How Do You Say Your Name Again?

Author: Seun Odun-Ayo

Hi! My name is David Odun-Ayo but most people on campus know me by middle name Seun (pronounced shea - uhn). Go ahead and try again because you probably said it wrong the first time!

I am originally from Lagos, Nigeria and came to the United States when I was 11 years old. I had the opportunity to attend high school in Springfield, Missouri. Though I call Lagos, Nigeria home, I have also spent significant parts of my life in Springfield, MO and Oakland, CA. I am currently a Computer Science student at the University of Notre Dame. My passions and hobbies include playing five sports, exploring new concepts in the world of Computer Science, and immersing myself in the world of hip-hop. I must throw in that I am a big fan of Manchester United and an even bigger fan of J. Cole.  I am currently the president of the Notre Dame National Society of Black Engineers, as well as a member of various other organizations on campus like App Club, Wabruda, and the Black Students Associations. 

My journey to Notre Dame is vastly different than the stories of most people I have spoken too. As I interact with various students on campus, it seems that most people have been obess--, I mean in love with Notre Dame since they were two years. I can’t count how many times I have heard a classmate’s fun fact on the first day of class be that their first words were “Rudy”! The idea of legacy is deeply ingrained in the Notre Dame culture. Most students on campus are second, third, or even fourth generation Domers. I am not the case.

I was a good student in high school; I aced all my classes and was a part of numerous clubs, but I never did any of those things to “stand out” for a top university. I truly enjoyed learning when it came to Math and Science and I enjoyed working with friends on cool projects as a part of different clubs. 

I applied to Notre Dame purely by googling “good schools in the midwest.” I searched for those specific keywords because I wanted to stay close to my family, and I did not feel like shipping and storing things at the end of every school year. I saw Notre Dame on the list, applied through a scholarship program and visited for the first time in May of the year I was enrolling. Unlike most others, I had no long love for the Golden Dome. All I knew about Notre Dame football was the story of Manti Teo’s girlfriend, and the only thing the Basilica reminded me of was the serpent from the Harry Potter movies. However, as I begin my junior year I am definitely glad I chose Notre Dame.

My time at Notre Dame has been exactly what I have made it to be. As a Computer Science major on campus, there isn’t much time during the week for anything besides doing homework and praying for the weekend. However, despite the workload and the shift to the college life, I have made Notre Dame work for me. I accomplished this by never trying to fit into the “Notre Dame Culture.” As an African-American male, spending and interacting with a campus that is 80% Caucasian, I have come to realize that in the more I tried to fit in, the more I began to dislike myself and my time on campus. I began to truly love Notre Dame when I started finding pockets of spaces that allowed me to stay true to myself. I found these in the clubs I joined like NSBE and Wabruda, through the friends I made, and through the activities I participated in on campus, all of which truly allowed me to grow in finding who I am. In stepping away from the more traditional Notre Dame culture I truly began to find who I am.