Notre Dame Inspires

Author: Readers

This issue’s attention to inspiration started with Ann Hastings ’03, a colleague from marketing communications. She had gathered a bunch of us to talk about Notre Dame — to identify those traits that make the place what it is. She asked each of us to think of some person or class or moment that spoke of Notre Dame or conveyed a sense of what makes this university special.

Ann started with me, asked me for an example, and my life flashed before my eyes.

Four years here as a student, and I’ve worked here for 35 more — and in that time my job has been to understand the place, find and tell the stories, point others to the blood in the bricks.

Choose a single instance?

Good friends and times in Farley Hall? But wait. Farley Hall should say Sister Jean Lenz, OSF. Whose memory reminds me of Griff. Father Bob Griffin, CSC. We were odd-couple lunch companions for years; we talked about it all. But there’s a Holy Cross cemetery full of crosses marking such men, such lives. Sorin. And Hesburgh! How could anyone talk about inspirational Notre Dame moments without Father Ted at or near the top of the list? But that’s so predictable.

“I’ll pass for now,” I said. “Can you come back to me?”

Courtesy of Notre Dame archives

As eyes turned toward others, and the others contributed names, moments and memories, my mind raced over the decades. To walks around the lakes, both solo and in deepest conversation. A trip to the Grotto, to deliver a once-in-a-lifetime petition I had saved for just this one time. And generations of teachers, from O’Malley and Emil T. to Werge, Dunne and many others I don’t know. Faculty whose brilliance and passion are contagious. Hall rectors whose own lives become almost inseparable from the young lives they’re shaping, shepherding. Alumni whose lives and work and sacrifice make the rest of us stop and stare. Colleagues of mine through the years . . .

Ah, there it is. That precious memory emerging. I watched it play in my head. But pushed it away. It’s not what we’re after now.

So I listened to the others and kept trolling the years — the people I’ve admired, things we shared, or a specific time, that meaningful exchange, those numinous moments when you know the universe just winked. Flirted. Gleamed. And there it is again — that image of Jim Gibbons and Jim Murphy.

But we’re mining and collecting golden samples of Notre Dame. That was just a passing moment, not exactly a model to help define the institution.

The query comes back around to me; all faces look expectant. And I can’t escape that day at lunch, a round table at the old University Club.

Jim Murphy was to my right. He had long been an associate vice president for University Relations, a quiet, timorous redwood in a forest of giants. But now he had Parkinson’s and was old and feeble, and food leaked from his mouth to his chin. I found it unappetizing, chose mostly to look away. But Jim Gibbons, the former assistant vice president for University Relations, was on the other side of him. Gibb was another redwood in the land I entered years ago; he had a boyish heart and a thing for sports. He and Murph had worked together for decades. As soon as Gibb spotted the drool, he lifted his own napkin and tenderly dabbed Jim Murphy’s chin, an act that momentarily startled Jim until Gibb so gently and naturally said, “Just a little food there, Jim. I took care of it.” And did so throughout the meal with such care, kindness and respect that the loving gesture has riveted me ever since.

During the meeting that day I couldn’t get past the image of those dear, sweet men — though I chose not to recount the memory then. I deferred once more and added nothing to the day’s conversation.

After the meeting Ann Hastings asked if the magazine had ever asked its readers to send in stories that spoke of Notre Dame, those memorable, moving acts or people that showed them what Notre Dame was all about. I said no, but it’s a great idea. So here you go. Feel encouraged to add your own.

Kerry Temple ’74

I made my first visit to Notre Dame as a high school junior. I came alone but joined a tour group. As on many spring Saturdays in South Bend, the heavens suddenly opened and began bucketing rain. I had neither raincoat nor umbrella and quickly became a sopping, green-corduroy mess. When my shoes started squelching, I ditched the tour. That’s when I stumbled upon the Grotto. I was astonished to find real college students praying, most of them on their knees. It was not Sunday. They were outside, in the rain, and they didn’t have to be there. Notre Dame hooked me then. Being public about one’s spiritual longing was not just okay, it was normal.
— Meg Egan Auderset ’88

I was running, head-down, up the stairs of the O’Shaughnessy tower when — wham! — I smacked into a little old man who bellowed, “Young man, where are you going in such a hurry?” I was heading to WSND, I said, where I had a program at the student radio station, even though I was an engineering major. “Engineering?” he asked. “What are you doing in engineering? Come see me.” And when Professor Tom Stritch showed me around the communications art department — subjects I loved — I switched majors, went into filmmaking and for 50 years have lived the adage: If you love what you do for a living, you’ll never work a day in your life.
— Andy Burd ’62

