Graduate Like A Champion Today


While degrees were conferred on 2,163 undergraduates, one member of the 2016 class explained in a moving essay why she sat out the university’s 171’st Commencement Ceremony because of her abiding devotion to Notre Dame.

In this bulletin, we reproduce from the valuable Internet publication Ethika Politika an absorbing essay, ”Why I Didn’t Attend My Notre Dame Graduation,” by a 2016 Notre Dame graduate, Alexandra DeSanctis.

Alexandra was one of the hundreds of student signatories to the statement Objections to the Laetare Medal Decision whose representatives Father Jenkins twice refused to meet.

In her essay, she tells us what she did not have a chance to tell him. Writing in sorrow rather than anger or resentment, Alexandra affirms her “deep love and gratitude” to Notre Dame, describes something of her experience in “laboring for a cause that seems to succeed little, if ever,” explains how the honoring of Vice President Biden darkened her graduation, and concludes:

I spent four years working, praying, and fostering the hope that Notre Dame would reverse its course toward secularization and instead embrace its Catholic identity in a meaningful way. That hope – shared by many students, alumni, and outside observers more dedicated than myself – was crushed, perhaps even deliberately, by Fr. Jenkins’s decision to honor Biden, and as much as I wanted to celebrate my graduation, seeing four years of work and prayers shot down before my eyes wasn’t the right way to do it.

Her poignant final words:

And while I’ll continue to have hope for my university, on the day of my commencement I didn’t want to cry for her anymore.

Alexandra DeSanctis (’16)

Alexandra DeSanctis, from Potomac Falls, Virginia, earned her baccalaureate from Notre Dame in 2016 with a major in political science and minors in theology and constitutional studies. As an undergraduate, she was executive editor of The Irish Rover, co-chair of the Edith Stein conference, and an organizer of SCOP, the pro-marriage and family club initially denied official recognition. In 2015, Alexandra received the Sycamore Outstanding Student Award for her leadership among a dedicated and courageous cohort of students engaged in the battle over the Catholic identity of the university.

Why I Didn’t Attend My Notre Dame Graduation

by Alexandra DeSanctis

May 22, 2016

Many of my friends and acquaintances probably thought I chose not to attend the Notre Dame commencement ceremony a week ago Sunday because I was protesting the university’s awarding Vice President Joe Biden with the Laetare Medal, the greatest honor for American Catholics. Those who really know me know that I love Notre Dame too much to do that.

It wasn’t a protest, and I didn’t even feel angry. I didn’t go to my college graduation because I didn’t want to fight. I was sad, and I was tired.

Tired physically, yes. Tired after a week of finals, followed by a week of attempting to cherish my last time with all of the friends I had made over my four years, followed by a few days of feverish packing. Just the thought of having to stand in line and be prodded through Secret Service checkpoints at 7 a.m. on my last day on campus made me feel tired.

I skipped graduation in part because I was tired physically, but much more importantly because I was tired of fighting against my own university. I spent the majority of my four years at Notre Dame hard at work, not only in my classes, but perhaps with even more passion for the causes I hold dear. For the Irish Rover, bringing to light the truth about both the controversial and somewhat hidden goings-on at Our Lady’s University. For the Edith Stein Project, planning a conference that would stir conversation among my peers and educate them about human relationships and identity. For Students for Child-Oriented Policy, focusing campus conversation on the rights of children, particularly in the realm of federal and state marriage policy.

I was tired, both from lack of sleep and from the exhaustion of laboring for four years for a cause that seems to succeed little, if ever.

If I could go back to the start of my freshman year, though, even knowing I would be so tired at the end wouldn’t lead me to decrease my involvement in any of these groups. In fact, I’d like to think that I would join them even earlier, ask for even more responsibility, persist even more strongly in encouraging younger students to understand and preserve Notre Dame’s Catholic identity.

But by May 15 of this year, I was too tired—and too sad—for one last fight. I skipped my graduation not because I was angry at Notre Dame and not because I thought University President Fr. Jenkins or John Boehner or Joe Biden would ever know that I had skipped it. Even if Fr. Jenkins did hear that a handful of students weren’t present as a result of the Laetare Medal honorees, I’m inclined to doubt that he’d feel remorseful.

