By: Erik Pedersen, Content Strategy Director
BALTIMORE – Maureen Ritcey DeGrange ‘99 has returned to Notre Dame of Maryland University several times since her graduation. Her trips back to campus this fall, however, have been extra special, as she has been able to spend time with her daughter during her first semester as the parent of a legacy student.
Kathryn DeGrange ’27 is one of 15 students in the Class of 2027 with a family member who had previously attended Notre Dame. Kathryn is enrolled in the School of Nursing’s Entry-Level BSN program, aiming to join her mother in the nursing profession, and she is also following in her mother’s footsteps as a multi-sport athlete at NDMU.
“I had always told my children that they needed to at least apply to Notre Dame when they began their college search,” Maureen said. “I really loved my time here. As a small school, it gave me a personalized education with professors and mentors who really cared about my future, and it also gave me lifelong friendships with people who I still see regularly.”
This year’s group of legacy students contributed to one of the largest first-year classes in NDMU’s history. The fall 2023 semester has seen a 27% increase in undergraduate enrollment, and new student enrollment has more than doubled as Notre Dame welcomed its first gender-inclusive class of traditional undergraduates.
Kathryn had not originally expected to be part of that class. She applied to 20 schools, including several which were larger in size and out-of-state, but as her search progressed, NDMU started to move towards the top of her list.
“When I first started applying, I was thinking big and far away,” Kathryn said. “And there was also a part of me that didn’t want to be exactly like my mom, but Notre Dame really started to stand out once we began touring schools. I liked that it was in Baltimore. It’s a small school, but there are still a lot of fun things to do in the area.
“I also really liked the nursing program,” she continued. “NDMU offers direct admission to the program, which was a big thing for us, and it had a really good pass rate for the NCLEX [the national examination for licensing professional nurses]. The nursing program, the chance to play Division III, and earning a presidential scholarship all helped me realize this is where I wanted to go. My mom was super excited.”
Kathryn is a member of the basketball and soccer programs at Notre Dame, while Maureen played on basketball, tennis and volleyball teams which all won multiple championships in the former Atlantic Women’s Colleges Conference. Both of them agree that the benefits of participating in athletics extend beyond the court or the field.
“The percentage of athletes at Notre Dame has always been significant,” Maureen said. “It was great being able to connect with so many people across the classes, even if you’re not on the same team. I made some really good friends through athletics – Kathryn’s godmother, Lorna Abreu, played on the tennis team with me.”
“Some of my teammates are also RAs [resident advisors], and they helped introduce me to student life and student engagement,” Kathryn added. “It was really helpful to have my upperclassmen teammates around to help guide me and the other freshmen through the start of the semester. You don’t have to be on a sports team to make friends here – I’ve met a bunch of people from my classes and the dorm as well – but it’s great to have that additional support.”
Watching Kathryn’s soccer games in the fall gave Maureen several opportunities to visit Notre Dame and relive her time on campus. Attending Alumnae and Alumni Weekend in September, though, is when she began to realize how much being a legacy parent meant to her. Kathryn and a few of her teammates were able to attend Friday night’s crab feast under the tent on Doyle Lawn.
“Everything sort of clicked for me that night,” Maureen said. “To have Kathryn there along with my friends from college, and knowing that Notre Dame creates a forever community that she’s now going to be a part of, it was a really special moment. It’s great knowing that we will be able to continue sharing these experiences together.”
“It’s been nice to talk with her about what’s going on around campus,” Kathryn added. “Some things have obviously changed since she was here. I’ll send her pictures of places that have been renovated, and she’ll send me Facebook posts from the school when she sees me in a picture or notices some big event happening. I’ve been really happy here so far – attending NDMU has definitely created an additional bond between the two of us.”
Established in 1895, Notre Dame of Maryland University (NDMU) is a private, Catholic institution in Baltimore, Maryland, with the mission to educate leaders to transform the world. Notre Dame has been named one of the best "Regional Universities North" by U.S. News & World Report.