Kaitlyn - Leshak





Brokenness to Belonging: The Power of the Notre Dame Community

As of today, I have officially been a Notre Dame student for 101 days. While this is a relatively short amount of time, each of these days has been filled with knowledge, experience, and excitement. I have already learned a multitude of new and varied skills, from how to design and print a prosthetic device to how to properly analyze a film to how to do a touchdown push-up.

More importantly, though, I have learned more about myself, who I am, and why I belong here at Notre Dame, through the experiences I have found here on campus and specifically, my Moreau First Year Experience class. However, I had no such sense of clarity and belonging at the beginning of my college experience. I found myself constantly wondering whether I belonged at Notre Dame and if I was worthy of my spot at this university, but my imposter syndrome was always cast aside by the wonderful people that I am surrounded with every day. I have found that Notre Dame’s community revolves around one fundamental principle: love. There is an atmosphere of love of neighbor, love of Notre Dame, love of learning here at Notre Dame, and that is the very thing that makes us a force for good in this world. It is not a coincidence that this place promotes love, as our President, Father John Jenkins, C.S.C. once said, “Love is the greatest commandment - and hatred is at the heart of the greatest sins” (“Wesley Theological Seminary 2012 Commencement Address” by Father John Jenkins, C.S.C. - Moreau FYE Week Ten). In his commencement address, part of the week ten material, Father Jenkins explains that we can change the world for the better when we use love to form convictions. He goes on to say, “It [conviction] is indispensable to every good deed...without conviction, there would be no hope”(“Wesley Theological Seminary 2012 Commencement Address” by Father John Jenkins, C.S.C. - Moreau FYE Week Ten).

We live in a broken world, and the love and convictions found in the Notre Dame community have the power to heal it. In truth, we are all broken to some extent, but at this university, we acknowledge and accept our brokenness in order to move forward.  Instead of continuing to wonder where our places in this campus community are, we actively search for them. Personally, I joined the Notre Dame Wishmakers, our university’s branch of the Make-a-Wish organization, was elected as a commissioner-in-training in my residence hall, and became involved in e-NABLE, a club that 3D prints prosthetic devices and donates them to children in need. I even found myself on the stage performing in a cabaret.

Finally, something that had been very ambiguous to me had been made clear. “Who am I?” was a question I had been avoiding, but it needed to be asked in order to find the answer.