Blake Ziegler is a senior from New Orleans, Louisiana who graduated with majors in political science and philosophy. Ziegler, who had attended Catholic school his entire life, wanted a school that would help him “develop spiritually, academically, personally, and professionally.” Thus, he chose Notre Dame for the Holy Cross model of educating the mind and the heart.
Ziegler was also drawn to Notre Dame’s “stellar departments of political science and philosophy,” he said. Although he was originally interested in political theory and constitutional law, Ziegler was drawn to the intersection of religion and politics.
“Professor David Campbell and Professor Jeffrey Layman showed me an amazing field of the way religion intersects with politics,” Ziegler said. Taking classes with these professors led him to begin researching religious liberty and other issues involving religion and politics. It was through this research that Ziegler discovered the Tocqueville Fellowship.
Ziegler was admitted as a fellow during the spring semester of his freshman year. He then participated in the fellowship for five of the following six semesters.
For Ziegler, the best part of being a Tocqueville Fellow was the exposure to conflicting viewpoints and the ability to debate them. Ziegler cited the Tocqueville Fellowship as a place where students can confront meaningful issues in a more direct way than is possible in a regular classroom. He said that the chance to engage with his peers on meaningful and prescient issues, even though he often had a conflicting idea of these solutions, was an extremely valuable part of his intellectual formation.
Following graduation, Ziegler will return home to New Orleans to teach high school social studies at the Delores Taylor Arthur School. Passionate about teaching and education, Ziegler hopes to one day return to school and attain a master’s degree so that he can teach and research at a university level.
In the meantime, Ziegler will miss the way of life on campus. He believes that the ability to easily meet with and talk with fellow students is something very special. For Ziegler, some of his closest friendships were formed over serendipitous encounters that led to deeper conversations. Other than beating Clemson in football (twice), the ease with which students can interact with each other on Notre Dame campus is what Ziegler will miss the most.
He is, however, very grateful for the memories and experiences Notre Dame, and the Tocqueville Fellowship in particular, have given him. As Ziegler notes, “Those were the things that will stick with me forever.”
This article was contributed by CCCG Writing Fellow Luca Fanucchi.