Welcome Home: Letters from the Notre Dame Community

Welcome Home, Class of 2025!

Below are letters from members of the Notre Dame community featured in the Welcome Home newsletter for admitted students. 


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From Director of Admissions Christy M. Pratt

Greetings from the University of Notre Dame! 

This is the second time I have the pleasure of officially welcoming you to the Notre Dame family. In your offer of admission, I commended you on your many accomplishments and I hope you have taken some time to celebrate and reflect on all you have achieved. 

The world needs people like you. In challenging times, when a global pandemic, continued social unrest, and economic uncertainty have altered life as we know it, we can all find hope and joy in the bright future ahead of you.

The Class of 2025 is intelligent, creative, resilient, and wonderfully diverse. As director of admissions, I understand the long road, hard work, and many successes that led you to your admission to Notre Dame and my staff and I are so proud of you, and the entire Class of 2025. Despite the uneasy climate in which we find ourselves, remember that your success is worth celebrating. Acknowledge, too, the people who helped you get where you are today—the family, teachers, friends, and teammates who supported you along the way.

As a Notre Dame student you now have even more support behind you as you make the transition to college: You are part of the Notre Dame family.

It is that connection that we endeavor to carry to you via this email newsletter. We would normally invite you to campus, roll out the blue and gold carpet for you, and celebrate your success together.

Instead, I invite you to join us for a special Restrictive Early Action Virtual Celebration. If you have not done so already, please check your email for your invitation and further details. We have a fun, informative evening planned and look forward to celebrating with you and your new classmates.

You may also connect with us via the Welcome Home site, which is your best resource for up-to-date information. We'll reach out with further virtual opportunities via this weekly newsletter and you can find us on social media any time. 

In the meantime, I extend warm wishes on behalf of the campus community: Welcome to the Notre Dame family. Welcome home!

Christy M. Pratt
Director of Undergraduate Admissions

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A Letter from Sarah Price, Class of 2021

Remember life before COVID-19? It feels like forever ago when we could see a stranger's full face in the grocery store, sit right beside our best friend at lunch, or even have classes in person. 

Honestly, the struggles of learning during a pandemic have brought forth a new level of uncertainty in everyone's lives.

For many of the incoming Class of 2025, this uncertainty is revealed as the rites of senior year are slowly stripped away. Homecoming, crowded football and basketball games, field trips, winter dances, prom, awards ceremonies, and other events seem to have become traditions of the past.

But through these trials and tribulations, the Class of 2025 has been molded with the knowledge, foresight, and adaptability necessary to weather any storm.

The Class of 2025 knows more about epidemiology, viral transmission, and public health than any high school senior class before them. Not only has the pandemic riddled every news source and dinner table conversation, it has entered science, history, and probably even your math classes.

You've seen how seemingly unconnected topics are actually intertwined. You know all about the current state of our world, nation, and society. Through this experience, you have become more informed, more responsible, a better student and young adult.

The Class of 2025 knows more about appreciating the present than any high school senior before them. The hardships that have been thrown at you have made it clear that something small or seemingly manageable can quickly derail other things that may seem unrelated but are actually connected. For example, when a trip to the grocery store becomes a matter of life and death for the most vulnerable among us, your need for toothpaste becomes much more than a desire to avoid plaque.

The Class of 2025, to my belief, will be more spontaneous, resilient, and thick-skinned than any incoming class before them. You've gone through more rapid and unpredictable transitions in this past year than many people do in their entire life. This has made you adaptable, and whether you are adaptable in class, debate team, sports, jobs, or just life in general—that is one of the hardest traits to develop.

This skill will be incredibly useful as you open up this new chapter in your life and are faced with new challenges and opportunities. Looking at life with honest foresight and facing it with tenacity will allow you to seize the day—carpe diem.

That's what this is all about, right? Carpe diem!

So, that begs the question, what are you going to do with your life?

Will your senior year of high school inspire you to change your occupational dreams or fight twice as hard for them? 

Will this new appreciation for the present encourage you to reach out to more classmates, professors, or staff?

Will your newfound adaptability prove that even when you fall, you just gain a new perspective on the issue at hand?

The Class of 2025 is faced with a choice in the face of our current challenges. This time in your life isn’t about whether things will be back to normal before prom, or if graduation will take place via the internet. 

Instead, ask yourself: Will I seize this day, the next, and every one after?


