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CPS Convocation Speaker, Sean O'Donnell '17


Sean O'Donnell CPS '17 (right) recently spoke during the College of Professional Studies Convocation Ceremony during Commencement Weekend. O'Donnell recently completed his BIS in Leadership after 9 years. He shares is thoughts and experience below . . . 

Good morning.

Thank you to the College of Professional Studies, Dean Tyksinski, Assistant Dean Kearney, Father Fitzgerald, Reverend Sheetz-Willard, professors, my wife Jennifer, my family, colleagues and, a very special, heartfelt thanks to my classmates, the Class of 2017.  Over the years you’ve played an important role in my life—

It is my honor to speak with you this morning as we celebrate our success, and for our final time together this year, we embrace the hopes and dreams of our future journey.

175 years ago, our University was founded by Irish, Augustinian priests interested in establishing a school, specifically for immigrants.  As we celebrate this important anniversary, I can truly say, that if it weren’t for these Augustinians, I would not be standing here in front of you today.  My heritage, my path through the military, challenging jobs and 8 years of school in addition to working everyday are steps on my critical path of success.

As it was for the Augustinians, and the early days at Villanova, I think we can all agree that this has not been a simple, straight line of education, growth and success. Despite many challenges along the way, Villanovans, born from the Augustinian vision, never lose sight of the mission, faith potential or key values. Neither have we. For me and for many of us it has been a zigzag through military service, family, and work experience, to become who we are today.  Prior to starting my education here at Villanova, I served 4 years in the United States Air Force and worked at Villanova for 9 years. During my time serving in the Air Force, I learned many lessons about leadership and what a strong leader can do for an organization. The ability to inspire others, to be selfless for the greater good are skills that I learned and mastered through experience. Underlying my experience were the three Air Force core values: “Integrity first, service before self, excellence in all we do “fundamental keys to success in any endeavor.  Without these instilled values which provided me a “magnetic North”. I wouldn’t be here with you today.   

I served with many people who inspired me to be a better person and urged me to continue on the path to being a leader.  Being a young man in the military showed me what a true professional really was and prepared me for future challenges in my life, like persevering for eight years to complete my degree here at Villanova. 

And let’s not forget the important role family plays in our lives, helping us to establish our values. Teaching us right from wrong as children, helping us to learn to learn and grow through adolescence, all to establish a stronger sense of self as adults. Strengthening the points on the moral compass of life.

Having a strong moral compass means being trustworthy, acting with integrity and honor, caring for others and always working towards the greater good. Like most people, our moral compass is formed and molded by our experiences.  We all come from different backgrounds and situations but we are all here today, together, all having shared this Villanova journey principled by Villanova values.    

At the center of everything, is the moral compass. Without a moral compass, we wouldn’t be anywhere.  My education at Villanova required me to maintain an honest orientation of my moral compass, the orientation established 175 years ago. It has and will always help me to head in the right direction.

As we start a new chapter, values like those learned in the USAF and our Villanova cardinal headings of life; the Villanova Values- Veritas-truth, Unitas-unity, Caritas-charity will stay with us forever. Those Augustinian priests would be proud of what we have done today.  They would be proud knowing that we upheld their high moral standards and strong work ethic and that we are taking all of these classroom lessons and life lessons into our world and making it a better place.