For me, my Notre Dame journey started not only before I reached campus here in South Bend, Indiana, but before I had even left grade school. With a father, grandfather, and several uncles all having attended Notre Dame, along with one side of my family residing in Mishawaka, IN (which meant many visits to campus for ice cream from the Huddle), Notre Dame seemed to be as much a part of our family’s identity as anything else. When I was asked about my plans for the future, the only thing on my third grade mind was how I was going to gain admission to this quite literally “golden” university.
Because of this upbringing, I arrived on campus in the summer of 2015 with a very idealized version of Notre Dame in my mind. Not even my dad’s “oh no…not Carroll” when I announced my dorm placement could dampen my spirits. I just kept telling myself that with the proximity there had to be some sort of special bond between the Carroll Vermin and the women of St. Mary’s anyways. Maybe they’d notice the fabled “Carroll Calves” from the long treks to and from class.
While this turned out to not be true in the slightest, it is this solitude that I have come to appreciate greatly during my three years in Carroll with its stunning view across the lake. This was the aspect of my life at Notre Dame that I was perhaps the most apprehensive about when I started my freshman year, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as I believe it has shaped my Notre Dame experience more than anything else. For this reason, it is Carroll Hall that has been the prevailing guide throughout the course of my ND Journey.
From the get-go I embraced the dorm culture at Notre Dame, joining the ranks of forty blonde “golden dome” Carroll Vermin when we all dyed our hair for the first home football game of the season, as had been a long standing tradition for the dorm. While dorm life at Notre Dame also brings with it some antiquated policies that seem out of place in this millennium, the welcoming environment in each residence hall is something you’d be hard pressed to find at another university. My friends at other schools talked about how they only knew a handful of other students on their floor, while I could put a face to the name of every one of the “Best 100 Guys” in my dorm.
When I decided to pursue my dream of studying abroad in Ireland after freshman year, my freshman year rector Fr. Matt, who was a wonderful priest that instilled new life in the dorm community, made every effort in his recommendation to make sure that dream became a reality. Whether I need a textbook, a ticket to the game Saturday, or a hacksaw to build a potato cannon, there is always a Carroll resident that is ready to lend a helping hand. Through Friday afternoon cookouts, volleyball games in the sun, and the notorious Carroll Christmas, I’ve been able to form friendships that I will keep with me long after I leave our Lakeside Estate.