Just two miles separate the house I grew up in from my freshman residence in Siegfried Hall. So you can see how, making the transition to college, it was hard to fight the feeling I’d never left home. But more than 11,000 miles separate South Bend from Perth, Australia, the spot I landed for my study-abroad semester junior year. Beyond providing the requisite new culture, unknown landscape and introduction to an exotic young lady, my time there offered that first welcome thrill of flight, the experience of being alone and unbeholden to the old and familiar.
— James Seidler ’02

I’m sure he was in the middle of something important, but Father Jim welcomed me into his room late that Friday night as if he had been expecting me. I sat and stammered until I could no longer keep it in: “I’m gay.” I had already decided that his response would determine whether I would stay three more years at Notre Dame in order to graduate. He hugged me. Of all the things he could have said or done, he chose love. Thirteen years ago, Father Jim Lies, CSC, offered me love, ultimately inspiring me to love myself.
— Steven Saftig ’03

September 1952. 15 years old. First Dominican Republic citizen to attend Notre Dame; received a bachelor’s degree in commerce at age 19. Worked as Father William Cunningham’s secretary. “Best student secretary I ever had,” said Father Bill in a letter that I still treasure. Julie, the Belgian lady who made our beds at Zahm, became my fairy godmother, washed my socks, took care of my colds. Jenny at the bookstore, a true angel. Dr. Raymond Kent, my foremost mentor in finance, and M. Coty, the French professor who threatened to tell my French-speaking grandmother if I didn’t improve my grades. A long life has been lived ever since those days, but those were without any doubt the very best four years of my life.
— Juan R. Pacheco ’56

I went to Notre Dame to become a doctor but hated chemistry, dreaded “orgo” and loathed physics. My roommate (who became a doctor) and I used to go to 11 p.m. Mass at Sorin College after late-night studying on the 13th floor of the ’brare. After Mass, Father Edward “Monk” Malloy, CSC, ’63, ’67M.A., ’69M.A. opened up his corner turret room for “chats.” I marveled at his towering bookshelves packed end to end and at his books stacked high on his desk and floor. I learned that Monk started out similarly misguided in the sciences and, with his support, I summoned the courage to tell my father that medicine just wasn’t for me. Even when Monk became University president, he always made time for me, took my calls, wrote me letters and in 2005 baptized my twin boys.
— Maggie Green Cambria ’88

Fellow Keenan Hall resident Mike Rooney ’92 and I were walking across North Quad in the spring of our sophomore year when he bent down to pick up a penny on the sidewalk. Only, he didn’t pick it up. He turned it over and kept walking. Huh? I stopped and asked what that was all about. “It was on tails,” he shrugged. And? Embarrassed, he spoke quickly. “It was on tails, so I turned it over on heads so the next person gets the good luck.” Twenty-three years later, I think about my best friend every time I turn over a penny on tails.
— Jamie Reidy ’92

My tightknit community at Notre Dame experienced a deep divide the week of our graduation in May of 2009. To my delight, and roughly half of my class’s dismay, President Barack Obama had been invited to deliver our commencement address. Pro-life and pro-choice activists lined the streets of Notre Dame Ave with megaphones and banners, and every major newspaper documented the divide — for once, we weren’t on the same team. But the day of President Obama’s speech, our other president, Father John I. Jenkins, CSC, ’76, ’78M.A., stood at the podium and melted the divide. We’ll never stop talking to those who differ with us, he told us. We’re better than that. Five minutes into President Obama’s address, a heckler interrupted him by shouting “Abortion is murder!” My class stood up and shouted louder, “WE ARE ND!” Obama broke from his script after that, telling us, “We’re not going to shy away from things that are uncomfortable sometimes.” Our two presidents delivered the greatest lesson I had learned in four years. Open hearts, open minds, we are ND.
— Kristen Dold ’09

I was incredibly inspired by the efforts of Father Joe Corpora, CSC, ’76. ’83M.Div., to found a Catholic school at my parish in a largely poor and Hispanic area of Phoenix in 1993. Despite getting an initial “no” on the project from the local bishop, Father Joe raised more than $2 million to build the school and provide it with an endowment. Based on his example, my wife and I developed the courage to start an orphanage in South Africa. But that project never would have happened if not for the inspiration provided by Father Joe, who proved that anything is possible for those who believe.
— Bob Solis ’84

