Corrinne Carlson, originally from Southern California, graduated in May with a major in the Program of Liberal Studies and minors in Constitutional Studies, Theology, and Medieval Studies.
Carlson entered Notre Dame with the intent to major in the Program of Liberal Studies and quickly added the Constitutional Studies minor after speaking with CCCG Director Phillip Muñoz. Carlson joined his Constitutionalism, Law and Politics class during her first semester at Notre Dame, and she became a Tocqueville Fellow that spring.
While a fellow, Carlson was able to take a one-credit class with Justice Clarence Thomas in the fall of her junior year. She considers this her favorite Constitutional Studies class, recalling the awe of “just being in the room” with Justice Thomas. “I loved see[ing] how humble and personable and funny he is," she said. "He really opened up his whole personality to us, and it was really cool to get to know him personally instead of just seeing him on stage [at his lecture].”
Carlson also enjoyed Professor Muñoz’s Constitutional Law class. “I really loved reading all of the cases, arguing about them, and understanding the Constitution more deeply and how the Supreme Court operates,” she said.
Another noteworthy class for Carlson was a course on Abraham Lincoln’s political thought, which Professor Muñoz co-taught with Professor Emeritus Michael Zuckert. Carlson deeply enjoyed reading Lincoln’s writings and delving deeply into the “difficulties of the situation [Lincoln] was faced with and how he was so prudential and wise in the way that he handled it," she said. "That was very inspiring.”
Throughout the summers, Carlson worked in healthcare and employment law at a firm in Southern California. Last summer, she interned for Sen. Ted Cruz in Washington, D.C., which was supported in party by a grant from the CCCG.
“I got to meet with constituents, meet with a lot of different staffers and senators, research some of the legislative projects our staff was working on, sit in on judiciary committee hearings, and do capital tours," she said. "It was a great experience. I learned so much about the way the country works and law-making and politics … which is really interesting to me.”
A particularly memorable experience at the CCCG for Carlson was a colloquium about free speech during her sophomore year. “We had such an amazing conversation. There were so many different perspectives, but everyone was really invested,” she said, remembering that the conversation continued into dinner and after the seminar was over. “It really fueled a lot of thought and made me more interested in maybe going into a career having something to do with politics, the Constitution, and defending our freedoms,” she said.
Carlson praises the community that the CCCG gave her during her time at Notre Dame: “I’ve met so many amazing people through Tocqueville—peers and speakers and scholars—who are willing to talk about important issues, see other perspectives, have a respectful dialogue, and also just have fun together and hang out together … that’s been the best part for me.”
“The Center really provides an opportunity for students to engage with questions that are going to affect every person as an American citizen and as a person living in our world today,” Carlson said.
“It’s not often that we think about these issues very deeply, I think we take a lot of them for granted, and to have the chance to really sit down and think about them, discuss them with others, and hear from some of the best minds thinking about these issues of what it means to be an American, what it means to be a neighbor, what it means to be a good citizen," she said. "That’s really important and a part of my education that I’ve really valued."
This fall, Carlson will work in education policy in Washington, D.C., at Parents Defending Education, which she was matched with through the Public Interest Fellowship.
Article contributed by CCCG Writing Fellow Merlot Fogarty.