Notre Dame University(NDU) and Why everyone thinks I went to college there… but only in my dreams!

Written by John McElligott

My Notre Dame University (NDU) story goes back to the 4th grade at St. Ann’s and includes my best friend, Joe O’Neil. Joe and I became good friends and altar boys at the church starting in the 3rd grade with Latin classes. We later found out what wine tasted like when we began serving mass. Anyway, I loved serving mass. Later, I loved staying at Joe’s house and being looked after by Momma Tish and Oscar. Momma made the meals and Oscar took us anywhere we were allowed to go…mostly the Country Club.

It was like going to heaven when staying with the O’Neil’s at  their house on Cuthburt Ave. Well, one day out of the blue, my dad had 2 tickets to the NDU vs SMU in Dallas. NDU won and after the game, I ran down to the bench and a player threw me a Jersey # 99 (must have been a practice Jersey, Gold with Blue letters). Joe and I tried to find out who was #99, but we were never successful. The next year we played on the 7th and 8th Grade football team at St. Ann’s as 5th graders. Joe was tall and I was fast so we were sent in from time to time. Now the #99 jersey when tucked in my football pants looked like 00, but I loved that jersey and my one season with Joe, Marty Buckley and a future star fullback, Paul Shaneau at MHS.

So, then I moved on to public school after being expelled in the 5th grade along with Harry Miller. But, my love for NDU never left me…In fact, since 2005 I have remained connected. See the story below.

Michael Torres was just under 2 years old when I met him. His mother was a faculty member at the Medical School campus in El Paso Tx and she taught several of my classes in 1985. We became friends and remain so  to this day. Michael and I met at a football game at UTEP when he kept drooling on my hand playing with me. Little did I know he would become a Marine following 9/11 and give his life for our country.

According to Michael’s mother, Rosanna, she woke up the the night  of July 3rd and had a premonition that Michael was gone. That would have been July 4th in Fallujah Iraq. This is not an uncommon story, one often told by mother’s who have lost a child in war.

Michael Torres, 21, 3rd Battalion, 7 Marines died while conducting security and stability operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Simper Fi and God Bless!!!!

When I found out LCPL Michael Torres, USMC, lost his life in Iraq on July 4th 2004 , the first person I called was Joe O’Neil. By this time, I was working as a Doctor, and I decided to start a scholarship at NDU and put Michael’s name on it so his name will never be forgotten.

Joe made a call and NDU was in El Paso setting up a scholarship in Michael’s name that was an extravaganza to Cathedral High School, an all boy’s school and nearby all girls Catholic School. 

So with the help of Joe O’Neill we have been able to fund many kids from the El Paso area of Texas. I get letters from each recipient and I send it to Michael Torre’s mother,Rossana, and keep a file in my office when ever I need a pick me upper. Hooking up with NDU was the best thing I ever did. I just wish I had more money to give.

Thank you Joe!! and NDU!!!


The USMC Lance Corporal Michael S. Torres Memorial Scholarship Fund was established in 2005 to provide financial assistance to Notre Dame students are from the greater El Paso Texas or Buffalo New York regions and are of Hispanic heritage.

Over these years it has provided over $88,000 in scholarship funding to seven individual students to support them while they earned their degrees from the University of Notre Dame. By the end of 2021, it will likely have served 10 individual students with over $100,000 in scholarship funding. To learn more about Notre Dame and Notre Dame scholarships, please visit the link to the ND website or alternately the link to the ND Development webpage.

Michael was a student at Cathedral High School in El Paso TX.  He was a starter on the football team and was very good at his position. When 911 occurred Michael dropped what he was doing and Joined the USMC. 

One thought on “Notre Dame University(NDU) and Why everyone thinks I went to college there… but only in my dreams!

  1. John McElligott HM2 USN FMF February 22, 2021 / 9:26 am

    Well I am proud of Michael and what he has stood for even though we never met as adults. As a Corpsman with the USMC for 3 years, 8months, 20 days and 3 hours I can say to Michael Simper Fi hope to see you soon. And by the way your mother and NDU will never forget you and what you did for our Country. In addition as a water drinkers we will donate in Your Honor frequently to assist Midland’s finest who seek a Trade School education and certification. Also many of these recipients will be Veterans and as a veteran who became a welder this is what separates the men form the boys!!.

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