Ellen Pil ’21

Ellen Pil is a junior political science and Arts and Letters pre-health major who is passionate about public policy, global health, and emergency medicine, along with research, service, and Gothic literature.

During the summer of 2019, Ellen worked on policy advocacy to benefit federally qualified healthcare clinics in the Chicago metropolitan area. She has also worked in rural South Africa to educate local healthcare workers about malaria, identify public health concerns, and design intervention strategies. She has previously conducted research on overlapping ideological influences in Gothic literature. She traveled to Munich, Germany with two of her classmates to pursue this project during the spring of 2018. This research was presented at three conferences, most recently at the ACC Meeting of the Minds in Louisville, KY in April 2019. Ellen’s work has been funded by grants from the First Year of Studies, Glynn Family Honors Program, Notre Dame Scholars’ Program, Hesburgh-Yusko Scholars Program, Notre Dame International, and the Flatley Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement.

Ellen is currently studying Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) with Professor Tamara Kay. Project ECHO is a collaborative model that links community healthcare providers with medical experts, thereby enabling vulnerable patients with complex and/or chronic conditions to receive care in their home communities. Ellen focuses on the global spread of the ECHO model and the factors contributing to its diffusion. She primarily works on interview transcript analysis using qualitative data coding software.

Jane Lee ’09

Through her research, teaching, and service work, Jane Lee, the daughter of immigrant parents, focuses on helping underserved immigrant groups who lack access to health care.

After graduating from Notre Dame, Lee earned a Master of Social Work degree from Columbia University in 2011. During her studies, she started her work with immigrant and refugee populations and saw their health needs firsthand. While working toward her Ph.D. at New York University, Lee learned she would need open-heart surgery to replace a valve. The experience further strengthened her resolve to make sure everyone receives access to critical health services. After earning her Ph.D. in 2017, she became an assistant professor at the University of Washington’s School of Social Work.

Lee’s publications in scholarly journals have attracted media coverage, and she continues to pursue innovative research and volunteer work that helps improve health outcomes for immigrant communities.

Lee, who lives with her husband, Robert, and dog, Rosie, in Seattle, was recognized as one of Notre Dame’s inaugural Domer Dozen honorees in 2019. The Domer Dozen honors young alumni who continue to make a difference in the areas of faith, service, learning, or work, serving as inspiring role models to a rising generation of soon-to-be Notre Dame graduates.

Sophia Costanzo ’19

Sophia Constanzo recently graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelor’s degree in Film, Television, and Theatre. During her time at the University, she served as a resident assistant in Farley Hall, joined the Women’s Club Boxing Team, and acted as a Eucharistic Minister. Sophia also served as a Team Leader for Take Ten, a skills-based conflict resolution program that provides youth and adults with positive alternatives to violence and encourages them to think before they act, building their capacity to make more informed choices when faced with a conflict.

With the help of funding from the American Dream Summer Grant Program sponsored by the University of Notre Dame, Sophia produced, filmed, directed, and edited a documentary on Cuban-American immigrant experiences in America for her thesis. The film, titled REMEMBERING CUBA, followed the story of one family and used it to trace how the experiences of Cuban immigrants have shaped their first and second generation relatives over time, looking at what it truly means to be a Cuban-American. REMEMBERING CUBA was selected for the Oregon Documentary Film Festival 2019 and the Lift-Off First Time Filmmakers 2019 film festival, which is an online festival run through Vimeo on Demand. In addition, her short screenplay BEATRICE won first place in The Golden Script Competition, an international writing contest.

While at Notre Dame, Sophia was the winner of the Broad Avenue Filmmakers Award, presented each year to a graduating senior for the best work in film production. Sophia is currently pursuing an MFA in Film and Television Production from Loyola Marymount University.

Mary Pergola Parent ’86

Mary Parent comes from a filmmaker lineage and grew up in the Television and Film Industry. Her grandfather, Vincent “Jimmy” Pergola, traveled the world as a Fox Movietone & British Pathe’ News newsreel cameraman. Mary watched and learned from her father, Director of Photography James C. Pergola, A.S.C. She spent her childhood on the movie sets of major motion pictures, Emmy Award winning television specials, and classic TV shows like Flipper and Baywatch. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 1986 with a degree in Communication and Theatre, Mary worked on numerous films, television pilots, and commercials.

