The family, one tale at a time

Author: Josh Stowe '01

Meet Fred, Notre Dame’s first service dog for mental illness. Catch up with a Chinese student who shares what he misses about his hometown. Hear a campus employee’s thoughts on fatherhood.

That’s just a sampling of I am Notre Dame, a popular blog created by sophomore Laura Gruszka of Valparaiso, Indiana. Inspired by Brandon Stanton’s Internet sensation Humans of New York, which features photos and stories of ordinary folks on the city’s streets, Gruszka’s work — on Facebook, Tumblr and Blogspot — brings the same compelling, quick-hit storytelling and photography to campus.

Gruszka, photo by Barbara Johnston

The Humans blog is going global and talking about the human condition, “but my goal was more to learn about the people you’d see on the quad, the Notre Dame family,” Gruszka says. “In high school, you kind of knew everyone to an extent, but in college I started meeting people from all over the world. I thought it would be a way to do that locally.”

She tries to do as many interviews and represent as many groups as she can, she says, even keeping in mind different jobs — “people working at the bookstore or a café or a professor or a fan. I try to represent all different kinds of stories so that I’m helping give the whole picture.”

Gruszka, who has met more than 300 people since she launched_ I am Notre Dame_ in 2013, is constantly amazed by the diversity in the Notre Dame family.

“It’s much bigger than sometimes we think it is,” the Cavanaugh Hall resident says. “No matter what your relationship with [Notre Dame] is, you have a valid and powerful story. People are interested in sharing with the family and being part of it, which I think is very cool.”

Josh Stowe ’01 works for Notre Dame’s Alumni Association.