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Journey to Notre Dame

My journey to Notre Dame was not that of the average Notre Dame student.

During my senior year of high school when applying to colleges, I knew wholeheartedly that I wanted to be at a college that had a warm and welcoming, yet academically rigorous environment, much like the college prep, Jesuit high school I was attending in Chicago. It didn’t take long for me to realize that Notre Dame checked all of those boxes and then some.

When it came time to submit college applications, Notre Dame was at the top of my list. Like many other students, I spent countless hours trying to perfect my essays. When it came time to write the “Why Notre Dame?” essay, I vividly remember wondering whether or not I’d be able to say everything I wanted to say without exceeding the word limit. There were so many reasons why Notre Dame was the perfect school for me and why I wanted to cheer on the Irish as part of the Class of 2025. 

When I felt my application said everything I could possibly articulate about my love for Notre Dame, I clicked submit and was filled with hope (and nervousness) for the future. I began praying that my dream would come true, and that I would find myself home under the dome that fall. 

A few months later during the spring of my senior year, my parents were getting ready to go watch my brother play hockey when I got the email. Every Notre Dame student knows the email I’m talking about. It was the email that stated that application decisions would be released that evening. 

My mom decided to stay home with me because she knew I would anxiously be awaiting the decision. I could barely focus that evening, as Notre Dame was all I could think about. Every minute that passed felt like an hour, and every hour that passed felt like an eternity, as I anxiously paced the floors of my living room.

When it was finally time to open the decision letter, I remember my heart pounding and my hands feeling numb. No other college decision evoked this much emotion from me. This was the moment I had been waiting for for such a long time. It felt like all four years of high school — the sleepless nights spent studying, the stress of AP classes and the hours spent participating in extracurricular activities — had all been leading up to this moment. Within one click, I knew I would find out my fate for the next chapter of my life. And unfortunately, within one click, I received the news I had not been hoping for. The news that said, “we regret to inform you that we are unable to offer you admission to Notre Dame.” I was instantly crushed and experienced the heartache that I know many others can relate to. 

I knew life was moving quickly and that I had to make a decision. A few months later, I decided to accept admission into the honors program at the University of Michigan. As much as I tried to envision myself there, my heart kept leading me back to South Bend. 

A few days later, it was as though God had heard my prayers. A mentor had told me about the wonderful community at Holy Cross College. God was laying out His plan for me; I just had to decide whether or not to follow it. 

Even though it was not in the way I had expected, I still found myself in South Bend that fall. From the first day I stepped foot on Holy Cross’s campus, I immersed myself in my classes and the tri-campus community. Although I wasn’t in the Gateway program, I was not giving up on my dream of attending Notre Dame just yet. 

At the beginning of the school year, I received an email that Notre Dame would be playing the movie, Rudy, on their football field — an experience that was sure to be unforgettable. As much as I wanted to go, I couldn’t bring myself to watch something that hit so close to home. Although our stories are a little different, I related to the longing desire of making your dream a reality. 

During second semester, I submitted my transfer application, filled with the same hope and nervousness that had consumed me months earlier, maybe even more so because I was able to experience the magic of Notre Dame’s community firsthand. 

Flash forward to today, and I am grateful to be writing this in my dorm room at Notre Dame. I am also grateful to my high school (Saint Ignatius), Holy Cross, my parents for believing in me and the many mentors that stood in my corner along the way. 

We all have our own journeys in life to follow. If there’s one thing this experience has taught me, it’s that sometimes we have to be open to following a slightly different path in order to reach our final destination.

Isabelle Kause is a sophomore at Notre Dame studying sociology and minoring in journalism. When she’s not busy, you can find her listening to country music or Taylor Swift or trying out new makeup/skincare products. She can be reached at ikause@nd.edu.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.