South Region

Rosemary Agwuncha
  • Hometown: Austin, Texas
  • Current Residence: Houston, Texas
  • Year of Graduation: 2018
  • Current Position: Medical Student
  • Contact Info:
  • 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:
  • 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. 
Melissa Trevino Berendzen
  • Hometown: Deer Park, Texas
  • Current Residence: Austin, Texas
  • Year of Graduation: 2002
  • Current Position: Program & Project Management – Accenture
  • Contact Info:, (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. 
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:, 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:, 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.
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:, 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.
Adam Keys
  • Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
  • Current Residence: Atlanta, Georgia
  • Year of Graduation: 2021
  • Current Profession: Realtor at Phillips and Company Real Estate
  • Contact Info:, (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.
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:, (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.
Jeroz Owens
  • Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
  • Current Residence: Atlanta, Georgia
  • Year of Graduation: 2007
  • Current Position: Product Management – Financial Services
  • Contact Info:, (708) 514-7032, LinkedIn
  • Advice: Always remain curious and unafraid to ask the difficult questions
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:, (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.
Alexis Phillips-Walker
  • Hometown: Los Angeles, California
  • Current Residence: Houston, Texas
  • Year of Graduation: 2006
  • Current Position: Pediatrician
  • Contact Info:, (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.
Sabriya Rice
  • Current Residence: Athens, Georgia
  • Year of Graduation: 1999
  • Current Job Title: Professor, Health Journalism
  • Contact Info:, 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.
Amber St. Julian
  • Hometown: Baytown, Texas
  • Current Residence: Baytown, Texas
  • Year of Graduation: 2011 (Architecture)
  • Current Position: Technical Designer (Architecture)
  • Contact Info:, 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.
Tajaé Thompson
  • Hometown: West Palm Beach, Florida
  • Current Residence: West Palm Beach, Florida
  • Year of Graduation: 2022
  • Current Position: Finance and Enterprise Performance Analyst at Deloitte
  • Contact Info:
  • Advice: Balfour provided me with some of my best friends. When I look at my core friend group, their either also a Balfour scholar or closely connected to one. When I came to ND, it was a bit of a culture shock and I had a hard time acclimating but having that summer before my first year with Balfour was invaluable. Other than the community, Balfour provides a level of accessibility. Through Balfour, I was able to participate in an unpaid internship for my local State Attorney’s Office. As a first generation, low income student being able to do an unpaid internship is kind of a privilege. With the financial support from the Balfour Program I was able to solidify that I wanted to go to law school and become an attorney. My biggest pieces of advice would be to build community with your fellow Balfours and leverage all the resources the program has to offer!
Phi Tran
  • Hometown: Tucson, Arizona
  • Current Residence: Temple, Texas
  • Year of Graduation: 2013
  • Current Position: Physician
  • Contact Info:
  • 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:, (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.
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:, (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.