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ND’s own standard inspires

Patrick Peters | Tuesday, March 23, 2004

This letter is in response to Kamaria Porter’s March 23 column entitled, “Chasing Harvard.” While Harvard is a noted institution renowned for its prestige, I firmly believe that Notre Dame is not lagging behind in its efforts to ensure a Notre Dame education to those from every income level. Since my freshman year in the fall of 1997, Notre Dame has prided itself in its ability to offer a financial aid package representing 100 percent of a student’s financial need to every student admitted to the University.While I do not have the appropriate statistics available to me to cite in this article, what I can attest to are both the experiences I had as a student at the University and the benefits my Notre Dame degree has already begun to confer upon me. As to the former, the friends that I made while at Notre Dame came from all walks of life. True, some of them had parents that were attorneys, doctors and corporate executives, but many others (indeed the majority) were from middle-class, middle-income families of teachers and small business owners, factory workers and skilled tradesmen. Some were from single parent homes, while others hailed from extended families including immigrant relatives from their native countries. My Notre Dame experience, and I truly believe that of most of my colleagues, was one of socioeconomic diversity and difference with incoming freshman having graduated from prestigious private high schools and inner-city public schools. Indeed, the majority share my religion, hardly a surprise being that this is the most prominent Catholic University in the world. Notre Dame testifies to its Catholic principles not only by supplementing the costs of an education for those who may otherwise be unable to afford it, but also through its rich heritage of service to the community, the Church and indeed as a citizen of the world. With participation from nearly every student in some form of service, I believe most universities – public and private – should feel a call to “chase” Notre Dame and emulate its phenomenal spirit. Every fall, as my family meets up at Notre Dame for another tailgate, I am in awe at the unity before me of people from every walk of life, eating and drinking together in the Notre Dame spirit: a wealthy parent cracking open a Natty Light discussing the team’s chances with a bricklayer visiting Notre Dame for the first time. In my experience, the legend of Notre Dame transcends all socio-economic barriers and unites together people in a common love for their school. To me, that is Notre Dame.While I applaud the efforts of Harvard and schools like it, I believe that Notre Dame has set a standard for higher education that continues to inspire. My only hope is that Porter and students like her begin to appreciate their unique opportunities before it is too late.

Patrick Petersclass of 2002New Philadelphia, OhioMarch 23