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What I learned

Matt Lozar | Friday, May 13, 2005

Forget about graduation, I almost didn’t end up at Notre Dame.

Caught up in the high school mindset of believing majors were more important than the college experience, I only applied to Notre Dame when the application deadline got pushed back two weeks in January 2001.

Looking back, it doesn’t make sense (especially when my major changed two months into freshman year).

I was the first person in my family to attend Notre Dame, so the only way I learned about the traditions and aura came through books I received for Christmas presents. All I really knew was football, thanks to NBC.

Four years underneath the Golden Dome taught me so much more.

It taught me Notre Dame is about a lot more than football, and not just because our four years – minus an eight-game Return to Glory – were about the worst football sequence in school history. Yes, it’s the reason Notre Dame became the national school it is today, but the academics, service and faith take this place to a whole level where other universities can’t compete.

It taught me college is, despite what the parental units might say, about a lot more than grades. Think back to the freshman opening that dorm room door on Frosh-O weekend and compare it to the senior opening that door to the real world. Both are scary endeavors. Now we’re a lot more prepared because of what encompasses a Notre Dame education, not that history test you didn’t study for freshman year.

But most importantly I learned what Notre Dame is truly about.

It taught me Notre Dame is about the people.

It’s hard to realize that until you’re here – interacting with students, professors and employees on a daily basis. You can’t comprehend why so many alumni, who you’ve never met before, will go out of their way just because you went to the same school.

Everyone has their own memories of taking road trips, partaking in football weekends, staying up until 4 a.m. on a Monday night for no reason, closing down the local watering holes, making midnight LaFun runs and doing other random funny things you and your friends will laugh about at future football games, weddings and class reunions.

This weekend when we move that tassel, turn around our rings and walk up the steps of the Main Building, we close the most formative chapter on our lives and move on to one that won’t affect us as much. It’s difficult to do, because the reason these four years have shaped our lives so much is because of the people we’ve met.

Nobody wants to say goodbye to the friends who doubled as neighbors for four years. Nobody wants to stop doing things only college students do. Nobody wants to leave the bubble.

Nobody wants to turn that page this weekend.

Unfortunately we have to.

And when we do, it’s going to be tough.

The tears flowed while saying goodbye to my family on that August morning four years ago because I didn’t know what was awaiting me at Notre Dame.

Throughout the weekend and as I pull away from Keough Hall on Monday they’ll flow again.

This time for a different reason.