Peace Studies Student Elected Notre Dame Student Body Vice President

Author: Renée LaReau

Photo: Michael McRoskey

Notre Dame sophomore Rebecca Blais (political science and peace studies) has been elected undergraduate student body vice president for the 2016-17 academic year.

Blais and student body president-elect Corey Robinson will take office on April 1. Blais says her peace studies courses taught her about leadership.

“It is amazing how much my peace studies coursework has already applied to student government,” she said. “For example, a class I took last semester with Professor David Cortright, How to Change the World, taught me about mobilizing grassroots efforts, such as the It’s On Us Notre Dame campaign against sexual violence.

“Furthermore, this summer, I will be continuing to apply this peace-oriented lens towards the work I will be doing in in Beijing, China and rural China through the International Summer Summer Service Learning Program.

Blais is a Dean’s Fellow in the College of Arts and Letters, an honor given to undergraduates demonstrating outstanding leadership and intellectual curiosity. She also was awarded a grant from Notre Dame’s Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement and First Year of Studies program to conduct research on the elephant population in Sri Lanka, where she worked closely with the Sri Lankan Wildlife Conservation Society.

Peace studies students have a strong track record in student government leadership roles. Students elected to office in recent years include:

  • Matt Devine (vice president, 2014-2015)
  • Alex Coccia (president, 2013-2014)
  • Nancy Joyce (vice president, 2013-2014)
  • W. Patrick McCormick (president, 2011-2012)
  • Elizabeth Shappell (president, 2005-2006)

“Peace studies has been the perfect way to connect my experiences abroad with the knowledge I gain in the classroom,” Blais said. “Looking ahead, I can see that my academic background in political science and peace studies will provide a rich foundation for a possible career in international relations.”