Notre Dame alumna MacKenzie Isaac named 2022 Rhodes Scholar

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Notre Dame graduate Mackenzie Isaacs will study at Oxford in England next year as a member of the 2022 Rhodes Scholars Class in the US. She is one of 32 Rhodes Scholars selected from a pool of 826 candidates this year, and is the recipient of a Scholar Grant Notre Dame is number 21 in Rhodes overall and fourth in the past five years.

Isaac worked closely with the Flatley Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement (CUSE) to apply for the award. CUSE promotes the intellectual development of Notre Dame students through scholarly engagement, research, creative endeavors, and the pursuit of fellowships.

Notre Dame could be prouder of McKenzie because she was chosen not for scientific accomplishments alone, but – in the words of the Rhodes Trust – for “character, commitment to others and the common good, and the potential for their leadership in anything” said University of Notre Dame President Reverend John A. Jenkins, CSC, “On behalf of the entire university community, I extend my sincere congratulations to McKinsey, her family, faculty and staff who have provided invaluable support and encouragement, particularly at the Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement.”

Jeffrey Thibert, Paul and Maureen Stefanik, Director of CUSE, said, “On behalf of CUSE, I would like to congratulate MacKenzie on your selection to join the Rhodes Scholar American Class of 2022. It has been truly an honor to advise her throughout the entire process of discrimination, endorsement, application and interview involved in consideration. in receiving a Rhodes Scholarship. It was also a humbling affair, seeing as how much good you have already added to the world; studying at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar would multiply this positive effect.”

He continued, “I would like to thank the many administrators, faculty, staff, and alumni who took the time to help prepare MacKenzie and all the finalists for their interviews. I would like to express my admiration for this year’s applicants for the Rhodes, Marshall and Mitchell Scholarships, all of whom had the courage to participate in the intense and introspective application process.” I hope we have achieved CUSE’s standard of ensuring that all applicants gain value from the application process commensurate with the work they wish to do, regardless of the end result.”

Mackenzie Isaac

“I am very excited to see how my experience as a Rhodes Scholar contributes to this ongoing expedition.” – Mackenzie Isaac

Isaac, from Indianapolis, graduated from Notre Dame in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. She studied Data Science and Latin Studies. She was a Kellogg International Scholar, a Student at Building Bridges and a candidate for a Truman Scholarship. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Health Education from Teachers College at Columbia University in New York. She was also a finalist for Rhodes last year. She is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

As a student and researcher, and as a black woman, Isaac cares about health equality. In particular, it is concerned with factors such as racism and discrimination that contribute to chronic diseases in communities of color, and in promoting the overall well-being of people of color through the creation, delivery, and evaluation of health education curricula that take into account the importance of cultural competence and social justice.

As a Kellogg Scholar Scholar, Isaac has documented the evolution of external migration and the political response to natural disasters in Haiti with Karen Richman, Professor of Practice and Director of Undergraduate Studies at the Institute of Latin Studies. She has also worked as a research assistant for Kim Rollings, former Assistant Professor of Architecture, with the Architecture, Health, and Sustainability Research Group in the School of Architecture, and as a Research Assistant and Community Liaison Assistant with the Diabetes Impact Project-Indianapolis Biology (DIP- IN) at the University’s School of Public Health Indiana Fairbanks, and as a student research fellow in the FACETS program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Active in service and leadership, Isaac has served as Director of Diversity and Inclusion in Notre Dame Student Government and Senior Multicultural Fellow at Lyon Hall Council. She was a symposium co-leader with the Center for Social Concern, member and secretary of the Voices of Faith Evangelical Choir, a peer advocate and university programming assistant at the McDonald Center for Student Welfare and a student coordinator for the Africana Ministry with Nutter. Campus Ministry.

As part of her work with student government, Isaac was the only student on the organizing committee of Walk the Walk Week and the lead organizer of Race Relations Week, and she has successfully brought disability advocacy under the direction of Diversity and Inclusion. She launched a discussion series on identity stigmas and mental health as an extension of her peer advocacy with the MacDonald Center for Student Wellbeing. In addition, she was a member of the Executive Board of the Notre Dame Council on Diversity, was a member of the Vice Chair of the Student Affairs Advisory Committee on Student Climate and Race, and was instrumental in discussing topics of cultural competence and sensitivity. and equity within the Morrow Student Advisory Council.

Through her close partnership with Multicultural Student Programs and Services, Isaac has contributed to the development of miNDful, a series of cultural competence-oriented workshops designed specifically for residence halls and other residential, spiritual and academic communities on campus.

In addition to her studies at Columbia University, Isaac currently supervises projects at the intersection of urban planning, community organizing, and health promotion at Health by Design, where she previously worked as an intern. She also serves as Director of Voluntary Engagement with Omena Madagascar, where she helps create a curriculum to prevent emotional abuse for the organization’s global network of youth and young peer educators; As a member of the Northeast Neighborhood Steering Committee with DIP-IN; and as a program coach and outreach ambassador for the Center for Leadership Development in Indianapolis.

As a researcher in Rhodes, Isaac plans to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy degree in population health. In the longer term, she hopes to work in community health education, advocating for programs and curricula that carefully capture community narratives and resolutely push marginalized narratives toward the center of focus, with the ultimate goal of healthcare equity.

University of Notre Dame Rhodes Scholars

  • Robert Shea 23
  • James Green 48
  • Herman Hamilton ’50
  • Dennis Moran 53
  • Donald C. Snegovsky 56
  • Dennis Shaul 60
  • Robert McNeill 63
  • John Jirn 65
  • John B. Santos 79
  • Robert Founderhead 85
  • Theresa Doering Lewis ’86
  • Gregory Abboud 86
  • Eva Rzybniewski 97
  • Eugenio Fernandez 97
  • Andrew Cerazine 03
  • Alex Kochia 14
  • Emily Medet 15
  • Grace Watkins 17
  • Alexis Doyle 17
  • Prathim Juneja 20
  • Mackenzie Isaac 22

“I would like to thank Dr. Tibert, Elise Roodt, and my mentors for all they have given me throughout the fellowship and fellowship application process,” said Isaac. “I would not have had this opportunity without them and the many others who make up my not-so-small village. I recognize and accept the fact that I stand on the shoulders of many, including and especially the wise and driven leaders of my hometown community. They have seen – and continue to draw – the assets within me that I don’t always see them myself, and they have provided ongoing guidance as I explore how these assets can best be used in the service of the world. I am very excited to see how my experience as a scholar in Rhodes contributes to this ongoing journey of discovery.”

William Carbonaro, Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology at Notre Dame, taught Isaac in two of his courses: Linear Regression, the Graduate-level Statistics Course, and Inner City America.

“McKenzie is one of the best undergraduates I have taught in my 20 years at Notre Dame,” Carbonaro said. “She is very mature, both intellectually and as a human being. In her writing and comments in class, it was clear that she has cognitive and moral empathy. In other words, she is very good at thinking about the perspective of others in order to make sense of the world, and also at how to respond to others in a humane and fair way. I will also say MacKenzie is eager to learn about the world around her. She has a great deal of humility, and this serves her well as a student and as a human being. She is the kind of student I am happy to work with, and who gives me hope for the future.”

Named after the English businessman and politician Cecil Rhodes, the Rhodes Scholarships is the world’s oldest international fellowship, recognizing American students from all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and US territories, for their scholarly achievement, character, commitment to others, the common good, and leadership potential.

Notre Dame seniors Patrick Aemon, Jack Poland, Devin Diggs and Greg Miller were also selected as the 2022 class finalists.

For more information on this and other scholarship opportunities, visit

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