Senior Stephen Schafer, the University’s first salutatorian in 45 years, said he never had a preconceived notion of what he was going to do during the four years leading up to graduation.“I would say if anything defines my time at Notre Dame, it would be embracing uncertainty and diving into unknown places,” he said.Hugh Page, vice president and associate provost, dean of the First Year of Studies and chair of the valedictorian selection committee, said naming a salutatorian allows the University to “recognize in a more formal way two outstanding seniors” who will “represent the virtues and ideals animating a Notre Dame undergraduate education.”Schafer, a native of Edgewood, Kentucky, has a 4.00 cumulative grade point average and will graduate with degrees in finance and economics, according to a University press release. Schafer was also a Malpass Scholar, a merit-based award that provides students with the opportunity to learn and be involved with the process of managing the University’s endowment, the press release said.Schafer was a project leader for the Student International Business Council (SIBC) and Investment Club and a senior mentor for the Wall Street Club, the press release said. He spent the summer of 2013 studying abroad in China and participated in the two-week Ireland Inside Track program in the summer of 2014.After graduation, Schafer has plans to travel to Asia and Europe, he said. He will then go to work in investment banking at Goldman Sachs in New York City, where he interned during his undergraduate career.Before college, Schafer said he knew he wanted to go into finance, but he did not know what type of job he wanted to do.“I think that I came in and was open to a wide variety of experiences and took part in a lot of different events, a lot of different clubs,” he said. “Through that, I was able to experience basically everything in finance from wealth management to sales and trading, to investment banking and private equity.”Schafer said he learned early on how to manage his time efficiently and effectively.“I hit my athletic prime back in seventh grade — and since then, I started focusing on academics,” he said with a laugh. “If I wanted to just get away, I do that by studying.”A defining part of his time at Notre Dame, Schafer said, was his friendships with Notre Dame football players Sheldon Day and Ronnie Stanley.“We all met freshman year and ended up becoming roommates,” Schafer said. “… Last week, both of them got drafted into the NFL, and I was named salutatorian. … It’s a uniquely Notre Dame story.”Schafer said he strove to divide his time equally between his academics and his social life.“A lot of it just comes down to time management, which I think I did very successfully throughout college,” he said. “It may have been at the sacrifice of some sleep, but I would say I have a pretty balanced life in terms of going out and going to sporting events and what not.“ … Throughout my time here, it was more like I was jumping into everything — and wherever it takes me, it takes me,” he said. “It’s something I’m very happy I did and something I want to continue to do.”Tags: Commencement 2016, salutatorian, Stephen Schafer
“Any Given Saturday” runs on Thursdays, ironically. To explain to Nick how this makes no sense, or comment on this column, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit dailytrojan.com. The best movie ever is Remember the Titans. This is an indisputable fact and I will not waste another millimeter of column space discussing it. There is a great scene in the movie where coach Herman Boone (played by the one and only Denzel Washington) is meeting his team for the first time. Coach Boone asks his running back why he is smiling. The player responds, “Because football is fun.” Boone then intimidates the player to the point that he changes his mind, and says football is “Zero fun, sir.”That’s sort of how I’ve felt about the USC football team, especially the last two years. Now, I don’t think former coach Lane Kiffin (that’s still strange to say) intimidated his players — quite the opposite, in fact. But I do believe he created a culture where football was indeed “zero fun.” Or at least close to it.When Athletic Director Pat Haden introduced Ed Orgeron as the interim head coach on Sunday, the two men used the word “fun” at least six times (by my count) in their 20-or-so minutes at the podium. I doubt I would need two hands to count how many times I heard Kiffin say “fun” in almost four years here.“This is a game of fun and joy,” Haden said Sunday. “And one of the things we’re looking for is for Ed [Orgeron] to bring that fun and joy back into the game of college football.”Haden’s choice of Orgeron as interim head coach was calculated, obviously, but calculated in part specifically for this purpose. He is, in many ways, the polar opposite of Kiffin.Orgeron is dynamic and engaging with the media. Kiffin was reserved and often appeared bored. Orgeron yells, and yells a lot. When his players mess up, they get quite the earful. Kiffin was rarely animated with anyone besides referees. Someone joked that Orgeron wouldn’t even need to re-open practices to the media because we would be able to hear him from outside of the fence well enough. The media often had to ask Kiffin to speak up, because you still couldn’t hear him even when the microphone was inches from his face.“I’m gonna have some energy and excitement,” Orgeron said when asked about his sideline demeanor. “High-fiving guys, having fun. All the things I love to do.”This is, of course, in stark contrast to Kiffin, who generally stood 20 yards upfield from the action, head buried in his laminated playsheet. Of course, as the offensive playcaller this is only natural: it’s a better view of the game. But Kiffin was the head coach too, and you just never got that feeling during games. It was like sometimes he forgot that there was an actual competition taking place right in front of him because he was too engrossed in his playbook to notice.Much fun has been made about Kiffin’s official USC bio, which claims that he was “known for his high football IQ, as well as for being a master playcaller,” given USC’s recent offensive ineptitude. But I don’t actually think that claim is false. Kiffin does have a tremendous coaching mind, and I believe he would still make a fairly good offensive coordinator. But the fact is, some people just aren’t cut out to be head coaches.When you have a moment, look up “Pete Carroll USC practice,” or something like that, on YouTube. What do you see? Will Ferrell, April Fools jokes, singing — hell, he’s literally playing the piano in one of them. If you really want to see something, check out “USC Trojans Slip’N Slide at practice” on YouTube. That’s an offensive and a defensive assistant coach having a Slip’N Slide competition to settle that day’s winner of practice.I understand that Uncle Pete was an anomaly, and I’m not saying that Kiffin should have learned to play the piano. But I think the most excited I’ve ever seen a USC player at a Lane Kiffin practice was former offensive lineman Matt Kalil running around after a practice and shouting about the “ice cream and cookies” the offense had just earned in the hotel that night. And that was one time. USC football practices under Kiffin were indescribably lifeless.And that translated to the games. Think of the Trojan sideline as things began to unravel in the third quarter at Arizona State last Saturday. There was no sense of fight or drive — just a sort of resignation. And I don’t think I even need to talk about the Sun Bowl.It’s safe to say that the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will have a fresh feeling to it in a week when USC hosts Arizona. That goes for both fans and players.“I want our guys to believe and have a little fun,” Orgeron said in his introductory press conference. “Have some fun for these next eight games and let the chips fall where they may.”For those in the Coliseum, it just might be fun to be at a USC football game again. And I’m not only talking about the fans.