Having grown up in a tiny town in the Texas Panhandle, Erin O’Connor French speculates that her family members were the only Notre Dame fans within 500 miles. Maybe that’s why she’s always cheered for the school so loudly—to be sure she was heard. Her father was a 1950 alum, and she was determined to follow in his footsteps. Fortunately, by the time she was old enough, the school was coed and could accommodate her ambition. Even the snowstorm that dumped four feet of snow the day she visited didn’t deter her. Her father tried to assure her that the weather was not always so inhospitable. “You’ll love it anyway,” he told her. “Are you kidding?” she answered. “I love it now!”
And that’s how it’s always been. French graduated with an accountancy degree and went to work for a Big Eight firm. When her first baby (Michael French ’07) arrived, she put aside her travel-heavy career as an auditor to be a stay-at-home mom. She remembers people asking if she felt like she was wasting her Notre Dame education. “My reaction always has been and always will be no,” she says, “because it impacts who I am as much as what I do in a workforce. It’s that whole educational experience that changed my life.”
Today, she brings that education to bear on her work in the curriculum department of a large, forward-thinking school district outside of Dallas. She also brings the full force of her enthusiasm and energy to bear as president-elect of the Notre Dame Alumni Association. “Since I’ve graduated, I’ve been involved with the alumni club,” she says. “I’ve been able to go to high schools and visit with kids who are thinking about Notre Dame, telling them about the ND family.
“It’s part of who I am,” she says. “I can’t imagine myself without the Notre Dame tag.”
French says that she was not only thrilled, but surprised by her election to lead the alumni association. “My hope as the advisory board president elect/president is to help our incredible staff in leading our loyal and involved alumni in representing Notre Dame and to increase our effectiveness in reaching and engaging all alumni.”