It was spring of my senior year. I dropped off our independent study examination on the history of apartheid in South Africa and Notre Dame’s position regarding investment in companies doing business there. Father David Burrell, CSC, ’54 was unavailable, talking with someone from a national news outlet. But when I returned to my dorm room, he called me to tell me what a great job we had done. I wasn’t used to department heads calling me.
— Mary Ellen Woods ’80

Photo by Barbara Johnston

It was the last night of Frosh-O. A group of freshmen clad in matching McGlinn Hall T-shirts stood on the grass by the Grotto, hands clasped and candles lit. I don’t remember the exact words or prayers that were said that night, but I’ll never forget the feeling of acceptance and of potential that I felt, standing in the shadow of Mary and the Dome with girls who became like my sisters. McGlinn’s tradition of ending orientation with this candlelight celebration of sisterhood was the springboard that inspired us to make the most of our Notre Dame experience.
— Maura K. Sullivan ’11

Freshman year, first semester. Still adjusting to college life. Lunch in South Dining Hall was followed, MWF, by English 300: Dickens and Dostoyevsky. Seated — sprawled — at a desk beneath the blackboard was a jowly, disheveled sea-lion of a man who, despite his dissipated appearance, somehow managed to strike a profile both imposing and distinguished. His tufts of unkempt white hair, patrician accent and lofty manner of speaking confirmed my imagination’s caricature of the erudite, remote, intimidating . . . PROFESSOR.
Happily for me, cultivating the imagination was his forte. This barely mobile gentleman, it turned out, knew a thing or two about the human predicament and the resources available to transform it. I’ll never forget the day I was startled from my post-lunch drowsiness when his voice accelerated rapidly from a whisper to a scream as he held aloft a copy of Dickens’ sprawling novel, Bleak House. “And what is the Bleak House? Is it the law offices and courts and magistrates consumed fruitlessly with the interminable Jarndyce v. Jarndyce?” he demanded. “NO! NO! NO! The Bleak House is the novel itself — the desperate, noble endeavor to bring order to chaos, to unleash the imagination upon the ambiguity and terror and sublime miracle of the world. Clutch it to your breast as a lifeline!”
I remember little else about that course, but I remember the professor and his redemptive obsession with literature. For this was no less than the extraordinary Joseph M. Duffy Jr., Professor of English at Notre Dame, 1954-1988. He gave my imagination a lifeline.
— Scott Appleby ’78

Photo by Barbara Johnston

Come to me, all, invites the Sacred Heart of Jesus near the Main Building — the best inspiration the University could have given me. Come inquire, ask, pursue, and you will find in surplus. Notre Dame has extended itself to me unconditionally, offering me a home, a family, resources — love. Two years into this revelation, I am celebrating the beauty, friendship and knowledge that I’ve received here simply by seeking. The vision of Jesus, His arms spread, continuously encourages me to keep exploring — and to keep finding the unexpected.
— Sarah Bradtke ’15

It was just after 9/11, ND vs. USC, Friday night pep rally. The special speaker was a New York City policeman. He and his father would attend this game every other year, but this year would be different because his father was a first responder who was killed in the World Trade Center. The place got real emotional. He ended by saying his dad would only want one thing: Kick USC’s ASS!! The place went nuts.
On game day I was lucky enough to have field seats, and next to me was a NYC firefighter who also was involved in 9/11. And there he was picking grass from the field as I was getting my picture taken. ND went on to win that game, and as I type this little story I still get goose bumps from that emotional weekend. I will never forget all the emotions and shirts with the ND symbol colored like the American flag that day.
— Richard “RJ” Pine

Six faces in a photograph. A rotating cast of characters and places behind us: SYR dates, then boyfriends, then fiancés and, finally, husbands. The halls of Lewis and football games, then the Dome on a shining morning in May, and now strange churches and reception halls. But those six faces are always there, together.
— Adrienne Bogacz ’07

It was at the lab theater in Washington Hall that I learned the best stories aren’t necessarily the biggest and the most compelling voices are often the quietest. While the work that happened there was often inspirational, the space itself was inspiring precisely because of what it wasn’t: no proscenium, no upstage, no downstage, no audience seating, no wings, and those damn, always-in-the-way support pillars — just a black box, waiting for your touch and your tread and your unbridled imagination.
— Tricia Nolan Dickinson ’94

