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To my home: Class of 2011

Sam Werner | Friday, May 20, 2011

Five years ago, I never thought I’d be here. When I started looking at schools, Notre Dame was barely on my radar. It was only after persistent suggestions from a friend’s grandmother that I even decided to come out to my first football game.

My parents and I drove up and down the east coast and even flew across the country looking at colleges. I saw everything from small schools to state universities.

The one school I never officially visited? The University of Notre Dame. In fact, my parents never even saw the campus until the day they dropped me off. It seems odd to think that a place that seemed so foreign four years ago couldn’t feel anymore like home.

Every time I set foot on campus, it will always be as coming home. When I leave wherever I’m living to come to a football game, I won’t be going away. I’ll be coming back. The times I’ve had here have made this place a part of my personality more than I could have ever imagined.

As excited as I am to get my diploma Sunday, I’ve already gotten the most valuable thing I’m going to take from these four years. The friends and relationships I’ve made here will undoubtedly stay with me forever.

When I look back on my college experience 20 years down the road, am I going to remember the time I stayed up all night studying or writing a paper? Maybe. All those nights seem to blend together. I know I’m going to remember, though, the time I got up at 4 a.m. to go to the Kentucky Derby. I’m going to remember tailgating with friends and going on football roadtrips.

Most of all, I’d like to just thank the Class of 2011 — especially my friends — for sharing these experiences with me. I can’t imagine a better group of people to spend the past four years with. Even those of you that I don’t know personally, we have a wealth of common highs and lows we’ve gone through.

Not all of the memories are good, necessarily. We didn’t win a football national championship (quite the opposite, in fact) and the Indiana State Excise Police certainly won’t be getting Christmas cards from any members of our class. All that matters, though, is that we shared these experiences. This week has brought such a flurry of emotions that it’s difficult to characterize in one 600-word column. Like the rest of our time here, it’s been both imperfect (the Cubs game getting rained out) and absolutely perfect at the same time (a fantastic day in Chicago with my closest friends).

As much as I don’t want to move on from Notre Dame, I know it’s time. More importantly, I know Notre Dame will always be there when I want it. It will be here for football games reunions when I come back, and it will also be there with me in the memories and relationships I’ve built here.

Thank you, Notre Dame, and thank you Class of 2011. It’s been real.

Sam Werner will gradiate with a degree in American Studies and a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. He’ll be working for the summer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where he’ll have to learn how to work with actual deadlines. He’d like to thank his parents, his younger sister and all of his friends. He is not looking forward to the fall when, for the first time since October 2006, he’ll have to watch a Notre Dame home game on TV. Sam can be reached at [email protected]

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