Meet the dCEC's 2022 Mission Fellows

Author: Kenneth Hallenius

The de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture is pleased to welcome its newest Mission Fellows, graduate and professional students at the University of Notre Dame who share the de Nicola Center's passion for research and engagement with the moral and intellectual tradition of the Church. Mission fellowships are awarded on a competitive basis to one incoming student in both Notre Dame Law School and the PhD program in the College of Arts and Letters with a proven track record of academic excellence and enthusiasm for the unique mission of the University.

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Gwendolyn Loop is the recipient of the 2022 Polking Family Fellowship, which aims to cultivate the next generation of leaders who understand that law and public policy are essential elements in building a sustainable culture of life. Named in honor of Paul (’59 BS, ’66 JD) and Joan Polking, Polking Fellows receive a top-up scholarship for three years of study at Notre Dame Law School and opportunities to work closely with the de Nicola Center's affiliated faculty and fellows, interact with speakers and guests of the Center, conduct scholarly research, and receive special career mentoring and summer internship opportunities. Loop joins our 2020 Polking Fellow, Veronica "Ronnie" Webb (3L), and our 2021 Polking Fellow, John Paul "Jack" Ferguson (2L).

Loop graduated from the University of Dallas in 2021; completed a summer research internship with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Immigrant Justice Clinic; and worked at Casa Juan Diego in Houston, a Catholic Worker community serving immigrants, refugees, and the poor. She remains the outreach director for New Wave Feminists, a pro-life and pro-woman organization promoting the consistent life ethic.

"My work with New Wave Feminists convinced me that the law is one of the best ways to provide relief and assistance, to reshape our national attitude towards the vulnerable," says Loop. "And my short time working with immigrants and refugees at Casa Juan Diego also had a huge impact on my career hopes. We can only achieve a culture of life through a recognition of human dignity at all stages, from the womb to the tomb, in our own homes and around the world. The Polking Family Fellowship will connect me with like-minded scholars and advocates, helping me make a lasting impact for the defense of life."

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Bruce McCuskey is our 2022 David Solomon Fellow. Established in 2016 in honor of the Center's founding director, the Solomon Fellowship is awarded annually on a competitive basis to an outstanding incoming doctoral student in the College of Arts and Letters whose research interests align with the dCEC's work and mission. Solomon Fellows receive five years of financial support, special career mentoring and research funding, networking opportunities, and incorporation into the life of the center. McCuskey joins our existing Solomon Fellows, Tyler Castle (Political Science), Evelyn Behling (Political Science), and Andreas Waldstein (Philosophy).

McCuskey holds a bachelor's degree from Washington and Lee University, as well as a Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School. He joins Notre Dame's Medieval Institute, where his doctoral studies will examine the distinct ways in which Jewish and Christian philosophers in the Renaissance retrieved Platonic thought about the immortality of the soul and incorporated it into ongoing debates within and between their traditions.

"The fruits of this research will naturally serve the de Nicola Center’s mission of integrally forming students in light of the Catholic intellectual tradition," said McCuskey. "The particular value of my research project lies in the fact that it separates the distinct interwoven strands that form the Catholic intellectual tradition. Fifteenth century debates over the immortality of the soul were inextricable from debates over what was the chief good of human life一pleasure or virtue. In probing the ethical dimensions over seemingly esoteric debates over immortality and the nature of the soul, my project will serve the Center’s commitment to fostering virtuous human lives oriented towards their proper, transcendent end."

The de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture is committed to sharing the richness of the Catholic moral and intellectual tradition through teaching, research, and public engagement, at the highest level and across a range of disciplines.

For more information on the dCEC Mission Fellowships, visit