Fall of 1968. Annus horribilis. Tet Offensive in Vietnam. King and Robert Kennedy murdered. Urban riots. Delusion brooding in my sophomore soul. Then, in 240 Farley Hall, something amazing. A conversation with Jim Moran ’71 stretched long and miraculously into the night. King’s admonition to honor the American creed was there. So was Spender’s celebration of the truly great. Tennyson’s “Ulysses,” too. Jim was brilliant, funny, determined. To my astonishment, the sun was up before the conversation ended. That night stirred my hunger for powerful words, Promethean ideals. It pulled me back from the edge of angry cynicism. Back to Notre Dame.
— Jerry Kammer ’71

The view from the Douglas Road entrance is generally regarded as ugly — the power plant, parking lots, Grace and Flanner, and the Stepan eyesore all appear before the Dome does. All the same, it was the first view of Notre Dame I ever saw. We drove in midmorning; I remember thinking as we passed the practice fields that I’d never seen a place so full of possibilities. Today I love the beauty of the lakes, the Basilica and the stadium. But whenever I need that extra, unusual inspiration, I walk north and look back. The promise is still there.
— Michael Rangel ’16

Early freshman year, guys from Zahm Hall and girls from Farley Hall decided to go to Farrell’s for a party. We ordered a “Zoo,” the biggest and most colorful bowl of ice cream I had ever seen. We quickly began to devour the ice cream, a frenzied affair, boisterous. At the height of ravenous consumption, when the colors of ice cream began their laminar ooze, I realized I was a player, not an idle spectator. I was really accepted. It was “cool” to love school and excel at science. I could be myself — an inflection point in life’s journey.
— Rob Stell ’78

It all began at Starbucks. Perhaps fate led me to visit the coffee shop, where I met the chair of the Gay and Lesbian Alumni/ae of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College (GALA-ND/SMC). There I mentioned a novel idea: host a gay and lesbian film festival at Notre Dame. Although it seemed daunting, it soon became evident the University was ready to embrace the festival. The 2004 Queer Film Festival created support for gays and lesbians. Not only did we have solidarity, but we also enjoyed an intellectually stimulating festival.
A group of alumni and I gathered in Father Hesburgh’s office to tell him about the event’s success. I will always remember Hesburgh’s blessing, telling us that God loved us and thanking us for our hard work. It was the best weekend at Notre Dame I ever had.
— Liam Dacey ’04

I first visited Notre Dame in the spring of 1960, when I was 9, with Mom; Dad, class of 1935; and my older brother. We came upon the Grotto. One minute we were on tree-lined, sun-dappled walks, then there was this cave behind us and all these candles. Instantly, as if jerked by strings, Dad sprang to the kneeler, bowed his head and struck his chest as one does before the Kyrie. This may be my favorite memory of him: as a young man springing to the railing with such urgency, such devotion.
— Richard Allen Hyde

The semester I took Catherine LaCugna’s course in 1996, she was in remission from cancer. A private woman, she rarely spoke of herself. Curious students in our Master of Divinity program tried to penetrate her reserve, to no avail — with one notable exception. Interacting with a student who was unconvinced that a God of love would allow suffering, Catherine paused for what seemed a long time. “I have experienced severe suffering as of late,” she said softly. “I have also experienced great love from God. My cancer has redeemed me.” The ensuing silence was palpable. The lecture continued, the weekly paper was assigned. Class dismissed.
A brilliant professor, Catherine was a most demanding teacher. I was intimidated and inspired by her intellectual seriousness and her scholarship on Trinitarian theology. My head struggled to comprehend her insight that the doctrine of the Trinity is not merely a theory about God’s “internal self-relatedness” but is about the Triune God’s intimate sharing in — grounding of — our full humanity. The suffering and death of Jesus and the healing breath of the Holy Spirit are one with the creative and sustaining presence of the Father. Our redemption partakes of this three-in-one relationship. Huh?
What my head struggled to comprehend, my heart was opened to, on that day in class when Catherine quietly invited us to experience God’s love freely given so that we may be caught up in the Eternal Life that is The Trinity. When I visit Catherine’s grave at Cedar Grove, I thank her for sharing her great erudition but also for that crucial moment when she shared her heart.
— Angie Appleby Purcell ’97M.Div.

