WHEN LOOKING BACK AT HIS 13 YEARS spent at St. Bonaventure’s College, Michael O’Keefe ’13 credits the school for helping to shape him – “The person I am today, all aspects of my life, were shaped in some way by my time at St. Bon’s – to always be open when encountering new people, tackling challenges, pursuing new goals.”
Michael headed to Memorial University after graduating from St. Bon’s, as a MUN Alumni Scholar. Michael’s love of music, which he developed during his time at St. Bon’s through his involvement with the Music Program, has led him to pursue a Bachelor of Music degree with a double major in Trumpet Performance and Musicology. Michael has also been busy performing with several ensembles at the School of Music. He is currently a member of the Chamber Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Brass Ensemble, and is a founding member of the MUN Trumpet Ensemble. He also has been a member of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra since 2016.
Michael has been making the most of his time at Memorial University by taking on several leadership roles. He has served on the Senate of Memorial University and the Memorial University Students’ Union Board of Directors since 2014. In these roles, he has served on the Search Committee for the Dean of the School of Music, the Ad Hoc Committee on Senate Reform and the Senate Committee on Honorary Degrees and Ceremonials. Because of this work, he had the opportunity to represent the University nationally at the Universities Canada Converge 2017 conference to discuss what Canada can become in the next 50 years. He was also selected as one of 10 Canadian and 10 American university students to attend the Fulbright Canada Youth Institute on Canada in the World and is currently co-authoring a publication on the future of Canadian foreign policy and Canada-US relations.
Michael has also made a point to continue the St. Bon’s tradition of being (removed the “a”) Men and Women for Others. “The emphasis at St. Bon’s of being a Man or Woman for Others and being engaged in service is instilled in you at a really young age. It’s a really important part of everyone’s life who graduates from St. Bon’s.” Michael volunteers weekly at St. Patrick’s Mercy Home, and has taken two humanitarian trips, one to Haiti and one to the Dominican Republic. His work as a Research Assistant with Dr. Jane Gosine also illustrates his commitment to being a Man for Others. The projects he has worked on focus on creating inclusive musical spaces for vulnerable members of the community to improve their health and quality of life.
“Keep putting yourself in the right places.” This is advice that Michael would give to the current students of St. Bonaventure’s College, and was advice given to him by one of the administrators at Memorial University. For Michael, it means “opportunity breeds opportunities – don’t hesitate to say yes to things even if they feel out of your comfort zone.” In the four years since Michael graduated from St. Bon’s, that is exactly what he has done, and it has paid off. Shortly after Michael was interviewed for this piece, he was named the 2018 Rhodes Scholar-Elect for Newfoundland and Labrador. After graduating from Memorial University this spring, he will head to the University of Oxford to pursue graduate studies in music and public policy.