From planning the 2022 student peace conference to attending international conferences, Francesca Mascopinto has taken full advantage of the opportunities afforded to her as a peace studies student. In this student profile, she talks about what brought her to Notre Dame and how the interdisciplinary study of peacebuilding and conflict transformation has expanded her worldview.
What led you to study at Notre Dame?
When applying to colleges and universities, I was intent on finding a university that emphasized community in its student body and its academic programs. Notre Dame was the first place where I heard the administration talk about the student body in terms of a family--its emphasis on a tight-knit community stood apart from some of the other schools I visited that seemed to have a more competitive atmosphere. Additionally, my dad is a Notre Dame alum. He encouraged me to apply, and the University’s connection with my family was a big draw. He emphasized Notre Dame’s unique network of alumni and professors who are eager to help students find their paths both personally and professionally. Finally, I appreciated how dedicated Notre Dame is to having a positive impact on the world through the students it educates.
What led you to peace studies? How did you get connected with the Kroc Institute?
While visiting campus during my senior year of high school for a football game, I made an appointment with Anna Van Overberghe, the assistant director of the Kroc Institute’s undergraduate program. Through Anna, I learned more about the Institute and peace studies, and I just knew I wanted to join its undergraduate program.
Have you participated in any fun, notable activities related to your peace studies curriculum? If so, what?
I participated in the Madrasa Discourses Undergraduate Intensive. I received a grant that fully funded my trip to Nepal for 10 days for the Madrasa Discourses conference, which addressed struggles of faith and the ability of religion to adapt to modern culture. As peace studies students, we gained an understanding of other students’ perspectives and shared ours.
As a co-chair of the 2022 Notre Dame Student Peace Conference my sophomore year, I had the opportunity to help create a space in which student voices could both be heard and become more prominent in the field of peace studies. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference was held in a hybrid format. While most restrictions had been lifted, many international speakers were unable to attend in person. As co-chair, I learned how to market the conference, develop a complex schedule with multiple important speakers, and troubleshoot issues that arose during the conference itself.
What advice would you give an incoming freshman who is interested in studying peace?
Peace Studies will change your perspective not just on peace and justice, but on the world as a whole. It offers avenues of thinking not available in other disciplines because peace studies is multidisciplinary and pushes the boundaries of conventional social science.
What are your plans after graduation?
While my plans for the future are unsure, I recently applied for a Fulbright grant, which would allow me to teach English in Mexico during the next academic year. I am also applying for various think tank and nonprofit jobs.