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Seniors share advice with University freshmen

| Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Eight seniors gathered Tuesday night in LaFortune Student Center Ballroom to share the senior secrets they acquired over time at Notre Dame to a group of freshmen.

Alex Cantrell, an RA in and former president of Alumni, kicked off the event by sharing five pieces of advice.

“Try to organize and time manage, attack with a focus, take advantage of every opportunity, never stop learning and do anything you want because you can,” he said.

Andrew Weiler, a resident assistant, former president of Knott Hall and founding member of Jubilee Institute for Financial Inclusion (JIFFI), spoke next, offering words of comfort to the first-year audience.

“I want to promise that you’re all going to be alright,” Weiler said.

Weiler said many freshmen can become so overwhelmed by anxieties about future plans that their Notre Dame educations suffer.

“Anxieties about jobs and careers can turn what we do at Notre Dame to just being about gaining skills, and that is not what a Notre Dame education, or education in general, is all about,” he said.

Weiler thinks a proper education means becoming a more well-rounded person — a person who is “interested and interesting.” He recommended three methods that can lead to a fuller education.

“Try and choose a major you are passionate about, make a lot of friends and spend time with them and finally join the clubs and activities that inspire you,” he said.

Hermona Abera, a senior and SUB director, gave suggestions to freshmen uncertain of future plans.

“Do not worry if you do not have the future figured out,” she said. “I did not have it figured out freshmen year, but the more things I got involved with because they were fun, the more it helped me figure out in the long term what I wanted.”

Abera followed up her advice by saying that while getting involved with different activities is recommend, finding time for yourself is equally as important.

“Make time for yourself – and be sure get sleep,” she said.

Jimmy McEntee, a teaching assistant to Carl Ackermann, Club Coordination Council president, interhall football champion and a future student at Harvard Law School, spoke next. McEntee emphasized the importance of discovering personal happiness at Notre Dame.

“Try to figure out what makes you happy on campus, and though it will be difficult to find, when you find it, go and get it,” he said.

McEntee suggested reaching out to professors or upperclassmen to help freshmen discern what activities will bring about the most happiness.

“While Notre Dame has incredible resources, nothing is handed to you,” he said. “I really suggest meeting with people — whether its professors or upperclassmen — and try to figure out how to accomplish your goals during your four years here.”

Following McEntee was Kathleen Krah, the vice president of Farley who studied abroad London and Dublin. Krah provided four pieces of advice she collected over her four years.

“You should put yourself out there, build relationships, trust the process and enjoy every moment,” she said.

She said the reason she always gets emotional when talking about her time at Notre Dame is her deep love of the memories she has formed here. She encouraged the freshmen to never forget the privilege of attending Notre Dame.

“Every time you walk out of the library at 3 a.m. after studying for hours, just look up at the Dome and remember how lucky you are to be here,” she said.

Next Matthias Farley, former Irish football safety and Notre Dame Football Unity Council member, addressed the freshmen. Farley echoed Krah’s advice to savor every moment at school.

“Really appreciate the time that you are here and do not rush to the future, because it is going to be here before you know it,” he said.

After Farley spoke, Shannon Hagedorn, a Career Center intern, offered insight into how to start the career process freshmen year.

Hagedorn encouraged freshmen nervous about finding future careers to concentrate on exploring as many experiences as possible now because every new experience is an opportunity for development.

“Use jobs and extracurriculars to define yourself, but do not do anything just because you think you should,” she said. “Careers will follow if you are pursuing your interests.”

Current student body president Lauren Vidal concluded the event by addressing the importance of always maintaining trust in family, friend and school life. Vidal also told the freshmen to realize that they are entering adulthood.

“We all need to grow up a little bit and realize that we are adults,” she said.

Vidal said acting like an adult includes learning the standards of professionalism. She also emphasized the importance of reading the news every day.

“The news always gives you perspective, because it is a great way to check yourself and put your troubles into their proper categories,” she said.

Vidal final words stressed there are no limits to what any person can do.

“You are not your stereotype, so choose to let what other people think is typical for your gender or culture or whatever else determines what you can do,” she said.

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