Sarah Price '21
Economics, Africana Studies
Mount Laurel, NJ

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A Letter from Kerry Temple '74, Editor of Notre Dame Magazine

The Notre Dame Family is Real

I was 17 the first time my father hugged me. He was looking over my shoulder as I read the letter from Notre Dame—the one in the big, thick envelope that said I had gotten in. He threw his arms around me in a big bear hug, lifted me off the ground. He burst into laughter. I can still feel and hear that jubilant reaction 50 years later.

That night in 1969 I also learned he and my mom had dreamed of sending a son to Notre Dame when they talked about starting a family after getting married after World War II. Neither had gone to college. My mother’s household had no father. My dad was poor, too, shuffling between northwest Louisiana and east Texas before serving in the war.

I was 12 when a local high school sports star signed to play at Notre Dame. “It’s every Catholic boy’s dream to go to Notre Dame,” he announced in the local paper. I was a Catholic boy; Notre Dame became my dream, too.

It wasn’t easy at first. Everyone was smarter than I was; the workload was hard. There wasn’t much of a social life then, and the South Bend winter was tough on a southerner 1,000 miles from home. But I never doubted that I had found my place.

It was a world of ideas and learning, of deep friendships and life being explored all-out. Football weekends, pickup basketball games and thoughtful walks around the lakes, good books, and challenging, mind-illuminating lectures—and late-night conversations in Farley Hall when we’d talk about God and the meaning of life, the mystery and wonder of this amazing universe. And our place in it. What we should do with ourselves.

While I’ve had many blessings since, I can’t recall a time when I was more excited by the verve of every day, and lived with so many good, caring, and committed people—who liked their fun, too. A time when I enjoyed such freedom to chase after ideals and truth, surrounded by so many sharp and dedicated teachers, to find my way through personal solitude and happy camaraderie.

I spent four years here as a student and have worked here for 40 more. I came back and stayed because I believe in what the place is all about. The Notre Dame family is real. That’s never been more obvious than in these stressful days and weeks of coping with the disruptions and threats of COVID-19.

In many ways, I still feel like I did when I was a student, reading, learning, enthusiastically sharing what I find, grateful to be part of it all. But the place belongs to the students. It’s theirs for the brief time they are here. Savor it all—the highs and the lows, the challenges and the triumphs. Though time is fleeting, Notre Dame will live in your heart and mind and soul forever.

Kerry Temple ’74 is editor of Notre Dame Magazine.

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A Letter from Luis Fraga, Faculty Director of the Institute for Latino Studies

Congratulations and welcome to the Notre Dame family!

You and your parents should be very proud of what you have accomplished and I know that you will be even more proud of what you will accomplish in your undergraduate studies here at Notre Dame.

One of my affiliations at Notre Dame is as Director of the Institute for Latino Studies, where I hold the Rev. Donald P. McNeill, C.S.C., Chair in Transformative Latino Leadership.

We have thirty-one affiliated faculty members from across the University and 67 supplemental majors and minors from all different colleges as well.

If you have any interests in more deeply understanding one of the fastest growing ethnoracial groups in the United States and in the Catholic Church, please come and drop by our offices at Bond Hall and learn about all of the exciting opportunities we have for you.

I am also a professor of political science where I hold the title of Joseph and Elizabeth Robbie Professor of Political Science. I have 50 colleagues in political science who conduct research and teach in the areas of political theory, American politics, international relations, and comparative politics. We graduate about 125 majors per year.

The challenges our country and other countries face today makes political science one of the most relevant areas of study that a student can choose. Come by our offices on the second floor of Jenkins Nanovic Halls to talk with me or one of our advisors.

I hope you know how much everyone at Notre Dame looks forward to welcoming you—whether in person or virtually.

Here you will find the support to grow in your intellectual, social, and spiritual interests more than you might ever think possible. That is what happened for our daughter Isabel who graduated from ND in 2010. She is a committed alumna who works in Catholic education as a third grade school teacher in Plano, TX. She found her calling here at ND.

I know that you will find a second home here at Notre Dame. It is the most special university where I have been privileged to teach across my thirty-four-year career.

May you and your family be safe and receive all of the blessings that Our Lady can offer.

