Friday, December 11, 2009

Coach Kelly

We got the email at 9 pm last night.

"Brian Kelly, a veteran of 19 seasons as a collegiate head coach -- and most recently the architect of two consecutive Bowl Championship Series appearances at the University of Cincinnati, including a perfect 12-0 regular season in 2009 that earned him national-coach-of-the-year honors – tonight has been named the 29th head football coach at the University of Notre Dame.

“I am very pleased that a thorough and extensive search has led us to a new head coach in Brian Kelly, who I am confident will help us accomplish our goal of competing for national championships,” said Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick.

“I am absolutely delighted to welcome Brian and his family to the Notre Dame family,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president. “He brings to us a long and successful career as a head coach, and I am confident that he will have even greater success here. I’m also very pleased that he has put considerable emphasis on excellence in the classroom and that his student-athletes graduate at a rate well above the norm.”"

This was followed by an impossibly long list of every single thing Brian Kelly has done as a coach.

My gosh, that man has a resume like none other. There was a list of every award he's won, an analysis of every game he's coached, a description of every player he's mentored and every word he's ever spoken, practically. (If you'd like me to post more of Coach Kelly's biography, let me know in the comments.)

What do you think? Is Notre Dame football going to turn right around and start winning next season? Will our team be any good after losing Jimmy and Golden to the NFL draft? Was Brian Kelly the best choice for head coach?  What is the answer to life, the universe, and everything?

Just a few things to ponder over your morning coffee.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas...

It started when I came home from Thanksgiving almost two weeks ago. Driving down Notre Dame Avenue, I saw the giant tree by the bookstore wreathed in twinkling fairy lights. And then I knew.

Christmas time was here at Notre Dame.

There's something special about a Notre Dame Christmas. There's the Nativity scenes in the dining halls and the annual Christmas candelight dinner just for students. Every dorm is bedecked in lights and evergreen. Beautiful Advent wreaths hold place of honor in every dorm chapel and in the Basilica too. And Christmas trees are sprouting up all over.

Badin actually has two Christmas trees, one for each of our social spaces. I love Christmas trees. They give  me hope. They give me strength to carry on.

Yesterday I was walking home to Badin from LaFortune and as I passed between Sorin and Walsh, something happened to brighten my day. You know that one room on the corner of Sorin that always blasts music, at all hours of the day and night? Maybe you've noticed it during football weekends. It's pretty wonderful, actually. I wish I knew those guys so I could thank them, because there's been many a time when walking past their room and hearing "Don't Stop Believin'" or "Love Story" has made my day that much better.

And yesterday, they were playing Christmas music. I nodded my head to the lyrics ("Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays") as I crunched through the snow and I thought, "Where else in the world but Notre Dame?"

Last night the Glee Club came to sing at Badin, in keeping with their wonderful tradition of going to sing at every girls' dorm. Of course, also according to tradition, they brought mistletoe and during their concert, they kissed half the girls in my dorm- including my rector, Sister Denise!

You shoulda been there. We laughed 'til we cried.

I watched the Dillon Light Show a few nights ago. It's a newer tradition and I hope it lasts. Their beautiful display of LED lights is choreographed to Christmas songs and it is a sight to behold.

It's snowing up a storm in South Bend this week. Walking down South Quad to class in O'Shaughnessy is no picnic, with blizzardy winds driving straight into your face. But I'm so happy I don't even care. There's nothing in all the world, you know, like Notre Dame at Christmas time.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Face: Jenn Metz

Today I'd like to introduce you to Jenn Metz. Jenn is the Editor-in-Chief at The Observer and a lovely person! I first met her when I was visiting Notre Dame as a high school student. Jenn was a freshman and she was roommates with one of my high school friends. She told me about her experiences working at The Observer, staying there until 2 or 3 am. I was scared to death of working there but now, three years later, I'm proud to say I'm an Observer news writer/wire editor and I love it! I've always admired how hard Jenn works and of course, she is a talented journalist too.
Your full name: Jenn Metz
Major: English and Romance Languages, Minor: Journalism, Ethics and Democracy

Dorm: Cavanaugh

Hometown: Westfield, NJ

Job description: As Editor-in-Chief of The Observer, I read articles, check layout, manage business operations, head the editorial board, run a new Web site and maintain a level of quality journalism on campus ... all for about 12 cents an hour.

