Haley Scott DeMaria

Archive for May, 2013


Two weeks ago, I was back on Notre Dame’s campus for commencement weekend. This year, I was a little more relaxed! I still had to speak, but to a much smaller group – for a much shorter time. However, the privilege to share in a small way this special weekend with our student-athletes was just as meaningful.

The Monogram Club hosted our 2nd Annual Fourth Quarter Farewell in the press box at Notre Dame Stadium. This Saturday morning gathering allowed us one last chance to congratulate our graduating student-athletes and their families on their dedicated careers here at Notre Dame. It also gave the athletes one last time with their teammates and coaches.

The speaking program was brief – as the shared friendships in the room were the heart of the event.

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    Today was Commissioning Day (“graduation” to us non-military folk) at the United States Naval Academy. For the past nine years we have had the privilege of being a Sponsor Family for Midshipmen at the Naval Academy. We love it, for so many reasons, and certainly today. Although, it’s bittersweet.

    Commissioning Week is a time of celebration for the Midshipmen at their families. Many families spend the entire week in Annapolis: renting homes or staying in hotels to attend the parties and celebrations to honor the graduates for an entire week. I can only imagine the pride the parents feel, as I know how proud I am as their “sponsor mom.”

    We sign up to “sponsor” two “plebes” (freshman) each year; which means at any given time we are sponsors to eight Midshipmen. Some come to our house often, some do not; but we try to provide a “home away from home” for those training to serve our country. It is not an easy path they have chosen, but it is an honorable one, and one worthy of our respect. Because of this, our children address each Midshipman by “Mr.” or “Ms.”

    This year, Mr. Jonathan was one of our Midshipman who was commissioned. He has been a part of our family in a special way for the past four years. While we loved having him visit our house on Saturdays, he also taught CRE (Catholic Religious Education classes – also called CCD) on Sundays at the Naval Academy, and to our son. He attended both our boys’ 1st Communions. So while we shared our home, we also shared our faith.

    Mr. Jonathon was Commissioned today as a Naval Ensign. He had friends and family members travel from all over the country to celebrate with him. Many of these family members have not seen him much over the past four years. This is where we are so privileged: we have the honor of watching these young men and women enter as 18-year-old “kids” and graduate as 22-year-old officers. The transformation is uplifting and leaves me confident in the leadership of our military.

    So today, as members of the USNA class of 2013 were Commissioned as officers, I reflected on the person Mr. Jonathan has become, as well as thought about the other Midshipmen who have left our home. I miss them all. I am a teary mess during Commissioning. And I try to keep my distance. This is a time for family; this is a time for me to take a back seat. These young men have spent four years at our house, but away from their families. I am happy during this most special week to take a step back and respect the sacrifices these families have made. I am content just knowing we have – perhaps – made their four years a bit easier, or comfortable, or at least a bit more entertaining.

    Congratulations to the USNA Class of 2013, and to all the graduates of the military academies. Your families are so proud of you. And so are your sponsor families.

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    Last week I was the Commencement Speaker at Seton Hill University, a Catholic liberal arts university in Greensburg, PA, just outside of Pittsburgh. It has taken me a week to process my visit, reflect on my time at Seton Hill, and be able to write about my remarkable trip.

    First of all, to be asked to speak at any Commencement is a great honor. Graduation is a time to celebrate the culmination of four years of hard work, learning, friendships and often times a family’s sacrifice and love. So to be asked to address the graduates and their families on this very special day is a privilege. And it certainly was for me.

    However, my visit to Seton Hill was not just for Commencement; nor was Commencement the focus of my trip. I was there to play a role – however small or great – in the healing of a campus and a team and a community that was still mourning the loss of their women’s lacrosse coach and her unborn child. I was there to spend time with the girls, many of whom are still injured physically.

    I spent almost two hours with the women’s lacrosse team the day before Commencement. I didn’t know what I was going to say; I didn’t plan my remarks as I had for the following day. But I drew upon a theme from my Notre Dame Commencement address last year: I understand. As there are very few of us who do.

    It was an emotional meeting for me, and an emotional day as I continued to meet with other University officials who are all dealing with their own emotions, as they strive to help the students with theirs.

    I left with an uplifted heart as I was inspired by this community of faith, this new family of which I am now a part.
    And I left with a theme from this year’s Commencement address that I carry with me: Hazard, Yet Forward. This is the University’s motto, as well as the motto of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton’s family. Hazard, Yet Forward. The hazards in life we can’t control; the forwards, we can.

    Seton Hill is a wonderful and strong community of faith, and there is no better family to be around during a time of hardship than a community of faith.

    God Bless and Go Forward!

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    I have so many wonderful mothers in my life, many of whom make me a better mom!

    Of course, those of us with young children know that each day we get a hug from our children, it’s Mother’s Day. And for all mothers, if you are able to call and talk to your children, (or if you are able to call and talk to your mom) you are blessed.

    And even when we can’t be with our moms, they are with us. Like, right now I am hearing in my head my mom’s voice: “You need to get to sleep. You’ve had a long weekend and you need to take care of yourself for those two boys who need you.”

    My mom would be the first person to tell you that I don’t always listen to her…but I am going to tonight. I will share more of my weekend later this week, as it was a very moving and meaningful time for me. But right now, MOM’s the word!

    Good night and Happiest of Days to all Mothers!

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