Doctoral candidate Shaun Evans named 2021 Lilly Graduate Fellow

Author: Erin Blasko

Shaun Evans

Shaun Evans, a doctoral candidate in theology at the University of Notre Dame, has been named a 2021 Lilly Graduate Fellow. He is one of 10 Lilly Graduate Fellows from a pool of more than 60 applicants nationwide.

Established with a grant from the Lilly Endowment and based at Christ College, the interdisciplinary honors college at Valparaiso University, the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program supports exceptionally well qualified young people who have bachelor’s degrees from Lilly Fellowship Program Network Schools and who are interested in becoming teacher-scholars at church-related colleges and universities in the U.S.

Fellows participate in a three-year program in which they meet regularly with a mentor, attend four conferences, participate in a long-distance colloquium and receive an annual $3,000 stipend to use at their discretion.

A native of Erie, Pennsylvania, Evans worked closely with Jenny Smith, undergraduate research adviser with the Flatley Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement at Notre Dame, to apply for the fellowship.

“Shaun is an outstanding example of a bright mind formed by the humanities at Notre Dame, having studied in the theology, philosophy and classics departments during his time here. We are exceptionally pleased that his intellectual curiosity, diligent work ethic and commitment to integrating faith and learning have been recognized by the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program,” said Smith.

“The Lilly Graduate Fellows Program will be a wonderful opportunity to come to know other graduate students committed to church-affiliated higher education and to receive mentorship from senior scholars who view their teaching as a form of Christian service,” Evans said. “I am grateful to the many members of the faculty of the Department of Theology at Notre Dame who have modeled for me an integration of academic work and Christian vocation, and I am especially grateful to Professors Joseph Wawrykow, Yury Avvakumov and David Lincicum, who wrote letters of recommendation in support of my application, and to Professors Ann Astell and Robin Jensen, who first informed me about the Lilly program.”

Evans completed his bachelor’s degree in theology in 2018 and his master’s degree in theology in 2020, both at Notre Dame. He was a Sorin Fellow, a member of the Glynn Family Honors Program, a mentor in faith at the McGrath Institute for Church Life and a Graduate School Dean’s Fellow. He spent spring 2017 studying in Rome with Notre Dame International.

Evans is currently pursuing his doctorate in theology at Notre Dame, with a focus on the intersection of Christology and grace in the thought of Thomas Aquinas. Ultimately, he hopes to teach at a Catholic college or university, where he can introduce students to the riches of the Christian theological tradition — in particular, the medieval understanding of Christ’s involvement in the Christian’s life of grace.

For more on this and other fellowship opportunities, visit

Contact: Erin Blasko, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-4127,