Editor’s Note: Members of the Class of 2020 should be celebrating together this week, but the coronavirus pandemic canceled their pomp and circumstance. Last month, Margaret Duncan ’17 encouraged graduates to “say the things that catch in your throat,” to express their gratitude to the people who meant a lot to them in college. We invited a few to share those feelings on our website to bring a touch of virtual celebration and appreciation to this dispersed senior week.
I know many of us planned an elaborate celebration to commemorate surviving four years of undergrad. I also know that God laughs at our plans.
At the beginning of the school year, I envisioned a grand final hoorah. I wanted a victory tour like the World Cup-winning U.S. women’s soccer team with a final prayer trip to the Grotto, a walk down the tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium and a bike ride around the lake. My ultimate celebration would have been walking up the Main Building steps for my official “Mia Out” diploma drop in homage to Kobe Bryant’s famous “Mamba Out” retirement mic drop.
It’s perfectly acceptable to be angry and sulk over all we’ve lost, but we should continue to pray and show sympathy for those affected directly by COVID-19. In spite of how we may feel right now, I know that we’re not broken, just a little bruised.
After two semesters of theology, I can honestly admit I don’t know the future. Only God knows. Psalm 30:5 says, “Weeping may last for a night, but joy comes with the morning.” I take solace in knowing that, though we’re sorrowful right now, there will joy again.
Instead of dwelling on that the negative, we should show gratitude for our growth and for the memories we’ve made as Notre Dame students.
We all bought into the 4-for-40 Notre Dame mindset — even though they conveniently forgot to tell us how much struggle the four years would require to prepare us for the 40 years that follow. Who knew those all-nighters in the basement of LaFun or in Club Hesburgh would give us the resiliency to weather this storm?
To those of you who returned home to difficult situations and still managed to stay focused and complete your schoolwork, I want to give you a special salute. To my fellow first-generation college students, I know walking across the stage was always supposed to be bigger than us — it was the opportunity to honor the sacrifices our families and friends have made for us, to represent our cities, to throw a little salt at everyone who said we couldn’t do it. Nothing can ever take away our gratitude and satisfaction, not even “the ’rona.”
None of us knew two months ago that we were having some of our last memories on campus as students. If we had known, what would we have done differently? I know I would have changed a few things.
I packed my suitcase for spring break in a rush to go home because I had convinced myself that anything would be better than being at school. At that moment, I took the blessing of attending a prestigious university for granted. South Bend catches a lot of flak sometimes and it’s deserved. But when you have been somewhere for four years, you begin to love it like it’s your own.
I don’t have enough characters to thank everyone, but I do want to give honor where it is due. I want to offer a special thank you to Richard G. Jones, director of the Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy, and his wife, professor Victoria St. Martin. I would’ve preferred to thank you face-to-face, but I guess this will suffice.
- Senior Moments
- “My ‘Why',” Mary Bernard ’20
- “Major Impact,” Laksumi Sivanandan ’20
- “Mia Out!” Mia Berry ’20
- “Portrait of Friendship,” David Korzeniowski ’20
Thank you for being instrumental in my growth as a student and a writer, for pushing me to new heights, for all the time and energy you invested in helping me realize my potential. I am indebted to you for making the Gallivan Program one that I am proud to claim on my résumé and social media handles. Students in the journalism minor are grateful to have a compassionate director who has fostered a nurturing community. Your generosity is the sole reason why I had a scooter to ride to class in the rain, sleet, snow or whatever Midwest season each new week brings.
There are not enough words to thank everyone who has impacted and encouraged me over the last four years. To those who asked “Are you okay?” or offered a simple “It be like that sometimes” and “You got this” you have no idea what your support meant to me.
I know it’s impossible to thank every person who has influenced you over the last four years, but my challenge to you is to show your appreciation and return the favor. Take the time to reach out to someone, do a mental health check, lend an ear, show compassion daily.
Here is my personal thank you to Notre Dame itself. Thank you for growing me up.
I came in as a freshman still trying to find my passion, my “why” in life. Four years and numerous lessons later, I am leaving as a woman ready to break through glass ceilings. Representing the Golden Dome proudly is something that I wish to continue to do no matter where I am. There is truly nowhere else like Notre Dame.
It may not be a victory lap up the Main Building steps, but this is my mic drop.
Born and raised in Detroit, Mia Berry was a film, television and theatre major and a journalism minor. She has written for the Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times.