Sincerely,


Luis R. Fraga
Rev. Donald P. McNeill, C.S.C., Professor of Transformative Latino Leadership
Joseph and Elizabeth Robbie Professor of Political Science
Director, Institute for Latino Studies
Fellow, Institute for Educational Initiatives

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Welcome from Jo Cecilio, Rector of Cavanaugh Hall

Hello, Class of 2025!

Greetings from the halls of Cavanaugh, a 200+ women’s hall in the North Quad of the University of Notre Dame. Congratulations on your admission to the University! 

My name is Jo Cecilio and I am one of the 33 rectors who will be here to greet you the day you finally arrive on our beautiful campus. What is a rector? In short, I am your pastoral leader, community builder, University resource, and chief administrator. Yup! All of those things wrapped into one five-foot-tall (I’m being generous) woman. 

I am an adult professional living among my women in the hall. I lead a team of nine women: seven resident assistants and two assistant rectors. We are here to walk with you through your college experience. Rectors come from all walks of life: we are lay women, lay men, sisters, and priests. We are coaches, teachers, administrators, social workers, pastors, ministers, and run the gamut of higher ed professions.  

Here at Notre Dame, you will be known, seen, and loved. Your rector will know you by name when you walk through the doors of your new home under the Dome. You and I will SHARE LIFE with one another. This means the good and the bad. I will celebrate your victories (think: first college ‘A’), be with you through your hardships, and everything in between (Disney+ binge watch, anyone?). We will play and pray together. We will laugh, sing, and cry together. Together, you and I will do a lot of the heart work it takes to #adult.  

You will be randomly placed across the 33 halls. And what a time it is to be at ND! The University has worked tirelessly to bring students back to campus. While our health and safety practices may require adjustments as we proceed, we are all confident you are up to the task in order to keep the Notre Dame and South Bend communities safe. 

You are required to wear a mask in all places and spaces, with the exception of your residence hall room. Please wear your mask over your nose and mouth; it’s not effective to wear it any other way. You’ll learn to recognize people through their eyes, their walk, and the sound of their voices. 

I recommend when first greeting someone, say something like, “Hey, Jo, it’s me, (your name here)!” It’ll help us get to know that beautiful voice! Additionally, good hand hygiene and physical distancing are a must. There are hand sanitizers everywhere you go. Finally, you will need to do your daily healthy check (take your temperature and self-assess for COVID-19 symptoms). This is a great time to really check in with yourself every morning and see how your body is responding to your new environment and the cold weather (I’ve lived here three years and I’m still not used to the cold). 

In addition to being tested for COVID-19 as soon as you arrive on campus, you must also participate in weekly surveillance testing. For this requirement, you can pick your preferred testing day each week. Just make sure to show up; it will only take a few minutes of your time. Everyone on campus is working to keep you HERE. Following these protocols is the best way for you to do your part to keep the University open for face-to-face instruction. 

In case you skipped the above paragraph (TL;DR):

  • Wear your mask (over nose and mouth)
  • Wash your hands
  • Keep physical distance
  • Complete your daily health check 
  • Show up for weekly surveillance testing

Okay, take a deep breath. I know I just laid a lot on you, but know that you are not going to learn this way of life alone. You will have your hall staff and your new community to help you transition into college in a COVID world. 

Every hall has its history and personality and YOU get to be part of a loving, safe, close-knit community. If you’re lucky enough to be with me and the Chaos (our mascot), you will be centrally located and just steps away from the on-campus Starbucks (YAY!). The world needs people like you. I, for one, am so excited to witness the grace and the gifts you will bring to a world in need. 

In Chaos, 

Jo Cecilio
Rector of Cavanaugh Hall

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Welcome from Michael Pippenger, Vice President and Associate Provost for Internationalization

Congratulations, and welcome to Notre Dame!

At Notre Dame International, our mission is to “bring the world to Notre Dame, and Notre Dame to the world.” We take this goal seriously as we strive to be global citizens, true to the Catholic mission of serving the common good, and the desire of Father Edward Sorin, C.S.C. to be a force for good in the world.  We also know that reaching that goal can be a wonderful, eye-opening, and fun experience.

Notre Dame International leads the University’s global engagement for students through a robust study abroad program ranked in the top 10 nationwide. Our programs send over 70 percent of our undergraduate students abroad during their college career through credit-bearing classes, exchanges, and initiatives. We encourage you to actively seek out these opportunities from the day you arrive on campus. Many Notre Dame students take advantage of even more than one or two programs to make the most of what is offered here. Our programs are notable for providing research opportunities for undergraduates, and by integrating internships and service learning components that provide integration and immersion in local communities in unique and rewarding ways that bring Notre Dame to the world.

