Student Awards

The following awards are given annually to outstanding students in American Studies. 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:

  • Luisa Romero and Dane Sherman, 2024
  • Nancy Kane and Emmet Powell, 2023
  • Bridget Kelley, 2022
  • Sara Kowalik, 2022
  • Theresa Azemar, 2021
  • Ragan Sernel, 2021
  • Carroll "Will" Coots, 2020
  • Laksumi Sivandan, 2020
  • Rose Ashley and Bailey Kendall, 2019
  • Caroline McAuliffe and Joseph Tenaglia, 2018

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:

  • Meg Beuter and Annie Texido, 2024
  • Lucy Adams, 2023
  • Julianne Downing and Hailey Oppenlander, 2022
  • Caroline Freeman, 2021
  • Bridget Simmons, 2020
  • Bailey Kendall and Tyrel London, 2019
  • Jacob McKenna, 2018  

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:

  • Mary Massman and Madeline Schlehuber, 2024
  • Connor Rooney, 2023
  • Caroline Kelley and Lily Strailey, 2022
  • Michaela Echols and Koki Kobayashi, 2021
  • Julia Allpow and Patrick McKelvey, 2020
  • Shannon Hennessy and Julie Mardini, 2019
  • Michael Swietek, 2018

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:

  • Nora Mulligan, 2024 - "This Land was Made for You and Me; The Story of Preservation, Accessibility, and Diasbility in America's Outdoor Recreation Spaces."
  • Clark Doman, 2023 - "Climate Migration in California: Gold Rush to Dust Bowl to Climate Catastrophe"
  • Grace Rozembajgier, 2023 - "Order (ed Liberty) in the Court! The Modern Tug-of-War over Civil Rights and the 14th Amendment
  • Grace Scheidler, 2022 - "What's for Lunch? A Cultural-Political History of the National School Lunch Program"
  • Dessi Gomez, 2021 - "The Myths of Taylor Swift: Race, Gender, and Politics Constructing "Miss Americana"
  • Irla Atanda, 2020 - "Vernacular Theorizing: Diasporic Voices and Their Solutions to the Venezuelan Crisis"
  • Bridget Simons, 2020 - "A Movement, Not a Moment: The US Women's National Soccer Team and Its Fight for Equal Pay, 2016-2020"
  • Madeline Doctor, 2019 - "From Shared Meanings to Shattered Solidarity: The Congressional Prayer Room, 1952–2000" and Marie Fazio - "Painting a Protest: Gentrification and Latino Muralism in Pilsen, Chicago"
  • Carlysa Oyama, 2018 - "The HIV/AIDS Epidemic: A Medical and Cultural Crisis"