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Diploma? Don’t need it

Douglas Farmer | Wednesday, May 16, 2012

For the last 12 years, whenever I walked down the stairs at home, I passed a Notre Dame diploma. In 2003, that one increased to two, and eventually a third was added.
I always had trouble believing I would complete the set of four. I’m still not entirely convinced.
But even if I have failed at that task, today is here nonetheless, and as is said, how quickly does today turn into yesterday. Once today is yesterday, we will no longer be part of the elite group known as Notre Dame undergraduates. Instead, we will be part of the much larger population of Notre Dame alumni.
Supposedly, Notre Dame alums are an illustrious bunch. For years, we have heard about the networking, the clubs and the Alumni Association itself. By Sunday afternoon, we will be a part of it all.
In that respect, as we scatter around the country and the globe, we will still have common ties. But do we not have those anyways? To draw an extreme example, if I don’t receive a diploma this weekend, would that truly separate me from my 2,000 classmates? Sure, I wouldn’t be in the football ticket lottery and my class ring would be even more obnoxious than it was originally, but are these the things we came to Notre Dame for? We came for a thorough, well-rounded education. The University-required classes assured the well-rounded factor, and each of our majors was plenty thorough.
We came for good times. Finny’s, Kildare’s and Brothers treated us well. As did the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica. Let’s forget not about the lovely weather, the dining hall holidays and, sincerely, the marshmallow fight. We came for faith. Dorm masses have laid a foundation. Campus-wide masses have brought us together, both in celebration and in sorrow. The Grotto has welcomed us at all hours. Our faith has developed, even when we did not realize it.
We came for football. Well, this is awkward. Maybe we didn’t win as many games as we wanted, but we did have sprinklers and snowballs, a rain delay and a night game. We came for friends. And we leave better in that regard than we could have ever imagined. We’ve found best men and maids of honor. We’ve found roommates who may as well be brothers or sisters. We’ve found classmates and co-workers who hold those titles in name only – they are so much more.
So, with apologies to the Alumni Association and all the good it does, joining my brothers as alums does not thrill me much. Rather, I’ll remember my undergraduate days. I did not come to Notre Dame for a diploma. I came to Notre Dame for knowledge and know-how, faith and football and, most importantly, life-long friends.
And I got them. Thank you to my 2,000 classmates, not to mention predecessors, professors and Observer staffers, for helping me along the way. Oh, and don’t worry Mom. I am getting a diploma tomorrow, and yes, you can hang it with the others.

Douglas Farmer is graduating with a degree from the Program of Liberal Studies and a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. He’ll now intern with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and if anyone has ideas for him after that, send them to [email protected]. That account should be active for a little longer, right?
The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.