Senior Kaity Veenstra to receive Gates Cambridge scholarship

Author: Jane Morrow

Kaitlyn Veenstra Kaity Veenstra

Kaity Veenstra, a University of Notre Dame senior majoring in architecture, has been awarded a Gates Scholarship to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Cambridge.

Veenstra is one of only 39 students in the U.S. to be selected for the scholarship, which drew more than 700 applicants.

Established in 2001 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates scholars are identified by academics in their fields of study as exceptional researchers who have the ability to make a significant contribution to their intended disciplines. Award recipients also are recognized for their strong leadership skills and understanding of how their research can be applied to the challenges the world is facing today.

As a member of Notre Dame’s Glynn Family Honors Program, Veenstra composed her senior thesis focused on campus master plans at Notre Dame, the University of Virginia and Harvard — an analytical research subject requiring a different approach than her architecture work. “It’s not the same kind of thought that goes into a typical design project,” she says.

For her architecture thesis, Veenstra is designing a manufacturing trade school on a brownfield site formerly occupied by a Ford assembly plant in her hometown of St. Paul, Minn.

“It’s self-motivated, self-driven,” Veenstra says. “It’s a good preparation for students who plan to go into any kind of research career because no one is going to walk you through it. You need to have some initiative.”

She is also a student analyst with GreenScale, a research program in the School of Architecture under the direction of Professor Aimee Buccellato. Veenstra analyzes “green” materials and methods alongside their traditional predecessors to generate data and draw comparisons to determine how to build the most sustainable structures.

Veenstra has served as a board member of Student Activities’ Club Coordination Council, the 2012-13 president of the Student Association for Women in Architecture, and a residential adviser in Howard Hall.

“It’s nice to look back and not feel that I missed anything,” Veenstra says. “I’ve been able to dip my toes into so many pools — from student government, the Glynn Family Honors Program and research — to everything that comes with architecture, including the year in Rome and residence hall life. I’ve gotten exactly what I wanted out of my Notre Dame experience.”

Veenstra’s Gates Cambridge Scholarship was made possible in part through her participation in Notre Dame’s Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement (CUSE). CUSE provides undergraduate students in all the University’s colleges opportunities for research, scholarship, and creative projects. The center also assists them in finding faculty mentors, funding and venues for the publication or presentation of their work, and promotes applications to national Fellowship programs and prepares them in their application process.

More information on CUSE is available online at