The stereotype does exist. Catholic. White. Male. The stereotype — like all stereotypes — comes from intelligible truths. High achiever. Rule follower. Neatly groomed. We know who we are. Doctor, lawyer, business executive. Sports fan. We tout our shared values. God, country, Notre Dame. Family. And football. We hold these truths to be self-evident. Leadership and service. Blue blazer and khaki pants. Competitive by nature. Ambitious. Mainstream now, and affluent. Wanting to save the world. And make a difference in our communities. Domers. The Notre Dame family. We are ND. Friends for life. And goodness. Fighting for the good. For what’s right. But clannish. And loyal. Good people. Who take seriously their enjoyments and their physical fitness. And their conscience and intellect. Their heart. And soul.
There is much truth to the stereotype. And fun to be made — as long as the cynic is one of us. But we are not all alike. Even among those who pool snugly into the homogeneity there are variations. Distinct individuals. There are some 133,000 living alumni now. Dorm mates, classmates may be closer than family, but no two are the same. Each has a rich life story. With success and heartbreak, accomplishment and loss, proud moments and buried secrets.
Nearly a third now are women, first admitted as undergrads in 1972, when the “Notre Dame Man” was not a label but an honorific title to be earned through a life of good works. Almost half the 12,000 students these days are women, and today’s alumni-in-the-making are resplendently more diverse, more textured, more global than ever before. Some estimate that by 2020 more than half of all college students will come from what are now considered minority groups.
We all bear the marks of our times. Carry our history. Reflect the world in which we came of age. Those who graduated in the 1950s are different from those who rocked through the 1960s from those who strode into the 21st century. All of us swimming in the mutable currents of our culture. Yet buoyed by this place, each other.
Most of us — but surely not all — are Catholic. But what a kaleidoscope of belief, practice and individual conscience that presents. A range of shadings and hue.
There are sinners and saints among us. And the saintly with imperfections. And humans who perform saintly acts. We are proud, of course, of those with a Nobel or a Pulitzer, athletes and CEOs, those who save, enrich or mend lives. Those who sacrifice and give in exemplary, selfless ways. Those who show us how it should be done. But we embrace — or should — the differences. And know we will not all reach summits but are all on the journey. Together. Glad, in fact, that others are not exactly like us, just as we are grateful that others do not expect us to be like them. But all living out, in our own distinctive style, the Notre Dame education we received. That which we have in common, that shared legacy and sense of faith and principles and intellectual pursuits, even while we seek our own original path.
On the following pages are pictures of us and some stories that tell us more about ourselves and what we can be. Not the best or the top or hand-picked, shining all-stars. Not even Hall of Fame candidates. But people like us. Because this is who we are.
— The editors