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Senior awarded scholarship

Mel Flanagan | Thursday, April 11, 2013

Senior Catherine Reidy will take the Notre Dame tradition across the pond next year to study for her master’s degree in African Studies on a Clarendon Scholarship at Oxford University.

Reidy, a psychology major and member of the International Scholars Program at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, was offered a scholarship by the Social Sciences Division of Oxford to further develop her interest in international affairs and related fields.

“I see myself heading along an academic, scholarly path, but one that informs policy and engagement in international affairs,” she said. “I have a lot of strong interdisciplinary interests I haven’t been able to engage in a classroom format at Notre Dame … and I think Oxford will help with that.”

Oxford awards Clarendon Scholarships to 100 students each year, with 25 awardees coming from each of the University’s four academic divisions – humanities, medical sciences, mathematical, physical and life sciences and social sciences. The scholarship, which pulls candidates from the general pool of accepted students, covers full University tuition, additional college costs and a living expense stipend.

Reidy’s interest in policy prompted her to apply to Oxford’s Masters program in comparative social policy as well.  She was accepted to both programs but offered a scholarship for African Studies.

Reidy, who was also a Rhodes Scholar finalist, said she hopes to defer the comparative social policy program for one year and then pursue that Masters degree after she completes her first.

“Ultimately, I’m seeking to apply what I learn in the classroom to some form of active engagement or policy concerns,” she said. “So I see these two departments as very complementary.”

Reidy’s involvement with the Kellogg Institute sparked her interest in international affairs and policy, she said. As a research assistant for Catherine Bolten, assistant professor of anthropology, Reidy traveled to Sierra Leone to conduct independent research during the summers of 2011 and 2012.

Reidy said in the west African nation, she worked with university students to explore their hopes and fears for the future as a potential peace-building mechanism.

Their hope was their desire to engage in development might lead to a more stable society, Reidy said. Unfortunately, their dreams for a peaceful future are not always enough, she said.

“While this is nice in theory, … how are they actually going to make that happen?” Reidy said. “They need policy. How can we develop the mechanisms or outlets by which students can actually realize their dreams?”

In addition to her ground work in Sierra Leone, Reidy works as a student coordinator for Kellogg’s Africa Working Group, a forum for scholars to discuss research on Africa. Through this, she has worked with professors from all disciplines with ties to Africa – including sociology, political science and anthropology.
“It is very interdisciplinary, I mean, I’m a psychology major,” Reidy said. “How do you apply all these things to debates about Africa? I’ve never been able to incorporate those into the classroom setting, and I’m hoping Oxford will allow me to do that.”

Although Reidy said she always planned to pursue a Ph.D., she is now entertaining the idea of spending time in the field prior to that.

“That could take the form of consulting for international organizations or doing more engaging in think tanks and doing research in that capacity,” she said. “As I continue to develop my particular interests, it could lead into a future doctoral discipline. It’s a little unclear right now, but that’s kind of exciting.”

Contact Mel Flanagan at mflanag3@nd.edu