We came on an unusually warm November day — a sisterly visit to our dying brother at Holy Cross House. John Kurtzke ’73, ’84M.Div., who as eldest, was the benchmark to which we all aspired. We returned to a steel-gray sky unforgiving in the finality of death. John, mathematician and priest, was buried as the snow fell heavily. In this wintry baptism, Notre Dame as place and people became one. Priests, caregivers, friends — I felt Christ present in each of us. Mending the broken and in so doing, redeeming us all. Our Lady’s University, having educated me, was not finished teaching.
— Christine Kurtzke Hughes ’89

Halloween night 1990. I jumped into a cab headed back to campus, and in it was Raghib Ismail ’94. Introductions were made. That year, I went as a baby. I was wearing a diaper and sneakers. Nothing else. Rocket that year went as Rocket. When we pulled up to the old traffic circle on Notre Dame Avenue, I challenged him to a race. “Come on,” I said. “This is a story you’ll tell for the rest of your life. The night you beat a 6-foot baby in a foot race.” He politely declined. One of Rocket’s biggest regrets, I’m certain.
— Tim Rogers ’92

Senior year I did the unthinkable — I slept through the final exam for my favorite class. Father William Dohar, CSC, ’78M.Div., ’79M.A. himself, who taught History of the Middle Ages, called and woke me. I should have failed the test, but he knew my love of the material and invited me to take the exam in a conference room outside his office. I was dumbstruck with gratitude but scored well. Father Dohar’s act of kindness taught me that there is (almost) always a way around a problem, whether I seek the mercy of authority or am the one to grant it.
— Kim Tracy Prince ’93

Photo by Matt Cashore '94

Notre Dame’s biology program brought the Jordan Hall of Science into my life as the mother of Robert Plasschaert ’09. The beauty of this building and its faculty treated both students and visitors to its wonderful presentations and conferences. The creation of lifelong friends, colleagues and mentors remains a priceless gift to all in Dr. David R. Hyde’s lab. My heart still fills with pride as I remember seeing my son explain experiments and processes I struggled to understand. The wonder, confidence and joy on his face during those moments remain one of my happiest memories as a parent.
— Linda M. Plasschaert

My father was class of 1942. Widowed after 57 years of marriage, he returned to Notre Dame in 2002 for his 60-year reunion. There he met Mary, a widow of an ND grad and a worker in the alumni office. She was lively and fun and a loyal fan of the Irish. When she later accepted his marriage proposal at the Grotto, all of their children questioned the decision to marry at their ages. Now when I visit the Grotto I am inspired by their rare ability to look forward when most people are looking back.
— Stephen Brehl ’76

“It should be impossible, yet it exists at Notre Dame: la vie intime – the intimate life. This sense of place, of community, is what alumni claim they can’t put into words, but will always tell you, ‘you can just feel it at Notre Dame.’” That statement stuck with me the instant ND’s communications guru Dick Conklin suggested it for “The Endless Conversation,” a 1974 ND film. Then in 1991, at the Grotto at sunrise, while making a film for ND’s sesquicentennial, I felt it and the words came to me: Everything about this place is out to do me good.
— Andy Burd ’62

We met on a school-sponsored freshman trip to a crappy ski resort called Swiss Valley. She, with her long brown hair and easy smile that masked a hangover, was more interested in my friend than she was me. But I would learn that later. I spent the whole day chasing her. Eight years later, I caught her, and now we’ve been married 17. In many ways, though, I’m still in pursuit.
— Tim Rogers ’92

My sister graduated in 2012, just after I had finished my sophomore year. After the ceremony, she took off her cap and gown, put them on me and handed me her diploma. “Get ready,” she said, “the best is yet to come, but it’s going to fly by.” Her words hit me harder than a sack on the five-yard line. One national championship, one semester abroad, and countless papers and projects later, her words could not be truer. On and off campus, life goes too fast to take even a moment for granted. I thank God every day I get to spend some of those moments here.
— Caroline Lang ’14

A modern day Rudy is hard to find. However, from the moment I was a child seeing the Fighting Irish win a National Championship I was determined to either become an Irish or at least visit. All of the dreaming led to buying memorabilia of the University of Notre Dame football team. For many years I have kept what little bit of items I have and during the football season, I would drag them all out for every game.
On April 20, 2013 I flew from Greenville, SC to South Bend, IN for a trip of a lifetime to watch the Fighting Irish enter the field for a spring game. I called mom to tell her I arrived safely, however I couldn’t talk from sobbing uncontrollably. It may not seem like much, but I am a modern day Rudy.
— Randall Young

