International student reflections from the class of 2020

Author: Colleen Wilcox

International Student Reflections is a series of personal essays from the class of 2020. Since COVID-19 has impacted this year's commencement activities, we offered graduates the chance to share their deeply personal reflections on how they will remember their time at the University of Notre Dame.

Img Margarita Diego

l'll never forget Notre Dame

A reflection from Margarita Marie Diego

I’ll never forget reading the email from the International Student and Scholar Affairs office promoting the “Who’s at the Table? First Person Stories of Culture and Identity” initiative for people to gather and share their reflections with one another. I quickly hit the button asking for people to volunteer and speak and soon heard back from Ms. Leah Zimmer asking to meet. As I stared out of the new Duncan Center’s massive windows by Hagerty Cafe, one of my favorite spots on campus with all its natural light flooding in, I had no idea what to expect from this meeting. Ms. Zimmer and I caught one another’s attention and got down to the business of planning this talk. She asked me that all too familiar question that seniors stressing out over the recruiting process might recognize— “So, what’s your story?”

As I opened my mouth to speak, narrating my journey from the Philippines and through the gates of the Golden Dome, I was surprised by how many anecdotes spilled forth from me. Read more

New Erin

Dear freshman Erin

A reflection from Yiran (Erin) Shang

Dear freshman Erin,

How are you? College senior Erin here, writing four years from now.

First and foremost, congratulations on finding your home under the dome! You’ve come a long way from home – it’s a 13 hour flight each time you travel. I can imagine how excited you must be. I still remember vividly the very first time you saw the dome in person. It was a typical hot and humid summer day in South Bend, and you were so tired and thirsty from walking under the sun with your two gigantic suitcases – that’s all you’ve got ready for your four years ahead. You stopped on the sidewalk to catch your breath and you looked up to see the dome – there she was, as gorgeous and elegant as she could ever be. You couldn’t help but look at it, and even eventually started tearing up. Read more.

Nasir Azim Ilyas

Golden mornings and purple sunsets

A reflection from Nasir Azim Ilyas, MBA

It’s true when they say that if you have been to Notre Dame, no explanation is necessary; if you haven’t been there, no explanation will suffice! My journey with Notre Dame began when I was looking for an MBA program in an East Coast university. Somewhere in my Google searches, an image of a golden dome emerged; its radiance and charisma ultimately led me to choose Notre Dame’s MBA program. Arriving on campus for the first time on a golden July morning, the Golden Dome mesmerized me with its shimmer, and with our Mother watching over Her land, I knew I was home.

The Notre Dame MBA gives you the opportunity to learn about your leadership style, provides you with a safe space and nurturing environment to identify your weaknesses, and shows you the pathway to overcome them. All the while, the faculty and staff stand on the sidelines, cheering on your success, and are always there to provide support and guidance. Read more.

Headshot 4

Home in Sorocaba and Knot Hall

A reflection from Pedro Navarro

When I think about the fact that I am graduating from Notre Dame, it is still hard to believe. I can perfectly remember the first time I saw the Golden Dome in 2013 when I came to Notre Dame for the iLED program. I can perfectly remember my days in Sorocaba, Brazil, writing my application essays and dreaming about one day getting into this University - this time as an undergraduate student. I still remember the pure happiness that filled me when I received my acceptance letter; it was a dream come true not only for me, but for my family as well. Speaking of family, from my first contact with the University, it was clear to me that this was what Notre Dame was about.

Notre Dame has been my home for the last four years, and especially Knott Hall, my family. Having spent my entire life in Brazil, moving to a different country would be a scary challenge to anyone. Little did I know that I would never feel more welcomed in my life as I did at Notre Dame and Knott Hall. Today, I can proudly say that my best friends and I do not even speak the same first language, but I cannot imagine my life without them. I cannot imagine my life without some of the most inspiring people I have ever met, who have and will continue to make great impacts in this world in the most diverse professional fields. Read more.

Notre Dame International has a special message for the graduating class of 2020:


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