MacKenzie Isaac

University of Notre Dame alumna MacKenzie Isaac will study at the University of Oxford in England next year as a member of the United States Rhodes Scholar Class of 2022. She is one of 32 Rhodes Scholars selected from a pool of 826 candidates this year, and is Notre Dame’s 21st Rhodes Scholar 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.

She is from Indianapolis and graduated from Notre Dame in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology. Isaac minored in data science and Latino studies. She was a Kellogg International Scholar, a Building Bridges mentee, an Edward W. Devine Merit Scholar and a nominee for the Truman Scholarship. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in health education from Columbia University Teachers College in New York. She was a Rhodes finalist last year as well. Isaac is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

As a student and scholar, and as a Black woman, Isaac is interested in health equity. Particularly, she is interested in factors such as racism and discrimination that contribute to chronic disease in communities of color, and in promoting holistic well-being for people of color through the creation, delivery and evaluation of health education curricula that take into account the importance of cultural competency and social justice.

As a Kellogg Scholar, Isaac documented the evolution of outmigration and political response to natural disasters in Haiti with Karen Richman, professor of the practice and director of undergraduate studies at the Institute for Latino Studies. She also served as a research assistant to Kim Rollings, former assistant professor of architecture, with the Architecture, Health and Sustainability Research Group in the School of Architecture, a research assistant and assistant community liaison with the Diabetes Impact Project-Indianapolis Neighborhoods (DIP-IN) at the Indiana University Fairbanks School of Public Health, and as a student research fellow with the FACETS program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Active in service and leadership, Isaac served as director of diversity and inclusion for Notre Dame Student Government and a senior multicultural fellow with Lyons Hall Council. She was a seminar co-leader with the Center for Social Concerns, a member and secretary of the Voices of Faith Gospel Choir, a peer advocate and undergraduate programming assistant with the McDonald Center for Student Well-Being and student coordinator of Africana ministry with Notre Dame Campus Ministry.

As part of her work with student government, Isaac was the sole student on the organizing committee for Walk the Walk Week and lead organizer of Race Relations Week, and she successfully brought disability advocacy under the purview of the Department of Diversity and Inclusion. She launched a discussion series on identity and mental health stigmas as an extension of her peer advocacy with the McDonald Center for Student Well-Being. Additionally, she was an executive board member with the Notre Dame Diversity Council, was a member of the vice president for student affairs’ advisory committee on student climate related to race and ethnicity, and played an instrumental role in broaching topics of cultural competency, sensitivity and equity within the Moreau Student Advisory Council.

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

In addition to her studies at Columbia, Isaac currently oversees projects at the intersection of urban planning, community organization and health promotion at Health by Design, where she previously served as an apprentice. She also serves as director of volunteer engagement with Omena Madagascar, where she assists with the creation of an emotional abuse prevention curriculum for the organization’s global network of youth and young adult peer educators; as a Northeast Neighborhood steering committee member with DIP-IN; and as a program instructor and outreach ambassador for the Center for Leadership Development in Indianapolis. 

As a Rhodes Scholar, Isaac plans to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy in population health. Long term, she hopes to work in the area of community health education, advocating for programs and curricula that thoughtfully capture community narratives and resolutely push marginalized narratives toward the center of focus, with the ultimate goal of health care justice.

Notre Dame seniors Patrick Aimone, Jack Boland, Devin Diggs and Greg Miller were also selected as finalists for the Class of 2022.

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