The author (third from left) celebrating her graduation in 2016
I grabbed the last box I needed to sort through — finally. Ambitiously for a Sunday, I had decided to clean out my closet, and by this point in the process, I was on autopilot, quickly choosing what things to toss, donate or keep. Unpacking this last box though, I suddenly stopped. Among a stack of papers, I spotted a crisp, navy blue folder with a gold emblem.
My diploma from Notre Dame.
I peeled open the folder and took out the leather-covered document. “We make known and attest that Katherine Marie Loughran has so well merited as to be proclaimed publicly and solemnly Bachelor of Business Administration.” It was the first time I had read it, even looked at it, since my graduation.
Instead of packing my diploma back in the box, I leaned it up against my bedroom wall, with the intention of getting it framed and hung. (Those who know me well will know that at least a year will pass before this actually happens.)
This re-discovery of my official commemoration from Notre Dame happened right as this year’s graduation celebrations were kicking off. Some of my friends have siblings who graduated from Notre Dame this past Sunday, so we’ve been re-living the last glorious days of senior year vicariously via their Instagram Stories and Snapchats. Seeing these familiar scenes has resurfaced memories from my own senior year.
It’s crazy to think my graduation was three years ago. May 15, 2016. That became even crazier to comprehend when the other night when my friends and I were out at dinner: We (scarily) realized we’re closer to our five-year Notre Dame reunion than our graduation day now.
We all agreed that three-years-out feels like no time and a long time, all at once. The more we thought about it, so much really had happened in the time between that freezing-cold May day in Notre Dame Stadium and now.
We’ve made once-new cities our homes. Chicago, New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Dallas. Some, like my friend Lauren, have moved from one of these cities to another, while others have ventured to live abroad.
We’ve embarked on a variety of careers — Kelly is political spokesperson, Lisa a consultant for the Big Four, Maggie an analyst at a capital management firm, Allie an associate at a bank, Mary an IT specialist — even sometimes switching paths, like MC, who’s now at a startup.
Some classmates are finishing up law school and graduate programs; others are starting business school. Theresa just got back from Thailand after her term in the Peace Corps. Weddings are starting to appear on the calendar, too.
As for me, I’m now an account supervisor at the advertising agency Cramer-Krasselt. I’m living in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. My roommate Lizzie is a partner manager at an intelligence solutions firm, and my second roommate, Claire, works in HR. (Yes, we pester her with our employee benefits questions, especially now that we’re aging out of our parents’ insurance plans.)
Since graduating, we’ve found out more about our passions and interests, what we’re good at personally and professionally, the things we want to explore and the places we want to go from here — in our career, travel, home, spirituality, friendship. Of course, not everything is perfectly in place. We’re still growing up and figuring it out. But we learn every day: by taking exciting risks, trying new adventures, setting personal goals, accomplishing feats both large and small.
All this makes me think back to what our commencement speaker, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, said to us in his address, perhaps even more relevant now than that day: “I challenge you to make each other proud in the future as you have in the past.” Three years on, I’d say we’ve met that challenge. Here’s to the next three.
Kit Loughran is an account supervisor at Cramer-Krasselt in Chicago and a former intern at this magazine.