College of Science graduates among Alumni Association and YoungND’s 2021 Domer Dozen honorees

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The Notre Dame Alumni Association announced its 2021 Domer Dozen cohort, honoring 12 graduates ages 32 and younger for excellence in their contributions in faith, service, learning or work — the core pillars of the association’s mission.

The Domer Dozen program is the signature initiative of YoungND, the Alumni Association’s young alumni affinity group. The 2021 honorees have displayed extraordinary dedication to the Alumni Association’s mission and have excelled in education, health care, peace building, law, engineering, entrepreneurship, and journalism, among other areas. They were chosen by a selection committee consisting of the YoungND board, University officials and Alumni Association staff, who considered 88 nominees this summer and evaluated them based on a weighted ranking system and their contributions in their respective fields.

“Since our inaugural Domer Dozen cohort, I have been blown away by the incredible accomplishments of our young alumni, and this year is no different,” said Dolly Duffy, executive director of the Alumni Association and associate vice president for University Relations. “These outstanding graduates are agents of change and innovation, peace and justice, healing and education. Their positive influence in their communities and in the world in their short time beyond the Dome is a testament to the power of the Notre Dame ethos to nurture the mind, body and spirit.”

The 2021 Domer Dozen honorees are:

  • Dr. Rene Bermea ’12 — Saving lives in the ICU and conducting groundbreaking biomedical research
  • Matt Conaghan ’15 — Helping charities grow with the power of spare change
  • Dr. Claire Conley ’12 — Improving the lives of cancer patients and reducing health disparities
  • Kiersten DeHaven ’14 — Empowering female entrepreneurs in rural Ethiopia
  • Dr. Austin Hickman ’16 — Engineering breakthroughs to improve defense and communication capabilities
  • Michael Hillmer ’17 — Defending the nation in the cyber domain
  • Marissa Koscielski ’17, ’18 M.S. — Challenging the status quo to improve mobility care
  • Zoe (Rote) Kourajian ’16 — Innovating to give students of all backgrounds a place in the American story
  • Sarah Mervosh ’12 — Delivering empathetic and informative journalism in service of the common good
  • Tia B. Paulette ’18 J.D. — Pursuing justice for the wrongly convicted and underprivileged
  • Jessica Pedroza ’17 — Advocating for educational equity
  • Qing Zhu ’19 MGA — Promoting positive peace and sustainability in China

The honorees are invited back to campus Friday and Saturday, Sept. 10 and 11 for a special recognition weekend. The Domer Dozen will be celebrated during an awards dinner with the YoungND board and Alumni Association staff members and will also be recognized in Notre Dame Stadium during the football game against Toledo.

Domer Dozen honorees will share brief talks about their life and experiences since graduating from Notre Dame during “My Path: Stories of Inspiration from the 2021 Domer Dozen” at 2 p.m. Friday (Sept. 10) at the Andrews Auditorium in Geddes Hall. Students, faculty, staff and visitors are invited to attend the event, which is free and open to the public. Masks will be required. For more information, visit and follow YoungND on Instagram.