Think Art: Thoughts from a Young Alum

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Notre Dame teaches you how to think
Hal Melia ’12 | January 28, 2013
When I was in Miami a few weeks ago, I happened to bump into a friend of mine from school who was vacationing with her family.  She was ecstatic that her younger brother, a high school senior, had just been accepted to Notre Dame.  He was honored to have been accepted, and with an interest in musical theatre was unsure if he would matriculate in the fall or not.  I mentioned to him the numerous opportunities for student involvement in the arts at ND, and told him about how I found myself immersed in the arts throughout college.  I then said “Notre Dame teaches you how to think, and if you can think you can do anything you want.”
As I think back on my time at Notre Dame, I recall how my experience prepared me to think – in the career that I currently have in corporate finance, and as a Catholic in modern society.  More importantly, Notre Dame inspired me to want to change the world, and my experiences in Notre Dame’s arts groups encouraged me to make my mark on the world through engagement with the arts.  Though it may not be overly apparent amid a barrage of football and Catholic academia, there is definitely a place at Notre Dame for the artistically inclined, and the opportunities available through Notre Dame’s arts groups are excellent for a range of the involved, from the casual enthusiast to the budding professional.  The friends I have made as a member of this arts community have gone on to do incredible things, both in the arts and in other fields, but they all share a common experience: their time in a Notre Dame ensemble, studio, or production made them a more well-rounded thinker and added to the rich liberal arts education they received as undergrads.
For those interested in the arts as a profession, Notre Dame is a veritable blank canvas of opportunity, supporting student-organized and led initiatives and ideas.  The flexibility of arts-oriented majors and activities begets a multi-disciplinary undergraduate experience, so students can benefit from the intermingling of ideas and begin to develop well-rounded perspectives.  A friend of mine chose to study oboe at Notre Dame over a more well-known music school because of the flexibility of Notre Dame’s program.  Another was able to combine a music major with one in psychology, setting her up for PhD studies in music and cognition, a field she would have been less prepared for had she not gone to Notre Dame.  Numerous students have gone on to performance careers as well, and others (myself included) aspire to serve the arts as administrators, supporters, fundraisers, and audience members.
There is an abounding sense of opportunity at Notre Dame, in every facet of the university.  No matter what a student is interested in, there is space for him or her to explore it, and if a formalized means to do so does not exist then a new trail can be blazed.  In many ways, the arts are thriving at Notre Dame in the form of solid academic departments and a storied ensemble tradition.  In others, they are only beginning to take shape, and perhaps that is their most wonderful quality.  Notre Dame is ready for the next generation of performers, arts scholars, and audience members to reinvent its undergraduate artistic community and leave with minds full of the ideas that will change the world.
Hal Melia earned his Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and Finance at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. He is currently a Planning Analyst at Target Headquarters, Minneapolis.
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