Saint John's Magazine Summer/Fall 2018

Page 14

By Dave DeLand


As he grappled with his thoughts and pored over the words of his impending commencement address, Denis McDonough was reminded of a nervous kid who showed up at Saint John’s University three decades earlier carrying a suitcase filled with doubts. That 18-year-old kid was Denis McDonough. Was he good enough? Was he smart enough? Could he make the grade? “I still love going back and reliving all those memories,” said McDonough, 48, who since his 1992 graduation has thoroughly dispelled those qualms. “Turns out that Saint John’s prepares you to succeed,” he said.

“You have to stop worrying about whether you can do it and get on with doing it.” That was just part of McDonough’s message for the Saint John’s Class of 2018 during his May 13 commencement address at the Abbey Church. It’s a message McDonough has lived, through an auspicious and rewarding career at the highest levels of public, national and global service that has taken him from Collegeville to the White House and beyond. “Denis stuck to his values,” said 1992 classmate Matt Lindstrom, CSB/SJU professor of political science and director of the Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement. “He has that conviction. He didn’t just jump on the train that was the popular one.”

Intellect. Diligence.


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