Pat Manning

Class of 2007

I arrived at Notre Dame looking for something to do with my time as an undergraduate student. What I found in the Program of Liberal Studies was a major that came to consume and transform my life. After only a short time in the Program, my daily readings and classes ceased to be about making grades or earning credit for graduation and became more about seeking out answers to the questions I had always wondered about. In the time since then, I have repeatedly found myself reveling in the irony of receiving university credit for reading books and carrying on conversations that I would have been reading and carrying on in my free time.

But that is not to say now that I have found a structured venue for pursuing my personal curiosities that my musings about good and evil, divine providence, and how it is that we are able to know anything cease once I step away from the wood-grained classrooms of O’Shaughnessy Hall. To the contrary, though PLS is probably the most holistic major available, no one involved in the Program will claim that it is sufficient in and of itself. It is only a beginning – a fact evidenced by the Program’s students and professors, who invariably carry the classroom conversation into their evening meals, residence halls, and even weekend parties.

Such behavior is not an indication that these people have permitted their studies to take over their lives. Rather it is proof that their program of studies addresses issues of real concern for their lives. If you earnestly invest yourself in PLS, the readings and conversations you have in your three years of study will affect the way you think about your life and, ideally, the way you live it. I have known a classmate to break down in tears during a final exam because she was so moved by the content of the conversation. I know personally how it feels to walk into a classroom each day with the knowledge that what is said over the course of the next hour or so might very well change my life.

I have found in the Program of Liberal Studies not just something to occupy my time but rather a means of making that time beautiful, inspiring, and truly valuable to the world in which I live.