Author: Jamie Smith (BBA '05)
Service. Personal Growth. Family. These are the core values that my degree as a student of the University of Notre Dame helped build the foundation of which continue to inspire and shape the individual I am today.
The first time I stepped foot onto the Notre Dame campus in the beautiful fall weather with crunchy leaves on the ground and a Grotto illuminated with prayers, I knew I had found my home. Notre Dame became my moon, a landing I would reach for and succeed in declaring my spot as a Domer two years later. I now realize, many years later, that that moment was my first growth mindset shift that was nurtured, challenged, and developed during my undergraduate studies.
I was fortunate to have residency in Walsh Hall with a beautiful view of North Quad and a constant overlook by Our Lady while I could hear the Basilica church bells hourly. I would find myself on the very same lawn years later for my wedding day and again for the baptismal of our daughter.
I sought out Mendoza College of Business for its intimate environment, where professors like Carl Ackermann would only let you call him by his first name (while he memorized yours and hundreds of others) and would show up dressed like a gorilla while taking your semester final. The same professor who gave a lecture early in spring semester that taught me the principles of investing and reaching for a career that would afford me the opportunity to do so while challenging myself to find a way to grow the good in the business world.
My late night peer projects in management and marketing courses challenged me to see the beauty in diverse perspectives and find new roadmaps to lead and bring inspired outcomes to our work. My on campus internship with Sports Illustrated then allowed me the opportunity to take my learnings and form a foundation to be a leader amongst my peers and take our team all the way to the Big Apple as part of the elite campus program we had created.
All the while the constant virtue of doing good, challenging the status norm, creating change became a foundation for what now is a family value we hold in my household today, being of service to others. Walking back from the library and seeing Our Lady illuminated in her golden beauty made me wonder how I could leave an impact on this world. What good would I create after leaving my Notre Dame home?
Years after earning my degree, I became a true leader within my organization and used my mindset from ND to ponder on how we could do more good with the client relationships in which I worked with. Birthed out of this mindset was my ability to connect my relationship with McDonalds and Ronald McDonald House to Office Depot where I helped to develop the foundation around a season of service partnership for employees to do acts of goodwill at the holidays annually at Ronald McDonald Houses across the nation.
In the winter of 2018, my husband and I took our kindergartner at the time to volunteer in a day of service at RMHC and left with an inspired young girl who was ready to change the world. Two months later, Brooke and I created what is now “Project Gee”, (www.projectgee.org) an organization that supports RMHC with custom Care bags and ongoing pop tab collections to support the children and families. Volunteers get together regularly through our “Hope for the Holidays” annual campaign to custom draw inspiration messages and designs on bags to stuff with individual treats to brighten the day of the child in treatment or parents in long waiting rooms while away from their homes. The organization has grown since inception to also include community park beautification as we focus on our local parks being a place for families to connect.
Notre Dame shaped the business leader that I am today and, more importantly, the role model that I am for my daughter. Thinking back to my nighttime walks and awe of Our Lady, I am reminded that this is only the beginning and the service, personal growth, and family values that I learned at Mendoza, at Notre Dame, will continue to drive me to grow personally and professionally. Nowhere but Notre Dame.