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Home > Spotlights > Undergraduate Student Spotlights > Senior Ian Tembe Talks about Research, Pursuit of Fellowships, and His Experience with CUSE

Senior Ian Tembe Talks about Research, Pursuit of Fellowships, and His Experience with CUSE

AUTHOR: Nina Welding

PUBLISHED: November 29, 2016

The Flatley Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement (CUSE) at the University of Notre Dame promotes the intellectual development of Notre Dame undergraduates through scholarly engagement, research, creative endeavors, and the pursuit of fellowships. Although CUSE works with over 1,000 Domers each year, not everyone knows about all of its services. Even then it’s good to get the perspective of someone who has experienced those services, like the College of Engineering’s Ian Tembe.

Tembe is studying chemical engineering and philosophy. In speaking with CUSE staff, he shared some tips for other students interested in pursuing fellowships and other scholarly activities. 

Q: What brought you into the CUSE office for the first time?
I wanted to become a Rhodes Scholar, and I heard that CUSE was the place to go for guidance. Sorin Scholars appealed to me as well. The main selling point of Sorin Scholars for me was the individualized counseling on national and international fellowships offered.     
Q: What has being a member of the Sorin Scholars done for you?
Sorin Scholars has given me an opportunity to engage in academic matters outside of class with those who share my passion for learning. I have stayed involved because I believe in and am dedicated to the mission of making such passion the norm on campus and fostering it in all who have it.

Q: Fellowships and scholarships usually focus on monetary support, but are their other ways in which the CUSE staff helped you through the application processes?
I received much personalized advice on my fellowship application process for the Rhodes, as well as on funding options for different programs I was interested in. As an NROTC student, my situation regarding postgraduate education/fellowships/etc. is different from many other students, and CUSE helped me work through that to achieve my goals, even as they changed over the years.

Q: Was working with the CUSE fellowship team a helpful experience, if you didn’t receive national awards?
Dr. Thibert has given me countless points of advice. This has been very helpful for discerning the details of my postgraduate career, even though it has largely been decided by my NROTC participation.

Q: Tell me about any leadership opportunities CUSE offered you.
The CUSE team supported Lily Kang [‘16, another Sorin Scholar] and me through publishing a book (you can see more about A Letter to My Freshman Self here). Dr. Thibert and the Sorin Scholars coordinator were the first people who took a project I was involved in seriously, and they treated Lily and I as adults who could achieve something in a very real sense. This experience was groundbreaking for me and has given me the courage to pursue projects in ways I previously would not.

Q: What do you think is the most valuable service that CUSE offers?
Without a doubt, it is the confidence it affords students. CUSE believes in the effectuality of students and inspires this belief in themselves. Through grant awards, funding, and advising, CUSE helps cultivate intellectual leaders.

Q: How has CUSE helped to prepare you for life after college? What impact has CUSE had on your life, especially with regard to your future plans?
CUSE has given me the courage to effect change. This will prepare me for the leadership role I must take as a Naval Officer.

Q: Why should other students at ND get involved with CUSE? What advice would you give a first-year student interested in scholarly engagement?
College offers a wide variety of experiences: academic, social, spiritual, and career-related. Because the centerpiece of the university is scholarship, education, and academics, any college students who miss out on this aspect of the university outside the classroom, to pursue individual interests beyond the lecture hall or engage in deep conversation with like — and unlike — minded individuals are doing themselves a disservice. CUSE helps students to engage in that aspect.

For more information about opportunities, contact CUSE at

CUSE also interviewed three other students. To get their perspectives about the benefits of CUSE, click here.

— Kathleen Schuler
Originally published Nov. 28, 2016