Bringing the world to Notre Dame is equally important to flourish as a global university. Eleven percent of our total student population comes from 104 countries and are essential in making Notre Dame a diverse community. No matter where you are from, you will benefit from international perspectives that your faculty, peers, curriculum, and co-curricular programming provide throughout your education. The world leaders, Nobel Prize winners, internationally acclaimed authors, and global artists, actors, and musicians Notre Dame invites to campus will enrich your experience. Notre Dame is in the top seven of Fulbright-granting institutions, and has a growing international student population at all levels. Consider becoming an international ambassador for our international students, attending the broad array of cultural and artistic performances offered at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, building in globally-focused classes to your academic studies, and participating in the many student activities and clubs with an international focus. The world is truly right here at Notre Dame.

Each of us has a role to play to make Notre Dame a globally-focused place, and as a new member of the Notre Dame family, that includes you. Explore the many opportunities available to you by visiting international.nd.edu and studyabroad.nd.edu. We encourage you to be bold in all of the global possibilities that await you here  at Notre Dame. Reach higher and go further—even when it might seem uncomfortable or new. In these moments, we grow and learn the most. Notre Dame International is here to support you in this journey.

Michael E. Pippenger, Ph.D.
Vice President and Associate Provost for Internationalization

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Welcome from Hailey Oppenlander, Class of 2022

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When I was a senior in high school, I couldn’t help but dream about all the big events and opportunities I would soon experience at Notre Dame. 

Things like waking up at 6 a.m. to hold signs at College Gameday, then watching the Irish beat Michigan at my first Notre Dame football game. Performing at AcoustiCafé on Library Lawn and hearing my friends obnoxiously shout my name from the crowd. Going on a Center for Social Concerns Seminar to the American South, and being able to stand in spaces of both incomprehensible devastation and profound resistance during the Civil Rights movement. Seeing Renée Elise Goldsberry from Hamilton perform “Schuyler Sisters” in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.

Notre Dame has incredible resources and opportunities that will allow you to experience these once-in-a-lifetime moments.

No matter what you’re interested in, you’ll have the chance to explore your passions in transformative ways, creating memories that you’ll treasure forever.

But sometimes, the most meaningful moments are the simplest ones. Although being a student at Notre Dame certainly leads to many out-of-this-world experiences, what I’ve found is that some of the best memories are just little, ordinary moments: staring in awe at the Grotto candles illuminating the night sky, getting Ben & Jerry’s from LaFun with friends, or having a spontaneous dance party with your roommate.

Even trivial moments can end up turning into something memorable. A chaotic experience searching for a stapler in O'Shaughnessy Hall is now the origin story of a close friendship. A short conversation at Activities Night convinced me to audition for an a cappella group. A weekly dinner date that’s continued for three years all started with a randomly-assigned group project.

You never know how you’ll encounter the people and passions that define your Notre Dame experience, so take in each and every moment. College will be filled with some unbelievable opportunities, but sometimes it’s the everyday occasions that bring you immeasurable joy and fulfillment. 

Here's to all the memories, big and small, you’ll make here—Welcome Home!

Hailey Oppenlander '22
American Studies, Sociology
Chardon, OH

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Welcome from Erin Hoffman Harding, Vice President for Student Affairs

Dear Admitted Students,

On behalf of the Division of Student Affairs, I am delighted to congratulate you on your acceptance to the University of Notre Dame. Although a variety of pandemic-related challenges have prevented you from visiting campus, I am nevertheless excited about the prospect of seeing you in the fall. 

I serve as the University’s Vice President for Student Affairs, and I am honored to lead a division of professionals who support students’ formation in our residential communities and a variety of departments dedicated to the student experience.

Student life at Notre Dame is vibrant, unique, and distinguished by our Catholic, Holy Cross mission, which seeks to educate both the mind and the heart. Students are randomly assigned to a residence hall that we hope will become a second home to you. When Father Sorin founded Notre Dame in 1842, students lived with priests and brothers of the Congregation of Holy Cross in the same building in which they attended classes. Today, our 32 residential communities are characterized by rich traditions and deep loyalties. Some residence halls are more modern than others, some are larger than others, and some are closer to certain campus landmarks. Each hall has a chapel where, regardless of religious background, we invite students to explore the role of faith in their lives and join together in prayer at Mass on Sunday nights. No matter their look, size, or location, Notre Dame's residence halls are special because of the people who live, pray, and study together in these buildings. Rectors, assistant rectors, and senior resident assistants are dedicated to getting to know our students personally and to ensuring each hall community is an inclusive one, where all residents belong and are valued. 

