Brady Stiller of Madisonville, Louisiana, has been named valedictorian and Love Osunnuga from Granger, Indiana, was selected as salutatorian of the 2020 University of Notre Dame graduating class.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Notre Dame has postponed the 175th University Commencement Ceremony until Memorial Day weekend of May 2021. During that ceremony, Stiller will present the valedictory address and Osunnuga will deliver the invocation.
A biological sciences major in the College of Science, Stiller also is a double major in theology in the College of Arts and Letters. He carries a 4.0 grade point average, is a member of the University’s Dean’s List and Phi Beta Kappa honor society and was named Outstanding Biological Scientist by the Department of Biological Sciences.
Stiller was an undergraduate research assistant in associate professor Jason McLachlan’s lab, where he conducted recovery and germination of marsh seeds to study ecosystem adaptation to environmental changes. He also designed a breeding protocol and conducted a breeding experiment to produce individuals of a flowering plant species. During the summer of 2018, he served as a research assistant at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Maryland, conducting an experiment to study the same plant species.
At Notre Dame, he guided small groups of first-year students in weekly philosophical discussions as a dialogue facilitator in the God and the Good Life Fellows Program directed by Meghan Sullivan, the Rev. John A. O’Brien Collegiate Chair and Professor of Philosophy.
While studying abroad in the Notre Dame London Program during the fall of 2018, Stiller worked as a teacher’s assistant at St. Thomas More Language College, a secondary school, supporting students in the classroom and facilitating instruction. As a senior, Stiller wrote a 180-page thesis on the idea of vocation, using the writings of 20th-century English Catholic author G.K. Chesterton, which he studied at the Notre Dame London Global Gateway, now home to the Chesterton Library. Stiller plans to continue editing the work with aspirations of future publication.
Throughout his undergraduate experience, Stiller was deeply involved in various service activities. He served as an intern in the Office of Campus Ministry, coordinating weekly teaching sessions for participants preparing for Catholic sacraments; was a mentor-in-faith with the Notre Dame Vision program and a community assistant for the Office of Residential Life; participated in five local house builds with the Notre Dame chapter of Habitat for Humanity; and was a member of the Knights of Columbus and a volunteer with Foodshare, an organization that packages unconsumed food from campus dining halls and delivers it to Hope Ministries homeless shelter in South Bend.
In Dunne Hall, he was a Mass lector and Eucharistic minister and was a co-founder of the hall’s food sales business.
He has applied to the Master of Nonprofit Administration program in Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, where he plans to continue discerning a call to a lifetime of ministry as a Jesuit priest.
Osunnuga, a biological sciences and honors mathematics double major, is a member of the University’s Glynn Family Honors Program, Phi Beta Kappa honor society and Dean’s List and is a Stamps Foundation Merit Scholar. She carries a 4.0 grade point average and was named the recipient of the College of Science Dean’s Award and the GE Prize for Excellence in Mathematics.
As an undergraduate, Osunnuga participated in molecular cell biology research and also studied Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease in the lab of the Morris Pollard Professor and Chair Crislyn D’Souza-Schorey. Her senior thesis, titled “Role of Von Hippel-Lindau in Tumor Cell Invasion,” focuses on her contributions to the lab’s VHL project.
Her extracurricular activities at Notre Dame included involvement with the Biology Club and the Multicultural Pre-Medical Society and work with the Summer Service Learning Program in Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns. She volunteered with various programs at the University’s Robinson Community Learning Center, and also served as a genetics teaching assistant, a chemistry and math tutor, an ONEXYS coach and an emergency room scribe at Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center in Mishawaka. She also plays the violin and piano and has worked at Suzuki Music School as a piano accompanist for the past five years.
Osunnuga has been accepted into nine medical schools and has chosen to attend the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine as a 21st Century Scholarship recipient.
In addition to offering the invocation during the Class of 2020 University Commencement Ceremony in 2021, Osunnuga will be prepared to deliver a valedictory address should the valedictorian be unable to do so.
The Notre Dame valedictorian and salutatorian selection process begins by identifying the top three students with the highest grade point averages in each college or school. Those students then complete an application process that includes letters of recommendation from faculty members and a draft of their Commencement speech. A selection committee chooses finalists who are approved by University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
Originally published by Sue Ryan at news.nd.edu on May 06, 2020.