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:

  • Rose Ashley and Bailey Kendall, 2019
  • Caroline McAuliffe and Joseph Tenaglia, 2018
  • 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:

  • Lauren Fox, 2019
  • Marek Mazurek, 2018
  • 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:

  • Bailey Kendall and Tyrel London, 2019
  • Jacob McKenna, 2018  
  • 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:

  • Courtney Becker and Juan Jose Rodriguez Guiteras, 2019
  • Katie Galioto and Selena Ponio, 2018
  • 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:

  • Shannon Hennessy and Julie Mardini, 2019
  • Michael Swietek, 2018
  • 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:

  • 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"
  • 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”