Most students at Notre Dame love to joke that they “bleed blue and gold,” but sophomore Jimmy Maher quite literally has Notre Dame blood coursing through his veins. “Jimmy” is short for James Vincent Maher V, who is the fourth generation of Maher men to attend Notre Dame.
The first James Vincent Maher was unable to attend college due to financial difficulties, but his brother-in-law, Raymond Burns graduated from Notre Dame as a part of the class of 1902. The following three James Vincent Mahers graduated near the top of their classes in 1926, 1964, and 1993, respectively.
After James Vincent Maher II graduated from ND in 1926, he moved to New York with his wife to start a family. One of his children went to Saint Mary’s, graduating in the class of 1972, while another of his children, James Vincent Maher III, began his Notre Dame career in 1960, when Notre Dame was an all men’s college.
JVM III was a junior in Dillon when he first met Angie Braunstein on a blind date to the Saint Mary’s Junior Prom. Braunstein recalled, “We had a great date, but did not see each other again until the following year as seniors.” The pair quickly fell in love, and after graduating in 1964, they moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where they had two children, both of whom went to Notre Dame. The first-born daughter, Robin, met her husband during her time at Notre Dame. Robin’s husband, a residential assistant, also happened to oversee her brother’s section in Dillon Hall.
Robin Maher and her husband have four kids, two of whom have also attended Notre Dame (Jack Maier ‘21 and Tom Maier ‘24). While Robin’s brother, James Vincent Maher IV, did not meet his wife at Notre Dame, he did meet her in Indiana — at Purdue University’s graduate school for civil engineering. Following their schooling, the couple moved to Houston, Texas, where James “Jimmy” Vincent Maher V was born and raised.
Growing up, Jimmy felt only distantly connected with Notre Dame. “Every year, my family would try to go to the Pitt/ND football game because my grandfather was the Provost at Pitt, and everyone had gone to Notre Dame, but for me, it was just kind of where my dad went to school,” said Jimmy.
When the time came for him to apply for college, Jimmy said his parents were “very understanding” about looking into different places. Jimmy was familiar with Notre Dame, but he did not always have his sights set on following in his family’s footsteps. “I had toured with my cousin Jack who was in O’Neill, which was great, but I was still hesitant [about applying]... because I didn’t want to do the same thing as everyone else [in my family].”
A major concern for Jimmy about attending Notre Dame was also the perception of legacies on college campuses. “I was scared to come because I didn’t want people to think I wasn’t deserving, but I truly feel everyone at Notre Dame deserves to be here,” Jimmy said.
Though Jimmy certainly has one of the longest ND bloodlines in the class of 2024, Notre Dame admissions have notably maintained a high proportion of legacy students: about 20% of every class are the children of alumni.
After much consideration, Jimmy finally realized that the University of Notre Dame was “a pretty cool place,” and decided to enroll for the fall of 2020. Jimmy was deciding between the University of Texas at Austin, where he received a scholarship, and Notre Dame. Ultimately, he chose Notre Dame for its international access and reputation, extensive academic opportunities and unique community. “I think a lot of what you’re paying for is the people... and the connections you make here. Anyone can buy a textbook online and study, but at Notre Dame, you can learn so much from the people around you,” said Jimmy.
Jimmy is currently a resident of Keough Hall, studying mechanical engineering in the College of Sciences. Looking back on his first year at Notre Dame, Jimmy feels confident that he made the right choice. When asked about his favorite memory of Notre Dame, Jimmy said, “I can’t limit it to just one! Every time I sit back and look at campus, all I can think of is how we are so blessed to be here.”
Although Notre Dame has been great for Jimmy, he does have one regret: sleeping through the legendary Clemson game. Sick and sleep-deprived, Jimmy chose to nap, instead of attending the game and woke up to fans storming the field on his TV. “Yeah, that was a bummer. I was sad to miss the game, especially because going to my first football game is where I finally felt like I belonged on campus,” said Jimmy.
Jimmy looks forward to continuing to develop himself as a scholar and a person over his next three years at Notre Dame. Eventually, Jimmy wants to have kids and continue the family legacy, adding “I want my kids to go where they want, but I will highly suggest going here.... I mean no place does it like Notre Dame.”
And no family does Notre Dame quite like the Mahers.