjohnso9@nd.edu, LinkedIn 
  • Advice: Balfour helped me acquiesce to college life in a way my college prep high school simply couldn’t. The program challenged me academically and socially to the point where without it, I truly would’ve been lost during my freshman year. My piece of advice would simply be to not take the program or its people for granted.

Godsee Joy

  • Hometown: Beltsville, Maryland
  • Current Residence: Silver Spring, Maryland
  • Year of Graduation: 2020
  • Current Job Title: Strategic Risk Analyst at Deloitte Government and Public Services
  • Contact Info: godsee3@gmail.com
  • Advice: Take advantage of Balfour summer funding to study abroad or pursue research and internship opportunities. Keep in touch with your Balfour cohort and broader community throughout ND and beyond. Keep in touch with professors who are doing work you find interesting. Having a strong support system and network can help you find your next opportunity. When plans fall through, don’t get discouraged! Reach out to your network – friends, alumni, professors, former employers, and family. Even if you can’t find an internship, find ways to get involved with your community or learn a new skill or language.

Adam Keys

  • Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
  • Current Residence: Atlanta, Georgia
  • Year of Graduation: 2021
  • Current Profession: Realtor at Phillips and Company Real Estate
  • Contact Info: akeys.phillipsandco@gmail.com, (678) 599-3093
  • Advice: Growing up in Atlanta, I was exposed to the impact poverty can have on large communities at a young age. It motivates me to stay committed to serving others while on my path to becoming a leader/mentor for my family and others around the world. Don’t underestimate the value of pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone. While studying abroad in China and Hong Kong through Balfour, we helped local partners build affordable and secure homes for low-income families lacking basic necessities. This moment changed my vision for how I wanted to impact the world and has led me to becoming a Realtor back home. Balfour helped me realize that I want to create new life opportunities for those in need. As you discover what it is you want to pursue, try not to judge yourself too harshly. This is especially helpful when trying to be perceived as normal by your peers. Everyone is already focused on themselves which is why people tend to mask how they truly feel in the public eye. Instead, focus on accomplishing your goals. I challenge you all to try and have more conversations with one another about life goals. It will help bring better understanding to the world.

Romeo Kwihangana

  • Hometown: Dayton, Ohio 
  • Current Residence: Dayton, Ohio
  • Year of Graduation: 2014
  • Current Job Title: Software Engineering (former Electrical Engineer)
  • Contact Info: kwiromeo@gmail.com, (937) 825-7429, LinkedIn
  • Advice: I took the opportunities available to try things like research, and service that were not easily available otherwise and learned a lot about myself. I also meet some of my closest friends in this program. Grateful to have been part of it.

Ashley Kyalwazi

  • Hometown: Sacramento, California
  • Current Residence: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Year of Graduation: 2018
  • Current Position: Medical Student at Harvard
  • Contact Info: ashleykyalwazi5@gmail.com
  • Advice: Balfour provided me with a community of friends, and mentors that stayed with me for the duration of my undergrad experience, and even after I graduated. The program also supported me financially over the course of my undergrad experience. The Summer Program was a great ease into college as well. My advice for Balfour students would be to take time to create relationships with your Balfour peers and remember to reach back and help those coming after you in whatever way you can!

Natalie Llauro

  • Hometown: Los Angeles, California
  • Current Residence: South Bend, Indiana
  • Year of Graduation: 2021
  • Current Job Title: Medical Assistant
  • Contact Info: nllauro@alumni.nd.edu, (818) 384-0974
  • Advice: From providing us all with an invaluable support system to helping financially support all of the scholars, the Balfour program has been an incredible resource for us all. There were countless opportunities at Notre Dame that I would not have been able to participate in without Balfour’s support, such as Balfour funding an entire summer of research, funding a summer study abroad opportunity, and helping fund my MCAT preparation materials. My biggest piece of advice for younger Balfours is to get involved in the Balfour program because it is so special. Get to know as many Balfours as you can, get to know the Balfour staff, and participate in events and opportunities through the program because it will definitely enrich your undergraduate experience.

Kellen Lewis

  • Hometown: Seattle, Washington
  • Current Residence: Spokane, Washington
  • Year of Graduation: 2009
  • Current Position: Holistic Wellness Practitioner and Artist
  • Contact Info: klewis@gmail.com
  • Advice: Know that you belong and you are capable of incredible things. Also, fellow Balfours may become some of your closest friends, even years after graduating. Cherish the moments you are sharing together. 