My now fiancé decided to go back to school to get his MBA and made the best decision and chose Notre Dame. The year there was a life changing experience for us both. We were surrounded beautifully by our faith and it helped us grow as individuals and in our relationship too. The Grotto will always hold a special place in our hearts, it was where we went to pray and to give thanks throughout the year. It was also where my fiancé proposed to me after he graduated this past May, with his full cap and gown. Now that he has started his new career and have moved from South Bend, we have vowed to stay connected to the place that has truly inspired us beyond its academics.
— Michelle Hernandez

At Notre Dame, the air is charged. It compels you to overreach and achieve at levels not experienced. It inspires you to connect to the fabric of the community so as to have left something behind when your time is done. The authenticity of the people elevates your spirit and motivates you to want to be a little bit better than you were the day before. It is the totality of all that Notre Dame is, and no one aspect, that drove my experience and now permeates my daily efforts. Each will find what resonates and changes you forever.
— Christopher White ’13MNA

Professor Leader of Art Trads fame. He managed to take an auditorium full of students and transport us to the great cathedrals of Europe, the pyramids and majestic sights of the Middle East. He was engaging, funny and loved his students. I was blessed to have been one of his students.
— Patti Reising ’82

There is a saying that “the person who starts the marathon is not the same person who finishes it.” In January, I found inspiration among 25,000 runners who braved heat, humidity, excruciating physical pain, emotional breakdowns, and the mental exhaustion that comes with running 26.2 miles. Those of us who had the courage to start chased our demons away with a level of grace and defiance that can only be summarized as inspirational. On an ordinary morning after I extraordinarily crossed a thin mat after running 26.2 miles, I realized that the challenges of life could never defeat my spirit.
— Melissa Knox ’00

After 35 years, many of my best friends are still my ND classmates. We live all over the country but still get together every year (and not at a football game!) Enough said.
— Tracy Kee Christopher ’78

I saw Notre Dame for the first time in spring 1990 with my high school best friend. We were graduating seniors, on a campus visit. We came from New Mexico, “Land of Enchantment,” known in part for its temperate weather and gorgeous sunsets. The entire time we were on campus, it ranged from a drizzle to a downpour and the skies were decidedly dark gray. The sun, however, seemed to be shining from the face of every student on every quad who greeted us, and they convinced me that ND would be my home for the next four years.
— Kathryn Sullivan Graf ’94

In the dead of winter, late at night, the Grotto evokes an inspiration unlike anything you can ever feel at Notre Dame. When silence envelopes the campus, snow covers the ground, and warmth from the candles hits you as you pray before Our Mother, something is stirred deep inside the soul. It is there, covered by rocks above and warmed by the candles that represent hundreds of prayers, that I have found comfort in times of sadness, peace in times of turmoil, and inspiration in times of need.
— Meghan Thornton ’10

My spiritual journey paper for U.S. Latino Spirituality was just one of six final papers looming between me and graduation in April. Even though it asked me think deeply about my personal spirituality, the paper required primarily self-produced content, so I planned to crank out an acceptable 10-pager in a night. Out of habit, I met with my professor, Fr. Dan Groody, just to make sure I was on the right track for my first last final paper. That simple meeting soon evolved into an emotional unraveling in Fr. Groody’s office. But as my tears flowed inexplicably, Fr. Groody sat across from me, listening patiently and offering some of the best life advice whenever my sobs subsided. Ultimately, he helped me discover the true meaning of spirituality – that driving force which constantly leads us on the path of our lives – as it applied to my own life, and I am now able to articulate why I feel so compelled to keep moving, keep experiencing, keep feeling, as I try to live an authentic life each day. Thank you, Fr. Groody, for helping me make sense of my four years at Notre Dame and the path that lies ahead for me.
— Kristen Durbin ‘13

No drummer. No guitar. No microphone. But The Bonobos, as we called ourselves, did have a flyer requesting submissions for a Battle of the Bands at Senior Bar. So my roommates and I stayed up until two in the morning recording a demo with borrowed gear and downloaded software. We never heard back from the contest organizers, but that simple act of creation highlighted the power—and limits—of enthusiasm. How punk is that?
— James Seidler ’02

During spring break freshman year, my best friend, three girls from Breen-Phillips, and I took off from Ohio to Florida. I didn’t know the girls. Raised by depression era parents, quite naturally, I was taught that “more is more”. During the road trip, after over 900 miles, we stopped in Valdosta Georgia. We were exhausted, but over 400 miles to go. When I was buying cokes, my best friend said that the girls were starting to like me. I was astonished, as I was too tried to impress, put on airs, or even flirt. I learned that “less is more”.
— Rob Stell ’78

