Why Notre Dame?

Author: Ceci Guarnuccio

As a tour guide and a digital media intern within Notre Dame Admissions, I am constantly posed with the ever-important question:

“Why Notre Dame?” 


While my response has become quite natural to me thanks to years of Instagram story takeovers and tours throughout campus, I cannot help but reflect on this question now more than ever.

"Why, as a senior in high school, did I choose Notre Dame? And more importantly, now as a senior at Notre Dame, do I still feel the same way?"


I asked three other seniors those same questions as well. With so many current applicants struggling with finding the university where they belong, I hope these responses will help give some insight into why Notre Dame has been a beloved home for so many Domers.

Evan Wells

Biochemistry and Political Science

Rochester, MI

"When the leaves start changing from forest to crimson, the loop around St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s lake is ethereal whether for a 7-minute mile pace or just a quiet evening stroll after dinner at North Dining Hall. Without a doubt, the beauty of Notre Dame is palpable, but it was absent for me when I first visited campus. I wasn’t enamored by the glow of the dome nor the swans that perused the icy waters. I convinced myself that Notre Dame could not be the place for me. Raised and brought up in Catholic schools, I was desperate to break the circle of vigilante Catholicism and curate a larger worldview. Being waitlisted at Notre Dame was just the icing on the cake, driving me further away from a school I now call home. 

On the day I was slated to set my deposit down for the University of Michigan, I received a call from my mother’s office—I had probably forgotten to take the trash out or put my shoes away. Instead, she assumed her maternal role and was very calm in telling me I should answer the next call I received. Only a few days before the decision deadline, I received a call notifying me of my acceptance into the Notre Dame community. My acceptance into Notre Dame was nothing short of divine providence, an affirmative call to attend. Though I put on a façade of indifference to my family and friends, I knew where I belonged.

As a freshman, I ran around St. Mary’s lake on my journey to the Holy Cross Cemetery, capturing a picture to send to my grandpa of his late brother, Brother Thomas Tucker. My friends and I would frolic on library lawn and debate high level issues such as our opinions on political realism in the modern world and which dorm had the best culture. Notre Dame is not the school you find on the statistics plastered in the admission packet. It is not simply the institution responsible for fostering the common good in theory and in practice. Only in knowing its people can you know Notre Dame. Whether you’re connecting with a family member or a total acquaintance, the character of Notre Dame, in every era, is woven by the people within. Therefore, I believe to truly unearth the identity of Notre Dame, one must go beyond listening to its merits but witness them firsthand in the upright citizens which it nurtures. Hidden beyond the glittering pretenses of the dome lies the true value of Notre Dame and the reason I choose Notre Dame every day: its community."

Erin Pfeifer

Marketing and Psychology

Arlington, VA

"I grew up in a Notre Dame family, my Mother, Aunt and Grandpa all attended ND. As a consequence of that, I was determined to find my own perfect school that was not Notre Dame. After touring colleges, I realized that a variety of schools were able to “check all the boxes” I was looking for, but Notre Dame was different. Not only did Notre Dame check off all of the boxes on my wishlist, but it created boxes on that list that I had never before fathomed. At that time I was not able to articulate exactly what those new boxes were.

Over the course of my time here at Notre Dame I have been able to understand what exactly those boxes were: mutualism. What I mean by mutualism is that Notre Dame encourages me to be the best version of myself so that I can best give back to the ND community and go and impact the world. Notre Dame has helped me grow through introspection and reflection at the grotto, challenging courses that have forced me out of my comfort zone and constant support from the ND family. I have done my best to help Notre Dame grow through building my new dorm’s community and traditions, mentoring new students, and contributing to research and service. As I move onto my life post-grad, I will take all the lessons ND has taught me and continue to grow the communities I am a part of. I chose Notre Dame once and I would choose it a million times over. Go Irish!!!!"

Quinnlan Murray

Environmental Science; Minors in Peace Studies & Hesburgh Program in Public Service

Tulsa, OK

"When I was a senior in high school, I was initially drawn to Notre Dame's focus on interdisciplinary learning. I knew that I wanted to be a science major, but I also wanted to get more out of my education by trying different types of classes, and Notre Dame is a perfect place to do that. I am so grateful that I am given the freedom to intellectually explore everything that interests me here - my professors and advisors actually encourage me to do this too! What truly sold me on Notre Dame though, was the Notre Dame family. Every day I am honored to be surrounded by peers and faculty and staff that push me to be my best self. I have become friends with people from literally all over the world who are passionate about such unique things. I know that this community is one-of-a-kind! When I was a senior in high school, I was actually waitlisted from Notre Dame. I was committed to go to a different school, but I was actually very anxious about attending. Something just didn't feel right. When I got the call from my admissions counselor that I had gotten off of the waitlist, my mom and I cried tears of joy. I knew that I was home! It didn't hurt at all that Notre Dame also gave me the biggest financial aid package out of any other school I had gotten into, including my in-state public school. I am so grateful to Notre Dame and all that it continues to give me."

Ceci Guarnuccio

Marketing and Film, Television, and Theatre with a Concentration in Television Studies 

Avon-by-the-Sea, NJ

"And now for my own thoughts:

When I was a senior in high school, I did not want to attend Notre Dame. I thought Notre Dame was merely a football school and I didn’t like football. I knew Notre Dame offered an incredible education, but I could get a Top 20 education at 19 other schools. To sum up, I didn’t understand what made Notre Dame special. After having arbitrarily decided to major in marketing during my junior year, I took a pre-college course here entitled “Marketing for the Common Good” to learn what marketing actually was. During this experience, I got to see all that made Notre Dame “Notre Dame”, outside of the football and the academics. For me, that was two things - the people and the mission. From the professors who teach here to the students who study here, every single person at this University wants to see you succeed, and they will go out of their way to help you do so. Despite the high level of academics, Notre Dame fosters a sense of collaboration, not competition. The people here are kind - they hold doors, they smile, even if they don’t know you (which being from the Northeast was strange at first, but a good strange of course). Notre Dame attracts kind and giving people. This is due to the University’s mission. From my pre-college course on the common good to Mendoza’s motto of “Grow the Good in Business”, Notre Dame’s foundational goal is to help prepare students with the tools needed to be a force for good in the world. So if you are just looking for a school to watch football, this might not be the place for you. If you are looking for a school where you just have your head in a book for four years, this might not be the place for you. But, if you are looking for a home where you will find individuals who will push you to succeed and go out to do some good, all while receiving a world-class education and watching some great football, this is the place for you.

A Notre Dame student poses with parents at Junior Parents Weekend.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to have my parents come and visit me on campus (and even luckier to have them treat me to dinner at Rohr’s in the Morris Inn). As we waited for our meals, my mom, well aware of my disdain for football and Notre Dame during much of high school, knew that there was a long period during which I never wanted to attend school here. Thus, she asked if I regretted my decision to come to Notre Dame. My response was immediate - absolutely not. While this may not have been my original plan when I first started my college discernment process, there has not been a single day since deciding to attend Notre Dame that I have regretted my choice. Thanks to this incredible place, I have received an education that will carry me far in my intended career, an ethical foundation that will allow me to pursue promoting good in all aspects of my life, experiences that have shaped who I am today, and friends who will support me for the rest of my life. While I may be quickly approaching graduation, I will forever Love Thee, Notre Dame."