Why do you love your job (if you do)? I enjoy having influence over the campus community, and I love being able to pick up the paper and know that people are reading it and learning something or forming opinions, and I had a huge part in making that happen.

Why did you pick Notre Dame? I fell in love with the campus when I visited and I knew I would have so many opportunities here.

What is your dream for your life after college? I would like to be a producer of a broadcast news program or, in my dream life, a writer on a primetime television show.

What is your favorite place on campus? Waddick's

What is your theme song? I don't really have a theme song...more of a iPod on shuffle kind of person.

Who is your hero? I think Tina Fey is a magnificent writer and is able to make current events extremely entertaining. Her success is something to be admired.
What makes you laugh? How I Met Your Mother

What do you think is the world's biggest problem? The world's biggest problem is kind of a broad question. I could name several issues here, all very valid problems, but not one could be singled out as the most important. I think working to foster a greater awareness and a greater understanding between cultures to work for the same goals at a global level could help solve those problems.

Favorite and least favorite thing about being a Notre Dame student? Favorite: The things I've been able to accomplish here, the friends I've made. Least: South Bend winters.

One word that describes you? Busy
Thank you Jenn!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Face: Cynthia Weber

Today I'd like you to meet Cynthia Weber, the vice-president of Notre Dame's student body. As the daughter and little sister of Notre Dame alumni, Cynthia has long known and loved Notre Dame. Cynthia is known around campus for her quick smile and willingness to listen, elegant fashion sense, and the fact that she is always wearing lipstick- she's a true Southern lady! I don't know Cynthia all that well myself but I have heard stories of her professionalism and dedication to serving the Notre Dame students. Her administration with president Grant Schmidt has already accomplished a lot. For example, there is now a Transpo bus that will run through local neighborhoods on weekend nights to give Notre Dame students a safe ride home. How awesome is that? Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you one of the loveliest girls on campus.

Full name: Cynthia Marie Weber

Major: Political Science and Theology

Dorm: Pasquerilla West Hall

Hometown: Montgomery, Alabama (but my family recently moved to Hendersonville, TN)

Job description: Loving Notre Dame- working for the student body in my capacity as Student Body Vice-President, speaking an annoying amount in my classes, enjoying the company of my classmates, and trying to be holy!

Why did you pick Notre Dame?

I picked Notre Dame because I felt at home here, properly challenged and held to a high standard, but positive that my education and livelihood are in good hands. My dad went here and my older brother just graduated, so more than anything, I've always desired the company of so many smart, motivated, and just plain good people. There is a spirit of good-natured fun on campus, an appreciation for natural beauty and the presence of Christ in the sacraments that are so frequently preformed on campus. In short, I'm in heaven!

What is your dream for your life after college?

My dream for my life after college is to somehow be able to expland on my academic interests, but use them in a leadership capacity. So basically, I have no idea, but I have high hopes!

What is your favorite place on campus?

My favorite place on campus is a bench right next to Old College (to the right if you're facing the lakes). It has a perfect view of the lakes that inspired Father Sorin to build this place, and I have had some fond memories sitting there in the summer watching the fireflies blaze languidly around me. I have so many favorite places, but this is the one that sticks out in my mind.

What is something you struggle with?

Something I struggle with is the inevitable sense of loss when I have to prioritize one thing over another. The opportunities at Notre Dame really are endless; I feel like I'm in a "choose your own adventure" book. It is sometimes difficult to make the right decision knowing that I'm giving something up. I also struggle with keeping a consistant work ethic. It's not that I'm lazy; I'm just a dreamer!

Who is your hero?

I have many heros, and they all play such an important role in my life. They're like people in my head who love me who are cheering me on, challenging me to be a better person! Right now, I think my biggest hero is my running mate, the student body president, Grant Schmidt. Every day I acquire more admiration for his work ethic, his prayerfulness, his patience, and his ability to extend himself endlessly for the people around him. I have learned an enormous amount about leadership and friendship from him, and I'm so lucky to have him as a confidant and role model in my life.

What makes you laugh?

A million things make me laugh, although it depends on the day. Many times, I make myself laugh. Having made hundreds upon hundreds of mistakes in my life, I am now no longer surprised when I slip up (just amused). Kids always make me laugh too.

What do you think is the world's biggest problem?

The world's biggest problem today, from my perspective as an American, is our inability to see the sacredness in material reality. We are so prosperous, our thoughts are so complex and articulated, but we lack the childlike ability to see beauty, mystery, and wonder in the world around us. This is at the root of all the mistreatment of the human person which takes the form of genocide, abortion, and war.

