A native of northern Kentucky, Zach Thapar graduated in May with a major in political science and global affairs, with a major in international development studies. He was a Menard Tocqueville Family Scholar throughout his time at Notre Dame, joining the program in the spring of his freshman year. The scholarship helped Thapar explore his academic interests and pursue research and internships — and eventually employment — related to his passions.
“All the cool things I did throughout college go back to that program,” he said.
Thapar’s academic interests involve international development policy, national security policy, and education, and he has researched international education policy through the Kellogg International Scholars program.
After her freshman year, Thapar spent five weeks in Peru working with a nonprofit organization and conducting volunteer education and public health research — a trip funded in part by the Tocqueville Fellowship.
“I knew early on that one thing I was interested in was education policy, both at home and abroad in terms of international development,” he said. “Much of my research has focused on a niche topic: the impact of early opportunity Catholic education on marginalized populations in postcolonial environments. Thapar is currently working on publishing an article on the impact of Catholic education in New Orleans, LA.
“A study in Benin found that Catholic schools, by providing early education to indigenous and disadvantaged populations, helped these populations over time to have much higher literacy rates and much higher levels of economic development. “, he explained. “So over the last three years, a lot of my research has focused on this same phenomenon in New Orleans. There was a group of Ursuline nuns present since about 1727, and I studied how the school which they founded helped foster a community of Catholic education and education more broadly in New Orleans, which led to very high rates of literacy and home ownership, especially among black women.
Complementing his interest in education and international development, Thapar found his Constitutional Studies classes helpful in his summer internships. As an intern at the Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, he drew on insights from the international law class of CCCG faculty member Emilia Justyna Powell to approach foreign policy work.
As a Tocqueville Fellow, Thapar participated in colloquia on topics such as freedom of expression, immigration, and the political thought of Frederick Douglass, among others.
“The opportunity to read and talk to people in a seminar on things like free speech has been really cool,” he said. “Even though a lot of us agree on some things, there can be a lot of disagreements on these issues when we actually talk about it, so it’s super interesting to think about it, to learn from each other. and to be able to express what you think without being embarrassed.
He also enjoyed attending the conferences organized by the CCCG, including the additional events organized with the speakers of the Tocqueville scholars. Thapar’s favorite event during his time as a fellow was spending the week with Judge Clarence Thomas last fall, but he also enjoyed the CCCG-hosted abortion debate in the spring, which brought together the pro-life Alexandra DeSanctis and pro-choice Jill Filipovic to debate whether legal access to abortion is necessary for women’s freedom and equality. “You don’t get to hear that kind of debate that doesn’t just happen on Twitter,” he said.
Thapar’s next steps are with the Public Interest Fellowship, which is a two-year program that arranges a full-time placement each year in addition to providing continuing educational and professional training. He became connected to the public interest scholarship through a Tocqueville scholarship alumnus.
“I’m obviously very grateful for the experience I had at Notre Dame, and I think having these communities like Tocqueville Fellows has been such a big part of that experience,” he said. declared. “Not only being able to meet friends through this, but also hearing speakers, meeting various professors and having a mentor like Professor Munoz has been really great.”
Originally posted by constudies.nd.edu on August 04, 2022.at