Had I Gone

I didn’t skip my college graduation because I was mad or vengeful or clinging stubbornly to my principles. If I had set foot in Notre Dame Stadium that morning, I would have felt obliged to applaud as Vice President Biden was awarded the highest Catholic honor in the nation, but I would not have clapped.

I would have shook my head listening to Fr. Jenkins praise Biden’s service to the Church and the nation, and I would have shed more than a few tears listening to Biden talk about the importance of family while ignoring the importance of the most defenseless family members among us, the unborn.

I would have remained seated if the Vice President received a standing ovation at the end of his speech, and I would have received stares and angry looks, but I would not have cared. I skipped my graduation because, after four years, I didn’t want to finish with a fight, and if I had been there, I would have had no choice but to feel like fighting.

I chose not to walk at my own graduation not because I was resentful toward my university, but precisely because of the deep love and gratitude I have for my time at Notre Dame. Experiencing the commencement ceremony as it stood would not have been the right way to honor my four years as a student.

I spent four years working, praying, and fostering the hope that Notre Dame would reverse its course toward secularization and instead embrace its Catholic identity in a meaningful way. That hope—shared by many students, alumni, and outside observers more dedicated than myself—was crushed, perhaps even deliberately, by Fr. Jenkins’ decision to honor Biden, and, as much as I wanted to celebrate my graduation, seeing four years of work and prayers shot down before my eyes wasn’t the right way to do that.

At the end of the day, I was sad that Fr. Jenkins chose to honor Biden as an exemplary American Catholic, but I was sad, too, that I missed my graduation. I would have loved to be there, to walk with all of my classmates—those I knew and those I liked and even those I didn’t like—in one place, on the field where we had watched 24 football games together. I will always be a little sad that I didn’t share in that experience.

But if I had been there, my sorrow would have been much more overwhelming than my sadness at missing the ceremony, because it would have been for Notre Dame and not for myself. And while I’ll continue to have hope for my university, on the day of my commencement, I didn’t want to cry for her anymore.

Leave a Reply

Let us know what you think about the issues we’ve raised in this bulletin in the “Leave a Reply” section below.


Join Our Petition

If you believe Notre Dame should not have awarded the Laetare Medal to Vice President Joseph Biden, please show your opposition by signing our petition to the Fellows of the University, who have the fiduciary duty under the statutes of the university to “ensure that the university maintains its essential character as a Catholic institution.” Click on the image below to sign the petition.


Every Penny Helps!

If, like us, you want to see an authentic Catholic renewal at Notre Dame, please take a minute to consider making a tax-deductible donation to Sycamore Trust.

Click to Donate

23 Responses to “Graduate Like A Champion Today”

  1. Emmett Wilmes July 7, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    I was blessed to meet Zan this year in my Lit class. Because of her and her good friend Hailey, I was able to experience the Edith Stein Project and share many wonderful, enriching conversations that have helped me become a better Catholic and a better person. I am thankful for Zan’s courage to stand with the unborn, even if it requires an immense sacrifice. Alexandra is truly a model Catholic and Notre Dame alumna. Please continue to pray for Our Lady’s University and the Catholic Church as a whole

  2. When is enough enough? Isn’t it time for us — in unison perhaps with groups like the Cardinal Newman Society — to call for Jenkins’ departure from Our Lady’s School?

  3. A heartache to read. Deep passion and trust are not without a price. Don’t lose your passion, Ms. DeSanctis. It has taken several years for the Fighting Irish to morph into the Obsequious Irish, and for “Play Like a Champion” to descend into “Acquiesce Like a Champion”. CareerBuilder had an ad some years ago of an office full of chimpanzees. Such is the current leadership void at ND. Particularly, the boss chimp who seizes a plunging line chart and rotates it 90 degrees counterclockwise to give it the appearance of phenomenal growth. There is much more work that still needs to be done to right the ship. jc

  4. A great summary of the sadness many of us feel for our Alma Mater.

  5. Roberrt Raiteri June 28, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    I couldn’t have said it any better. I sent an e-mail to Fr Jenkins which probably never got tio him. I let it be known to how much of a disgrace he was.


