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What have I learned?

| Monday, April 25, 2016

As a second-semester senior, I’ve engaged in a good amount of reflection on my time here at Notre Dame, which means I’ve spent several months asking myself, “What have I learned?”

In my Common App essay, I told universities I was excited to go to college because I really liked learning — enjoy my terribly embarrassing introduction:

“When I was little, my idea of heaven was a room filled with thousands of books. I’ve always loved reading and learning; as long as I can remember, I’ve loved the tiny thrill when a story leaps off the page, the satisfying sensation when a math problem clicks.”

And in my essay, I made the incredibly astute statement that I, Catherine Owers, realized learning was neither a solitary enterprise, nor one that was limited to books or classrooms.

Unsurprisingly, Notre Dame enabled me to grow in academic and nonacademic spheres. Fantastic professors and roommates have taught me to reevaluate my worldviews and the way I cook scrambled eggs; studying abroad taught me respect for other cultures’ traditions and how to negotiate with Italian taxi drivers. Five years later, I still have an embarrassing amount of enthusiasm for learning.

Last fall I would have responded to the self-imposed question, “What have I learned?” by asserting that Notre Dame has taught me things I want to know, but also how much more I want to learn. And this is the extremely sophisticated analysis I brought to campus at the beginning of my senior year, ready to continue learning from my professors and friends, and oh yes, working for the News department of The Observer.

I never expected the most important lessons from my senior year to be taught by people younger than me. In the female-dominated news department, I’ve learned so much about dedication, resourcefulness, professionalism and kindness from a high-quality group of human beings.

Thank you to all the ladies who have worked production with me when I was sleep-deprived and over-caffeinated. Thanks to the woman who commits to way too many production shifts for other departments. Thanks to the woman who worked so many Thursday nights with so much enthusiasm. Thanks to the woman who is always smiling. Thanks to the woman who carries the Delta News academic average.

Thank you to the woman who hired me before she met me, and let me be the fourth person to cry in her office on her first day as Editor-in-Chief. Thank you for being a great boss and an even better friend. Thank you for creating the community I didn’t know I needed to be a part of.

What have I learned? I’ve learned that every late night that’s turned into a very early morning and the utter lack of work-life balance have been worth it. Every server, InDesign, printer and personal meltdown has been worth it. News matriarchy, I can’t thank y’all enough for making my work at The Observer the defining learning experience of my Notre Dame career.

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

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About Catherine Owers

Senior News Writer Catherine Owers is a senior from New Orleans, Louisiana. She is studying English and Theology.

Contact Catherine