In 1989, she embraced television journalism and joined both the production and news teams of CBS affiliate WCSC-TV. During her years in television news production, she worked as Director of Public Service Productions, Production Coordinator, and Audio Director. As On-Air talent and Film Critic, Mary enjoyed producing her unique vox populi Movie Reviews for many years. In 1990, Mary was honored to be part of the WCSC-TV Production and News teams that won the George Foster Peabody Award for their coverage of Hurricane Hugo.

Intrigued by stories of justice and injustice, Mary decided to pursue a law degree. After earning her Juris Doctorate, she continued her legal education and earned an LL.M. in International Human Rights Law. Her focus is on jurisprudential themes in films and various media platforms; documentaries that tackle social justice issues; Civil Rights, and International Human Rights Law.

Mary is dedicated to supporting students in their journey as filmmakers. She has established two Endowments at the University of Notre Dame to benefit the student filmmakers in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre: The Broad Avenue Filmmakers Award and the Mary Pergola Parent and Dr. Thomas Parent Endowment for Excellence in Filmmaking.

Christine Swanson ’94

Multiple award-winning filmmaker Christine Swanson earned her MFA in Film from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, one of the nation’s top-ranked graduate film programs. Recognized early as a talented filmmaker, Christine was selected by NYU faculty as the Willard T.C. Johnson Fellow, the most prestigious fellowship given to the student who has achieved high standards in his or her work. Christine earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Notre Dame double majoring in Communications and Japanese and was chosen by its Alumni Association as The Rev. Arthur S. Harvey Award recipient acknowledging her achievements in the arts.

Christine has developed, written and/or directed movie projects for various companies including HBO Films, Magnolia Pictures, State Street Pictures, TV One and Faith Filmworks, her own independent film company. Christine has written and/or directed numerous award-winning feature films, commercials and short films in her career. Some of her award-winning titles include, Two Seasons (winner HBO Short Film Competition, Sundance selection), All About You (winner Audience Choice Award Chicago International Film Festival, Grand Jury Prize Hollywood Black Film Festival, Festival Award at the Pan African Film Festival and the Film of the Year Award at The Santa Barbara African Heritage Film Series) starring Renee Elise Goldsberry, Terron Brooks and Debbie Allen; All About Us (invited to the prestigious Heartland Film Festival, The Chicago International Film Festival and the Cannes Festival du Film Panafricain) starring Boris Kodjoe, Ryan Bathe and Ruby Dee; and Woman Thou Art Loosed (Santa Barbara International Film Festival and Blockbuster Audience Award for Best Feature Film at the American Black Film Festival) starring Kimberly Elise and Loretta Devine.

In December 2015, Christine received an NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Directing in a Television Motion Picture for For the Love of Ruth. Also in 2015, Christine directed three original cable movie premieres for TV One entitled, To Hell and Back, For the Love of Ruth, and Come Share My Love, The Miki Howard Story.

Christine currently has numerous projects in development, including the feature film version of her highly celebrated short film, Two Seasons. Christine is also a professor at the MFA Screenwriting Program at the University of Georgia as well an advisor to the Film and Television program at the University of Notre Dame. Christine resides in Los Angeles with her husband, studio executive Michael Swanson ’93, and their four children.

Lynnette Wukie ’21

A rising junior from Pasquerilla West Hall, Lynnette Wukie won her spot on the leprechaun lineup thanks to her passionate outlook and dedication to leadership. In her application, she cited her “need to lead,” as well as Pasquerilla West’s theme of “Powerful Women,” which she played a role in developing. As part of PW’s initiative, Wukie and her dorm mates set out to “empower every (woman) in the dorm to be proud of who she is” and have dedicated fund-raising efforts to charities supporting women.

The symbolism of her selection as the first woman and woman of color to fill the leprechaun shoes is not lost on her. As she said in a video accompanying her application: “Who says the Fighting Irish can’t fight like a girl?”