  1. nike outlet uk - October 1, 2016

    nike outlet uk

    Jin Hao night tear off the paper sugar, pa! A sugar into the coffee, splashes of coffee in his white linen wanton catch, and he had a stir with a spoon.

  2. nike outlet uk - September 29, 2016

    nike outlet uk

    He hand Catching a bird fiddle for a while, then the bird in the rockery, rockery in birds suddenly tilted flash around, is not to fly. If the Sakura and the others terrified to see a long time, the heart is also somewhat understand, needless to say, t…

  3. nike outlet uk - September 29, 2016

    nike outlet uk

    God rushed over, see is such a sad scene.

  4. grey Nike Huarache - September 27, 2016

    grey Nike Huarache

    A good talk! Or else you will go out with your luggage immediately! Weng Siying says, this person really when she is a soft persimmon, no temper!

  5. Smart Balance Wheel - September 27, 2016

    Smart Balance Wheel

    We’re really disappointed, I have already been carrying Smart Balance Wheel for a long time plus i at all times dearly loved them all. The pair I purchased this breadmaker continue cold weather, Can be Dreadful. The actual Smart Balance Wheel Before i…

  6. Nike roshe vs Free run - September 26, 2016

    Nike roshe vs Free run

    Li Yuyao suddenly raised his head, a red face a little nervous, fan…… Mr. Fan, I would like to go with you, find Bai Zhennan accounts!

  7. Nike Roshe Run grey Black - September 26, 2016

    Nike Roshe Run grey Black

    There! Li Qi Chao Gai to catch up, leaning against the car. Lit a cigarette to him, he has a point. Li asked: how much are you holding on to my head in the light just now

  8. Nike air huarache run - September 26, 2016

    Nike air huarache run

    Well, mom, how do you get up so early

  9. Mens Nike Roshe Run Black white - September 25, 2016

    Mens Nike Roshe Run Black white

    It’s supposed to be here. The cold wind left looked at the time, now just seven points before.

  10. Nike total 90 laser ii - September 24, 2016

    Nike total 90 laser ii

    Standing in front of the two middle-aged men, at this time only to face the face, it exudes a strong momentum. Behind the brethren, lest they suddenly begin, are ready to fight at any time.

  11. Womens Nike Huarache - September 24, 2016

    Womens Nike Huarache

    Liu 77 in the room for a moment, has been aware of the door after someone, at this time to cope with it, is not difficult, but that led black people, has turned the window to leave.

  12. brazilian body wav - September 22, 2016

    brazilian body wav

    we have A couple of pars involving brazilian body wavim hence satisfied becuse when i libve found in israel, and in israel they cost a whole lot profit, them price Thrice belonging to the regiler expense on the united states.i have got your upright cho…

  13. can you run in Nike Roshe Runs - September 22, 2016

    can you run in Nike Roshe Runs

    Stop, a sound Qingyue cold drink sounded, just make the coercion of four honorary retired elders not directly fall in Shangguan binger opening is to wake up, four honorary retired elders although stop no hands, but attention is still focused entirely o…

  14. design Nike Air Max - September 20, 2016

    design Nike Air Max

    Fantian did not deny, watching the Zhou Weiqing subtle way: you are a clever man I very strange though, you at such a young age can have such success, but I would have had to kill you in the cradle because, even if you surrender to me. I am not sure to…

  15. where can you buy Nike Air Max - September 20, 2016

    where can you buy Nike Air Max

    Camp all neighborhood watch, the watchtower everywhere bristly, Rangers wear cha in the opposite direction, once the movement army even fully deployed, in accordance with the immediate formation could never have half calculation and those either in pra…

  16. fifa 17 points - September 19, 2016

    fifa 17 points

    Much thanks! It is an very good web site!.

  17. cheap nfl 17 coins - September 19, 2016

    cheap nfl 17 coins

    Keep up the great work and delivering in the group!

  18. madden 17 coins - September 19, 2016

    madden 17 coins

    Love the website– extremely individual pleasant and lots to see!