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Seniors reflect on their four years at ND

Irena Zajickova | Thursday, May 14, 2009

With their time as Notre Dame students rapidly coming to a close, seniors across campus agree that their experiences here will carry over into the next phase of their lives.

Many students said their favorite part of life at Notre Dame was the friends they made and the people they met through their various classes and activities.

Apurva Aslekar, a senior from Knott Hall, said he will miss the friends he made here, and he said he doesn’t think anyone he will meet later in life will ever compare.

“I think the relationships I’ve built over the past four years are going to be the most missed things,” Aslekar said. “To grow up and have some of the biggest milestones and achievements with them during my early years are moments I will never be able to replicate with others in another setting.”

Laura Schwartz, a senior from Cavanaugh Hall, also said that out of all the various aspects of campus life, she enjoyed meeting new people the most.

“[My favorite part of life here is] the people,” Schwartz said. “Being classmates, neighbors and friends with so many smart, diverse and interesting people, I have been challenged and encouraged to grow as a person.”

Students said Notre Dame’s unique dorm life is an important aspect of the Notre Dame experience.

“I really liked the dorm life. I liked the environment it creates,” Jimmy Champlin, a senior from Sorin College, said. “That’s why I chose to live for four years on campus.”

Champlin said that he would not miss the smoky atmosphere of many bars that students frequently visit.

“I won’t miss having to wash my clothes twice every time I wear them out to a bar,” he said.

Schwartz said being raised in the South did not prepare her for a typical Notre Dame winter.

“I won’t miss the snow,” she said. “My Texas blood and the Notre Dame tundra don’t mix.”

Students also had mixed feelings towards the football team, which fluctuated between being ranked in the top 25 and being considered one of the worst teams in the nation.

Katie Dunn, a senior from Cavanaugh Hall, said she really enjoyed football her freshman year, but the team entered a downward spiral from that point onward.

“Football all went downhill after the USC game freshman year,” Dunn said. “Except for the snowball fiasco this year.”

Even though the Irish did not always play their best, Champlin said he still enjoyed attending the games and cheering on the football team.

“[Games] were a little disappointing, but still fun,” Champlin said. “Sitting in the student section is definitely a unique experience.”

Just as they have tried to make a difference during their time on campus, students said that attending Notre Dame has also made an impact in their own lives.

Aslekar said that the divergent opinions present in campus dialogue have exposed him to points of view he would have otherwise been ignorant of, and have helped him open his mind to those who do not share his beliefs.

“I think I was exposed to a lot of viewpoints that I otherwise wouldn’t have experienced at other schools,” he said. “I think there’s been a lot of growth due to my increased capacity to understand these beliefs.”

Champlin said his time at the University helped him grow spiritually and strengthen his Catholic faith.

“Instead of going through that phase some college student go through where you lose your religion, I think I strengthened mine,” he said. “Being in an environment where you can discuss [religion] rationally, that’s something big here that I wouldn’t have gotten somewhere else.”

Graduating seniors are aware that life post-graduation will bring about some big changes.

Dunn, who will work for an organization in India that prosecutes child forced prostitution, said that she will have to start behaving more like an adult and less like a college student.

“I have worn sweats for 98 percent of my time here at Notre Dame. Literally,” Dunn said. “Apparently I have to dress like a real person after I graduate.”

Some students said they knew very little about Notre Dame during the college application process and were convinced to enroll because their campus visits persuaded them that Notre Dame was the right choice.

Caitlin Ivester, a senior from Pasquerilla East Hall, said she did not even know that Notre Dame was located in Indiana when she applied.

“I didn’t really know much about Notre Dame when I applied. I was pretty convinced it was in Ohio somewhere,” Ivester said. “But my guidance counselor told me it would be a ‘perfect fit.’ When I visited everyone was so friendly and welcoming I felt at home right away.”

Even students who grew up cheering for the Irish agreed that the campus visits they made were an important factor in convincing them to attend Notre Dame instead of another school.

“My family has always been really big Notre Dame fans, but no one from my family has ever gone here,” said Champlin. “So I visited with a friend whose brother went here and once I got onto campus everything just felt right.”

Notre Dame seniors are leaving campus with the knowledge that their lives will never be the same again. They will get jobs, do service, or pursue advanced degrees. Many will move to parts of the country they have never visited before.

But the seniors said will always have the various memories and anecdotes regarding their time on campus.

Champlin said he will recall participating in the Mr. ND pageant, Schwartz will think about her travels abroad while studying in France and Dunn will treasure the glory of winning the interhall football championshp in Notre Dame Stadium.

In this way, seniors said they will take memories their time here with them as they move on from Notre Dame.

“It’s really sad to leave Notre Dame behind because it was such a major part of my life and had a lot to do with who I am as a person,” Champlin said. “But I realize moving on is a part of life. I’ll go other places and make new friends and see new things, but memories of Notre Dame are something I’ll always have with me.”