Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
Major: Arts and Letters Pre-Health (Sociology supplementary major)
Favorite Notre Dame Tradition: I’ve got to say the singing of the alma mater at the end of every football game. Win or lose, it’s an awesome feeling to come together with those around you and the Notre Dame community.
What was your reaction to receiving the Gateway invitation? To be completely honest, I immediately cast the letter aside for I had just returned from orientation at the school I had always wanted to attend. Thankfully though, my father convinced me to at least consider the program. I am happy that he did.
Why Gateway—why did you choose to do Gateway, and/or why are you glad you did?
My family had no prior connection to Notre Dame and were largely unfamiliar with anything Fighting Irish. That being said, perhaps I saw Gateway as a chance to expand my horizons and experience something different at a place where I had heard the people were incredible, the passion for the University second-to-none, and the experience unlike any other. I admit, it was difficult turning my back on a different school closer to home that I had grown up loving, but I am happy that I did.
I am happy that I took a chance on the Gateway Program. At times, I was frustrated with the difficulties that attending two schools incurred, however the experience was humbling, transformative, and one that offered me a perspective that I very likely would not have been afforded otherwise. Most of all though, Gateway brought me into contact with some incredible people, both in the program and outside of it, that I truly feel fortunate to have in my life. Perhaps the program is not for everyone, but for those who are willing to approach it with an open mind and desire a unique experience, I promise it is worth it.
Do not make the mistake of seeing Holy Cross simply as a place you have to endure for a year in order to get to the bigger school across the street. Do not be afraid to make friends with those not in the Gateway program and get involved in the Holy Cross community. I cannot even begin to tell you about the awesome friends and experiences I was fortunate enough to have last year by not being afraid to do these things. While you will more than likely become close with those in the program and find yourself involved with many things Gateway, you’re only at Holy Cross for a year. Get all that you can out of the experience.
Hometown: Dayton, Ohio
Major: Studio Art
Favorite ND Tradition: This is so cliché, but football weekends are my favorite ND tradition. There is nothing better on a Saturday morning than to see South Quad packed with people playing football and walking around campus.
Why Gateway—why did you choose to do Gateway, and/or why are you glad you did? It was not an easy decision, to be honest. Being a member of the first Gateway class, it was hard to find advice as no one knew about the program. I didn’t even get in touch with the other Gateway students until a few weeks before classes started. However, both of my parents went to Notre Dame and just like almost everyone else in Gateway, ND had been my dream school for as long as I could remember.
I had been accepted to some excellent schools, so it was initially really difficult to pass up those opportunities. However, Holy Cross was incredibly welcoming and I ended up having a great experience in the Gateway program!
Louis A. Bertolotti
Hometown: Tenafly, New Jersey
Major: Political Science & History (Minor in the Hesburgh Program in Public Service)
Favorite Notre Dame Tradition: Singing the alma mater as a student body.
What was your reaction to receiving the Gateway decision letter? I was enrolled at another university when I received the news about Gateway. I did not know much about Notre Dame at the time, so I decided to make the trip out to South Bend to make my final decision. As soon as I stepped on campus, I knew what decision I had to make. Every football game opens with “there’s a magic in the sound of their name,” but there is really magic to be found everywhere on campus. I had never seen such a beautiful college before, and there just seemed to be such a spirit amongst the students.
Why Gateway—why did you choose to do Gateway, and/or why are you glad you did? Ultimately, I chose to participate in the Gateway program because I was able to get such a sense of the Notre Dame family in my short visit, and fell in love with it. Every single Notre Dame student I met emphatically welcomed me with open arms and encouraged me to join the Notre Dame community. There is a sense of family at Our Lady’s University that does not exist anywhere else, and being in Gateway strengthen our ability to join that family. Furthermore, the students of Gateway naturally become extremely close with one another, and stay that way after the move across the street. If you need one reason to join Gateway, it would undoubtedly be the people.
Hometown: Evansville, Indiana
Major: International Economics
Favorite Notre Dame Tradition: Singing the Alma Mater after football games and special Masses.
What was your reaction to receiving the Gateway decision letter? It took me about two minutes to say, "Yes, this is definitely what I want to do." Then after talking to and meeting with Erin Camilleri, as well as with a new transfer student at ND, I knew this was the best opportunity for me.
Why Gateway—why did you choose to do Gateway, and/or why are you glad you did? When people ask me how my first year of college was, I tend to smile brightly and say something along the lines of, "It exceeded my expectations.” And after hearing others' experiences in their first year of college, I've found that not everyone can say that. I owe it to Gateway.
Being in Gateway turned out to be the best of both worlds, because the "small school experience" proved to make the college transition much smoother and more relaxing, and after just a couple of weeks of first semester, we felt as if we were already at ND, getting the "big school experience."
Best Advice: I went into Gateway with the attitude, "I'm going to embrace everything about Holy Cross," despite the fact that I didn't get in directly to Notre Dame and that Holly Cross wasn't even on my radar before I was invited to Gateway. At Holy Cross, we had lots of perks that ND students didn't have, such as the choice to live in an air conditioned apartment with two bathrooms and a kitchen, having a car on campus, free laundry, events like "cupcake wars" and an evening trip to Lake Michigan, and getting to go on a spring break trip with our geology class to the Southwest to hike 12 National Parks, including down and back up the Grand Canyon. When I told my ND friends what I was doing for spring break, their reactions were something like, "What? That's awesome! Jealous!" (ND geology doesn't have a trip like that). These perks are all made possible because of the college's small size.
As the year progressed, I felt more and more like an ND student. Holy Cross and Saint Mary's students blend with ND students, and we weren't looked down upon for living across the street. When ND students asked me casually, "What dorm are you in?" I said, "I'm in the Gateway program, so I live at Holy Cross." When they asked what Gateway is, I said, "ND invited a select number of students to spend our first year at Holy Cross, take classes at ND, and we have a direct admit next year with a 3.5 GPA." Everyone I told that to thought it was so cool.
There have been several recent occurrences of people I'm just meeting asking me where I go to school, and it's a bizarre feeling to be able to respond with humble confidence, "Notre Dame." But at the same time I'm happy to say I spent my first year at Holy Cross. I have a family both at Holy Cross and at Notre Dame.
“Thanks to you, your staff, and the Gateway kids, (our son) has matured into a confident, resilient, and more determined than ever young man. Although the initial news of not being admitted to Notre Dame was very hard for us, I truly believe your Gateway program was a blessing in disguise. In fact, I wonder if (he) would have fared so well his first year had he been admitted straight away to Notre Dame. The Gateway family was essential to his growth and development."