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The alumni "club" that is... Congratulations goes out to Notre Dame softball seniors (from left) Alexa Maldonado, Kasey O'Connor, Kristina Wright and Dani Miller, who graduated this morning in a ceremony at Club Naimoli in the Purcell Pavilion.

The four newest graduates in the class of 2012 missed Sunday's commencement ceremonies while their team was playing in the NCAA tournament regional in Tucson, Ariz.

After their degrees were conferred, each of the student-athletes delivered a few heartfelt words to the audience, fighting back tears, but also adding some humor, while reflecting on all they have learned and thanking those who have helped them along the way.

Chuck Lennon ('61), former executive director of the Notre Dame Alumni Association and Rev. Tom Doyle, C.S.C., Vice President for Student Affairs spoke at the event, along with Rev. Paul Doyle, C.S.C., rector of Dillon Hall and Monogram Club chaplain, who delivered the invocation and a final blessing.

Much like the men's lacrosse ceremony I was able to attend on Saturday afternoon, this was a nice gesture recognizing all that the graduating student-athletes accomplished academically and athletically during their time at Notre Dame. While it was unfortunate that they did not get to participate in Sunday's events, being away from campus meant two things - their teams were still playing and their college athletic careers were still alive.

I'm sure if you asked the twelve lacrosse and four softball student-athletes, a small graduation with the people closest to them - teammates, parents and coaches - was just as meaningful as the one they missed out in Notre Dame Stadium.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

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