Jessica Lujan

  • Hometown: El Paso, Texas
  • Current Residence: San Diego, California
  • Year of Graduation: 2011
  • Current Position: Attorney
  • Contact Info: nlujan@alumni.nd.edu, (858) 539-9796, LinkedIn
  • Advice: At the beginning, the Balfour Program helped me make friends prior to starting my freshman year.  The Program also provided me an opportunity to take summer school classes for free and to be employed.  Finally, the Program provided mentors (peers, faculty and staff) and it gave me the opportunity to be a mentor to other students.

Mario Markho

  • Hometown: Toledo, Ohio
  • Current Residence: Durham, North Carolina
  • Year of Graduation: 2020
  • Current Position: Fellowship in Theology, Medicine, and Culture; Duke Divinity School
  • Contact Info: mario.markho@duke.edu, (419) 902-1419
  • Advice: The Balfour program was instrumental in exposing me to backgrounds and cultures that I’d never seen before college. While that helped me navigate Notre Dame with a whole new perspective, the real value of Balfour was how it taught me to educate others. New students are in for an awesome and formative experience unlike anything else in academia. But the beauty of Balfour is that it’s not all about the classroom- the program has given me some of my closest friends and a network of scholars that really does care for one another. The program is one-of-a-kind, and I could not be more grateful for the network of friends and family that I’ve made along the way. While the curriculum that Balfour gives is definitely different than anything else you could find at Notre Dame, I could not recommend it enough for anyone lucky enough to be a part of it. If you’re about to start this journey, good luck and have fun with it!

Jade Martinez Grabowski

  • Hometown: Hollywood, Florida
  • Current Residence: Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Year of Graduation: 2019
  • Areas of Expertise: Higher Education
  • Contact Info: martinezjadet@gmail.com, (954) 675-2182, LinkedIn
  • Advice: The Balfour Program introduced me to my best friends and a community of support to get me through my four years at Notre Dame. I am so grateful for all of the relationships and memories that came from my time in Balfour, especially during the Balfour summers. Advice to younger Balfour students: Always let Dr. Lucero and Mrs. Ware what is going on with you. They are the most caring and supportive advisors a student could dream of having. No matter what, they were always there to help me through it. Also, make sure to lean into your cohort for support. Balfours are your family!!

Jenna McCullins

  • Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
  • Current Residence: Chicago, Illinois
  • Year of Graduation: 2004
  • Current Position: Social Worker
  • Contact Info: jenna@alumni.nd.edu, (773) 724-9064, LinkedIn
  • Advice: Do not let your White counterparts intimidate you at Notre Dame.  You have every right to be where you are just as they do and they do not have a right to question how or why you got there.  You also have the right to access the special network of people who are on and off campus if you ever need assistance; free from ridicule and shame.  Maintaining relationships you make at ND will serve you well beyond your time there.

Candace Montgomery

  • Hometown: Los Angeles, California
  • Current Residence: Los Angeles, California
  • Year of Graduation: 2010
  • Areas of Expertise: Training & Development, Career Services, Project Management, Manufacturing
  • Contact Info: candacemontgomery14@gmail.com, LinkedIn
  • Advice: The people in Balfour gave me my support system during my time at ND. They still remain my closest friends after my time at ND drew to a close.

Ian Montijo

  • Hometown: Tucson, Arizona
  • Current Residence: Baltimore, Maryland
  • Year of Graduation: 2013
  • Current Position: Counterterrorism legal research
  • Contact Info: ipmontijo5@gmail.com
  • Advice: You’ll meet some of the best people at ND through Balfour (students, faculty, and staff). Enjoy your time with them and lean on them if you need to ease the transition into your first year.

Felicia Moodie

  • Hometown: South Bend, Indiana
  • Current Residence: Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Year of Graduation: 2002
  • Current Position: HR Business Partner
  • Contact Info: feliciamoddie@gmail.com
  • Advice: Balfour prepared me for the journey ahead. I made lasting friendships and connections that are lifelong. My Balfour roommate is still one of my best friends 23 years later. I’ve stayed connected to a good number of my fellow Balfour participants through the years and see them often. Their friendship is invaluable. Take this time to truly reflect on the amazing accomplishment of attending the University of Dame. Take advantage of the opportunity to have this support system and fellow students who understand your journey. Most of all enjoy the ride! The next four years are what you make them so make them amazing. Good luck and Go Irish!