Favorite and least favorite thing about being a Notre Dame student?

My favorite thing about being a Notre Dame student is the people, through which we can see the presence of good things. My least favorite thing is that in the presence of so many gifts, we forget we have so many gifts!

One word that describes me: passionate

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Running round the lakes

Have you ever been for a run around St. Joseph's and St. Mary's lakes? This year it's been my new favorite thing.

I'm not much of a runner but at the beginning of the semester I decided to give the path round the lakes a try.

Oh boy, was I hooked.

The sunlight through the emerald leaves made the path cool and dim, perfect for a run in the warm September weather. The other runners all smiled and waved as we passed each other. The lakes gleamed placidly and sometimes I would see a couple or family fishing. And as for the view of the Golden Dome from across St. Joseph's lake-

Would you believe me if I said that the Golden Dome shining in the sun on a fall afternoon is the most beautiful sight in the world?

But warm weather doesn't last long in South Bend and now it's almost too cold for a run, even at the warmest time of day in the early afternoon. When it starts to snow, you won't see me near the lakes unless I'm equipped with big snow boots and a parka.

But that's just until spring. As soon as the snow melts and the trail dries off, you'll see me out by the lakes again. Maybe I'll be running, but more likely I'll be sitting on the hill behind St. Joseph's lake with a book or my ipod. Every now and then I'll look up at the gleaming Golden Dome and be reassured by its presence.

If you're around campus then, come join me. It might become your new favorite thing too.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday Face: Professor Moss

Today I bring you Professor Candida Moss, or Candida as her students call her. Candida went to Oxford for undergrad and Yale for grad school. She teaches theology and specializes in the early Christian martyrs, about which she is currently writing a book. Candida has an amazing life story. Among other things, she is British nobility and went to boarding school where she rode ponies every morning before breakfast. I've been lucky enough to take two of her classes, which were so much fun that we called her class "Bible stand-up." One of her most wonderful qualities is how approachable she is; students stop by her office to hang out and she always invites her classes to her house for dinner. Introducing (probably) the best professor at Notre Dame!

Your full name: Candida Rebecca Moss
Where you studied before coming to Notre Dame: University of Oxford, Yale Divinity School, Yale University

Job description: I get to read, think, and write about the questions that have preoccupied humanity throughout history. When I'm not teaching the great books or writing about early Christians and martyrdom, I spend my time cooking for and eating with students, organizing talks for the Disability Studies Forum, crying at football games, eating too many animal crackers in the PLS Office, and trying to persuade my students to go to grad school.

Why did you pick to come work at Notre Dame? As a recusant Catholic from England, I always wanted the opportunity to work at the premiere Catholic university in the world. The opportunity to be part of a world class Theology program and encourage others to pursue Biblical and Ancient Studies is really everything I could have hoped for and so much more.

What is something you struggle with? Elementary arithmatic.

Who is your hero? Belgian scholar Hippolyte Delehaye, S.J. He is one of the most important members of the Jesuit hagiographical society the Société des Bollandistes and he used historical methods to establish critical editions of early Christian martyrdom stories.

Favorite place to travel? Rome, it has everything - Roman history, beautiful churches, unparalleled libraries, and fried zucchini flowers.

What makes you laugh? Ricky Gervais, Aristophanes, when Americans imitate my accent

What do you think is the world's biggest problem? Self-interest and a declining sense of responsibility to others. I firmly believe that if we took seriously the duties we have to others as fellow human beings and children of God, many of our ecological, social, and political issues would be easier to navigate.

Favorite and least favorite things about Notre Dame: Favourite? Just one? The Program of Liberal Studies students. They are the most intellectually curious, collegial, and inspiring students I have had the pleasure of working with. Least favourite? The cold weather and, on a related note, my heating bill.

One word that describes you? Enthusiastic

Thanks Candida!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

So much to do...

One of the best things about this campus is how busy it is. On any given night, there are 5 dozen different options for what to do.

Tuesday, for example, the director and actors from The Boondock Saints came to campus to talk to students and offer a free sneak preview of the coming sequel. While the movie is not the most polite or family-friendly , in the words of one of my friends, "That movie seriously makes me want to be Irish Catholic." This being the home of the Fighting Irish Catholics, the tickets sold out in minutes, of course.

