Class of 2024

Xinyu (Zachariah) Zong
Zeng Wang
Meng Chen
Xinyi (Emily) Cao
Jessica Wang
Yueheng (Joyce) Wang
Ruoyao (Lily) Xu
Yutan (Jeffrey) Zhang
Yutong (Tom) Zhang
Zhipu (Steven) Zhao


Xinyu (Zachariah) Zong

Our Lady of Perpetual Succor Global Scholar
Hesburgh-Yusko Scholar
The Affiliated High School of South China Normal University

I am a freshman who was supposed to live in Morrisey, but I have not made it to campus yet. It has been a chaotic fall semester for me, and I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I want to do in the coming years or even the rest of my life. I tried to participate in some competitions and programs. I also had many conversations, both face-to-face and virtually, and they turned out to be more rewarding than I expected. I am almost certain now that history or philosophy is going to be my academic goal. This winter, I chose not to take winter session courses. Instead, I did preliminary research about modern Japanese history with Julia Thomas. She’s a kind, knowledgeable professor and I enjoyed working with her. I am also doing an offline internship at a small consulting firm in Beijing, where I focus on public relations strategies. In high school, I was interested in law and legal history. I finished a few 25+ pages papers regarding the history of legal progression and religious liberation in China and the U.S.

Zeng Wang

Scott Scholar
Chongqing BI Academy

I am a first-year student studying economics with an intended supplementary major in ACMS and a minor in sustainability. I am interested in environmental protection and social enterprise. Since high school, I have started exploring the possibilities of generating social impact from social enterprises. I founded the Social Entrepreneurship Club through which many student programs are incubated. For instance, my program which aims to address the waste of packaging materials, has won a global silver prize in China called “ Thinks Big.” As the president of the student union, I was responsible for coordinating extra-curricular activities, managing clubs, and the campus cafe. I also applied my knowledge and passion to sociological research and studies, such as exploring the multicultural integration in Chongqing due to immigration and the effective outcomes of social media uses at work.

This semester, due to COVID-19, I was among the majority of Chinese freshmen who studied away locally at the Beijing Center. It was a special experience and has been unexpectedly rewarding. For instance, we studied Chinese Traditional Philosophy, Arts and Culture, and Peoples of Chins with Chinese professors. Although I am not in South Bend, I am still connected with the main campus virtually and utilized the abundant resources. I was in the travel teams of three SIBC projects and participated in the McCloskey New Venture Competition with other students. I am also very thankful for the talk and discussions with Notre Dame students, alumni, and teachers.

In the future, I hope I could go back to the main campus soon so that I could study and grow with the Notre Dame family. I also expect to figure out my academic and professional goals more clearly.

Meng Chen

Stamps Scholar
Nanjing Foreign Language School

I am a first year student at O’Neill Hall. I intend to major in Computer Science and Neuroscience.

In high school, I explored my interest in biology and public health. I participated in the school’s international Genetically Engineered Machine Competition (iGEM) team and served as the captain in Junior. Our team focused on cancer immunotherapy. In the first year, we used CRISPR to cut telomerase in order to eliminate cancer cells. In the second year, we designed expression systems of both artificial “Trojan Horse” neoantigen and competing endogenous RNA so that the cancer cells can be targeted by the human immune system. In the National Elite Program, I was mentored by a professor at Nanjing University and studied the influence of free-ranging domestic cat predation on urban wildlife and its ecological and animal welfare impacts. I joined the school’s public health journalism team, investigated the origin of tension between patients and doctors, as well as different perspectives on medical disputes. We also created a short documentary, “AIDS-China at Crossroads,” which is about the social stigma against the AIDS community and what it means for public health and AIDS prevention.

This semester, I participated in the TBC program, which is a semester full of challenges and rewards. I studied Chinese philosophy, art, and cultures. I participated in the TBC photography competition and captured the scenery of Beijing. I also participated in some Notre Dame online events and kept in touch with the main campus. This semester, I, together with four friends, used python to analyze the change of sentiment in Fangfang Diary and visualized the data obtained.

I hope I can study on the main campus as soon as possible and experience ND life like watching a Fighting Irish game, praying at the Grotto, and attending mass in the Basilica. I am also thinking of participating in a study abroad program. I would continue to study economics and strengthen my professional knowledge in the future.

Xinyi (Emily) Cao

Chengdu Shude High School International Department

Since I'm taking a full gap year, my current identity is swinging between a first year student at Notre Dame and a third year IB student in high school (though I'd still prefer to view myself as a freshman in college). I intend to major in economics, and am considering adding a second major in ACMS and a minor in science, technology and values.

