Peace Studies Seniors Selected for 2014 Yarrow Award

Author: Renée LaReau

Notre Dame seniors Ilse Zenteno and Alex Coccia have been selected to receive the Kroc Institute’s 2014 Yarrow Award. The Yarrow Award is given annually to peace studies students who demonstrate academic excellence and commitment to service in peace and justice.

"Alex Coccia and Ilse Zenteno's substantial academic accomplishments and impressive service reflect the highest values of the peace studies program — the development of intellectually and ethically engaged global citizens,'' said Ernesto Verdeja, professor of political science and peace studies and director of undergraduate studies at the Kroc Institute.

Zenteno, a political science and peace studies major from St. Louis, and Coccia, an Africana studies and peace studies major from Columbus, Ohio, will accept their awards at the Kroc Institute’s undergraduate recognition ceremony on May 16.

Zenteno has worked as a Maryknoll Mission Volunteer in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and an immigration services assistant for the Cruz Roja Española (Spanish Red Cross) in Toledo, Spain. She works as the outreach and social media coordinator for the St. Joseph County Bridges Out of Poverty program, a position she holds through an internship with AmeriCorps. She also interns with the Public Defender’s Office at the Juvenile Justice Center of St. Joseph County. Zenteno serves on the core committee for Notre Dame’s student-run Human Development Conference and the planning committee for St. Joseph County’s Homeward Bound, an annual 5-kilometer walk/run for poverty awareness.

After graduation, Zenteno plans to pursue an academic career in peace studies and international development.

Coccia was the founder of the 4 to 5 Movement, a two-year campaign to create a more welcoming environment for LGBTQ members of the Notre Dame community and their allies. He is a Dean’s Fellow of the Honor Society for the College of Arts and Letters, and he was awarded an Experiencing the World Fellowship to conduct research in Rwanda for his senior thesis. He serves as Notre Dame’s student body president and was a four-year member of Notre Dame’s varsity fencing team, which won a 2011 national championship. 

A Harry S. Truman Scholarship recipient, Coccia will intern after graduation in Washington, D.C., at a government agency or nonprofit organization. He plans to pursue a graduate degree in law or public policy.

Contact: Ernesto Verdeja, 574-631-8533,