Student Awards

The following awards are given annually to outstanding students in American Studies and The Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy. Submissions are due in March of each year. Please contact the Department for more information. 


American Studies majors are also eligible for awards from the Department of Africana Studies and the Gender Studies Program.  Find more information, including submission guidelines and application deadlines, here for the Africana Studies awards and here for the Gender Studies Program awards.

The J. Sinnott Meyers Award for outstanding service to the community

J. Sinnott Meyers was to have graduated from Notre Dame in the spring of 1920. Instead, he died in February of that year. Mr. and Mrs. A. R. Meyers of Paducah, Kentucky, established the J. Sinnott Meyers "Burse" in memory of their beloved son. The Meyers Award is given for outstanding service to the community here at Notre Dame and beyond (i.e., local, state, and national levels of service).         

This award is available to an American Studies major.


Please nominate one of your classmates for this award. Nominations should be submitted in writing to support your candidate for this award; state why you feel this person should receive the award.


J. Sinnott Meyers Award Winners:

Caitlin Hodges, 2017

Rose Urankar, 2016

Scott Coppa, 2015

Maria Kosse, 2014

Kristen Durbin, 2013

Stephanie Perez, 2012

Caitlin Wrend, 2011

Denise Baron, 2010

Heidi Rocha, 2009

Mary Feighery, 2008

Christine McGlincy, 2007

Sarah Liu, 2006

Lauren Flynn and Marco Sandusky, 2005

Gabrielle Sopko, 2004

Kathleen Nagengast, 2003

Sarah Lasseter, 2002

Tim Greene and Jennifer King, 2001

Mary McManus, 2000

Shaye Louglin, 1999

Marin Moran, 1999

Christine Haley, 1998

Lori Miller, 1997

Megan Ryan, 1997

Lauren Aimonette, 1996

Meghan Kelley, 1994

Kristin Garvey, 1993

Barbara Moran, 1992


The James E. and Barbara Murphy Award for exceptional journalism

A 1947 graduate of Notre Dame, James E. Murphy entered the world of journalism while doing graduate work at the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University. He then joined ABC News Radio Network as a writer/editor. Murphy migrated to the field of public relations, returning to his alma mater as director of public information. From that day until his last assignment overseeing Notre Dame's 150th birthday commemoration, Murphy's influence was felt over the entire panoply of activities advancing the image of the University. After serving as the guiding hand of public relations for more than four decades, he retired as associate vice president for university relations. The Murphy award is given for exceptionally submitted journalism.

This award is available to an American Studies major or Journalism minor. ($500)

Please submit at most three articles, noting whether and where the articles were published. 

James E. and Barbara Murphy Award Winners:

Renee Griffin and Erin McAuliffe, 2017

Richard Hidy, 2016

Nicole Sganga, 2015

Victoria Jacobsen, 2014

Andrew Owens, 2013

Sara M. Mervosh, 2012

Jordan Gamble, 2011

Laura Myers, 2011

Jennifer Metz, 2010

Kaitlynn Riely, 2009

Robert Costa, 2008

no award, 2007

Claire Heininger, 2006

Aaron Van Oosterhout and Annie Robinson, 2005

Lauren Beck, 2004

Sarah Childress, 2003

Mike Connolly, 2002

Tim Logan, 2001

Meredith Salisbury, 2000


Hugh Arnott O'Donnell Award


Hugh O'Donnell graduated from Notre Dame in the class of 1894. He pursued careers in both the theater and newspapers. He was with The New York Times for many years, retiring in 1933 as its business manager. The O'Donnell Award in American Studies is given for outstanding academic achievement—sustained success in the classroom as well as rigor of curriculum.

O'Donnell Award Winners:

  Peter Fink and Allison Griffith, 2017
  Sarah Morris, 2016

  Bailey Stavetski, 2015

  Aubrey Butts, 2014 

  Olivia Lee, 2013 

  Kjerstin Johnson, 2012

  Caitlin Wrend, 2011

  Cynthia Curley, 2010
  Andrew Nesi, 2009

  Steven Tortorello, 2008
  John Burke, 2007

  Kathryn Finn and Alexis Zouhary, 2006
  Kathleen Joyce and Margie Miller, 2005
  Liam Farrell, 2004
  Kathryn Anderson, Jessica Daues, and Amanda Horvath, 2003
  Meghan Gallagher, 2002
  Amy Harpole, 2001
  Beth Wladyka, 2000
  Amanda Crosby, 1999
  Megan DeNiro, 1998
  Ellen McSweeney, 1997
  Christina Lenko, 1996
  Katie Wiltrout, 1995
  Stacey Tischler, 1994
  Natalie Updike, 1993
  Monica Yani and Phillip Bottonari, 1992


The Paul Neville Award for excellence in journalism


After graduating from Notre Dame in 1942, Paul Neville joined the South Bend Tribune as chief political reporter, then served as sports and managing editor. In 1957 he left to become managing editor of the Buffalo Evening News. Eventually, he was named executive editor of that paper. The Neville Award is for excellence in journalism.