In high school, I developed my interests through three different routes. On the one hand, I was in charge of the school’s Debate Club, where I organized seasonal debate events, prepared club members for tournaments and invited experienced debaters outside to share useful insights. On the other hand, I explored my passion in economics through academic research. In the summer of 2019, I conducted quantitative studies on the environmental effects of the Huai River Policy with a professor from Vanderbilt, where I exposed myself to the ethical questions of fairness over essential capacities distribution. At the same time, I learned to use Excel and SPSS to analyze huge amounts of data. Intrigued by how policies are designed to solve poverty issues, I worked with Professor Gan from Texas A&M University to examine the effectiveness of the labor income incentive scheme by using the natural experiment approach. Besides, triggered by my childhood memories, I made a series of documentaries about tea houses in Chengdu with my classmates, and wrote an essay about the market structure of tea shops in my hometown. 

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I chose the gap year option and thus didn’t have the opportunity to join the Notre Dame community in Beijing or in South Bend. However, I am still connected with Notre Dame through both GCS and student chat groups, and I decided to learn more about the future study abroad and research opportunities at ND through its official website in the coming months.

After a long long break from high school, I really miss the sense of belonging to a small community and the intensive reading experience during research. I can't wait to join the ND family and explore both myself and the world through the various programs provided!

Jessica Wang

Tianjin International School

I’d call myself a semi-freshman at the University of Notre Dame since I am currently taking a gap year. I intend to major in biological sciences and am honored to be a part of the Glynn Family Honors Program.

In high school, I was an active member of the Student Council. I was a class member for the first two years and an executive member for the succeeding years. During my senior year as the StuCo president, I worked with the entire student council team to plan school-spirit initiating events and managed two student stores. I also engaged in our Model United Nations club, where I participated in twelve conferences, including seven with leadership roles. During my senior year as the Deputy Secretary-General of TIANMUN VII, I worked with the entire executive team and our advisors to lead a conference with over two-hundred active members to provide a platform for discussion of current world problems. Since my academic interest is grounded in science, I studied at a local biology lab for two summers and worked with fellow students on cancer therapy-related experiments. And lastly, I played on the varsity soccer team for all four years. I furthered this hobby by joining the Tianjin High School Challenge Cup as a referee. Luckily, I was named the Most Valuable Referee at the end of the tournament! I decided to briefly share these four activities because they have helped me grow tremendously in different ways.

Since I am taking a gap year, I don’t have much to share about my Notre Dame experience, except that I already love how inclusive Notre Dame is. I would like to thank my GCS advisors for constantly reminding me that I am also included in this family by inviting me to the virtual activities.

I cannot wait to meet everyone on campus next school year at the University of Notre Dame. Also, I cannot wait to explore what the school holds for me for both my academic and extracurricular interests!

Yueheng (Joyce) Wang

Chengdu Foreign Languages School

I am a freshman hoping to major in sociology or anthropology.

In high school, I founded an online platform that promotes intangible cultural heritage of the high school. I also took a field trip to research Tibetan medicine, and the short documentary I made about Tibetan medicine was officially recognized by the UNESCO Courier magazine. I am a member of the Writer's Association in my province and have fortunately published my own book.

In the recent semester, I studied at the Beijing Center instead of on campus. During this time, I participated in some online activities offered by Notre Dame and joined a club. I also got involved in a research program outside school about health human capital.

In the future, I wish to come to campus as soon as possible. Apart from continuously discovering academic interests on campus, I want to participate in the study abroad programs and the programs offered by the Center of Social Concerns.

Ruoyao (Lily) Xu

Nanjing Foreign Language School

I am a first year student living at Howard Hall. I am planning to major in ACMS with a minor in computer science.

In high school, I was actively involved in various math and computer science activities. In the Kaggle competition, I led the team to analyze 22 features of 3000 movies and combined three different boosting algorithm models to accurately (RMSL error score 1.69095) predict the box office of 4398 unidentified movies. I also developed a strong interest in workplace gender equality in China. I have researched two topics in the past two years, which are about the awareness of workplace gender inequality and its influencing factor, and gender wage difference study.

During the first semester of my freshman year, I was unable to study on campus in South Bend. Instead, I took classes at the Beijing Center (TBC). Nevertheless, the various activities at Notre Dame were basically realized on the online platform. Thanks to this, I also participated in many clubs and activities. For example, in the past semester, a few of my friends and I participated in the ND data science competition to do sentiment analysis on Fang Fang's diary. In addition, I actively participated in various clubs, such as SIBC, CS for Good, and SWE. Besides studying, I participated in photography activities at TBC.

During winter break, I participated in a data science project at the Center for Civic Innovation. This project worked with local SBERP organizations in South Bend to analyze labor market data and help them promote strategies for education and workforce development. Except the internship opportunities offered to us by the university organization, Notre Dame also provides us with many chances to participate in internships or projects with domestic and international companies. For example, over the winter break, I will be joining the internship program at Yishan Credit Management and Oak Tree Capital Management, Inc.

