LoveND: Falling For Balfour

Author: Tajae Thompson

Tajae Balfour

Dear Notre Dame,

There are a few things I dislike about Notre Dame, such as the lack of selection in the dining hall or the water pressure in the showers, but there are far more things that I love at ND than I dislike. The thing I love the most is the Balfour Hesburgh Scholars Program. 

The Balfour-Hesburgh Scholars program is geared toward minority and first-generation students. Selected students are invited to apply soon after accepting Notre Dame’s offer of admission. If you are admitted into the program after filling out the application and completing an interview, then you are invited to come to campus for a month in the summer before your first year begins.

That month on campus was probably one of my most difficult experiences up until that point. We were taking five classes. Our days started at 8:00 a.m, and they did not end until 9:30 p.m. at the earliest. Even though I was very stressed out, there is nothing like a difficult situation to bring people closer together. Through Balfour, I have met some of my greatest friends, two of whom are my roommates this year.

When I got into Notre Dame, I did not know anyone who went to Notre Dame. I didn’t even know anyone from Indiana. The Balfours were my first introduction into that Notre Dame family that you hear so much about. I was suddenly surrounded by 45 people from all over the country, and the world, who I now considered friends simply because of one commonality among us.

Even though Notre Dame is a small campus compared to some others, it can still appear large if, like me, you have no previous introduction to the world of the Fighting Irish. Balfour helped me to feel comfortable on campus and enabled me to find my home under the Dome much faster. 

My favorite Balfour memory has to be from our first weekend together. We all went to an outdoor, in-air obstacle course. I am terrified of heights, so this was not an ideal activity for me. I got strapped up, I climbed up the stairs to the platform, and that is as far as I went. I spent the next two hours trying to gain the courage to complete the easiest obstacle course and trying to provide moral support to the other new Balfours. Again, there is nothing like a stressful situation to bring people closer together, and this activity surely helped to ease the awkward atmosphere.

I am so grateful for what Balfour has already done and what it will continue to do for me. It has given me access to possibilities that I didn't think were possible due to my financial situation. I know that I can enjoy my college experience to the fullest. It was hard to move from West Palm Beach, Florida to South Bend, Indiana. Luckily for me, Balfour enabled me to meet people from all over and establish lifelong friendships. 


Love Thee,