Savanna Morgan

  • Hometown: Forney, Texas
  • Current Residence: Berlin, Germany
  • Year of Graduation: 2020
  • Current Job Title: M.A. student at arthaus.berlin
  • Contact Info: smorgan4@alumni.nd.edu
  • Advice: Balfour has helped me to realize my goals as a performing artist by funding research that has allowed me to engage with the various performance cultures that interest me across the globe. Since graduating, I have been preparing my next educational experience which will be pursuing my MA in Devised Theatre (a.k.a alternative storytelling) in Berlin, Germany. I encourage all young Balfours to find mentors in upperclassmen who have pursued a college/research experience that you aspire to as well.

Daniela Nuñez

  • Hometown: Austin, Texas
  • Current Residence: Austin, Texas
  • Year of Graduation: 2007
  • Current Job Title: Associate Director of Social Media
  • Areas of Expertise: social media marketing and strategy, digital marketing for nonprofit, public interest advocacy
  • Contact Info: dnunez85@hotmail.com, (512) 998-6999, LinkedIn
  • Advice: The Balfour Program was a great way to build friendships and connections with other BIPOC students at ND. It was great to have that kind of built-in support system and people who continue to inspire me today. For young Balfours who feel different or “other,” or out of place at Notre Dame, I encourage you to experience as much as possible — join student organizations and get involved, walk around campus as much as possible, eat with friends in the dining hall, and reach out to people if you need help. If you are LGBTQIA, find others like you, and get involved. If you are progressive, get involved and find others like you.

John O’Brien

  • Hometown: Bolingbrook, Illinois
  • Current Residence: Chicago, Illinois
  • Year of Graduation: 2020
  • Current Job Title: Investment Banking Analyst at BMO Capital Markets
  • Contact Info: jobrie22@alumni.nd.edu
  • Advice: Balfour introduced me to what the college experience was going to be like and helped answer some of the questions I could not ask my parents due to being a first-generation college student. It allowed me to form my first ND friendships and meet many great faculty members that helped ease the transition from high school to college. Balfour also allowed me to return the following summer as part of the BLT. I was able to take a couple of courses that summer which freed up room in my future schedules which allowed me to study abroad in my junior fall semester. Serving on the BLT allowed me to connect with the next class of Balfour scholars while also earning a stipend that helped in paying for other school expenses. I received the position of TA for Statistics for Business assisting other Balfours during the academic year that allowed me to earn some extra money to help pay for my school expenses. I lived in Duncan Hall, studied Finance, and recently graduated in Spring 2020. I have since moved to Chicago where I am starting work as an Investment Banking Analyst for BMO Capital Markets. My biggest advice to younger Balfours is to make the most of your time at ND, it goes by fast, and take advantage of the extensive alumni network. Many alumni are more than willing to help those looking for a job, career advice, etc. so do not be afraid to ask.

Jeroz Owens

  • Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
  • Current Residence: Atlanta, Georgia
  • Year of Graduation: 2007
  • Current Position: Product Management – Financial Services
  • Contact Info: jowens02@gmail.com, (708) 514-7032, LinkedIn
  • Advice: Always remain curious and unafraid to ask the difficult questions

Delma Palma

  • Hometown: Bonita Springs, Florida
  • Current Residence: New York City, New York
  • Year of Graduation: 2014
  • Areas of Expertise: architecture, planning, policy
  • Contact Info: delmapalma@gmail.com
  • Advice: Network of supportive peers through college years and beyond!

Stephanie Pérez-Gill

  • Hometown: Houston, Texas
  • Current Residence: Houston, Texas
  • Year of Graduation: 2012 (BA), 2014 (ACE/M.Ed)
  • Current Position: Research Scientist, University of Houston; PhD Student Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies
  • Contact Info: sperez@alumni.nd.edu, (713) 385-0685, LinkedIn
  • Advice: Take full advantage of this community, as they will be your foundation for your ND experience and your rock when you question if ND is the place for you. I am so grateful to Balfour for normalizing my ND experience and gifting me with the supports I needed academically, financially sometimes, and personally. I also took advantage of the mentoring program that stemmed from Balfour, and I could not recommend this more. Having a faculty member on campus that understood me and guided me to take full advantage of my ND education was so helpful. She was like my mom away from home, and to this day we remain friends. If it wasn’t for Balfour, I do not know that I would have been able to develop the network I needed to get me through my first year at ND.

