First-Year Journey: Q&A with Gracie Molnar '23, Computer Science Major and Navy ROTC Student

Author: Shannon Rooney


Gracie Molnar '23 is an intended computer science major from Granger, Indiana. She wanted to go to Notre Dame from the time she was little and being admitted was a dream come true.

Below, Molnar talks about her Notre Dame experience thus far, from opening her admission letter in the same way as the famous Rudy Ruettiger to joining the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC).

Gracie Molnar '23 (left) with her hallmate Sofia. They are wearing the Flaherty Hall colors and waving a Flaherty flag.

Why did you choose Notre Dame?

The two main reasons why I chose Notre Dame are because I grew up always loving and wanting to go to Notre Dame and because of how highly it is spoken of by alumni. I wanted to go to a school that focused on academic rigor while also emphasizing other aspects of the student life (spiritual growth, well-being, etc). The sense of community that Notre Dame has built up and emphasizes is the kind of community and family that I wanted to be a part of

How did you choose your majors?

Broadly, I chose engineering because I love math and science and figured engineering is where I could focus on both. I originally came in intending to major in AME [aerospace and mechanical engineering], just because it was the most general engineering major, but I actually switched to CSE [computer science and engineering] this semester. I choose my major after listening to many upperclassmen talk about what they were doing in their classes, and I realized that the courses they took sounded really interesting to me! 

Have you always been passionate about these subjects? 

I have always been a math and science-minded person, but I had never had any engineering exposure in high school. They never offered courses like that, but I figured I’d give engineering a try!

What is your favorite class so far? 

Intro to Philosophy: God and the Good Life. I never had any interest in philosophy coming to Notre Dame, but I’m glad it’s a part of our core curriculum. I got to take a class I never would have taken and ended up loving it. Professor Sullivan is an amazing professor who engaged us in conversations about the most complicated and compelling questions in life, which is the reason why I loved this course. Plus, I got to (awkwardly) meet Mike Schur, who was one of our guest speakers (I’m a big fan of most of the tv shows he’s helped produce)!

Gracie Molnar 2
Molnar (third from left) with friends on a Notre Dame home football game Saturday

Do you plan to do any research or creative projects? 

I might do a semester of research as one of my CSE electives, but I do not have any specific projects I want to work on. Fun fact: since I’m a local, I went to high school very close to Notre Dame (that isn’t the fun fact; the next part is). My junior year, I did research and my mentor is actually a current CSE professor at Notre Dame! I would love to potentially work with him on similar projects or new ones!

What extracurricular activities are you involved in? Why did you decide to get involved in them? 

I’m most active in the Navy ROTC program, being an admissions tour guide, and I'm in the Circle K volunteering club.

I joined the NROTC program this semester because I’ve always wanted to be an aviator in the Navy, and I wanted to offer up my services in the best way I thought possible. I applied to be a tour guide because I would love to tell other people about how amazing my second home is and what makes it so special! I joined Circle K because I love volunteering and serving others in any way I possibly can. I ended up helping at Saint Mary’s Convent last semester (I wasn’t able to volunteer weekly this last semester) and loved it!

What’s your favorite Notre Dame memory so far? 

My favorite memory is when I opened my ND acceptance email in the same location that Rudy opened his. I planned that ever since I knew I wanted to go to Notre Dame. I drove to Notre Dame alone and sat on a bench in a similar location as Rudy’s, waiting for ND to release the decisions. It was the moment that led to everything that’s happened to me since. (Also, any memories I have of me with my best friends here are in that category as well). 

Little Gracie (left) dressed as a Notre Dame cheerleader for Halloween

If you had one piece of advice for prospective student, what would it be?

I would advise them to take the time to really think about what they want to be prioritized during their time in college. Once you figure out what you want, make a choice that matches your priorities best. 

What is something most people wouldn’t know about you until they got to know you? 

I was adopted from China when I was a baby!

Pineapple on pizza: yes or ugh?

No way!

Favorite South Bend restaurant and why: 

In terms of fast food, Nedderman’s Steak Place. It has some of the best (fast-food) steak, potatoes and onions, and mushrooms ever! (It’s actually in Mishawaka [a town adjacent to South Bend], but it’s really close to the University Park Mall.)

What emoji best represents you?


See the previous First-Year Journey

More Notre Dame First-Year Journeys: 

First-Year Journey: Olivia Althoff '23 Wants to Be an Architect for the Greater Good

First-Year Journey: Lauren Stark '23 Loves Cars, STEM, and Notre Dame

First-Year Journey: Q&A with Aidee Barajas '23, QuestBridge Scholar and American Studies/Sociology Double Major

First-Year Journey: John Sexton ’23 on Engineering, Family, and Never Eating Lunch Alone

First-Year Journey: Halen Carbonel '23 Plans for a Healthcare Career that Makes a Difference

First-Year Journey: Geralyn Timm '23 Pursues Neuroscience and Behavior at Notre Dame

First-Year Journey: Q&A with Austin Wyman '23, Psychology Major and Ballet Folklorico Dancer

First-Year Journey: Rocco Campanelli '23 on Thinking in New Ways at Notre Dame

First-Year Journey: Alexis Lopez ’23 Explores the Importance of Stories

First-year Journey: Jack Davies ’23 Explores Rocket Science and Music

First-Year Journey: Sam Al-Bahish Finds Global Opportunities at Notre Dame

First-Year Journey: Isabella Garcia ’23 Explores Political Science and Comedy Writing at Notre Dame

First-year Journey: Hayden Mascarenhas ’23 on Following Your Curiosity at Notre Dame

First-year Journey: Grace Rozembajgier ’23 Finds Connection through the American Studies Major and the Notre Dame Community

First-Year Journey: William Geoffroy ’23 Pursues a Foundation in Science and Ethics at Notre Dame

First-Year Journey: Intended Finance Major Sydney Kendall '23 Finds Her Academic Fit

First-Year Journey: Connor Martin ’23 Pairs Engineering and Service at Notre Dame

First-Year Journey: Caroline Pla ’23 Explores Sports Marketing and Literature in Her First Semester

First-Year Journey: Brandon Chou ’23 Discerns a Medical Career at Notre Dame

First-Year Journey: Ryan Sherman ’23 Wants to Use Machine Learning to Make a Difference in Medicine