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Tuesday, March 5, 2024
The Observer

Saint Mary's students reflect on the impact of having family legacy in tri-campus community

In light of Saint Mary’s 175th anniversary, legacy students are bringing forward the stories of the women who have inspired them and led to the start of their own Saint Mary’s career.

In many cases, students have not just a Saint Mary’s legacy, but a Notre Dame legacy as well. These legacies can stretch back as far as four or five generations.

Photo courtesy of Kerry Rose McDonald
Lindsay McDonald, '13, Ellen McDonald, '00, and Kerry Rose McDonald, '19, respectively, spent time together during Kerry Rose's semester abroad at Maynooth University in Ireland.

First-year Gabby Acampora’s legacy is Notre Dame-based. Acampora's mom, Debbie, graduated from the University in 1986 and her dad, Paul, graduated in 1985. Acampora’s brother, Nicholas, was a member of the Notre Dame class of 2016, and both he and Gabby grew up in a Notre Dame household.

Acampora said growing up the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s communities played a large role in her life.

“The overall Holy Cross community has made a huge impact on my life. Both my godfather and godmother are also Notre Dame graduates.” Acampora said in an email. “All these people have helped me to grow spiritually, taught me to serve others and created a community with the people around me.”

The traditions from Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame have also been passed through generations of legacy students, Acampora said.

“I definitely just felt right at home when I got here. I always imagined as a child that this would be my college town and place, because of my parents and the numerous visits,” Acampora said. “I wanted to join the best band in the land and I’ve always rooted for the Fighting Irish. I think I might just bleed blue and gold, so I’ve been so happy getting to experience all the things that I’ve heard about in my parent’s stories.”

For some students, their siblings are what drew them to Saint Mary‘s.

Senior Kerry Rose McDonald is the third in her family to attend Saint Mary‘s. Her sister, Ellen, graduated from the College in 2000, while another sister, Lindsay, graduated from the College in 2013. She said that while her sisters did not pressure her to apply to attend Saint Mary‘s, her campus visit demonstrated the aspects of the school that they valued most.

My sisters always made it clear how much they love Saint Mary's and the incredible impact their experience there has had on them,” McDonald said.But when it was time for me to start applying at colleges, they did not put pressure on me to apply to Saint Mary’s just because they went there. In fact, I didn't want to copy them, so I purposely didn't rank Saint Mary’s at the top of my list. I applied anyway though, and my mom insisted that I take a campus tour. ... On the tour, all the things my sisters talked about with such enthusiasm and pride became apparent to me: the tight-knit community, the professors who challenge you to reach your full potential, the resources there to help you succeed during and after your time at Saint Mary's and the lifelong sisterhood.

McDonald said her tour was filled with signs that the College was right, including her tour guide and admissions counselors having the same name as each of her sisters.

I love being able to bond with my sisters over Saint Mary's, especially now that all three of us have our class rings, McDonald said. A very special time was when they visited me during my semester abroad in Ireland. Right now, they're currently trying to persuade me to get matching french cross tattoos after I graduate in May — we’ll see.

Saint Mary's continues to have a legacy presence due to the education and empowerment that the school provides students, McDonald said.

Saint Mary's has such a strong legacy because of the unwavering high-quality education that each woman receives,” she said. They leave here fully prepared to thrive in the real world with a confident mentality that was ingrained in them for four years. Grandmothers, mothers, sisters, aunts want her to go here because they know that Saint Mary's will help shape her into a determined, strong, intelligent woman.