It seems like it was just yesterday that I was starting my college visits, but in reality, I have less than 90 days left as a student at Notre Dame. As I reflect, I am amazed at just how much I have learned since my ND Journey began. I was not a legacy child, and didn't even grow up a Notre Dame fan, yet in the last four years, Notre Dame has become such an integral part of who I am.
My first time on campus at Notre Dame was for a college visit that my mom forced me into doing solely because she had heard that Notre Dame's campus was 'pretty,' but by the time I left campus that day, I had decided that this is where I wanted to go to college. Convinced that no where would make me as happy as Notre Dame, I applied only here as an Early Action applicant, deciding that if I got denied in December then I would have until May come up with my backup plan.
Little did I know as I walked around campus in the summer of 2013 of all the memories that would be made on those sidewalks and within the buildings we walked by. There was no sign of the sleepless nights yet to be spent in academic buildings finishing projects or studying for exams. I had no idea that as a Notre Dame student I would have the opportunities to stay in a castle in Ireland and to do research in India. No one could have prepared me for the lessons I would learn while volunteering at a homeless shelter in Phoenix, Arizona during a fall break pilgrimage and I never imagined that I would add a major in visual communication design as I went to school assuming that I would only be a business major with no real ties to 'art'. The Kacey that toured campus that summer day had no idea that her best friend was growing up in Syracuse, New York or that she would welcome friends from as far away as Panama to her small hometown of Westphalia, Michigan.
In my four years at Notre Dame, I've learned that it isn't about the number of wins in the football season but it's about the people who are there even when your team loses again and again. I've seen that random roommates can become some of the best friends you'll ever have. I understand that even when it gets warm for a week in January, there will likely be a blizzard you'll have to trudge through to get to class the next week and that Zahm, the dorm you were warned not to enter, just might be where you make some of your favorite memories and meet some of the best people. I experienced the pain of finishing the last three miles of the Holy Half on a sprained ankle but also the joy of running alongside my best friend for more miles than I ever knew I'd run. I believe now that the true feeling of friendship is in people that are just as much fun to watch movies with as anything else and that sometimes your friends' parents are more fun to hang out with than they are.
Everyone's ND Journey is different and each one has the chance to be even more amazing and beautiful than you could ever imagine. Yours will be full of challenges but also of some of the happiest moments of life.
I feel infinitely blessed for all that I have had the opportunity to accomplish here, for all the memories I have made, and to have found my place within the Notre Dame family. Forever God, Country, Notre Dame and go Irish!