“I talked about being a role model (during the tryout process) because even through high school and into college, it’s always been important to me to be someone people can look up to,” Wukie said. “I think I hadn’t (yet) found that thing, like I wasn’t fulfilling my true purpose here to be that face and that role model, so when this opportunity came about I thought it was destiny. This is what I’m meant to be doing. … My rector told me, ‘Little girls are going to want to be you,’ so to be that role model for young women is really special.”

Wukie is a native of Elyria, Ohio, and is majoring in film, television and theatre with minors in business economics and musical theatre. She was a captain on her high school cheerleading and dance teams, and participated in show choir and musical theatre. Since enrolling at Notre Dame, Wukie has worked as a Digital Media Producer and Anchor for NDIgnite Connection with the Office of Outreach and Engagement and has interned with University Relations and Office of the Vice President, while also volunteering as a youth cheerleading coach and with at-risk children.

Niele Ivey ’00

One of the finest point guards ever to wear the Notre Dame uniform, Niele Ivey joined the Fighting Irish women’s basketball coaching staff in May 2007 (she added the title of recruiting coordinator in 2012 and was promoted to associate coach in the summer of 2015). Ivey went on to spend 12 seasons under Coach McGraw before departing for an assistant coaching position with the Memphis Grizzles, becoming the ninth active female coach in the NBA.

Ivey was the common link between all nine of the school’s Final Four appearances (seven as a coach, two as a player). The St. Louis native worked closely with the development of the Fighting Irish point guards, while serving as the architect of the program’s remarkable recruiting success. In addition, Ivey made major contributions to game scouting and practice planning.

Ivey helped the Fighting Irish post a 386-55 (.875) record during her time on campus, including seven NCAA Women’s Final Four berths, six NCAA title game appearances, a 2018 national championship and 14 conference championships (eight regular season, six tournaments split between the BIG EAST and ACC).

Ivey played a key role in developing current WNBA stars such as Arike Ogunbowale, Jewell Loyd and Skylar Diggins-Smith at Notre Dame.

Kate Markgraf ’98

In 2019, former Irish soccer standout Kate Markgraf became the latest Notre Dame alum to take up a leadership position in professional women’s athletics.

Markgraf graduated from Notre Dame in 1998 after helping lead the Irish to their first ever NCAA championship in 1995. During the NCAA run, Markgraf was named the tournament’s defensive MVP as a sophomore. In her junior and senior seasons, Markgraf was a national player of the year finalist.

After graduating from Notre Dame, Markgraf played for the USWNT on a number of occasions — including on the famous 1999 World Cup team which won the tournament on U.S. soil — and won two gold medals (2004 and 2008) and one silver medal with the squad. After her playing career, Markgraf went into broadcasting. Markgraf also served as the second vice president of the Monogram Club, and is a member of the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame class of 2018.

As the first-ever general manager of the USWNT, Markgraf will be responsible for choosing the team’s next head coach after Jill Ellis retired following the team’s World Cup victory this year. Markgraf will also be in charge of selecting coaches for the national youth team and acting as a liaison to stakeholders.

Reagan Mulqueen ’20

Reagan Mulqueen ’20 is a business analytics major who loves to play with data, find new ways to visualize it and see what stories it has to tell. “I take the data that you get from the company, financial info, consumer info, see trends and make decisions in the future,” Reagan explains. Ever since she took environmental science during her senior year of high school in Fort Worth, TX, Reagan has also fostered an interest in sustainability.

Minoring in sustainability lets her pursue these interests simultaneously and often within the same projects. “Relating to the analytics side, I see that looking at certain datasets of where endangered animals are and other trends, as well as seeing how the environment is changing because of what we’re doing can help businesses see where they are on the sustainability scale,” Reagan says.

She went to the sustainability expo freshman year just to see what there was to offer. That’s where she met Caitlin Murphy ’17 and learned about her sustainability capstone starting a branch of Food Rescue U.S. at Notre Dame, the Campus Food Recovery Project. “I signed up just thinking, ‘Oh this could be fun, we’ll see what happens,’” Reagan remembers. She enjoyed it so much that she took over leading the group during her sophomore year and continues to do so. “I really enjoyed it because it gave me an opportunity to get off campus and explore South Bend and see [it] outside of what Notre Dame was in South Bend,” Reagan says.

