DeSomer and Kozemzak named co-valedictorians

April 13, 2017 (Notre Dame, Ind.) — Saint Mary’s College has named Elise deSomer, a studio art and English literature double major from South Bend, and Brianna Kozemzak, a computing and applied mathematics major, of Eagan, Minnesota, co-valedictorians of the class of 2017.

Elise deSomer

DeSomer and Kozemzak will deliver a joint valedictory address at the College’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 20.
DeSomer, who is also earning a minor in English writing, studied object-oriented ontology with associate professor of art Krista Hoefle. DeSomer’s work was featured in the summer 2016 issue of Courier

Brianna Kozemzak

Kozemzak, who is also earning a minor in chemistry, was recently awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, which recognizes and supports outstanding students who are pursuing research-based masters and doctoral degrees in science and engineering. She is the second Saint Mary’s student to receive the fellowship, which provides three years tuition for students who have demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering. Kozemzak is still deciding on a graduate school, but she plans to pursue a PhD in bioinformatics.

In summer 2016, Kozemzak examined the movement of copper through bacterial cells with Dr. Pedro Mendes at UConn Health in Farmington, Connecticut. Kozemzak also developed a mathematical model for mumps outbreaks in small communities with professor Elizabeth Wolf as part of a Student Independent Study and Research (SISTAR) grant at Saint Mary’s.  

For her senior comprehensive project, Kozemzak analyzed DNA sequencing data to look at a new approach for identifying genetic factors that might contribute to complex diseases such as cancer.

For more information about the 170th Commencement, visit

About Saint Mary's College: Celebrating over 175 years of empowering women to make a difference in the world, Saint Mary’s College is recognized as a pioneer and continued force in the education of women. A Catholic, liberal arts institution in Notre Dame, Indiana, the College offers more than 50 undergraduate academic programs and also offers co-educational master’s degrees.

Contact for News Media: Haleigh Ehmsen, Media Relations Associate, Saint Mary’s College, (574) 284-5343

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