Thursday night, tonight, the PLS department is putting on a student talent show. Last year's show was so much fun. Acts ranged from poetry recitals to students performing their own plays to a group of senior guys performing an old NSYNC song (to wild applause). I'm sure tonight's show will live up to that legacy.

This weekend is the Center for Ethics and Culture's tenth annual fall conference. This year's theme is "The Summons of Freedom: Virtue, Sacrifice and the Common Good." I'm writing a conference preview for The Observer and I have really enjoyed all the interviews I've done. Everyone involved in the conference is so enthusiastic, so hopeful and really just glowing with excitement. It sounds like it will be a wonderful experience. If you'll be on campus this weekend, stop by the conference!

What are some fun or interesting events you remember from your time as a student?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What happened?

I don't know about you, but my friends and I have been talking about it since Saturday. Or not talking about it, since one of my friends calls it "the game that must not be mentioned."

What happened to our team?

Navy? Really?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Face: The Leprechaun

Today I bring you Daniel Collins, our very own Fighting Irish leprechaun. Daniel hails from the cold clime of upstate New York, so I bet the South Bend winters never fazed him. He is going to be a lawyer someday and in the meantime, he does an amazing job cheering on our team! There is nothing that gets me pumped up for a game like seeing our leprechaun's spirit and energy. Ladies and gentlemen, I present you with our wonderful leprechaun.

Your full name: Daniel Colt Collins

Major: Political Science

Minors: Irish Studies, Peace Studies

Dorm: Alumni Hall

Hometown: Buffalo, NY

Job description: I cheer our loyal sons onward to victory, I MC the pep-rallies, I make special appearances and do community service both locally and around the nation, I dance a mean Irish Jig, I wear a lot of green, I do a lot of pushups, and I supposedly bring good luck to Notre Dame.

What are your plans for life after college? I am currently applying to law school.

What is your favorite place on campus? inside Notre Dame Stadium on the most sacred football field in the world, the grotto on a snowy night is a close second

What is it really like being the Leprechaun? It is the ultimate honor to represent Notre Dame in the way I do. I am living the dream.

What is your theme song? The Rakes of Mallow

What is something you struggle with? holding myself back from running out onto the football field and sacking the opposing quarterback like Rudy did

Who is your hero? My mom, she is the ultimate source of inspiration in my life. My idol as a mascot is Sabretooth, mascot for the Buffalo Sabres.

What is the best place to go for an away game? San Antonio, because the stars at night are big and bright deep in the heart of Texas!

What do you think is the world's biggest problem? The University of Southern California Trojans

Favorite and least favorite thing about being a Notre Dame student?

Favorite: the honor of being part of the greatest tradition in existence, the Notre Dame Spirit

Least Favorite: it only lasts for 4 years (unless I get into Notre Dame Law School)

What makes you laugh? When Fighting Irish fans show me their Leprechaun tattoos on game day

One word that describes you? Lucky

Navy Weekend

For most students, it's not a question of who's coming into town for the Navy game this weekend. It's a question of who isn't coming, because most of the people we know will be there.

Every year there is one weekend when everyone's parents come into town for the game. And it's not just our parents. This weekend, Notre Dame will host my mom, dad, sisters, brothers, grandparents, cousin and great-uncle's best friend's dog.

Maybe not that last one, but Navy weekend will certainly be a reason to celebrate.

Especially after a Fighting Irish victory. Go Irish!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Irish Friday Face

Every Friday, I'm going to feature a different well-known person on campus so you can get to know the "who's who" of Notre Dame.

I'm starting off this week with Jess Shaffer. Jess is editor of the Scene section of The Observer, president of Farley Hall, PLS major, and a wonderful friend. Here is what she has to say.

Your full name: Jessica Lindsay Shaffer

Major: Program of Liberal Studies, Spanish

Dorm: Farley Hall

Hometown: Washington, DC

Job description: Drinking coffee in Waddicks when not on the second floor of O'Shag; writing, editing, holding meetings and making layouts at The Observer, where I'm the Scene Editor; working for the Finest girls on campus in more meetings and campus events for my role as Farley Hall President; giving my opinion as a Student Advisory Committee member for Program of Liberal Studies; research assisting for my favorite professor; spending way too much time on my gmail; enjoying good food, good coffee, and good friends in my free time, and much much more....
What is your favorite place on campus? The world room in Hurley.

