ND Journey: Architecture Major Ricardo Pedraza Explores Rome in Academic Year Abroad

Author: Jessica Frazier

When starting his college search, Ricardo Pedraza '24, like many others, turned to Google for answers, searching for "top schools in architecture in the United States."

The program at the Notre Dame School of Architecture caught Pedraza's attention when it appeared in a list. Motivated by their nearly 100% job placement rate and the requirement to spend the third academic year living and studying in Rome, Italy, Pedraza decided to apply. As a student who had not traveled outside of the country, he sought the opportunity to learn abroad.

Ricardo Pedraza studies abroad with the Notre Dame Rome Studies Program as an architecture student.

Pedraza, now a fifth-year architecture student with a minor in real estate, attests that studying abroad in Italy has significantly altered his perspective on life and the role of architecture in daily life and culture.

"I think the year in Rome, in general, is one of the most life-changing paths people can take,” Pedraza says. “You get to experience so many cultures in Italy and different countries in Europe. You get to explore the culture, food, architecture, and an urban environment. It’s so important to see other cultures and how they live."

The Rome Studies Program invites students to deepen their knowledge of architecture and gain valuable life experiences. Courses, conducted in the city of Rome using the facilities at the Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway, encompass design studios, drawing and watercolor, architectural theory, and architectural history.

For Pedraza, the journey to Notre Dame, and subsequently to Rome, has not been without obstacles. Born in Mexico City, Mexico, he moved to the United States as a child. As a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) student, he required a permit to stay in the country and had to apply for a work permit to study in the United States. Pedraza expresses gratitude for the support he received from Notre Dame and the School of Architecture throughout this process.

"Notre Dame is very special when it comes to resources provided. I have been a special case, and the university and the School of Architecture have been able to provide resources and support for me in these special circumstances. Notre Dame is super open to accepting you with open arms and taking your situation and guiding you through it and giving you the education you need and deserve."

During his first four years on campus, Pedraza found the Fighting Irish Scholars program to be particularly helpful in navigating life as a first-generation college student. Administered through the Office of Student Enrichment, this program assists students in understanding their financial aid packages, finding community on campus, and awarding a scholarship for discretionary use.

On campus, Pedraza discovered his community within Walsh Family Hall, among fellow Arkies. “As an Arkie, you live, breathe, and sweat architecture,” says Pedraza. “The architecture program is a tight-knit and connected bubble on Notre Dame’s campus. You can ask anyone—professors or peers—for help or feedback, and you will get it, helping you to grow.”

Reflecting on his time at Notre Dame as a senior, Pedraza emphasizes the strength of the Notre Dame community, stating, “The spirit of Notre Dame easily comes down to the one word that gets tossed around all the time, but that’s community. I’ve always had professors who care and love what they are doing. It is liberating to know you won’t be limited by your past experiences or your hometown; Notre Dame is going to help you become the student you are meant to be.”


Originally published by Jessica Frazier at admissions.nd.edu on March 19, 2024.