Global Forum essay contest winners invited to participate in discussion panel

Author: Colleen Wilcox

Nd Forum Yunus Keynote 12

Notre Dame sophomore Alison O’Neil is using her written words to inspire change and encourage others to expand their global perspective.

“And this chance – the opportunity to challenge ourselves, expand our empathy and embrace our humanity to the fullest – is one of global citizenship’s greatest rewards,” wrote O’Neil.

The 1,000-word essay she submitted on global citizenship gave her a voice at this year’s Global Forum, where she was invited on stage with the three other essay contest winners.

The winners also included senior Stephen Freeman, junior Victoria Erdel Garcia, and junior Nabila Levinsohn Mourad. Senior Brittany Ebeling was recognized as honorable mention.

Together, the four essay winners participated in a discussion panel with special guest Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus.  

Mc 4Essay contest winners on stage with Dr. Yunus

"I am honored and humbled to have shared the stage with Dr. Yunus, whose visionary approach to microfinance continues to inspire my peace and justice work and scholarship,” said Freeman.

“When I asked him my question about measuring the impact of one's work, it did not feel as if this was happening in front of a crowd of hundreds,” said Erdel Garcia. “He maintained eye contact and was personally invested in answering each of our questions, which was humbling and inspiring.”

Mourad said it was an honor to share the stage with Dr. Yunus and witness his passion for some of the most pressing issues of globalization.

“As a young woman, listening to such an inspirational figure promote the potential creativity and innovative action of the youth reaffirmed to me that we are capable of correcting past injustices and establishing a society founded on trust and companionship, “said Mourad.

The students were also invited to attend a VIP dinner with Dr. Yunus prior to the forum, where they were given a signed copy of his recent book A World of Three Zeros.

Essay contest on global citizenship

Back in March, Notre Dame International launched a new essay contest on global citizenship.

The competition was open to all Notre Dame students to write a brief essay focused on what it means to be a global citizen, what the challenges and rewards are, and how they have used or will use their Notre Dame education to become a global citizen.

“The impetus for the essay contest originated from our desire to have students reflect on their international experiences,” said Hong Zhu, director of global engagement programs for Notre Dame International.

“However, as Notre Dame embarks on an ambitious plan of going global, it is apparent that all students, not just students who have studied abroad, should and can reflect on what it means to be a global citizen,” she said.

A total of twenty-six essays were submitted to a panel of Notre Dame faculty and administrators from the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and Notre Dame International. Based on the final results, four winners and one honorable mention were chosen.

“The perspectives vary, but are thought-provoking and inspirational, and some quite moving,” said Zhu. “For me personally, it really reaffirms the importance and the rewards of international education.”

2018 Global Forum essay contest winners

Stephen “Pete” Freeman is a senior and a student researcher at the University of Notre Dame where he studies sociology, gender studies, and international peace studies. His research interests include social and gendered determinants of adolescent sexual health in Ghana, access to entrepreneurial spaces in Switzerland, and charitable giving behavior among US college students. He has worked extensively with the Government of Ghana to measure and evaluate health interventions in the Central Region. Pete hopes to continue working with adolescents to learn about holistic approaches that enhance overall emotional and psychological wellness. Click here to read his essay.

Victoria Erdel García is a junior majoring in sociology and minoring in teaching English to speakers of other languages. Currently, she is researching the historical roots of human trafficking under Dr. Mariana Candido, through the International Scholars Program. Last summer, Victoria applied the theoretical framework she gained from this research by interning at an anti-trafficking social enterprise. She will be returning this summer for her senior thesis research. Additionally, Victoria recognized the need to have more young adults involved in the anti-trafficking movement, so she launched The Trafficking Dispatch, a podcast by and for young adults to raise awareness and inspire concrete action against human trafficking. Click here to read her essay.

Nabila Levinsohn Mourad is a junior majoring in political science and Arabic with a minor in peace studies. Originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Nabila grew up in São Paulo. Given her Palestinian/Lebanese descent and having classmates from all over the world, Nabila developed an interest in international relations at an early age.  At Notre Dame, Nabila studied abroad at NDI’s London Global Gateway Program for the fall semester of 2017. Currently, she is involved with the student government and the Research Apprenticeship Program for the Political Science department. Click here to read her essay.

Alison O’Neil is a sophomore studying history, political science and environmental science. In her free time, she serves as the associate editor of Scholastic Magazine, as a Center for Social Concerns tutor, and is a co-founder of Education Bridge Club ND. She is also a research assistant in the Architecture, Health and Sustainability Lab. Alison studied abroad this past fall in the Galapagos Island as part of a biology/environmental science practicum. Click here to read her essay.

Honorable mention

Brittany Ebeling is a senior undergraduate student studying peace studies and international economics with a concentration in French. Following graduation, she will be pursuing a master’s degree in urban studies at Sciences Po in Paris, where she will explore her interests in alternative economies, food justice, and co-housing models.

About the Global Forum

The 2017-18 Notre Dame Forum explores the challenges and opportunities posed by globalization through a series of debates and discussions of major policy issues. Attendees are encouraged to consider how to engage with the Forum topic and extend the dialogue into the classroom, lab, studio, and workplace.

Since its establishment in 2005 by Notre Dame’s president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., the Notre Dame Forum has addressed timely topics from multiple perspectives. It has evolved into a yearlong examination of a specific issue, with featured talks by leading authorities, classroom discussions, panels, workshops, symposia, and other events – all with the purpose of enlightening the campus community and elevating our dialogue.    

More information on upcoming events can be found on the Forum website.

Contact: Colleen Wilcox, content strategist,, 574-360-0659