What is your dream for your life after college? I'm scared to admit that I might actually have a big plan post graduation, but my dream is to be travel writer, preferably working with Rick Steves or for a travel magazine. Eventually I'd like to have my own travel book, with all my own writing, research, and photographs.
Who is your hero? My mom and my grandparents.

Favorite place to travel? Today...the Mediterranean, particularly Italy. It changes constantly though, and I feel a craving for a croissant coming on so Paris may be next...

What do you think is the world's biggest problem? Close-mindedness.
What is something you struggle with? Having enough time in the day is a huge challenge. More importantly, making good use of that time and living every day to the absolute fullest is on my mind a lot.

What makes you laugh? My friends. Sarcasm and irony. Arrested Development.

Favorite and least favorite thing about being a Notre Dame student? The best part of being at Notre Dame is living with and learning from such amazing people, who are truly passionate. The worst thing is that I can only stay four years, and not having enough time to explore all my academic interests.

One word that describes you? Heliocentric. In the Platonic, environmental, spiritual, metaphysical, and intellectual sense of the word. I guess astronomically too.

Thanks Jess!

Close Encounters of the Notre Dame Kind

I love spontaneously running into Notre Dame people at non-ND events, and over fall break last week, I hit a record number:

5 different groups of Domers in Chicago in two days.

It started at Giordano’s, home to Chicago’s most delicious pizza. If you don’t like Chicago-style pizza… you’ve never tasted Giordano’s. My sister and I were meeting some friends there for lunch and as we walked into the restaurant, a group of college students stood in front of us waiting to be seated. Some of them looked suspiciously familiar.

They looked at us. We looked at them. My sister and one of the girls blurted out, “Do you go to Notre Dame?” Of course, we all did.

Notre Dame encounters of the week: 1.

We had lunch with our friends- a different group of students, bringing our count of Notre Dame encounters up to 2.

Later that week, we went to The Art Institute of Chicago. Did you know that the Art Institute is free from 5 to 8 pm every Thursday? And boy, is it the place to meet people. It seemed like half the city of Chicago was there, including practically every college student.

The Notre Dame encounters came thick and fast:

The line to get in to the Art Institute stretched down the block. I was pleasantly surprised when I ran into my friend Katie and her boyfriend in line. Encounter 3.

In the room with all the Degas paintings, I ran into my music professor, whose parents were visiting from Italy and enjoying the art. Encounter 4.

And in the Ancient European Art wing, I saw my friends Kelly and Octavia. Encounter 5.

Why were there so many Notre Dame students in Chicago and especially at the Art Institute? I’ve run into Domers in some pretty ridiculous places. Once I was at the Princeton Junction train station and the girl sitting next to me recognized my Badin sweatshirt. She had just graduated from Notre Dame in ’09.

In April I was in Rome and I spotted Notre Dame students in the middle of St. Peter’s Square and on the Roman train. Finally, I was in line for Holy Thursday Mass with Pope Benedict and I struck up a conversation with the older woman in front of me. It turned out that she was a graduate of St. Mary’s College.

I’ve found the Notre Dame connection literally everywhere I’ve traveled and in the most unlikely places. What crazy Notre Dame encounters have you had?

Monday, October 19, 2009


This was probably the most suspenseful second of my life so far.

How did you feel at the end of the game?

I was happy we put up such a good fight towards the end there. If only we had played like that the whole game, if only we had made that field goal and just one touchdown more... but mostly I'm just proud of how our team played.

My friends and I were really excited for the game. We painted our faces.

I felt like Braveheart.

The student section was going crazy. It was absolutely packed (no one missed this game!) and we cheered ourselves hoarse until the very end.

Yes, the final second was painful. My friend Becky said, only half-joking, "Don't mind me, I've only just had my heart broken." Despite the heartbreaking finish, it was probably one of the most exciting games I've seen.

It was quite an emotional roller-coaster, but I sure enjoyed watching it.

Where did you watch the game? How did you feel afterwards?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Luck of the Irish

One of the first things I heard about Notre Dame social life is, “Notre Dame’s party scene is lame.” This may be one of the most-repeated mantras.
Compared to a lot of state schools and so-called “party schools,” yes, Notre Dame has a “lame” party scene. We don’t have streets of sticky-floored college bars open to anyone over age 19. We don’t have rows of frat houses serving jungle juice and offering free fake IDs to cute girls.
Here’s what we have instead:

Thursday night, a group of PLS majors cooked dinner together at my friend Adam’s house. We made pumpkin soup; a salad of corn, tomato and avocado on lettuce; pork tenderloin; mashed potatoes with herb butter; and apple pie with vanilla ice cream.