The program began by taking unused food from South Dining Hall and Au Bon Pain (ABP) to local homeless shelters a few times a week. When Reagan took over the project, she inherited the list of contacts Caitlin had cultivated. “I started reaching out to people all over campus and sending out emails and emails and emails to different eateries on campus.” Most of the venues were already excited about the project and ready to join.

Today the Campus Food Recovery Project has joined forces with Food Share and includes about 50 volunteers doing 18 food runs each week from North and South Dining Halls, the Stayer Center, Alumni Association, Notre Dame Media, ABP and catering events. Volunteers take the food to Hope Ministries, Center for the Homeless and Life Treatment Center. According to the estimates on the Food Rescue U.S. website, during the spring 2018 semester Note Dame’s program rescued 49,910 meals which is about 60,000 pounds of food and worth about $104 thousand.

When the sustainability students were told of Frank Fransioli’s ’76 love of butterflies and interest in having Notre Dame help create a curriculum for the Catholic Assumption School in Denver to build their own butterfly garden, Reagan was intrigued. “ I thought it was a really interesting project. It was something I’d never researched before,” she says. So she took on the task of developing an integrated curriculum for kindergarten through second graders. The goal is to enable these students to cultivate ownership of this garden, tending to it and sharing it with the younger students as they grow older.While the Campus Food Recovery Project can only take the leftover food that hasn’t been on the serving lines, leftover food in the dining hall is often a conversation starter that prompts students to ask about food waste and leads them to the program. Reagan loves it when she gets inquiries from students and professors across campus. Her own sustainability minor capstone will also foster interconnected communication, in a different state.The student volunteers work together with the shelter guests to bring the food trays into the centers. “They get to talk to them and check in with them that way. It’s kind of fun; you get to see the same people every week,” Reagan says. She points out that Notre Dame prides itself on its service to the community and this program is a testament to that identity.

“I don’t know that much about butterfly gardens logistically or butterfly migration patterns. So I’m excited about it because it’s something totally new,” she says. On a recent call with the Catholic Assumption School, along with Frank, the Notre Dame Alumni Association in Denver and the Butterfly Pavilion, who are helping with the project, Reagan began to think about creating an integrated curriculum. It will include components of all the subjects the school teaches, including science, English, and theology with basic conversations of Laudato Si’.

The school hopes to have part of the curriculum ready by the end of this year so the students can begin learning and building, and Reagan doesn’t seem phased by the accelerated timeline of her capstone nor by the unexplored territory. She’s excited to grow her own knowledge of gardening while creatively linking horticulture, gardening and theology together for the next generation. She says, “It’ll be new; I’m excited.”

Jennifer Tank

Professor Jennifer Tank is the Director of the University of Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative (ND-ECI). Tank has been actively involved at ND-ECI since it’s inception, previously serving as the principle investigator of the Land Use Program and the Director of the Notre Dame Linked Experimental Ecosystem Facility (ND-LEEF).

Tank is the Ludmilla F., Stephen J., and Robert T. Galla Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame. Her research focuses on nutrient and carbon cycling in streams and rivers and the influence of human activities on water quality and stream health.

Tank’s extensive research experience aims at better understanding the role that small streams play in removing nitrogen from the water and to prevent it from polluting downstream ecosystems. Her research was recently featured on the University of Notre Dame’s “What Would You Fight For?” series.

An international authority on the cycling of nutrients in freshwater ecosystems, Tank has published over 160 peer-reviewed journal articles on nitrogen and carbon cycling in streams and rivers. She received her doctoral degree from Virginia Tech and was a 2013 Leopold Leadership Fellow.

Tank was recently named a Hoosier Resilience Hero by the Indiana University Environmental Resilience Institute. Tank, who also currently serves as the current president of the Society for Freshwater Science, is being recognized for her research that sits at the intersection of freshwater systems and agriculture in the Midwest.

At Notre Dame, Tank also leads the Indiana Watershed Initiative where her team is exploring how conservation practices like winter cover crops and restored floodplains can buffer the impacts of agricultural land use on adjacent streams and rivers. Their watershed-scale experiments, implemented on working lands, are quantifying the water quality benefits of conservation in a real-world setting, facilitated through engagement with key partners including local farmers and natural resource managers.