Truong Pham

  • Hometown: Aurora, Colorado
  • Current Residence: Corning, New York
  • Year of Graduation: 2014
  • Areas of Expertise: Process Modeling Engineer/ Computational Fluid Dynamics, Data Science
  • Contact Info: ptruongnp@gmail.com, LinkedIn
  • Advice: Notre Dame is one of those rare schools that provides a holistic education for your mind, body and spirit. Take advantage of that. I believe that most of the world’s problems come from lacking either one of those three qualities. Examine everything you are taught under the light of facts and reason. Take care of your body (go to those swim classes, even though I’m not sure how that will work out with covid19). Explore your health’s limits and improve them. For example, how many LaFun hotdogs can you eat in one go? I kid. Facts and reason are important, but also don’t forget to evaluate human affairs with compassion, and remember that we’re all flawed under God’s eyes. Feel free to contact me for advice in anything related (but not limited) to chemical engineering, getting your PhD, and computational fluid dynamics. I have some experience in those areas. Go Irish!

Alexis Phillips-Walker

  • Hometown: Los Angeles, California
  • Current Residence: Houston, Texas
  • Year of Graduation: 2006
  • Current Position: Pediatrician
  • Contact Info: alexis.phillipswalker@gmail.com, (323) 702-0380
  • Advice: Balfour is a wonderful introduction to the campus and coursework. Take everything seriously. Your experience will make the transition to freshman year easier. Help your colleagues because this is the beginning of a lifelong network that will serve you in the future.

Lupe Pineda

  • Hometown: Visalia, California
  • Current Residence: Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Year of Graduation: 2009
  • Current Position: Global Supply Procurement Manager at Apple
  • Contact Info: gpineda@alumni.nd.edu, LinkedIn
  • Advice: Got me comfortable with transition to University life from an academic and relationship standpoint. Made my best life-long friends through Balfour! 

Sabriya Rice

  • Current Residence: Athens, Georgia
  • Year of Graduation: 1999
  • Current Job Title: Professor, Health Journalism
  • Contact Info: sabriya.rice@uga.edu, LinkedIn
  • Advice: The connections I formed as a Balfour student have been lifelong. Take the time to cultivate those friendships and share experiences, as the connections will help you beyond your time at Notre Dame.

Natalie Rivas

  • Hometown: Carson, California
  • Current Residence: Chicago, Illinois
  • Year of Graduation: 2020
  • Current Job Title: Project Engineer – Estimator (Walsh Group)
  • Contact Info: nrivas1@alumni.nd.edu
  • Advice: Take advantage of all the opportunities you can get. Balfour had my back every single time I did this, which allowed me to network and eventually find my true passion in the construction industry. I also had classmates cheering me on as we all know how difficult it could be to break barriers. Although I’m a recent graduate, I have been blessed to start a new job and create a new life for myself already. I’ve been tested and pushed to my limits already, but I have never felt so rewarded as I continue to learn. The support I get when I mention “Notre Dame” is anything beyond what I could have imagined. But I wouldn’t be where I am without all of the help I’ve received, both from Balfour and beyond. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. But also pay it forward when you can, in any way, shape or form.  

Esteban Rojas

  • Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Current Residence: New York City, New York
  • Year of Graduation: 2015
  • Current Position: Front-end Software Developer
  • Contact Info: esteban.rojas@alumni.nd.edu, LinkedIn
  • Advice: Balfour helped me to have an initial group of individuals to go to as I started my ND journey. It was incredibly hard due to the social and academic adjustment, and were it not for Balfour I would have felt isolated. My advice to Balfours is thus to lean on each other and to not be afraid to ask for help – from other students, from professors, etc.