I was so proud of our culinary triumph.
After dinner we watched Casablanca, one of my favorite movies. Then we sat around and talked for hours.
Now don’t think that we always act so grown-up. We are college kids, after all, and this is Notre Dame, home to some fun-loving Irish Catholics. Friday night, for example, I’m going to a dorm-party rave. The theme, fittingly, is “Green Out” and everyone is encouraged to wear green for Irish luck. And I hope that the luck of the Irish is indeed with us against USC Saturday.
In the meantime, who cares if our party scene is comparatively “lame?” It’s still a whole lot of fun. Maybe that’s the real luck of the Irish- we’re not a state school, but we still know how to have a very, very good time.
What did you do for fun as a student? What were parties like when you were a student?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Let's Make Like Odysseus and Destroy Troy

Raise your hand if you’re watching the USC game this weekend. How excited are you?

Campus is in a fervor, in spite of midterms this week. The sidewalks are covered in chalk slogans that say things like “Beat Southern Cal” and “Destroy Troy.” Someone taped dozens of pictures of Pete Carroll on the ground outside South Dining Hall so students can literally “Stomp USC.” Inside O’Shaughnessy Hall, the Classics Department made a giant banner with a picture of a wooden horse and words urging Notre Dame to victory in both English and Greek.

I love it when the Classics Department does stuff like that.

The big theme for this weekend is the Green-Out: all Irish fans are supposed to wear bright Kelly green to the game, creating a “Sea of Green” to intimidate the Trojans and show true Irish pride. As a clever Observer article points out, the Sea of Green will be a welcome change after the ugly sight of The Shirt, which is an odd flesh-like color. Even if you don’t have a Kelly green jacket, wear a green shirt over your coat. predicts 47 degrees and partly cloudy for Saturday. That doesn’t sound too bad for this time of year. Hopefully the chill will be too much for the Southern Cal team and we’ll have an advantage.

I’m not going to say who I think will win, but I will definitely be praying for an Irish Victory.

Are you coming in to town for the game? What is your prediction for the final score?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tell me what you want to hear

The purpose of my blog is to make you feel like you are a student again, back on the Notre Dame campus and having a lot of fun. At the very least, I hope it's a trip down memory lane that brings campus closer to you. To that end, I'd like to know: what would you like to hear about? Any particular game day traditions or campus events? Funny moments in dorm life or academic activities? You tell me your favorite memories from Notre Dame and I'll try to re-create them and of course, share them with you!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Notre Dame Role Models

Every week or so, my friends and I invite a professor or a married couple to have dinner with us and share their insights on life, love, marriage and anything else they want.
Last Thursday night I was lucky enough to hear Bill and Elizabeth Kirk speak on Marital Love and Spiritual Fruitfulness over dinner.
Bill Kirk is the Associate Vice President for Residence Life at Notre Dame and one of my favorite people. He graduated from Notre Dame in 1984 with a degree in accountancy. After several years in the workforce he returned to campus as a law student. He has served as Assistant Rector of Sorin Hall, Rector of Holy Cross Hall and Rector of Stanford Hall. He’s also funny, kind and a really good guy.
Elizabeth Kirk, his wife and also one of my favorite people, was a professor at the Ave Maria law school and worked as a lawyer in Chicago. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and also graduated from the Notre Dame Law School. She is gracious and lovely, and has such impeccable style that it makes me jealous.
Bill and Elizabeth brought their two adorable boys: Will, a laughing redheaded toddler, and Benedict, a chubby and adorable 8-month-old.
They talked about the ups and downs of marriage and the struggles of infertility (both their boys are adopted). They shared funny stories and serious moments that almost had my friends and me in tears. I had never before heard the heartache of infertility discussed so frankly and so gracefully.
Finally, Bill looked at the two smiling, squirming little boys in his and Elizabeth’s arms and said, “I know these boys were meant to be my sons.”
I thought, “That is love. That is a true Christian family.”
One of my favorite things about Notre Dame is that it is full of incredible role models. I will never forget the day I saw my freshman biology professor, Father Tom Streit, on TV discussing his work to end lymphatic filariasis (also known as elephantiasis, a horribly disfiguring disease). The man is almost single-handedly eliminating elephantiasis from Haiti and I had him as a teacher.
There are so many professors and administrators at Notre Dame who the students can look up to as examples of virtue. That will always be one of my favorite things about this university.
Which professors were your role models as an undergraduate? What made you look up to them?
 Thanks for the comments!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Love at first sight

I still remember the very first time I saw the Notre Dame campus. I was 17 and a senior in high school on a college tour with my dad and twin sister. The date was September 29, which I only remember because it was my best friend’s birthday. I was annoyed that my dad was making me miss my friend’s party to visit a college that, at the time, held no special interest for me.

