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Senior Story 2021: Physics Major Accelerates Toward Law School
May 12, 2021

Name: Meg McDonough

Hometown: Helotes, Texas

Major: Physics, Concentration in Ethics

Notable UD Memories/Achievements: “Where could I even begin? I have four years of memories, and I can’t possibly choose the best one. Some people might think I’m evading the question; they might be right. Maybe the best ones aren’t meant to be published.”

Future Plans: Law School at the University of Texas at Austin

This is the first in a series of 10 stories that will be published to highlight the achievements of some of our seniors in the Class of 2021.

When deciding which college to attend, Meg McDonough, BS ’21, was determined to forge her own path and therefore set on not attending the University of Dallas. McDonough’s parents met at UD, and her two older siblings are proud alumni as well. However, despite her desire for finding her own way in the world, McDonough visited the campus and fell in love with UD’s “central focus on classical texts, which are rejected by other schools for their lack of utility.”

When McDonough started at UD, she intended to major in either mathematics or physics. She chose physics and remained vigilant through the “long hours in the Science Building basement,” to the extent that her friends jokingly wondered, “Does Meg live down there?” To balance her time spent studying physics, McDonough took political philosophy classes so as to “not get lost in the world of abstract equations.”

McDonough’s favorite class was Philosophy of Being with Associate Professor of Philosophy Chad Engelland, Ph.D. The class combined her “two favorite loves,” physics and philosophy, particularly when discussing the cause and reason for being itself. McDonough remembers sitting down to write her first paper for this class, addressing the prompt, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” and being utterly overwhelmed by the enormity of the question. 

“Such questions cross every person’s mind at some point in their existence,” she said. “I had the privilege to study and discuss them in the light of the greatest thinkers of Western civilization, guiding me to reach true answers to the biggest questions about reality.”

McDonough would like to express her gratitude to Associate Professor of English Brett Bourbon, Ph.D., for transforming her view on the value of literature and her ability to write through his LitTrad I course.

“Through Dr. Bourbon, I learned to see objectivity in the discipline of English, which I had previously thought a kind of scam,” she said. 

During McDonough’s time at UD, she served in Student Government for two years, as a senator and then treasurer. She also has been a member of and helped to lead the Pre-Law Society throughout her time at UD. McDonough is additionally a proud member of the PB and Jammers band, which has performed every semester of her undergraduate years with the exception of spring 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

McDonough is grateful for her UD education for a “plethora of reasons,” which include her Rome experience, increased knowledge and love of learning, strengthened faith, and perhaps above all, the friends she made. When reflecting upon each of these gratitudes, McDonough recognizes that the ability to travel abroad while studying the greatest playwrights, philosophers, politicians and artists in both the classroom and in their own native places is a remarkable experience. 

“I still find difficulty encapsulating it into words,” she confided. 

Prior to attending UD, McDonough admits that she found the study of philosophy and literature “utterly useless and in some senses illegitimate.” 

“Now, though, I realize that the humanities are rather aptly named, because they help one to live a more fulfilling human life,” she explained. “And beyond the true depth of knowledge that I’ve gained at UD, I am extraordinarily grateful for the friendships I’ve made here.” 

McDonough is attending University of Texas Austin Law School in the fall. When asked why a physics major is choosing the legal route, McDonough answered, “Physics is fascinating, but I didn’t want to pursue it as a career.” She chose to apply to law school because at some point she would like to become a religious liberty litigator. Though McDonough is not sure which type of law she would like to practice after law school, she is excited to open the many doors in her future.

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