If Notre Dame has taught me anything, it has been to let curiosity and ambition be my guide. For most of my life, I have forced myself to conform to one goal – to be a doctor. And I didn’t let myself look anywhere else or deviate from this standard formula. I was dead-set on the idea that going to medical school was everything I wanted and more. Maybe this wasn’t truly the case.
My freshman year at Notre Dame has opened my eyes to the idea that I don’t have to be a doctor if there are perhaps other things I am called to do – like pharmaceutical research or entrepreneurship. While being a doctor is a very rewarding path to walk, it no longer appears to be the path that I’m taking. As I have delved deeper into the academics that Notre Dame has offered me, I have been able to gain a better grasp of what fulfills me, and what I find to be exciting.
I’ve come to realize that the reason that Notre Dame is so special to me is because it has helped me discover what makes me special. It provides a holistic approach to learning that is uncharacteristic of anywhere else. Until coming to campus, I’ve never felt so challenged to become the best version of myself.
Now, in reflecting over my freshman year, there are three particular points I must drive home:
Keep your mind open.
While I was going through my first year, I was initially a bit hesitant to try new things, explore my campus, and fit things into my schedule in fear that it would ruin my study habits. If anything, by letting my mind wander and taking advantage of the opportunities Notre Dame has offered me, I have been able to round-out my perspective and satiate my pallet for the fruits of wisdom. There are innumerable ways to stretch out your creativity, knowledge, and social prowess at Notre Dame – note them, add them to your schedule, and don’t be afraid to try them out.
Let your goals motivate you, but don’t let them control you.
Goals are great things to have. They keep you driven toward success. As I have learned at Notre Dame, they can keep your studies focused when times get tough. However, if things don’t go your way, it’s all too easy to think that your goals have suddenly disappeared. This is almost never the case. By not letting your freshman-year goals control your every action, you are putting yourself in control of the rest of your college career and beyond. Goals are reminders to keep going, not strict deadlines that have to be met without flexibility.
You’re in charge now.
There’s no more hand-holding from here on out. Freshman year at Notre Dame was an adventure of learning how to take responsibility for my actions. I had to learn how to balance my faith, my studies, my work, my social life, and my hobbies all at once. As such, it definitely was overwhelming at times. However, I’m blessed to be at a university that understands this, and is willing to help at every step along the way. From the University Counseling Center, to the various clubs on campus, there was always somewhere to go or someone to talk to about pretty much anything.
Freshman year, while at times difficult, was a formative time for my life. I can say, from my personal experience, that no other university truly fits my unique blend of physical, mental, and emotional deliberation quite like Our Lady’s University.