2023 awards honor students committed to the common good

June 19, 2023

The center’s annual Senior Send-off Ceremony celebrates the students who have demonstrated a commitment to justice and the common good throughout their time at Notre Dame. At the 2023 ceremony, the center recognized three students in particular with two different awards. 

Savannah Vetterly, Mariana Aguilar, Nicholas Crookston
Savannah Vetterly, Mariana Aguilar, and Nicholas Crookston receive their awards

Sr. Thea Bowman Award

Nicholas Crookston and Mariana Aguilar received the Sr. Thea Bowman award, given annually to two undergraduate students who have exemplified a commitment to justice and dignity through active engagement within and outside the campus community and who demonstrate a sense of vocation dedicated to the common good. 

Nicholas Crookston was recognized for his wide ranging advocacy work throughout his time at Notre Dame, including founding a training program called UndocuAlly, designed to educate the campus community about the challenges students face based on immigration status and how to support them. “These are the kind of actions that exhibit a commitment to justice animated by the common good that we at the center value so much,” said Adam Gustine, assistant director for academic affairs at the Center for Social Concerns. “We are glad to give him this award.”

Mariana Aguilar engaged in multiple courses and programs at the center and also led a number of initiatives, expressing a desire to be an active participant in the work of justice. Her actions garnered the attention of her peers, who ultimately nominated her for the award. “It says something significant when your peers, the ones who see perhaps more sides of you than anyone else during your time at Notre Dame, recognize attributes that are worthy of emulation,” said Gustine. “I’ve been regularly struck by the way her values are expressed in her actions day to day.”

Undergraduate Research Award

Poverty studies interdisciplinary minor Savannah Vetterly was honored with the undergraduate research award, given annually to one student for a major piece of original, independent research addressing a question of justice or promoting the common good. Savannah’s project involved compiling years of data from numerous healthcare agencies that support individuals experiencing homelessness. She then analyzed the data through multiple methods, providing insight into patterns of homelessness and their relation to simultaneous patterns of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.

“More than just her incredible research abilities, Savannah exemplifies strong moral character and integrity, as well as a commitment to uphold Catholic social teaching and to foster a culture of justice,” said Sarah Hoegler, a doctoral student who taught Savannah and who nominated her for the award. “Her project . . . is a prime example of the intersection of her strength as a researcher and her strength in character.”

To nominate a student for next year’s awards, please contact Adam Gustine (agustine@nd.edu).