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Senior Story 2021: Reluctant English Major Gives Thanks for Life-Changing UD Education
May 26, 2021

Name: Patrick McNeely

Degree: English with Physics Minor

Hometown: Longview, Texas

Notable UD Memory: Creating a tradition of celebrating Christmas with a lot of eggnog and his friends before they all went home for winter break.

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

Though she was unable to attend, Patrick McNeely’s Canadian sister first put the University of Dallas on his radar. His interest in the school continued to rise thanks to cheerful friends and mentors he met through The Grade, a program for high school boys in San Antonio. He is indebted to their persistence in convincing him to attend UD.

Choosing English as his major actually came as a surprise to McNeely. He denied the possibility during his first couple of years on campus. However, after gaining some consistent and liberating self-knowledge, he realized it was the best direction for him and one he needed to take.

Without a doubt, his favorite class was Junior Poet. Associate Professor of English Andrew Osborn, Ph.D., took several eager English majors on a fast-paced journey through the incredible world of poetry. 

“I’m confident I’m a better man because of this class,” said McNeely. 

McNeely’s greatest undergraduate accomplishment was finishing his Senior Novel class in the midst of the first COVID semester. Despite being quarantined like the rest of the world, he completed an analysis and presentation of The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene.

Thanks to this book recommendation by Associate Professor and Chair of English Debra Romanick Baldwin, Ph.D., and her demanding teaching and encouragement to persevere with online education, this class positively changed his life.

“Patrick is a rare combination of humility and ebullience — always eager to improve, lively in discussion, and cheering everyone with his wonderful sense of humor,” said Romanick Baldwin.

“When I asked students to post a one-minute April Fool’s video to test out the online technology, Patrick’s was one of the funniest, combining his musical talent with an ability to poke fun at himself,” she added. “With such a character and such an education, how can he not succeed?”

McNeely also feels indebted to Professor of English Gerard Wegemer, Ph.D., for his wisdom, patience, kind advice and irreplaceable opportunities with the UD community. Wegemer’s Early Modern Literature class was especially fundamental to McNeely’s development as a UD student.

While at UD, McNeely made good use of the Wingren Study Center in Irving. This program provides men with spiritual direction and mentorship and is a popular hangout for many UD students. McNeely attended numerous talks and fellowships and still goes there for weekly spiritual direction.

Many know him as lead guitarist for The Screwtop Wobbegongs, who performed at Groundhog after winning The Battle of the Bands. He also represented the commuter students in Student Government, taught catechism at St. Luke’s parish in Irving for two years, and finally played rugby his senior year.

McNeely will miss the many great adventures he had with close friends. Believe it or not, he says, Irving is filled with many unique and exciting nooks and crannies to explore such as trails, canals and train bridges. If you’re blessed enough to find it, there’s also a shrine to Our Lady hidden near the old business building, which he and his friends would visit. 

McNeely plans to stay in the DFW area and find a way to serve others, with the possibility of becoming a firefighter; he is interested in municipal work and the trades. He loves Texas and sees no good reason to leave just yet.

“With patience, hard work and some creativity, I’d like to apply the practicality of physics in an environment aimed at serving other people, where I’d necessarily be required to apply the principles of an English major,” he said.

He concluded: “I’ve received many deep blessings from UD, and I don’t think I’ve experienced the full-fledged force of UD’s long-term effect. With a closer look into what’s really at stake in life, I’m eager to continue applying what I’ve learned here.”

 
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Oct 15, 2021

Teresa Merklin, MBA ’05, has worked for Lockheed Martin for nearly two decades. After beginning at the company in software management, she is now a fellow...

Oct 11, 2021

An interfaith dialogue on religious freedom moderated by University of Dallas President Jonathan J. Sanford, Ph.D., and featuring Archbishop Matti Warda of Erbil, Iraq, is now available.

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