Tucked in a corner on the 12th floor in Hesburgh Library there’s a table with a window overlooking Notre Dame Stadium. It was here, in July 2010, I prepared for Theology comps. Glancing at the stadium, I considered how preparing for comps had similarities to a player preparing for games. Both situations involve discipline, dedication, and determination. I spent six challenging years working towards my MA degree. As a player also relies on fellow teammates to win games, I realized I couldn’t have arrived at this moment without the support of family, friends, professors, and of course Divine Providence!
— Jennifer M. Kohrman ’10M.A.

My father, Daniel Joseph Noe, University of Notre Dame, class of 1953, passed away April 2, 2013. He was 81 years old. His family was at his side as he passed…it was really tough. Dad raised eight kiddos and sent all of them to Catholic school and even contributed to their secondary education. Dad donated more than a million dollars to different charities during his life…but, that is not the story I want to tell.

Dad, as a young lad, peddled papers and worked other jobs because his dream was to attend The University of Notre Dame. He was successful in doing so. He was in the ROTC program and earned a degree in chemical engineering. While he was away at school, his father passed away at the age of 43. Dad met my Mom roller-skating while in high school in Toledo, Ohio. Mom was in nursing school when Dad went away to college. She took the train from Toledo to South Bend to attend special occasions like dances. The day my Dad graduated, he proposed to my Mom at the Grotto. Dad worked as a chemical engineer for 38 years at the same company – and died of mesothelioma because of his exposure to asbestos and/or benzene…but he lived a great life and loved life.

As I write this, I am tearful. As a family, about 1987, Dad wanted to take all of his kids, and grand kids, for a family weekend at UND. Most of us were able to go and we stayed in a dormitory that, looking out the window, the Golden Dome was right there. The beautiful statues around the campus were all lit up and impressed in me how holy the campus was and still is. We rode bicycles around the lake. My own son was in his glory. He was able to get into the stadium (only because contractors were working there) and he and Dad sat beneath the scoreboard and the picture should be a postcard. He got into the locker room and saw all of the helmets and shoes…he was in awe. We also attended Sunday mass at Sacred Heart at sat in the front row. There are more stories that could be told about that weekend but I will stop now. My Dad was my hero and I am missing him terribly.

My family still tries, even though tickets are at a premium, to get to as many home games as we can. My husband and I were in the crowd when Rudy was filmed! What a story to tell our friends because there aren’t many people who haven’t see the movie!
— Peggy Wulf

Our team at Amandla Charter School on Chicago’s south side works hard to ensure that our students see college as an attainable and exciting opportunity. Last year, our 8th and 9th graders qualified for a field trip to Blue and Gold game by making the honor roll. During our post-game tour of campus, we stopped by the Grotto, where our students lingered much longer than we anticipated. One took the moment to articulate what many of them were sensing. “I’ve never been to a place of peace and beauty like this before. I could stay here forever.”
— Sarah C. Gallagher ’02

Throughout my life’s journey, in navigating stresses as mundane as deadlines and as serious as illness and loss, I conjure one Notre Dame memory that reconnects me with my faith and the Notre Dame family. As a student, I’d take one evening each winter during exams to stroll to the grotto and around campus admiring the glimmering Christmas lights and gently falling snow. It calmed my nerves and fed my soul, and remains my fondest recollection of my time on campus. It’s now a misty memory, like gazing into a snow globe of the campus, serene and profoundly resonant.
— Lori (Delaney) Johnson ’02

I remember walks around the lake, rain or shine. Ice on the sidewalks – debilitating, treacherous ice. Spraining my ankle at my Tae Kwon Do/Jiu Jitsu belt test at the Rock. Taking the bus to Kroger to stock up on groceries for our tiny cube refrigerator. Sneering at the freshmen moving in with their own computers and espresso machines. One even wanted to bring in her own desk.

I remember pulling the net up for a field goal during a football game as a student manager. Strolling the halls with my lanyard of master keys as a resident assistant late into the night. Catching a young man coming out of the women’s bathroom after parietals. Waking up with ants on my homework on the floor of a study carrel at the ‘brare. I may have snuck food in.

I remember working at food sales in Dillon Hall on Tuesday nights, and needing a Safe Walk escort back to Mod Quad. Climbing out the bathroom window of The Commons during a raid. Having the pass code to Galvin Hall so I could check on my drosophila melanogaster 24/7.

