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State clubs help students feel at home at Notre Dame

| Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Though Notre Dame is located in Indiana, it caters to a national population with students from many different states. At Notre Dame, student-run state clubs perform the function of bringing together students from their home areas. According to SAO, there are clubs representing nine states: California Club, Connecticut Club, Hawaii Club, Louisiana Club, Minnesota Club, Montana Club, New Jersey Club, New York Club and Texas Club. Each state’s club has a slightly different focus, from helping arrange transportation at breaks to organizing events reflecting their state’s culture.

Junior Danny McMaster, vice president of the New Jersey Club, said his club’s main purpose is serving as a link between students, alumni and New Jersey, as well as social opportunities.

“We organize rides back, both by organizing a major bus back … [and] in coordination with some of the Philadelphia [alumni] clubs,” McMaster said. “We are the liaisons between New Jersey students on campus and the four New Jersey [alumni] clubs. … We’re just basically a social club where, you know, all the New Jersey kids can get to know each other, get some cool T-shirts, get some good pizza and good breakfast sandwiches.”

Junior Rosie Crisman, co-president of California Club, said her club’s major focus is helping Notre Dame students network with professionals in California. She said a large number of California Club members are not actually California natives.

“We help students connect to professionals in California, including Notre Dame alumni and recruiters,” she said. “If I had to guess, around 25 percent of our club is not from California.”

Senior Iliana Contreras, president of Texas Club, described her club’s mission as both connecting students to alumni networks and helping Texans adjust to life in South Bend.

“Alumni networks within the Texas Club are huge. We have the Alumni Barbecue in the spring where actual alumni from Texas come and they host a huge barbecue for all of our students, be [they] from Texas or not,” Contreras said. “We also want [Texas Club] to be a safe haven for people on campus; we recognize that moving to South Bend, Indiana, from any place in Texas … [puts students in] an entirely different culture, environment and weather. We want to make sure that people know where to buy the right jackets, get the right snow boots. … Texas Club is supposed to be a place where you can come and you can combine your two homes: your love of Texas and your love of Notre Dame.”

These clubs allow for students to express their love of their home state, even while so far away from home. McMaster said, in his experience, state clubs build up community among the members of their state, and that those involved enjoy their work.

“One of the biggest draws for us is that New Jersey is one of the biggest states at Notre Dame, especially considering how far away it is,” McMaster said. “There’s just a matter of state pride … [because] a lot of people rag on our state. Everyone who’s from it really loves it and we all have a good time with it.”

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About Mike Dugan

Mike is a sophomore from New Jersey majoring in computer science who is currently serving as Systems Administrator. He is a resident of Dillon Hall.

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