Bob Burkett - Intercollegiate Studies Institute

Bob Burkett


Things to know about Bob

A senior at the University of Notre Dame, Bob Burkett is a strong voice for liberty on campus as editor in chief of the Irish Rover, one of the top independent student publications in ISI’s Collegiate Network. His academic and intellectual achievements are equally impressive: he was just one of fifty students in the nation selected as an ISI Honors Scholar last summer, and he will graduate in the spring with a double degree in anthropology and political science.

ISI recently caught up with Bob to discuss his time at Notre Dame, the ISI Honors Program, football, Australia, immigration, and a range of other issues.

“Joining an organization like ISI is important in acquiring the skills, knowledge, and encouragement necessary to make an impact on your own college campus.”

How did you find out about ISI?

I found out about ISI through the Irish Rover, the ISI Collegiate Network publication on the University of Notre Dame’s campus. I was encouraged to get involved with ISI by the former editor in chief of the Irish Rover.

What was the highlight of your undergraduate experience?

Football is obviously a big deal at Notre Dame, and not just the varsity squad. Each of the fifteen guys’ dorms has a football team, and all the games are full-pad and full-contact. The championship game is played in Notre Dame Stadium. My team won the championship playing in the stadium during my junior year. It was a pretty surreal experience to play on that field.

What have you valued most about your ISI experience?

The best part of the ISI experience has been engaging with other students, professors, and ISI program officers, all of whom have so many interests in common. At the ISI Honors Program Summer Conference, I met a number of intelligent, driven, and interesting people and have kept in touch with many of them. It is encouraging to know that there are others all around the country standing up for traditional values.

How have you spent your summers?

In the summer after my freshman year, I was a camp counselor at CYO Camp Rancho Framasa in southern Indiana. I spent part of my sophomore summer there, as well, before interning at a law firm in my hometown of Carmel, Indiana. After studying abroad in Perth, Australia, I spent last summer interning with Indigenous Communities Educational Awareness, an organization that seeks to heal the divide between indigenous and nonindigenous Australians. I also traveled around Australia and to Thailand and New Zealand.

Whom do you admire most, and why?

I admire my dad the most because of his work ethic and perseverance. My dad lost his job in the summer of 2007 and struggled to find a job to support my mom and me thereafter. He operated his own law practice for about three years until he found a job a few months ago. We were living from paycheck to paycheck for a while. He really felt an obligation to provide for our family and did his very best to take care of our needs. I hope that one day I can be as hard of a worker and as good of a provider for my own family.

What advice would you give to other students who want to preserve the principles of liberty?

It is important to get involved with something you are passionate about on campus if you want to preserve the principles of liberty on your college campus. For me, it was the Irish Rover. The best way to fight for your beliefs is not necessarily to speak about them but rather to act on them. The Irish Rover does both—it speaks about issues surrounding the Catholic identity on Notre Dame’s campus and encourages actions to address them. Of course, it also helps to be part of a larger group that shares your values and goals, so joining an organization like ISI is important in acquiring the skills, knowledge, and encouragement necessary to make an impact on your own college campus.

What are your plans after graduation?

Next year I hope to join the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Baltimore or Washington, D.C., working to acclimate immigrants to American culture and give them the skills necessary to find jobs. I have been incredibly blessed by all the opportunities given to me. It is important to give back, and I feel there is no time better than the present.