I remember every boy I kissed. (Okay, maybe not EVERY boy.) Spinning out on Ironwood and landing in a snow bank in my boyfriend’s car. Dark performances at the Lab Theatre on the top floor of Washington Hall. Getting a C on my first chemistry test, perhaps the first C of my entire life. The night when I did not get chosen to be a student manager past my sophomore year. Another night when a letter slipped under the door of my dorm room, telling me I had been chosen to be a resident assistant.

I remember coming back to school after each break, and coming back ten years after graduation, and ten years after that. Every time, it was coming home.
— Kim Tracey Prince ’93

I was late. The lecture started at 8am and my phone glowed 8:02 at me in the dark of my loft. I didn’t even think of showering. Contacts? I don’t need to put those in. Who needs deodorant? Not me. I just need to get to this lecture in DeBartolo before the attendance sheet is passed around.

It was fall semester in 2009 and I was in the midst of figuring out my major. I started my academic career at Notre Dame in Mendoza yet in reality I had no idea what I was doing. However, that changed once I arrived in 105 DeBartolo Hall. The lecture was a requirement for my Introduction to IT Management class. I slipped into a seat in the back of the room on the far right side. No contacts was a poor decision. Lines start to blur after five feet and everything further than 10 is just a haze of random colors.

I can’t recall the man’s name nor his place of work. I don’t even remember what his job title was. However, I do recall the amazing things he talked about. Innovation in scores of fields and the potential for groundbreaking progress seemed to be around every corner of his PowerPoint deck. Data mining, data manipulation, data modeling. Anything seemed possible with the right tools at your fingertips. That’s what IT Management was in my mind and that is why I decided to major in it.

At that point in my life, there were a litany of roads diverging in the wood and I could have chosen any of them. However, the presentation I sat through with just my ears as a guide turned out to make all the difference.
— Robert Ryan ’12

His blue-gold class ring said it first, but
He told me anyway — MBA, Class of 2002.
And as he spoke, his eyes seemed to glow with
Close-held memories, oft-recalled, of places
I first saw only days before, while my family
toured campus in pouring rain.

Right then, speaking with him,
I decided to return as a student
So four years later, and long after,
I could see the University of Notre Dame
With eyes full of memories, close-held, oft-recalled.

They say God works in mysterious ways,
But sometimes, divine guidance is as simple
As the guy sitting next to you
On the flight back to New Jersey.
— Michael Rodio ’12

We always talk about “Notre Dame moments,” and I had more than my fair share of those. But the moment that sticks with me most is one that never happened. Throughout the whirlwind of Senior Week, I had steeled myself for the week after Commencement — the week in which I had a moment of despair as my Notre Dame experience came to a close. It never happened. Did I shed tears during the Alma Mater in the Stadium? Yes. But did I ever despair, even once, that my Notre Dame experience was over? No, because it hasn’t ended. Notre Dame doesn’t end, even if our time as students must. There isn’t a moment of despair — only moments of nostalgia. And that’s not so bad, after all.
— Allan Joseph ’13

The 10-10 tie with Michigan State in 1966 was only one of the many moments. A great one, because we were a group of guys listening to Armed Forces radio, cheering wildly in a place 4,000 miles away. But our sophomore year in the Innsbruck Program includes way too many great moments to single out one. So our moment was a year. End result: Lifelong influencing experiences, an attitude of accepting people not just like us, adventure, a love of travel and discovery serving as the basis for many of our professional careers, and close personal relationships with 40 classmates which last to today. We miss those who have left us: Murtha, Mylinsky, Fullin, Levi, Father Bristol. Thanks ND, for the year that left indelible, incredible marks on all of us.
— John Leinart ’69

November 14, 1987 is when it all began. I was 14. My first college football game. Alabama vs. Notre Dame in South Bend. You could feel it — pure tradition. The history of both schools and the era made it monumental for my first ever game with my Dad. Little did we know, this matchup and these two schools would come full circle in my life and in the life of my dad.

May 17, 1997, 10 years later, I would obtain my undergraduate degree from Alabama. May 15, 2010, 13 years later, I would obtain my graduate degree from Notre Dame.

January 7, 2013: Alabama vs. Notre Dame (The Rematch). Dad was now 78 years old. This was to be his last college football game. He passed away on Feb 12, 2013 and my life has never been the same. When they meet again so will we.

— Matt Bruno ’10MBA