I have cherished every minute of my Notre Dame education, and believe that many of my peers have too. If you are serious about pursuing an education that enriches the mind, heart, and spirit, then you will thrive at this university. The faith formation is there, if you seek it, as are the rigorous academics, deep friendships, and meaningful memories.
It is clear that this university equips students to succeed; academic support, extracurricular enrichment, amazing funding opportunities, career counseling, and mentorship abound. Many of my peers have attained unbelievable honors, whether it be lucrative jobs, Fulbright grants, or prestigious graduate school acceptances.
In short, Notre Dame enables its graduates to do extremely well. What sets it apart is that it also enables us to do good.
I have spent much of my senior year thinking about this distinction.
Realizing what it means for a Notre Dame education to equip us to do good in addition to doing well is crucial and will be what sets its graduates apart from those of other institutions. I firmly believe that Notre Dame has no “peer” institutions because of its ability to inspire this two-fold outlook in its students.
It is easy to become complacent when one believes that one has achieved a goal or distinction resulting from doing well. The be all and end all of many individuals’ undergraduate academic careers has become landing a certain job, fellowship, or graduate school seat. This will likely become the dominant mentality as the cost of college continues to increase astronomically. Yet, this careerist approach instrumentalizes education; it turns it into a tool to reach an end rather than regarding it as an end in itself.
Doing good stems only from finding one’s vocation and persists long after that first job into the big city. Doing good involves the realization that whenever we attain a position of prestige, we remain servant leaders. Doing good goes beyond the tradition markers by which our society measures success — creating strong families and communities is more valuable than the most lucrative job in the world. Doing good lies in pushing ourselves to be our own best versions, not for personal self-fulfillment, but to aid and enrich the lives of others.
It is undoubtedly true that many of us will do well after we process out of the stadium in a few weeks. But we are called to more. Notre Dame, with its focus on faith and service, inspires us to do good. Doing well will ensure us a safe and secure future, while doing good will bring about a deeper realization of our purpose as human beings created in God’s image and likeness.
Applicable to all Notre Dame graduates is Pope Benedict XVI’s famous quote: “the world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”
Kate Hardiman is a senior in the Program of Liberal Studies. Next year she will be teaching English and Theology in Chicago through the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) Masters Program.