Peace Studies senior Elizabeth Boyle awarded 2020 Yarrow Award

Author: Hannah Heinzekehr

University of Notre Dame senior Elizabeth Boyle has been named the recipient of the Kroc Institute’s 2020 Yarrow Award in Peace Studies. The award is given annually to an undergraduate student or students who demonstrate academic excellence and commitment to service in peace studies. 

Boyle, a political science major with a supplementary major in peace studies, was informed of her receipt of the award on May 4, and shared remarks during a virtual celebration of the undergraduate peace studies Class of 2020

“Elizabeth was an obvious choice for the Yarrow Award. She has distinguished herself in her classes, in her leadership on campus, and in her strong commitment to advancing justice and peace,” said Ernesto Verdeja, Kroc Institute director of undergraduate studies and associate professor of political science and peace studies. 

When she arrived at Notre Dame as a first-year student, Boyle knew that she was interested in a career in public service and committed to advancing the common good, but didn’t know exactly what that would look like. Boyle credits her discovery of the Undergraduate Program in Peace Studies with expanding her world and helping her to hone her focus on pursuing a career in religious peacebuilding. 

“I didn’t expect to fall in love with a program as much as I fell in love with peace studies,” says Boyle. “It is a part of my identity, and has allowed me to ask important questions about myself and my responsibility in the world. I know I’m coming out of Notre Dame as a much more critical thinker and conscientious advocate for peace and justice.”

Boyle describes receiving the Yarrow Award as humbling. 

“I look at the work of my peers in peace studies and I am constantly amazed and inspired by the many ways people are fighting to make the world a better place,” she says. “To now graduate with this incredible honor is truly exciting.”

During her time at Notre Dame, Boyle, originally from Manhasset, New York, was active in a variety of campus leadership roles, and also participated in several internships and study abroad experiences. 

She served as the Notre Dame undergraduate student body president during the 2019-20 academic year, and also worked as the gender relations director for student government during her sophomore and junior years, advocating for gender equity and Title IX compliance on campus. 

Through the Peace Studies and Madrasa Discourses programs, Boyle participated in summer and winter intensives in Nepal and Qatar. The intensives bring together students and faculty from Notre Dame and madrasa (Islamic seminary) graduates from India and Pakistan for a week of intensive teaching, dialogue, and exploration about religion, society, and epistemology (the study of knowledge or ways of knowing).

“Before coming to Notre Dame, I had never left the country,” said Boyle. “My first trip was to Nepal. I am beyond grateful that my first trip allowed me to engage with individuals from other cultural backgrounds in such depth.” 

Boyle also completed several internships, including spending the spring semester working with the United States Commission on Civil Rights as a civil rights analyst during the spring of her sophomore year, completing a summer 2018 internship at the United States Agency for International Development, and a summer 2019 internship with the U.S. Department of State’s Office of International Freedom. She was slated to complete an internship at the Embassy of the U.S. to the Holy See this summer, but the ongoing coronavirus crisis delayed those plans. 

Boyle was also part of the Notre Dame Folk Choir for four years, and worked with the Center for Social Concerns as a seminar leader. She also volunteered regularly at the Family Justice Center in South Bend, helping with intake at the front desk and training to serve as an SOS rape crisis advocate. 

After graduation, Boyle plans to pursue graduate studies in the areas of theology and global affairs. She hopes to continue to stay in touch with the many faculty at the Kroc Institute who have served as mentors and supported her professional development. 

About the Kroc Institute: Notre Dame's Kroc Institute, part of the Keough School of Global Affairs, is one of the world's principal centers for the study of the causes of violent conflict and strategies for sustainable peace. To learn more about the Undergraduate Program in Peace Studies, visit