I remember the tour around campus- I was quickly taken with its beauty. We went to 5:15 Mass in the Basilica and the majesty of the old church was arresting. We saw bands of students walking to the pep rally, waving flags and cheering. They looked like they were having so much fun. We snuck inside Howard to see what the dorms looked like and a kind-hearted RA showed us around.

“There’s a chapel and a kitchen in every dorm,” she said. My sister and I perked up at that. We both love to cook. She worked as a chef for two summers, while I throw dinner parties and bake desserts for every possible occasion. Oh, and my puppy chow was the mainstay of every high school bake sale (puppy chow is a peanut-butter-and-chocolate concoction, for those of you who unfamiliar with the most addictive dessert ever made).

"Can we take a quick look?" we asked, scurrying into the kitchen before she could say "no."

In the kitchen we found two girls unloading groceries.

“What are you doing?” we asked.

“Cooking a dinner party for our friends,” they said.

My sister and I looked at each other. Harvard was cool and all, but they didn’t have kitchens in their dorms.

This is the place for us, we thought.

We stopped at the Grotto, which is now my favorite place on campus. I saw it for the first time that day. As I lit a candle, I considered what to pray for and knew immediately what I wanted most.

Please God, let me get in here, I whispered.

Later on, I sat on a bench on South Quad and thought about college. I watched people walk past and I looked up and down the quad. Could I live here for four years? I thought.

I pictured the magnificent Basilica and the cozy dorm kitchen. I remembered the cheering students walking to the pep rally and the warm glow of the Grotto.

Yes, I could.

Last Saturday, I stopped at the Grotto with a friend late at night. I knelt quietly and prayed for a little while. It was almost three years to the day since my first visit to the Grotto, the day I decided to apply here. Saturday night I lit a candle and thought, Thank you, God, that I go to this school.

When did you first fall in love with Notre Dame? Did you have a "love at first sight" moment?

Friday, October 2, 2009

It's a GAME Weekend

There’s just something about football weekends.

Maybe it’s the redheaded little kid throwing a football to his dad on South Quad, both of them wearing Notre Dame sweatshirts.

It might be waking up to the sound of the Band playing on the steps of Bond Hall, or the smell of Knights of Columbus steak sandwiches wafting down the quad and making everyone hungry.

It could be that the Grotto is packed with visitors, and every candle is lit- hundreds of prayers burning bright before Mary.

It might just be that at breakfast Friday morning, I already saw alumni lining up for a meal at South Dining Hall.

Whatever sparks it, I love living in Catholic Disneyland.

“There’s a magic in the sound of their name… HERE COME THE IRISH of Notre Dame.”

Best of luck to our boys out on the field tomorrow! I, for one, will be shamelessly praying for an Irish win. Our Lady of Victory, pray for us!

Are you coming in to town for the game? What is your favorite part of football weekends?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Being "the face of Notre Dame"

Last night, my rector held an interest meeting for any juniors who are thinking about applying to be RAs. I’m still not sure if I’m going to apply, but it was interesting to hear the opinions of my hall staff on the work they do. They had plenty of stories about the fun times they had during hall staff training, going to the pool and out to dinner. They promised us that being on duty isn’t so bad.

“Just think of duty night as a chance to socialize within the dorm, and get to know all your fellow Badin residents,” one RA said. “You’ll get to be friends with all the freshmen- and our freshmen are awesome.”

Being an RA isn’t always a party, though. At one point my rector talked about the important responsibility RAs have as representatives of Notre Dame.

“As an RA, you are the face of Notre Dame,” she said. “You have a responsibility to always act in keeping with that.”

I thought about what she said, and I realized that the RAs aren’t the only ones who have a responsibility to represent Notre Dame.

Maybe you’ve heard the old joke: “How do you know if someone in the room went to Notre Dame?” “Because they told you.”

