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Moving on

Andrew Thagard | Friday, May 14, 2004

When I look back four years ago to when I was deciding where to attend college, my decision to go to Notre Dame seemed so tenuous it’s surprising I even made it up here.

I’m not, after all, one of those fourth generation Domers who sensed he was destined to come here when he watched his first football game at age two. I grew up in a family of Florida Gators, and extended family members graduated from – brace yourselves – Florida State and the University of Miami. As a Florida native, I’m also not a fan of cold weather – much less the blizzard that pounded South Bend my freshman year or the ice storm that blasted us the following winter.

Spending these last few days with friends and just walking around campus, however, has made me realize the extent that Notre Dame has shaped my life and how much I’m going to miss this place.

I’ll miss living in Stanford Hall with a short walk to the stadium on football Saturdays and the Basilica on Sundays, and only a few steps from friends anytime I needed them.

I’ll miss jogging around our two lakes and spotting chipmunks, rabbits and even an occasional deer. I’ll miss Main Circle where I waited for rides to off-campus parties, and where my freshman year roommate and I welcomed back the 2001 national champion women’s basketball team after their game against Purdue.

In a way, I’ll miss late nights at the library studying for organic chemistry, then the MCATs, then physics – well, you get the idea – and even later nights at The Observer office. I’ll miss occasionally getting done early (midnight) and hearing the Basilica bells toll the alma mater during my walk back to the dorm. Hell, I’ll even miss the dining hall, especially when I have to cook my own meals next year.

These past four years raced by so quickly that it’s amazing we’ve learned anything at all. Time spent in the classroom, volunteering and going out – first to dorm parties and later Corby’s and Heartland – flew by. Yet somehow, in spite of – or perhaps because of – all this we’ve grown in our knowledge, deepened our faith and become more confident in our abilities.

This fall, I’ll start medical school at the University of Florida, while friends will enter the workforce, pursue advanced degrees, join the armed forces or spend a year or two volunteering. I’d be lying if I said we all aren’t a little intimidated or that there won’t be challenges and obstacles ahead, just as there have been here. But it’s also true that Notre Dame and our families have prepared us pretty well. And while I’ll always miss this University, I’m also ready to move on and meet the challenges – and opportunities – that lie ahead.

Andrew Thagard is a graduating science pre-professional major and former Associate News Editor, who will be attending the University of Florida College of Medicine on an Air Force scholarship. He would like to thank his friends, and especially his family, for all their support.

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