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The Class of 2017 Takes Off

October 10, 2013

They come from as near as Baltimore and the Washington D.C. suburbs, and as far as California, Turkey, Taiwan and Pakistan. They include athletes, musicians, two-thirds of a set of triplets and an Emergency Medical Technician.

What they share in common is that they are Notre Dame's Class of 2017. And they are exceptional.

"This is the most intellectually curious and engaged class," said Heidi Roller, Vice President for Enrollment Management. "They immediately jumped in to student life--joining clubs, attending events, volunteering for service projects. This is a class that will make a positive impact, on Notre Dame and the world."

The Class of 2017 comes from 11 states and 6 countries. The average SAT score increased 40 points and the average GPA is 3.65. They are socially active,  academically serious, and just plain nice.

"Everywhere on campus, from students, faculty and staff alike, one is hearing how engaged and enjoyable this new class is," said Dr. Maeve M. O'Donovan, associate professor and chair of philosophy. "This class shows a commitment to learning, and to making their learning count outside the classroom walls."

Students say the warm, family like atmosphere of Notre Dame, with small class sizes and engaged professors, has helped them feel at home. It is not uncommon, for example, for professors to answer texts from students late at night who are wrestling with an assignment or paper.

"This school has made it possible for me to feel as if I am home, while being so far away from home. It has made the transition much easier and I am already so comfortable,” said Marie Lanza, a Pre-Nursing student from Los Angeles. 

"As I began my semester at NDMU, I was expecting to be overwhelmed," said Arrecka Bouknight, a psychology major from Baltimore. "Surprisingly, I have a great balance here! I love the school because everyone is always ready and willing to help you succeed."

The Class of 2017 has the advantage of several new programs to help integrate them into university life, including a new course for first-year Women’s College students to learn strategies for academic success. In addition, the NDMU Anchorage Program promotes success and involvement for all incoming Women’s College students by connecting them to current NDMU students as well as to important student services and resources.

And in the new Living and Learning Communities, students live together with other students with common interests, such as health and wellness, multicultural affairs and service, and “Exploratory Gators” for those who are undecided regarding their academic paths.

"We know residential students do better academically and have higher retention rates nationally, and Living and Learning Communities help connect students not only to one another but to a faculty member outside of the classroom." said Rebecca Sawyer, Vice President for Student Life. "Our Living and Learning Communities are completely co-curricular and based on student interest, not necessarily the student major. This gives students something in common from the day they move in the residence halls.”

Natalie Smith, a first-year student from San Diego, Calif., displays the can-do attitude of the Class of 2017. An accomplished musician, she was overheard playing flute with a friend who plays piano, and was immediately recruited to play for a campus Mass. Even though she'd never swung a racket in her life, a friend convinced her to join the tennis team, and she is already competing in and winning matches. And she was one of more than 200 students, faculty and staff who volunteered for Project Homeless Connect, which helped link Baltimore homeless community to vital services.

Natalie's mother, Suzanne Smith, is sad her daughter is so far way. But she knows that her daughter chose the right school.

"Natalie and NDMU so far have proven to be a great fit! She loves her small class sizes and appreciates the fact that nearly all of her professors have their doctorates in their fields," she said. "The girls are like-minded who are there to learn, spread their wings, and try new, empowering experiences. Through the challenges and the fun Natalie is learning every day."