Tiffany Rojas

  • Hometown: Duncanville, Texas 
  • Current Residence: New York, New York
  • Year of Graduation: 2020
  • Current Job Title: Teacher
  • Contact Info: trojas1@alumni.edu
  • Advice: Within Balfour I was allowed to grow as both a student and an individual, as well as find my space in the Notre Dame community.  I give a large amount of credit to Balfour for having allowed me to feel more at home at Notre Dame, and also giving me the confidence to pursue various opportunities across campus.  While I have only recently graduated, I have started thinking about what I truly value, and where I want to be in the next 5-10 years.  At the moment, I have decided to take on a teaching position in New York City because I knew that part of me wanted to serve in education.  Something I would say as a word of advice to younger Balfours is I think it is important to realize that you don’t have to make any decisions right away.  Throughout my time at Notre Dame I changed my mind a lot; majors, career choices, activities, and more.  It is okay to not have all of the answers.  Take your time and enjoy your four (or more) years at Notre Dame.

Valerie Garcia-Ramirez Rojas

  • Hometown: Magna, Utah
  • Current Residence: Vail, Arizona
  • Year of Graduation: 2008
  • Current Position: Elementary Educator
  • Contact Info: vgarcia@alumni.nd.edu
  • Advice: Being part of Balfour gave me a network of support to help me feel confident and comfortable at Notre Dame.  I also met some of my closest friends who remain in my life today.

Marcus Romero

  • Hometown: Ventura, California
  • Current Residence: Lake Forest, California
  • Year of Graduation: 1996
  • Current Position: Director of Consulting
  • Contact Info: marcus.romero@hotmail.com
  • Advice: Understand that the program gives you a leg up, so take advantage of that.

Marcos Salamanca

  • Hometown: San Antonio, Texas
  • Current Residence: Seattle, Washington
  • Majors: Computer Science, Theology
  • Year of Graduation: 2020
  • Current Job Title: Software Engineer at Microsoft
  • Contact Info: marcossalamanca97@hotmail.com
  • Advice: Be open and eager to learn from others. When you meet someone who is better than you at something, don’t be insecure, rather seize this opportunity to grow and learn from that person. Foolish people get intimidated by others, wise people get educated by them. 

Crystal Salcido

  • Hometown: Brownsville, Texas
  • Current Residence: Columbia, Maryland
  • Year of Graduation: 2006
  • Current Position: Physician, Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins 
  • Contact Info: crystal.salcido@icloud.com
  • Advice: Balfour was integral in helping me transition well in college and also connected me with life long friends. 

Tatiana Silva

  • Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Current Residence: New Haven, Connecticut
  • Year of Graduation: 2021
  • Current Position: Postgraduate Research Associate at Yale School of Medicine
  • Contact Info: tsilva1@alumni.nd.edu
  • Advice: The Balfour program was a major source of support for me in navigating the challenges and joys that college brings. My advice would be to take advantage of every opportunity that Balfour provides you with during your four years at Notre Dame and beyond!

Amber St. Julian

  • Hometown: Baytown, Texas
  • Current Residence: Baytown, Texas
  • Year of Graduation: 2011 (Architecture)
  • Current Position: Technical Designer (Architecture)
  • Contact Info: astjulia@alumni.nd.edu, LinkedIn
  • Advice: I met my two best friends from college while attending Balfour.  Balfour helped me familiarize myself with the campus as I didn’t get a chance to visit Notre Dame before I was accepted.  When I started my first day, I already had a network of friends/family which helped ease the thought of being away from home. My advice to Balfour students would be to network particularly with Notre Dame alumni.  Use all the tools that the university has created.  Alumni will help you out if they are in a position to whether it is career related or personal.  All you have to do is ask.  If possible, I would also get involved with your local alumni clubs.  You may be the only minority or one of a few, but it’s important that our voices are heard and you can help ensure that the club is inviting to all.

Meghan Sullivan

  • Hometown: Berwyn, Illinois 
  • Current Residence: Chicago, Illinois
  • Year of Graduation: 2020
  • Current Position: Analyst, New Ventures
  • Contact Info: meghansullivan15@gmail.com, (708) 646-9912, LinkedIn
  • Advice: The Balfour Program is a wonderful community — I’m grateful to be a part of it.

Khai Thomas

  • Hometown: Albany, New York
  • Current Residence:  Brooklyn, New York
  • Year of Graduation: 2011
  • Current Job Title: Management Consultant
  • Contact Info: khthomas5@gmail.com, (518) 281-3773
  • Advice: Baseline and understanding that you are good enough and most times better.

Natalia Torres Adriance

  • Hometown: Napa, California
  • Current Residence: San Francisco, California
  • Year of Graduation: 2021
  • Current Position: Assurance Associate (Public Accounting)
  • Contact Info: nadriance33@gmail.com, (707) 286-9601, LinkedIn
  • Advice: The Balfour program truly has given me so many opportunities and have enabled me to be more prepared for college both socially and academically. Because of this program I have been more willing to put myself out there and be more willing to say “yes” to opportunities. Take full advantage of every opportunity you can, especially with this program! You will meet so many caring and supporting individuals that want you to succeed.

Phi Tran

  • Hometown: Tucson, Arizona
  • Current Residence: Temple, Texas
  • Year of Graduation: 2013
  • Current Position: Physician
  • Contact Info: ptran2017@gmail.com
  • Advice: Be open to new experiences, and try to make genuine, lasting connections.

Kylie VanArsdale

  • Hometown: Mesa, Arizona
  • Current Residence: Dallas, Texas
  • Year of Graduation: 2020
  • Current Position: AmeriCorps Member at City Year Dallas
  • Contact Info: ky.vanarsdale@gmail.com, (480) 686-7123, LinkedIn
  • Advice: The Balfour-Hesburgh Scholars Program was a constant source of love and support throughout my four years at Notre Dame. Balfour was there to celebrate and embrace me when I thrived but also to love and accept me when I felt unsure about my place at the University or my path beyond. Balfour encouraged my growth and saw me for who I was. I never had to be anyone but myself when surrounded by my Balfour family. My advice to incoming Balfours is to be kind to yourselves, embrace your story and have conviction in your dreams. Mistakes will be made but your goal is progress, not perfection. Surround yourself with genuine and passionate people who dream as big as you do and hold you accountable for your greatness. Leave fear at the door; it cannot follow where your aspirations lead! And finally—do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Jean-Pierre Vertil

  • Hometown: Port-au-Prince, Haiti
  • Current Residence: Palo Alto, California
  • Year of Graduation: 2017
  • Current Position: MBA Candidate – Stanford Business School
  • Contact Info: vertil.jp@gmail.com, (409) 454-5188, LinkedIn
  • Advice: ND is full of opportunities. One of the best things you can do is learning to pay close attention to the opportunities that matter most to you without getting distracted. 

Rachel Wallace

  • Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Current Residence: San Francisco, California
  • Year of Graduation: 2016 and 2017 (dual-degree)
  • Current Job Title: Clinical Teaching Fellow at Berkeley Law Policy Advocacy Clinic
  • Contact Info: mwallace10@gmail.com
  • LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rmwallace10/
  • Advice: As a member of the Balfour-Hesburgh class of 2012, I am incredibly grateful for the community of scholars I gained through the program, as well as the various opportunities Balfour afforded to me. With the support of the program, I was able to complete several summer experiential programs during my time at Notre Dame and have gained access to the extensive alumni network since graduation. My advice for younger Balfours is to take full advantage of the offerings of the program as well as the University as a whole. You never know until you ask!

Arianne J. Watkins

  • Hometown: New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Current Residence: Houston, Texas
  • Year of Graduation: 2005
  • Current Position: HS Math Teacher / BA in Spanish & Gender Studies
  • Contact Info: awatkins@alumni.nd.edu, (504) 427-5962, LinkedIn
  • Advice: The Balfour program gave me a built-in network of friends to lean on.  Thankfully, it provided an instant safety net in the midst of dorm events that were clearly not created to be sensitive to people of color on campus.

Victoria Yanez

  • Hometown: Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • Current Residence: Chicago, Illinois
  • Year of Graduation: 2020
  • Current Position: Financial Due Diligence Associate at PwC
  • Contact Info: vyanez@alumni.nd.edu
  • Advice: Balfour introduced me to not only a supportive and inclusive group of friends and family but also to an abundance of opportunities at Notre Dame and in the real world. With the help of Balfour, I was able to take advantage of so many of these opportunities, some of which I would not have even applied for without the support of Balfour and without the confidence I gained from participating in the summer program. While my career path was always fairly clear to me during my time at Notre Dame, Balfour helped me to try new things and focus on important issues besides my schoolwork. My advice to incoming and current Balfour scholars would be to take advantage of all of the tools and opportunities that both Balfour and Notre Dame have to offer.