We laugh about our Domer pride that leads us to tell everyone where we went for undergrad, but the joke has some truth to it. When people know that you’re a Notre Dame student or alum, they look at you differently. You become the face of Notre Dame to countless people who may not have any other contact with the university. As students or graduates of the world’s premier Catholic university, we’re part of a community much bigger than ourselves- and maybe we have a duty to be good ambassadors for it.

What does it mean for you to be “the face of Notre Dame?”

On faith and reason

It’s been a busy week!

Tuesday night I had the privilege of attending a lecture in the Catholic Culture Lecture Series, sponsored by the Center for Ethics and Culture. The series of four weekly lectures is titled “Close to Catholic: A Celebration of Kindred Spirits,” and this week Professor Ann Astell of the theology department lectured on Simone Weil, a French mystic. The other authors highlighted in the series are T.S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis, and Fyodor Dostoevsky.

I love the series and hope to attend every one of the lectures. I also ended up writing an article about the lecture for The Observer, which made my evening a little more hectic as I frantically pounded out a story at 10 pm in the Coleman-Morse computer cluster! It was worth it, though, to spread word about these wonderful lectures.

The Center for Ethics and Culture is one of my favorite things at Notre Dame. As a literature fanatic, I love that they celebrate brilliant Catholic authors like Evelyn Waugh, Flannery O’Connor, and G.K. Chesterton. I love the way the center merges our intellectual heritage with our Catholic belief, showing how compatible they truly are. That’s the gift of Notre Dame; unlike at any other premier university, at Notre Dame faith and intellect not only co-exist but actually enrich each other.

How has your Notre Dame education enriched your faith? How have your beliefs contributed to your intellectual interests?

Post-edit: I wrote an article for The Observer about the Catholic Culture Lecture series if you'd like to check it out here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Who am I?

Hello, I’m Tess, college blogger for the Notre Dame Alumni Association and member of the Class of 2011. I know that most alumni are really curious about what’s going on at Notre Dame these days. How much has the school changed since you went here? Do the students still have fun like you used to, or are we all eggheads with noses in books? What’s the life of a Domer like in 2009? My blog will provide a snapshot of Notre Dame today. Please feel free to email me or leave comments. Share your memories of your Domer days, or give me suggestions for future blog post topics. Enjoy reading!

Five Things You Need to Know about Me:

5. I write for The Observer and I love it. I want to be a journalist after graduation, and working there is a really fun, hectic way to learn the ropes. I’ve also made some wonderful friends there- something about all those late nights in the basement of South Dining Hall really brings you together.

4. I’m from outside Chicago and sometimes it seems like everyone else here is too! That’s a bonus, of course, when I need a ride home for Thanksgiving or fall break. Specifically I’m from Hinsdale, which is the kind of cute little town where I could ride my bike to the pool and ice cream shop since I was eight. I love living there with my six siblings and our parents.

3. I live in Badin and my identical twin sister lives in Ryan, the newest girls’ dorm, also known as “Queen Elizabeth’s summer home.” Badin is a charming dorm, with its balcony and wide hallways, but the lack of air conditioning sometimes make my jealous of my sister. She is my best friend so you will probably hear more stories about our silly shenanigans.

2. I’m a Program of Liberal Studies major. I’ve heard all the jokes about what PLS stands for: “probably law school,” “people lacking sense” and “party like Socrates.” But Father Hesburgh says that PLS is Notre Dame’s best major, so I’ll defend it with pride. I’m passionate about politics, philosophy, theology and literature, so you might see some future posts about books or the ND spin on current events. Don’t worry though, I won’t make any Plato jokes (because if there’s one thing worse than a pretentious PLS major, it’s a pretentious PLS major trying to be funny!).

1. I’m crazy about Notre Dame. If you had looked in the Clark Memorial Fountain (also known as Stonehenge) after the Purdue win Saturday night, you would have seen me soaking wet with my arms around my friends, singing the Fight Song at the top of my voice. If you look around the stadium on a bleak, snowy day in November, I’m the girl wearing three hats and refusing to leave the stands until the Alma Mater has been sung. I’m the girl running around the lakes in September who stops short at the far side of St. Joseph’s Lake- because the glory of that shining Golden Dome takes my breath away, every time. I’m in love with this school and being a student here is my proudest accomplishment.

That’s a little bit about me. What do you remember most fondly from your days at Notre Dame? Give me the typical “Notre Dame introduction” with your year, major, and dorm. Thanks for reading!