This award is available to an American Studies major or Journalism minor. ($500)

Please nominate one of your classmates for this award. Nominations should be submitted in writing to support your candidate for this award; state why you feel this person should receive the award.

Neville Award Winners:

  Cassidy McDonald, 2017

  Rebecca Rogalski, 2016

  Ann Marie Jakubowski, 2015

  Marisa Iati, 2014 

  Megan Doyle, 2013

  Sara E. Felenstein, 2012  

  Madeline Buckley, 2011

  William Brink, 2010

  Jessica Farmwald, 2009

  no award, 2007

  James Ryan, 2006
  Meghanne Downes, 2005
  Matt Killen, 2004
  Katherine Nagengast, 2003
  Mike Connolly, 2002
  Brittany Morehouse, 2001
  Michelle Krupa, 2000
  Heather Cocks, 1999
  Brian Hiro, 1997
  Michelle Crouch, 1996
  Katie Wiltrout, 1995
  Paul Neville, 1993
  Ian Mitchell, 1992
  Kelley Tuthill, 1992


The Professor James Withey Award for notable achievement in writing


The Professor James Withey Award is given for notable achievement in writing. The department conducts a writing contest for seniors in honor of a legendary teacher of writing at Notre Dame. According to Thomas Stritch, professor emeritus and a former student of Withey's, "Withey was the best teacher I ever saw in action. He was not a prophet, like Frank O'Malley or Joe Evans, and he would not let a coterie or cult develop around him. He taught as a charity, God's work, and while he had the strongest likes and dislikes I ever saw, he gave each student his money's worth."

This award is available to an American Studies major.


Please submit a sample of your writing, including class papers or journalistic articles.

Withey Award Winners:

Jennifer Cha, 2017

Sean Tenaglia, 2016

Baily Stavestki, 2015

Benjamin Cooper, 2014

Linda Scheibler, 2013

Amy Holsinger, 2012

Mary DiSipio, 2011

Denis Baron, 2010

Andrew Nesi, 2009

Elizabeth Stewart, 2008

no award, 2006

Nick Kolman-Mandle, 2005

Brian Kurt Cooper II, 2004

Jessica Daues, 2003

Stephan Kovatis, 2002

Lindsay Frank, 2001

Michelle Krupa, 2000

Heather Cocks, 1999

Daniel Cichalski, 1998

Katherine Rosenbach, 1997

Abigail May, 1996

Abigail May, 1995

Mary Kathleen Schultze, 1993

John O'Brien, 1992


The Elizabeth Christman Senior Thesis Award

A senior thesis is a year-long research project developed with a faculty advisor that attempts to make a contribution to the field of American Studies.  The final project may take on a variety of forms, including a scholarly paper, narrative nonfiction essay, journalistic article or series of articles, documentary film, or museum exhibition; it can reflect personal interests and career goals.  Writing a thesis is a chance to do original research and explore a topic of interest, to develop a deeper relationship with a faculty member, and to put what students learn as American Studies majors into practice.  It is also a significant commitment.  Each year faculty advisors may nominate one of their advisees to receive the Best Senior Thesis Award, which was established in 2010.  The departmental awards committee then chooses the winner based on quality of research, strength of analysis, clarity of presentation, creativity, and significance to the field of American Studies. 
This award is available to an American Studies major.
The Elizabeth Christman Senior Thesis Award winners:
Caitlin Hodges, 2017 - "American Carnage: Rhetoric and Responses to 'Death' in 'America's Dying Cities'" and Elizabeth Kowalik, 2017 - "Millennium Australia: History, Identity, and Representation at the Sydney 2000 Olympics"
Gretel Kauffman, 2016 - "Attica! Representations of the 1971 Prison Riot in Local and national Journalism"
Caroline Schuitema, 2015 - "Literary Environmentalism in the Desert Southwest"
Aubrey Butts, 2014 - "Classrooms of Democracy: Libraries and Museums as Sites of Citizenship"
Colin O'Neill, 2013 - "Identity, Activism and Queer Representation in the Age of AIDS, 1985-1995"
Ross Finney, 2012 - “A Blank Generation: Richard Hell and American Punk Rock”
Catherine Scallen, 2011 – “Bitch.  Contemporary Feminism in American Consumer Culture”
Colleen Walter, 2010 – “Mexican Migrant Children in U.S. Print Media: Towards a More Responsible and Informed Journalism”