I am thankful for being a part of the ND community and I hope that I can explore more possibilities in my future studies, meet the students and professors of Notre Dame face-to-face, and keep an optimistic attitude to work hard.

Yutan (Jeffrey) Zhang

High School Affiliated to Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai

I am currently a first year student majoring in mechanical engineering, and I intend to have a concentration in aerospace and a minor in engineering corporate practice.

At my high school in Shanghai, I was a member of our FRC Team 5515. I designed the robot’s lifting platform mechanism with the ability to lift 3 lb power cubes 6 ft high. I also collaborated with other members on the assembly of the entire vehicle, particularly the chassis, motors, and wheels. I spent my 11th Grade at BASIS Scottsdale in Arizona. There, I conceptually designed and integrated advantages of C-Wing, Blended-Wing-Body, trimmable canards, and embedded engines into a brand new configuration. I was awarded “Future Innovator of the Year” by the Governor of Arizona and representative from Honeywell because of this project. At BASIS, I also participated in the school orchestra as a saxophone player, and was responsible for rehearsals when the teacher was absent. After getting back to Shanghai, I entered DAHER Aircraft’s General Aviathon in its mission to make its TBM aircraft more intelligent and connected. I proposed integration of air traffic and TCAS displays with Synthetic Vision-Primary Flight Display (SV-PFD) which could increase protection against mid-air collisions.

In Fall 2020, due to COVID-19 and related issues, we were arranged to study at The Beijing Center at UIBE. This was a great opportunity to get to know all the Chinese students within a small community. At the same time, I tried to keep connected with the Notre Dame campus. I am a member of the Notre Dame Rocketry Team (NDRT) Vehicle’s Squad. Although I could not even make it to most of their online meetings due to time conflicts, I collaborated with the team remotely with the nose cone and aerodynamic fin trade studies and Preliminary Design Report. It was a valuable experience to understand the complexity and all the different systems behind every launch vehicle. I hope that I can get to the campus soon to meet the students and faculties and continue my program of studies.

Yutong (Tom) Zhang

Beijing No.4 High School

I intend to major in philosophy while also considering the possibility of adding a second major in economics.

With passions for both humanities and social sciences, I participated and took leadership roles in my high school’s FBLA chapter and MUN Club, where I enjoyed the intellectual sparks brought by heated debates and conversations. As the academic director of my high school’s first Model UN conference, I co-designed and chaired a historical crisis-linkage committee under the context of the Paris Peace Conference and the Bei Yang government, arguably the first of its kind in the history of MUN in Beijing. I also extended my passion to serve the common good, so I volunteered at OXFAM in the summer of my junior year, which turned out to be a valuable experience that motivated me to continue my work here at Notre Dame.

I find my first semester at TBC to be challenging, yet rewarding. Taking advantage of the resources offered by Notre Dame, I furthered my interest in humanities and philosophical inquiries through participating in biweekly philosophy club meetings. I also expanded my comfort zone to the financial world by completing a PJT Restructuring project with the Student International Business Council (SIBC). At the same time, I proactively explored various potential career options this fall. Through interning at a law firm’s intellectual property team, I felt more certain than ever that I might pursue a career in law.

To cement my academic interest and to explore the countless options offered by Notre Dame, in the following semesters I will keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone and to immerse myself in the splendid uncertainty of life. I hope that my time here at ND will eventually teach me ways to grapple with adversity and hardship throughout the course of my life.

Zhipu (Steven) Zhao

St. Joseph’s College, Hong Kong

I am a highlander living in Duncan Hall. I will be majoring in honors math with a computing concentration.

In high school, I developed a passion for mathematics. I enjoyed solving extremely difficult problems and participating in math Olympiad competitions. I won the Second-class Honor in Hong Kong Mathematics Olympiad and was selected as a member of the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) training team of Hong Kong. I also served as the president of the math society in my school, organizing activities, such as Pi Day celebration, college math lecture, and math tutoring. Additionally, I was interested in innovation and technology. My team developed the “Real-time Crowdedness Detection System,” which could be used to prevent stampedes and maintain distance between people when gathering. We won the Merit Award in Hong Kong Youth Science & Technology Innovation Competition.

2020 was an unprecedented year, but I am grateful that I was able to come to Notre Dame in August. Despite the COVID pandemic, there was nothing that could stop me from developing a sense of belonging. I enjoyed chatting with other people around a fire pit and watching the football game against Clemson. I also joined the badminton club and won third place in the interhall competition. Academically, I was in the Glynn’s Honors program and took the honors humanities seminar. Although reading one book in a week was quite painful, I was amazed by how much I have learned about morality and the meaning of life. During the winter, I joined the virtual global professional experience program, in which I interned at Xiaomi.

I am looking forward to joining more clubs, such as Computer Science for Good, and participating in the McCloskey Competition to solve real-world problems with creativity. I am also interested in going to an exchange program in Britain to expand my horizon in my junior year.