December 22

Shelby Carroll ’19 MBA

Shelby Carroll ’19 EMBA recounts her first days at the University and the unexpected welcome she received from a Notre Dame legend, Professor Emil T. Hofman.

“No matter how my day went, Professor Hofman always made my day brighter. He saw the beauty in all the life around him, and each moment was precious to him. I continued to stop and talk to him for about a year until he passed away in July 2015 at the age of 94. I always assumed ND was a unique and welcoming place, but he was one of those people that reinforced this for me. We are all busy, but when you stop to reflect, laugh, or love, your days are often more impactful to those around you. It was a perfect reminder that holiness is everywhere, and if you stop to recognize it, your day can completely change.”

In this Advent season of light, I hope that others see the beauty of each day. God’s love is everywhere and in every interaction. This is key to Jesus’ message to us — to embrace every moment with love and faith and leave the rest to him.



  1. “reflect, laugh and love.” These 3 words sure say a lot. They are North Stars in there own right. Also, I was recently exposed to the idea that one might Pray with just 4 words . Namely: Yes(as in Mary’s let it be done unto me). Thank You. Help. These 4 words may be sent out into the cosmos directly from the heart.
    I somehow received a C+ from Emil T. I felt proud of it when I once read that a Nobel Prize winner flunked Emil’s class initially and retook, and later was awarded a Nobel Prize. Many curious paths we travel. I am glad there are so many who act like Emil and Shelby.

  2. Shelby your spirit is such a bright light and I agree, the value of a smile and a kind word is immeasurable. Thank you for reminding me it is in every one of us to shine.
    Merry Christmas!

  3. Shelby,
    I love your story. I was one of Dr. Hofman’s thousands of grateful students, Class of ‘70. I had numerous wonderful mini-reunions with Dr. Hofman at the same bench. He was such a generous and caring influence on so many. I recall our last visit in Fall, 2014 at the same bench, when he met my daughter and was just as interested and gracious to her. Love Thee Notre Dame.

  4. Wonderful reflection. These “little” things” in life like what you’re talking about aren’t little at all. God Bless you this Advent season.

  5. Thank you for your heartfelt and thoughtful message. You’ve made my day and inspired me to spread the joy I felt in your message. God bless and Merry Christmas!

  6. Shelby
    I had Professor Hofman for freshman chemistry in 1956.
    While I would have to admit it was with mixed results. I had to repeat the class and it would directly result in my becoming an electrical engineer! After graduation I worked for General Motors for 40 years in various engineering and IT assignments. I happened to see him in his Field Office on day around 2010 so I stopped and introduced myself and told him about my 1956 experience and EE. He smiled in his grandfatherly way and asked, “How did that turn out?”
    So I related my career story.
    He said “good”. I thanked him for introducing me to learning technology and to appreciate it.
    I still do.
    He had the touch.
    All the best.
    Love and Prayers.

  7. Shelby, you got to meet Emil T!! He was our Freshmen Dean of students and I will never forget the Friday Barbecues ( and his Friday quizzes). He truly helped the “new” ND population- women, feel like we belonged at this great place.
    Thank you for sharing your chance encounter.

  8. Shelby, I loved your sacred story! Thank you for sharing it. You exude joy, and you are wise beyond your years. The mental visual of you and Professor Hofman engaged in conversation, sharing wisdom and joy that spanned the divide of the many years between you, is a beautiful one. It reminds me that friends can be made in the most unusual of places and circumstances because as you so eloquently said, God is in the middle of every encounter. May God bless you for blessing the life of Professor Hofman with your friendship, and for now blessing others this Advent season by sharing this sweet story of how your lives came together on the ND campus. Eternal rest grant unto Emil, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

  9. Thank you Shelby and all who shared their Faith Stories…………..I looked forward each day to hearing and reflecting on each story. I hope you do this next Advent as well. Blessings, Nancy Byrnes

  10. Shelby, a beautiful reflection. Your interaction with Professor Hofmann obviously gave you great joy, and thank you for sharing with us. Have a blessed Christmas.

  11. Your reflection brought tears to my eyes. How many people do I walk by day after day without engaging them. You were brave enough to step out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself. Who knows who that next friend will be? Merry Christmas from Fort Worth Texas

  12. Thank you for your awesome message. Also special was that Emil T Hoffman was my chemistry lab professor in 1960 as pasrt of the class of ‘64. You’ve made my day!❤️

  13. Shelby, what a beautiful tribute to “Emil T.” as we undergraduate students called him in the 1960’s. I’m so happy you got to know him. I’m sure he appreciated your kind concern. I had him for freshman Chemistry in 62 – 63. I was one heck of a teacher. Thanks for your message which brought joy to my Advent season.

  14. Thank you Shelby for your beautiful & so true Advent sharing. Oh yes….my St Eds pre-med hall mates had many Emil T stories. Think how many now medical professionals learned organic chemistry from him. God Bless him. Patrick ND ‘72

  15. Shelby, I too was a student of Dr. Hoffman in 1974 and I too was blessed to great him on that bench many years later. You created a great message inspired by a humble kind man.

  16. My mom (‘82) and I (‘12) were walking around campus one day after I graduated. We ran into Emil and he goes, “oh hi katie krag, Farley hall room 213”. She was his TA, but we still couldn’t believe he remembered her all those years later. It is something special my mom and I will always remember. Thank you for sharing

  17. Shelby thanks for the memories of Dr Hofman. My wife was born and raised in South Bend right on ND Ave, blocks from the campus. In my visits back to campus I would chat with him at his bench . Now that he’s gone I still sit at his bench for a “chat” with him. He grew up in the same town I did— Paterson NJ. Although we were a decade apart we always reminisced about playing in the same ball fields as kids so long ago.

  18. I’m so happy you got to know dear Dr Hofmann!! He was Dean of Freshman Studies and my chemistry professor ’74-‘75. I still have my “deliver us from Emil” tee shirt. Besides my own parents, I don’t think anyone cared more deeply about my Notre Dame experience. He went out of his way to get to know thousands of his students and he had that rare ability to make each of us feel special. To him, each of us WAS special. I too encountered him years later in his field office and I had the honor of buying him a strawberry milkshake from the Huddle. What a lovely afternoon that was! How wonderful that you had many such afternoons!

  19. Shelby,
    You truly found a legend in Dr. Hofman. Our history goes back decades…to his tenure as Dean of First Year of Studies and the time when professors could take students (females!) out to lunch without red flags. Dr. Hofman knew my then-boyfriend as one of his best-ever students (I was absolutely NOT in that category) and counseled me, “The most important decision you’ll make in life is not what your major will be, but who your spouse will be.” My husband and I often smile and appreciate his wisdom, 40+ years of married bliss since.
    Laurie Krcmaric

  20. Shelby,
    Thank you for your beautiful story. As a busy business man, I find your words inspiring – to slow down, to reflect, laugh and love, and realize how these acts can impact others around you. Enjoy every moment of your Holiday Season.

  21. Terrific story, Shelby…as a freshman in 1980, I can still remember the chants of “EMIL! EMIL! EMIL!” echoing across the courtyard between Dillon and Alumni (my) halls on the Thursday night before our first Friday quiz…and I can still remember having breakfast at the Morris Inn three and a half years later with Emil T and a group of friends as we readied ourselves for graduation and the great big world awaiting us. His was a shining example of the Spirit which infused us during those wondrous years at ND. It’s often said “God works in mysterious ways” – indeed. Thank you so much for bringing a smile to my face, and a joyous tear to my eye.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *