Midwest Region

  • 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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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! 
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.
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. 
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.