Beyond the residence halls, we invite students to contribute directly and creatively to the richness and variety of our campus life. Hundreds of clubs and organizations are available for students to explore their academic, athletic, cultural, performing arts, religious, service, and special interests. Student Affairs is here to serve students in all aspects of their development, from offices designed to support your life and learning on campus, to clinicians and professionals dedicated to your emotional and physical well-being, to our world-class Center for Career Development, which is here to assist as you contemplate how and where you will dedicate your talents after you graduate. While we want our students to consider the industries, graduate programs, or service opportunities that interest them, we also encourage students to discern how a chosen vocation integrates with their values and aspirations for a meaningful and faith-filled life. 

For now, though, take a moment to reflect on all Notre Dame has to offer as you consider this next chapter in your life. You have four wonderful years awaiting you at Notre Dame, and we invite you to share your dreams, aspirations, and talents with us. 

In Notre Dame,

Erin Hoffmann Harding
Vice President for Student Affairs

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Welcome from University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.

Congratulations on your acceptance to the University of Notre Dame! I hope this finds you and your loved ones safe and well.  Know that we are praying for you, your families and all those impacted by the pandemic.

Some of you may know the story of the founding of Notre Dame, a story of persistence, courage and fortitude. The University’s founder, Holy Cross priest Father Edward Sorin, immigrated from France at age 26 to found a school dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the Indiana wilderness. Without financial resources, the school struggled to survive, plagued by cholera and fires that destroyed what few buildings there were on campus. And yet, Fr. Sorin had a vision—namely, that Notre Dame would be a great force for good.

Today, nowhere are the fruits of Fr. Sorin’s dream more evident than in our students and graduates. When I listen to our students, they often speak not only of the superb education they are receiving at Notre Dame but of the people they have come to know here as shaping them in profound and important ways. One of my greatest joys as I travel the nation and the world is to see Notre Dame graduates making a difference in many fields of endeavor. It is the same sense of community, joy in service and commitment to transcendent values that both animates student life on our vibrant campus and accounts for what is perhaps the most active, loyal, and passionate alumni network in the world.

Generations of Notre Dame graduates have been shaped by their experiences here, and they, in turn, have left their mark on the University. I invite you to do the same, to be part of Notre Dame’s future. Individually and collectively, you have tremendous talents and gifts to share. It will be a special joy to welcome you to campus this fall, Class of 2025. Please know of my prayers for God’s abundant blessing on you and all who are dear to you.

In Notre Dame,

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
President

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Welcome from Student Body President Rachel Ingal '21

Dear Future Domers,

Welcome home!

My name is Rachel Ingal, and I am currently serving as the Student Body President at Notre Dame this year. It has been an honor to hold this office in such, dare I say, unprecedented times, and my experiences over the past year have only furthered my love for this community. 

Making my final lap on campus now, this semester has been catalytic of reflection on all the love, laughter, and light from the last four years. That being said, I am so thrilled for you as you savor this monumental moment in your life and prepare for what I am confident will be a beautiful and promising journey ahead. Your time at Notre Dame will be shaped by fruitful friendships, vibrant adventures, and an abundance of joyful days. 

The people at Notre Dame are by far its biggest selling point, and I am constantly in awe of the heart for service and deep kindness that each person possesses. Here at Notre Dame, we like to call ourselves "a force for good," and I see that sentiment embodied and lived out every single day. It’s a very special feeling to know you are part of a family and part of something bigger.

On that note, my biggest piece of advice is to be intentional about reaching out to anyone who could offer you guidance in your future endeavors. Notre Dame students love to help other Notre Dame students, and a 45-minute coffee can result in anything from a job opportunity to a lifelong friendship.

But for now, be sure to take the time to celebrate yourself and all of your hard work which got you here. Cheers to your new home and next chapter!

Keep fighting the good fight,

Rachel Ingal '21
Student Body President
Political Science, Business Economics
Loveland, OH

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