Catching up with Teayanna Leytham '21, ESTEEM '22

Author: Sarah Kubinski


Teayanna Leytham '21 has always made the most of her time at Notre Dame, in the classroom as she pursued her Chemical Engineering degree and outside of it, leading clubs and studying abroad in Ireland. In particular, she maximized her summers during college. After freshman year, she was a Fulbright Summer Institute Scholar in Scotland (and also traveled to Rome with the College of Engineering). The following summer she headed to Washington, DC to take part in consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton's Summer Games, a 10-week internship that serves as a start-up accelerator, solving real-world problems. When COVID-19 turned all internships remote, Teayanna paired with Dairy Management Inc (DMI), a consulting firm in Illinois. This was a wonderful connection through Megan Macri in Notre Dame's Chicago Office and Tom Gallagher, Adjunct Professor in Mendoza College of Business and CEO of DMI. All of these experiences confirmed Teayanna's strong interest in entrepreneurship, consulting and problem-solving. These experiences also led her to ESTEEM.

Notre Dame's ESTEEM program is an 11-month master of science program that combines engineering and business students from across the world for an in-depth exploration of entrepreneurship. "I honestly love it," Teayanna shared recently. "I started in June and I am surrounded by extroverted STEM majors who are passionate about being a positive force of change in the world." This experience has also shown her how much she loves being part of the start up community and involved in research and development. "I love how it's all about growing and changing."

ESTEEM includes a capstone project where companies and Notre Dame professors propose projects and students interview before mutually selecting a project for the year. As luck would have it, Teayanna's top choice was a project with DMI. Teayanna is researching alternative bioplastic packaging solutions and will take DMI through all of the steps to a launch strategy. She appreciates that this project has academic and professional deliverables. "I have a great project manager at DMI and a wonderful advisor on campus and both support me because I absolutely want to do my best." 

Teayanna also plans to take part in the IDEA Center's McCloskey competition. "I have my own idea and I am also planning to pair with someone in my program on his project." Despite being busy, Teayanna eschews the cult of busyness. Like her time as an undergraduate, she remains directed and intentional about her activities and what she chooses to spend her time doing. It's a recipe that ensures she will flourish wherever she goes.