In choosing a college or university, it was important to first-year student Sydney Kendall that she found a community that “fit.”
As a high school student, Kendall knew about Notre Dame’s focus on mission and the caliber of the academics, but she says her campus visit sealed the deal.
"Obviously, Notre Dame works to be a force for good in the world," she says, "but more than that, there is this feeling you get when you step onto campus." Kendall felt that intangible "something" when she visited as a high school senior. "You can ask anyone for directions and they'll help you," she laughs.
From the admissions counselor to the tour guides and current students, she felt welcomed by everyone.
It makes sense then that, in addition to the world-class academics, the Notre Dame community helped Kendall make the decision to apply to and enroll at Notre Dame.
“As a prospective student, I think the Mendoza College of Business was really appealing to me just because of its high ranking and how it prepares you,” she says. “But I really liked the community and the academics because I felt like the professors really engaged with their students, not just academically, but they really wanted to know them as a person.”
So far, her interactions with faculty have been a highlight of her first year at Notre Dame. One professor, Leonard DeLorenzo, made a theology class, which Kendall wasn’t looking forward to, an interesting learning experience. The course, called Foundations in Theology, fulfilled her theology requirement outlined in Notre Dame’s Core Curriculum, a set of courses all students take.
Kendall had taken theology courses at her Catholic high school in St. Louis, Missouri, but didn’t enjoy them. She was happy to find a new perspective at Notre Dame.
“I think I didn’t really like theology when I was in high school but at Notre Dame I just really like the perspective they have on theology,” she says. Rather than coming from a purely Catholic perspective, her theology course looks at the Bible from an academic perspective. “It’s just a different viewpoint that I’m not used to,” says Kendall. “And my professor’s very intelligent and definitely showed me things about the Bible and with religion that I never really saw before.”
Kendall also took her first business course, Introduction to Corporate Finance. Among other topics, the course covered financial management and personal finance. Kendall enjoyed the class and professor, resulting in her decision to switch her intended major to finance from management consulting.
Throughout her first year of classes, Kendall has found that Notre Dame’s community atmosphere extends to the classroom. “It’s definitely a collaborative environment. People want to work together. People ask to study together. People want to succeed and want to see other people succeed,” she says.
As someone who supports causes she believes in, Kendall also appreciated the wealth of opportunities for service available at Notre Dame. In high school, she served as a counselor at Hand Camp, a camp for kids with limb differences, and Shriners Hospital. Both appealed to her as a person with a limb difference. Kendall lost part of her right arm in a boating accident when she was 6. She also loves swimming, was varsity swim captain at her high school, and also participated in time trials for the Paralympics.
At Notre Dame, Kendall is active in Access-ABLE, a club for students with disabilities and their abled-allies. She also participates in community activities in Badin Hall, where she lives. And she is applying to the Summer Service Learning Program through Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns.
Swimming also remains an important part of Kendall’s life. She is a member of the Notre Dame swim club and tries to swim at least once or twice a week.
Her academics and extracurriculars make for a busy schedule, but with the opportunities available to her at Notre Dame, Kendall knows that her education will be a holistic one. Her four years here will lead her, not only to a career in finance, but to experiences that will allow her to make her mark. “It’s not just about academics or your career [at Notre Dame],” says Kendall. “It’s about how you make an impact in the world."
Watch the video above to hear more about Sydney Kendall’s academic experience and check out other First-Year Journeys below.