First-Year Journey: Sarah Taher ’25, International Student, Mechanical Engineering Major, and Equestrian Club Member

Author: Shannon Rooney

Sarah Taher’s favorite class so far has been Engineering Design. It’s a required class for all first-year engineering majors.

“I really like the class because it gives you an insight into what being an engineer is really like,” says Taher, a mechanical engineering intent. 

The course includes “department days,” class days that focus on each of the available majors within the College of Engineering. Students are introduced to each specialty, including aerospace engineering, chemical, civil, computer, electrical, environmental, and mechanical engineering, computer science, and environmental earth sciences. 

Sarah Taher '25 (center) and fellow engineering students

Taher says department days are a really fun way to discover the various branches of engineering. On mechanical engineering day, for example, students rode a bike that generated electricity. Many students choose their majors based on their experiences in these class sessions. 

It helps, says Taher, that Notre Dame professors are focused on their undergraduate students. “All my professors [have gone] out of their way to teach us [in some way],” she says.

In addition to holding office hours, Taher finds that professors are generally easy to talk to, whether about class work or planning her future studies and research. 

“We know that they care about us, so it motivates us to do well,” says Taher.

Having kind and helpful professors, along with the rest of the open and friendly Notre Dame community, has helped make Taher’s transition to college easier than she thought it would be.

Taher comes from Amman, Jordan and says she originally thought it might be difficult to fit in on campus.  

“But it’s literally the opposite. Everyone loves international students,” she says.

Students here tend to embrace common ground, whether they meet through class, extracurriculars, or live in the same residence hall. 

“I love dorm life. I was so surprised that I like living with people. I love walking in the hallways, seeing people I know, asking homework questions. Just being surrounded by students all the time is so nice, especially since you’re away from home. I feel like I’m home in Welsh Family Hall,” says Taher.    


Taher has also made friends through the Notre Dame Equestrian Club. She has been riding horses her whole life, so she contacted the club before she arrived on campus. Once a week, she and her teammates train with their horses at an off-campus location. 

“I think joining clubs helps you to expand,” says Taher. In addition to meeting students from different residence halls and majors, she has traveled for meets through the Equestrian Club—another fun perk, she says.  

Taher first became interested in applying to Notre Dame because of the University’s academic reputation and the appealing sense of community, both of which have met her expectations.

It helped that the community reached out to her from the beginning. After she was admitted, University staff connected her with mechanical engineering contacts and an international student ambassador.

She received personalized communications and felt throughout the college application and decision process that she “was not just a number.” 

Taher continues to feel this way about her chosen university. Check out the video above to learn more about her Notre Dame experience and what makes this place so special to her.


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