Tracy Jennings

Author: Tom Hite

Tracy Jennings 2

Classics major Tracy Jennings '10 won a prestigious Clarendon Scholarship to Oxford University. 

"I did not come to Notre Dame intending to major in Classics, yet the decision to do so was one of the most formative choices in my life.  The opportunities provided by this department are outstanding.

In the classroom, the professors challenged us to think deeper. A typical class was not just about the text or the historical facts; we deliberated the nature of humanity, politics, authorship--the ‘big’ questions that have been asked since antiquity itself.  The courses themselves were interdisciplinary, touching on everything from literary criticism to political theory and physics.  Classics seems to be the heart of a liberal education.

Outside the classroom I had equally great opportunities to grow. The department supports two students to attend a specialized Classics program in Rome each semester. It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to spend three months in a community of academic peers from across the country and to get a behind-the-scenes look into archaeological sites and museums. We spent only one day of the week inside the classroom and the others visiting sites in Rome and around Italy. 

The Classical world is best experienced in person, and the Classics department was extremely supportive in providing opportunities to do so. Twice, a professor led a class of students abroad to engage with the material culture that complemented the literature read in class. Independently, I travelled in Greece to visit various museums and famous Classical ruins supported by a grant from the Hritzu-Erickson Summer Bursary. The department’s encouragement to explore and immerse oneself in the field is remarkable.  

Yet the biggest impact came from the mentoring and academic support from the professors. They always went beyond expectation in providing feedback and advice.  Reflecting on my four years at Notre Dame, I know that I, a hesitant Classicist at first, would not be where I am today without their guidance: at Oxford University on scholarship studying for a Masters degree in Roman History. Here, I have access to its unparalleled library, its Classical art collection, and the largest concentration of ancient historians in the world. This amazing postgraduate opportunity is a direct result of what I experienced at Notre Dame."