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When they began their years at Aquinas High School neither Sophia Martin Del Campo nor Juliette Gaytan imagined their future college journey would take them to the Midwest and the prestigious University of Notre Dame.

But as their academic success at Aquinas took shape and it eventually came time to choose where they would go to college, they say God was calling them to continue their Catholic education at Notre Dame.

Del Campo, this year’s Valedictorian, said it was during her junior year when she met with a University of Notre Dame representative who was visiting Aquinas that she began considering the University and got a new idea of what she would like to study there.

“Before that day, architecture was a subject unfamiliar to me,” she said. “But the passion with which he spoke about the program and the school, itself, piqued my interest for it and showed me that Notre Dame was a community I could be proud to be a part of.”

Gaytan already had her major in mind when she applied to the University of Notre Dame and will be in its highly regarded pre-med program. But she says what cemented her decision to go halfway across the country for college is what she encountered when she visited there; “a community-oriented atmosphere where students truly uplift one another in order to chase their academic goals and embody the Catholic values I have grown up with in Catholic school.”

The strong Catholic identity of the University of Notre Dame is manifested in the campus structure, Gaytan noted, with a basilica and a chapel at every dormitory.

“I knew that Notre Dame would encourage me to live and express my authentic self for God as well as being surrounded by others who share and embody the same personal and Catholic values,” she said.

Del Campo took a virtual tour of Notre Dame and, after being accepted, has already begun to connect with alumni and Hispanic student groups there.

“Their Catholic morals offered a community so connected that it could be felt from states away,” she said. “In that Catholic and family lifestyle, we’ve never desired more to be a part of a community.”
As the two adjust to college life at Notre Dame they will have each other, as they have become close in their years together at Aquinas.

“I am excited to embark on this new journey of higher Catholic education with my best friend,” Gaytan says. “We will take this next step of Catholic education together.”