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Knock and the door will open

| Thursday, March 5, 2015

I am from South Bend, and this university has always been a part of my life casting its shadow over me. At first, I dreamed of going here all throughout my childhood, but as I grew older I began to detest the idea of staying home and going to school here. I struggled my freshman year of high school, and it hurt my academic record when it came to apply for colleges. During my sophomore year, I got my first job at Sorin’s at the Morris Inn when I was 16. Fr. Ted regularly came there to eat and often sat in the officer’s room where I would try to catch small glimpses of his stories when I went to go fill water glasses or clean plates. The first time I met him, I introduced myself to Fr. Ted. He asked me a question that I got asked quite often there. He simply said, “Are you a student here?” I told him I was not and that I was a student at a local high school. I also said that I was trying quite hard to get in and told him about the academic struggles that I faced my freshman year. Once again he simply said, “Don’t worry son. Remember, knock and the door will open.” I took that to heart and turned my academic performance around. During my junior year of high school, I visited an admissions officer here in order to see how my application would do in the admissions process. I was told that I needed “straight A’s” during my first semester of my senior year to pull it off. Well, I buckled down and did just that for the first time ever in high school only to find out that my school could not send my first semester transcript because the deadline for grades was after the due date for the ND application. I was devastated. I pleaded with my guidance counselor and convinced her to send my transcript from the first quarter, but I felt that was not enough.

I began to fill out my Common Application and looked at admissions statistics to see where I stood. I did not fair very well. I counted on my essays to get me in. I constructed them meticulously, sentence by sentence, hoping for the best. I made it all the way to the final essay where I struggled to come up with an idea, so I took a risk. The essay prompt read: “By the end of the college application process, you will have probably written dozens of essays and responded to a multitude of questions. Use this opportunity to try something new.” Every day in my English class that year, I walked in and told my friends a corny knock-knock joke. While staring at a screen in my class, it hit me. I remembered those words that Fr. Ted told me back when I was a sophomore. I did what he told me. I knocked. This was my essay:

Knock Knock.

(Who’s there?)

Maxwell Edward Ujdak

(Maxwell Edward Ujdak Who?)

No, seriously, please open the door. I would like to act on my dreams and ambitions. The only thing blocking me is this door, and you’re the one behind it. I have been to a few terrible places in my life, but every time I’ve emerged with tenacious zeal ready to pull someone else back up with me. With the dawn of a new era in my life, the clock resets, and it is zero hour. The days of my past have trained me for the reality behind that door. In the words of the Gospel, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). I realize that I have nothing to lose and everything to gain, so I’m knocking.

God, Country, Notre Dame in Glory Everlasting.

Rest in Peace Fr. Ted Hesburgh.


Maxwell Ujdak

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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