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Richie O’Connell, Class of 2010

Posted: 7/26/2017

Richie O’Connell is an alumnus of Holy Spirit Prep Class of 2010. Richie matriculated at the University of Georgia where he became a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity and got involved with the Student Government Association. Through his experience in SGA, Richie was selected to join the Student Alumni Council where he sponsored several popular initiatives for students while working closely with the UGA Alumni Association. Richie credits much of his success at UGA to the social experiences at Holy Spirit Prep. 

“At HSP, I learned to value my community and surround myself with positive influences. HSP also taught me to take initiative and that initiative is something that will be rewarded.”

Richie currently resides in Washington D.C. where he works as a Research Assistant with the House Natural Resources Committee. His committee focuses on management of public lands and mineral, water, and ocean resources, specifically federal fisheries management and Western water and power infrastructure. He attributes his interest in political policy to Ms. Stedman, his AP U.S. Government and AP U.S. History teacher.

“She encouraged debate and always challenged my viewpoints. I learned that any understanding about our present is incomplete without an understanding of our past. I tend to think in black and white terms, and Ms. Stedman was the first one who demonstrated the value of shades of gray.”

Something that Richie values most about his Holy Spirit education was the emphasis placed on learning through debate and discussion of ideas, not shying away from the tough issues. Richie believes that in his field, he has ample opportunities to serve God and others directly through his work. His spiritual foundation was fostered during his time at Holy Spirit Prep.

“The approach to the spiritual life was unique at Holy Spirit. It was one that interwove a spiritual aspect into everyday life. I was always one to ask ‘why’ and question things I was expected to accept, and HSP religious education spent considerable time explaining why we believed certain things.”

Because Richie lives in Washington D.C., he is not able to visit Atlanta as often as he would like. Despite living far from home, Richie is still able to stay connected with the friends he made during his time as a student at Holy Spirit Prep.

“The great thing about being a part of such a tight-knit community was that my friends were also close family friends so I still am able to see many of them at holidays. When I see my old friends, I’m always astounded by the fact that we seem to pick up right where we left off almost instantly.” 

When asked what his plans are for the future, Richie had a unique answer, “To be totally honest, I have no idea. For now I’m taking it one day at a time, but I don’t think I’ll be one to stay in D.C. forever. I will say, though, that I’ve seriously kicked around the idea of opening a barbecue restaurant one day.”