Fellow Jim O’Connell earns Rhodes Scholarship

Brooke Metz
Old Gold & Black (Wake Forest Student Newspaper)

It’s only been a few months since Wake Forest graduate Jim O’Connell received his diploma, but in that brief amount of time, he has already achieved great success.

Most recently, O’Connell earned the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.

His dedication to leadership and openness to learning from others have paved the way for his success, both at the university and in an array of other endeavors.

“Seldom have I met a young person with a more inquisitive mind or wider range of intellectual interests,” said President Nathan O. Hatch. “Jim is also a tremendous ‘relater’ to other people, and he reaches out in deliberate and effective ways to better understand a subject or an individual.”

As an undergraduate, O’Connell immersed himself in various campus activities and groups in which he could have a positive impact.

“Jim’s receiving the Rhodes is testament to the kind of leader he is, someone whose own intellectual and ethical reflections time and again inspire others,” said Tom Phillips, director of the Wake Forest scholars program.  “Jim has a strong curiosity about the world combined with an ardent desire to serve that world.”

He inspired his fraternity brothers to excel in academics by serving as Sigma Chi Fraternity scholarship chair and enforced university rules and values as co-chair of the Honor and Ethics Council.

During his senior year, he was chosen to represent the student body as Student Trustee for the Wake Forest Board of Trustees.Through these leadership roles, O’Connell embodied the spirit of Pro Humanitate and continues to do so even after graduation by serving as a fellow in the Office of the President this year.

Though his inherent ability to lead has enabled him to influence many people at the university, O’Connell attributes his own success to others. He names his mother as the most influential person in his life.

“When I went to college, she always encouraged me to take chances and grow from every experience, be it a success or a failure,” he says. “With such a supportive person back home, it became progressively easier to take risks.”

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