Class Year: 2024
Encountering Moreau: A Letter to the Class of 2026
Dear newest classmates,
My name is Quinn McKenna. I am a rising senior in the Program of Liberal Studies in the College of Arts and Letters at Notre Dame. I’m also pursuing minors in the Education, Schooling, and Society program and International Development. I’m a native of North Palm Beach, Florida and a member of the Farley Hall community here on campus.
Today, I will attempt to give you some advice about the Moreau course based on my own experience in the class. I want to begin with the importance of paying attention to the material in order to glean the most from the course. There really is a lot to be taken from these classes.. Moreau is truly what you make of it, and if you do not do the readings or do not participate in class, you will get significantly less out of the course than if you take the relatively small amount of time required to complete the assignments thoughtfully and truly engage with the student sitting next to you.
Therefore, I really do encourage each of you to read the course material thoroughly and participate actively in class, for Moreau holds so much potential to really help students and impact our first year of college. These assignments do not take a long time, and you will remember certain things you read and discuss in Moreau throughout your whole college career.
The second thing I want to discuss is the relationship you build with your Moreau Instructor. I’m going to do so by giving a short personal story, but I want to preface by saying I would not wish the events of this story upon my worst enemy, let alone all of you.
But anyway, let’s rewind to the first semester of my first-year at Notre Dame. I was in a class called Finite Mathematics, and let’s just say this is the math class offered to primarily Arts and Letters Students so they can get their math credit out of the way. Also, side note, an important thing to recognize here is that I am REALLY not a math person. But so anyway, I didn’t do too well on the first exam, and then the second one rolls around and I study really hard, sure of the fact that this would be the exam that brings upmy grade.
But come the day of the exam, I woke up at 8:05 am and quickly realized I had slept through the first hour of my exam. I had slept through the first hour of my exam. So, naturally, I started freaking out. I was a nervous wreck, and I had my Moreau class shortly after this fiasco, but I knew I had to go anyway. I got to class and was clearly distraught, so I asked my professor if I could talk to her about the situation to see what I should do. So we stepped outside, and I was almost in tears, well actually, I was definitely crying, but something really special came from this encounter.
My Moreau professor (shoutout to Kathy Brannock) took the time to sit down with me, ask me what was wrong, and tell me everything would be okay. Hearing from a teacher that this was not the end of the world meant more to me than I can even describe, and having someone there to calm me down helped me immensely. The reason I felt okay coming to her was because of the relationship we had and the comfort she made me feel. All Moreau Instructors have the capacity to have these relationships with their students, so I strongly encourage all of you to be present in class and take advantage of these incredible potential relationships. Go to office hours. Get to know your instructors. Open up to them about yourself. These people can be such strong resources in ways you wouldn’t even imagine.
Lastly, I want to talk to you guys about your classmates. While they may not end up being your best friends, there really is a special bond formed in these classes. I wouldn’t necessarily consider the people I was with first semester of Moreau as close friends of mine, but whenever I’m out and about and see one of them, there’s this mutual understanding and it’s like, “oh, hey, yeah! You were in my Moreau class!! How’s it been?”
I think this kind of lasting relationship is made possible by the ways in which the Moreau course invites authenticity and creates a space of shared vulnerability in conversation. I don’t even exactly know what it is, but the people in my first semester Moreau class probably know more about me than some friends I have, and I think that’s a relatively common experience. We talk about our dreams, our anxieties, our frustrations… and we discuss important issues like racism, sexism, sexual assault, and being a bystander while witnessing difficult situations. Having discussions about these topics truly does create a certain bond, and this is only because we know it is a safe space to do so. Therefore, I strongly urge you to open yourself up to the possibility of forming these Moreau friendships. These friendships are distinct and can help you embrace and navigate some of the most central questions that will undoubtedly arise during your four years at ND. that are different from any friendships you will have in your four years here.
I'll finish this short letter with a few final thoughts. I absolutely could not be more excited for you all, and I wish you the best of luck! This summer is pretty crazy and busy, I know. But I urge you to trust that these next few years will be filled with so many beautiful friendships, experiences, and memories. I hope you find in Moreau all that I found. And, just remember: engage with the texts authentically, complete the assignments thoughtfully, form relationships with your professors, and be as vulnerable as you can with classmates. Then, you will be empowered to recognize and experience Moreau for the gift that it can be.