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Here we are

Andy Ziccarelli | Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Full disclaimer: this is one of those sappy, oh-my-god-I-can’t-believe-I’m graduating columns. Feel free to stop reading now if you’re not into that.

So … here we are. Soon, I’m going to be graduating and … I made it. Here we are. I have mixed feelings about graduating. Part of me is ready (and has been for quite some time) to move on to the real world, while the other part wants to stay in the relatively shielded Notre Dame bubble forever.

It is funny that I am even in this situation, because I was never supposed to be here in the first place. You know those little kids whose parents dress them up in their alma mater’s cheerleading outfits and football jerseys? Yeah, that was me and my sisters. Except we weren’t wearing Notre Dame outfits.

But, whether I was supposed to make it here or not, I am. Has it been all fun and roses the last four years? Absolutely not. Have there been times when I wondered what it would be like if I went somewhere else? Definitely (usually as I wandered, unsuccessfully, looking for a dorm party freshman year or spent most of my Friday nights in the library as a junior). But then I think back to all of the people I met and all of the stories I have from the past four years, and those seem like minor speed bumps.

We might occasionally lose sight of this fact, but going to Notre Dame is cool — really cool. At my internship last summer, I met kids from all over the country, including kids who went to Arizona State and Nebraska, among others. When I told them I went to Notre Dame, their jaws almost hit the floor. We are living out an experience that most could only ever dream about at a place that is real only in the movies or on TV to most people. But it couldn’t have happened without so many critical people that I would be remiss if I didn’t thank them for everything that they have done for me.

Thank you to Fr. Paul Doyle for making Dillon Hall my home for the past four years, despite the closet-sized rooms.

Thank you to the Dillon Hall Class of 2011, both those that stayed on campus and those who have since moved off. You guys are the brothers that I never had growing up.

Thank you to the Gentleman’s Club, for keeping it classy with me the last three years.

Thank you to all of my professors in the Department of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences. My biggest concern about coming to Notre Dame out of high school was its lack of a reputation as an “engineering school.” I had a number of people question me about my decision to come here as a prospective engineer, and it was unsettling. However, the instruction that I received and the education I gained here far surpassed anything I could have ever hoped for. I am supremely confident in my abilities and that is a direct result of all of the knowledge and hard work of my professors. You guys really are the best, no matter what anyone says.

Thank you to all of the Bengal Bouts captains, coaches and managers for all that you have done over the years. I needed some way to channel my competitiveness and the Bouts provided the perfect outlet for me. Also, thanks to the EMTs for having the patience to stop my bloody noses pretty much every time I ever sparred.

Thank you to the morning ladies at Recker’s for serving me literally gallons of coffee over the years. I don’t know how many lectures I would have fallen asleep in without you.

Thank you to the dining hall card-swipers and the omelet-makers for the exact same ham, onion and cheese omelet I always get. You are all probably sick of me, seeing as how I am probably the only person on campus that gets breakfast every morning.

Thank you to Robert Hughes for running with such reckless abandon, to USC receiver Ronald Johnson for dropping a surefire touchdown and to Kyle McCarthy for making a game-sealing interception at USC last November. It has been a long time since I have felt that happy at the end of a football game, and it made me forget (for a while anyway) how cold and wet I was in the Coliseum.

Thank you to everyone that maintains campus and keeps it beautiful. We take it for granted, but our campus is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and it is only because of all of your hard work.

Thank you to my wonderful girlfriend for laughing at my goofy jokes, listening to me rant and for always being there for me, no matter what.

And thank you to the staff of The Observer for giving me an opportunity to write. I have loved every minute of it, and I couldn’t have done it without the faith and trust that you guys had in me.

There are a million people that I am forgetting, but that doesn’t mean that you are any less important. I’m going to miss you all in the real world. It’s been my pleasure writing for campus the last few years. Best of luck to the Class of 2011, and Go Irish!

Andy Ziccarelli is a senior majoring in civil engineering. He can be reached at aziccare@nd.edu

The views expressed in this Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.