The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Families cherish ND legacy

Mel Flanagan | Friday, September 7, 2012

When junior Ryan Gerspach applied to college three years ago, there was no question as to what school was his first choice. “Notre Dame was my number one, two and three,” he said.

Gerspach, along with many other Notre Dame students, grew up visiting the University and watching countless football games because of the many Notre Dame graduates in his family.

As a result, these students often have their hearts set on Notre Dame before they even enter high school.

“I woke up watching Notre Dame football every Saturday morning since I was less than a year old, and I’ve been coming here since I was six or seven,” he said. “I wanted to come here from the earliest moment I realized college was a decision you had to make sometime.”

Gerspach is one of the more recent additions to a long-standing Notre Dame tradition in his family. Both of his parents, two uncles and two cousins attended at the University, and he has a cousin and a sister attending the school with him now.

The junior said his familiarity with the University has greatly enhanced his Notre Dame experience.

“I knew the place so well and I knew what it was about before I got here,” he said. “I guess I felt kind of in-tune with the whole campus lifestyle. I thought it was really easy to become a part of.”

For freshman Jess Guvanich, her previous knowledge of the University has made the first few weeks of college a little easier for her.

Both of Guvanich’s grandfathers, both of her parents, two of her uncles and one aunt all attended Notre Dame.

“I grew up with it, so it was a very familiar place,” she said. “I think I know a little bit more coming here. I know a little more about the history of certain places, and I’m interested in the connections [between the University and my family], like where my parents lived.”

Guvanich said her family has been very interested to learn about Notre Dame from her point of view, and to find out what has changed at the University since their time in school.

“They always comment on how nice the new buildings are and how much bigger the campus is,” she said. “[LaFortune Student Center] wasn’t like this when they were here, it was just a few study halls. And my mom always says the dining hall is 10-times better now.”

Even though the University has changed since Gerspach’s family attended the school as well, he said its important facets remain the same.

“From what I know it seems like it still embodies the same traditions, ideals, morals and goals,” Gerspach said. “It’s just as or even more prestigious as it was when they were here.”

The prestige of the University and its post-college network both heavily factored into Gerspach’s decision to attend Notre Dame, he said.

Although he knew his family would be thrilled if he chose to enroll in the University, Gerspach said he did not feel forced to make that decision.

“They never influenced me, not directly, and I never felt any pressure to come here,” he said. “But what better place [than Notre Dame], you know?”

Guvanich had a similar experience during the college application process.

“They were very happy for me to go here, but my parents did not want it to be said that they made me come here,” she said. “They encouraged me to look at other schools.”