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Reeling in the years

Observer Viewpoint | Tuesday, April 19, 2005

It’s that time of year again. South Bend weather becomes miraculously beautiful, your professor actually lets your class meet on DeBartolo Quad and the main building is encapsulated in prison-like scaffolding. Well, maybe leave out that last one.As you all know, however, ’tis the season of teary viewpoints, expressing how much Notre Dame has meant to the columnist over the past four years or even – for those born and bred Domers – over an entire lifetime. As a graduating senior, please bear with me, because this column is no exception.Before you came to Notre Dame, you heard about the Notre Dame mystique. Maybe you grew up watching Notre Dame football. Maybe you were strange like my family and instead grew up watching NCAA track and field.Regardless of whether you were born with blue and gold running through your veins or acquired it after consuming an unearthly number of Blazing Sea Nuggets from the dining hall, after four years here you begin to understand.Before you came you heard about Notre Dame’s nationally renowned academics. You read about the storied history of the football team. People who have never attended Notre Dame told you how much they love your school.When you applied, you saw the admissions packet with that shining picture of the dome. Underneath the image it said, “Nowhere else but Notre Dame.”Arguably, you could have found schools with comparable academics. You could have attended schools with better football teams. But these schools would not have been Notre Dame.In “The Brothers Karamazov,” Dostoevsky writes, “And whether you are absorbed in the most important pursuits, reaching out for the highest honors, or struck down by the cruelest griefs, always remember how good it felt when we were all here together, united by a good and decent feeling, which made us, for a time better people, probably, than we would otherwise have been.”To me, this quote symbolizes what can be found “nowhere else but Notre Dame.” As the weeks wind down and graduation approaches, the absolutely amazing individuals who are your classmates surround you.Many schools graduate leaders in business, doctors, lawyers, scholars and participants in service. Notre Dame is not an exception. But I believe the community of students found at our school is like none other in the country.Of course no school is perfect. There may have been one, two or even several aspects of Notre Dame you wished had been different. Many students would cite parietals, the introduction of the hard alcohol policy and lack of student voice in administrative decisions.But if you think back on these four years, while you may not have agreed with every University decision, it has been worth it.William Butler Yeats wrote, “Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.” I believe in this quote lies the core of my Notre Dame experience.I came to Notre Dame thinking of the school in the most cliché of terms, as a “top twenty university.” I leave dwelling not so much on the University’s academic prowess, achievements in sports and international reputation as on the people I will miss every day after I leave this place.My dad, a Boston College graduate, asked me upon my acceptance to the University, “How do you know someone went to Notre Dame?””Why?” I asked, already anticipating a punch line.”They’ll tell you.” he replied. (Here, four years later, I’m calling him out. He was thrilled I chose the Fighting Irish).We’re all proud to have been a part of Notre Dame, and Domers are notorious for talking about their school.In my opinion, however, no one is trying to brag. They know the Notre Dame family extends the world over and, after leaving South Bend, are always looking for others who share their sense of connection.Notre Dame is everywhere. I found it on a high school summer service project in inner-city Worcester, when an eleven-year-old member of my small group proudly showed me his Notre Dame hat and told me he was going to go to school here some day.I’ve found Notre Dame in my high school college counselor, Mr. Cattanach, who spoke with me about how much he loved the school.I’ve found Notre Dame in academic journals, architectural wonders and technological innovations.But most of all I’ve found Notre Dame in my fellow members of the class of 2005. To my friends, thank you for the past four years. It wouldn’t have been Notre Dame without you.

Katie Boyle is a senior English, political science and Spanish major. She can be reached at kboyle2@nd.edu.The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.