At Notre Dame, the dorm you are randomly assigned to becomes your identity. Since ND doesn’t have greek life and the dorms are broken out by gender, with the largest one being about 300 people, dorm life becomes like greek life (most people live on campus for at least 3 years, staying in the same dorm, which adds to this culture). Each dorm taking on an identity of their own with mascots, yearly themed and formal dances, philanthropy, intramural sports, weekly hall council meetings and, most importantly, friendships.
While I mentioned the dorm assignments were random, a majority of the student body would tell you that there is some magic or mysterious person sitting in a hidden closet of the Main Building that “assigns” you with the dorm you are supposed to be in. I happen to fall in that camp – I truly believe that I was assigned to the perfect home under the dome.
I lived in Walsh Hall, which happened to be one of the oldest dorms on campus (we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the building while I lived there). It’s located on the main quad which means it was central to everything, was on the smaller side with only 190 girls living there, and I was familiar with it from my multiple campus visits over the year. There was one thing I was super hesitant about when I received the welcome letter from the Hall President in July after I received my official assignment from the University – their mascot was the WILD Women.
This shy, anxious, and often times insecure girl was far from being labelled as wild. “Was this going to work out?” “How did the University decide to put ME there?” “Why couldn’t we be something normal – like the lions?” – All of the questions and more ran though my mind leading up to the biggest move I’d ever made in my life?!?
Upon arriving on campus the first day, I was greeted by these handmade signs welcoming the new freshman to campus which started to show the spirit of the dorms. Unloading the car, climbing 3 flights of stairs for hours and unpacking my new room, I still felt apprehensive, but was slowly warming up to the idea of this being the new place that I’d call home for 4 years.
Freshman orientation started later that afternoon and that’s where I really learned about my new home and the culture that would be ingrained in me for the rest of my life (or at least until this point). Turns out, WILD stands for Wise In Life’s Decisions. While my dorm-mates and I like to joke we were really just wild childs – the truth this this acronym could not have fit us better. It was the reminder to always make the choice that we thought was best for ourselves and others around us or impacted by it. It was the notion that we weren’t alone even being thousands of miles away from home – we had each other. It was the symbol of the love and friendship we shared with each other.
Every time I wear or see an animal print, like this adorable leopard print skirt from local Houston boutique, Common Assembly, I’m immediately transported back to memories from my college days – the laughter late at night after studying for hours, the countless meals we had together in the dining hall, cheering until we were hoarse at football games, and so many more. While it’s been 8 years since I lived at my home under the dome, these memories are formidable and the last phrase of our alma mater couldn’t ring more true whenever I’m styling my wild side.
In our hearts forever, love thee Notre Dame.
Photography by L.A. Photography
P.S. My skirt and shirt are from a local Houston boutique, Common Assembly. They provide ethical fashion with both straight size and plus size options that are absolutely adorable. And their whole mission is to be kind – kind to the world, others and especially ourselves. If you get the chance, please check them out!