HGP alum Robert McDonough awarded a Fulbright scholarship
La Salle University senior Robert McDonough ’13 was home on spring break in mid-March when the life-changing email from the Fulbright Scholars program arrived in his inbox.
“I think I told my mom that it would just be better if she sat down and read the email herself than for me to try to tell her,” McDonough recalls.
McDonough has been selected for the highly competitive Fulbright Scholars program and will leave in October for Austria, where he will stay until June of 2018. While there, McDonough, who is earning a degree in economics with minors in mathematics and German this spring, will spend the next academic year studying the relationship between Austrian translator Nora Wydenbruck and famous 20th century Austrian poet Christine Lavant at the Alpen-Adria Universität Klagenfurt in southern Austria.
A former HGP forensics standout who was a 2013 state champion and a fourth-place finisher at the 2013 CFL National tournament in extemporaneous speaking, McDonough credits Holy Ghost Prep with laying the groundwork that ultimately resulted in him being named a Fulbright scholar.
“Holy Ghost was a true college prep school. I entered my freshman year at La Salle with some idea that I wanted to study economics, but only because I’d taken a phenomenal AP Economics course as a junior at Holy Ghost,” says McDonough. “But for Holy Ghost, I may never have found my calling. More directly related to the Fulbright, and I’m not overstating this: I would not have earned this Fulbright without the foundation I built at Holy Ghost.”
McDonough’s research project is “An Analysis of Translator and Author: Lessons from Wydenbruck and Lavant.” Wydenbruck translated a handful of Lavant’s short stories and fiction, and the two maintained a unique relationship and friendship. One of Lavant’s works which was thought to be lost was later published in 2001, after the original German manuscript was discovered in Wydenbruck’s literary estate.
The Fulbright award also includes a teaching component, so McDonough will also be an English teaching assistant in a secondary school in Klagenfurt.
“I'll be in the classroom for around 15 hours a week teaching English to native Austrians,” McDonough says.
Following his time as a Fulbright student, McDonough hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in economics. He has already been accepted into the programs at the University of Oregon and SUNY Buffalo.
“The work that I did in and out of class at Holy Ghost gave me the foundation I needed to take advantage of every opportunity that La Salle had to offer. I learned to think critically and express myself effectively at Holy Ghost,” says McDonough. “Also, without the teachers and mentors that I found at Ghost, I would never have developed the mental strength to pursue something like a Fulbright.
“If I had to boil it down to one sentence: The community at Holy Ghost not only started me on this path, they gave me the tools to reach the end.”