All posts by Jonah Burns

Earning his wings: How senior Brad Biagiotti is maximizing his senior project experience

The month of May is always an exciting time for seniors. Most are selecting where they will spend their next 4 years, counting down days until graduation, and preparing for prom on the 17th. Another exciting time in May are the 2 weeks dedicated to Senior Project. These 2 weeks are given to seniors who would like expand their interests and do a range of projects. Projects ranging from building benches on campus to writing a children’s book and everything inbetween. This year, the Mount has several unique and amazing Senior Projects from the class of 2019. One of those projects are being done by Bradley Biagiotti.

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Senior Brad Biagiotti is spending his senior project learning the basics of cross-country flying.

Bradley Biagiotti, an aspiring commercial pilot, will be spending his 2 weeks learning how to and flying a plane. For the past year and a half, Brad has been working towards his private pilot’s operating certificate. He will be spending his 2 weeks doing his project titled Learning the basics of cross-country flying. The term “cross-country flying” doesn’t literally mean flying across the country. In flying, the term means flying point to point as a part of training. To help visualize, cross-country flying is flying from Point A to Point B, Point B to Point C, the from Point C back to Point A. The exercise gives trainees the opportunity to learn several key aspects of flying. Brad will gain the skills such as navigation, communication, and many other aeronautical skills. He will be doing his project at Tipton Airport where he will do practice flights and ground training. When he is not at the airport, Brad will spend time studying material from his Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) textbooks. He will also use his time wisely by planning out routes for the following day. As a final documentation of his project, Brad will present a video of his experiences.

Brad is one of the many Mount Men who use Senior Project as a way to expand his interests. “I have always loved flying. I’ve known from a very young that I wanted to become a pilot….When I learned of the opportunity to put these skills through Senior Project, I jumped at the opportunity.” Brad will continue to expand his knowledge and continue his pursuit in becoming a commercial pilot next year while majoring in Aeronautical Science at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Jonah Burns, Senior

Jonah Burns is a senior member of the Quill.

Senior Jonah Burns earns invite to meet Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Students attending the Summer Legal Institute in Washington, D.C. Photo Credit: Just The Beginning

Just this past week I was able to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience to go to the Supreme Court and meet Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I was able to have this amazing experience with the organization Just The Beginning (JTB). JTB is an organization out of Chicago, Illinois that does many programs revolving around the legal field, primarily law. The message of JTB is “to encourage underrepresented students to pursue career and leadership opportunities in the law.” In other words, Just The Beginning wants to increase diversity with lawyers. I did their Summer Legal Institute this past June at Howard University School of Law. During that week, we met many lawyers and visited several Law Offices/Firms. These include Perkins Coie, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, Littler Mendelson, Beveridge and Diamond, Holland & Knight, and McGuire Woods. The week was filled with everything to benefit someone in the business world; from leadership attributes to networking skills.

Just The Beginning has been doing their Supreme Court Day for quite some time now. In times past, they had Justice Clarence Thomas as the person we met. However, in the past years, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been the Justice to be met. The Supreme Court Day this year was on October 25th and consisted of about 60 high school students. These students were from all around the country. Multiple people from California, Illinois, and Massachusetts. The day started off at McGuire Woods, a Law Firm in Washington. We first met with several lawyers and had a Q&A about the legal field and law school. We also had two presenters, Katie Barber, and Matthew Fitzgerald. Ms. Barber was a Clerk for Justice Ginsburg and Mr. Fitzgerald was a Clerk for Justice Thomas. They both talked to us about what it is like working in the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court Justices. We then left for the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Law Day is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for approximately 40 high school students from our summer programs, including senior Jonah Burns, pictured middle-right. The scholars enjoyed a presentation on the Supreme Court and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. They also traveled to the Supreme Court for a private courtroom lecture with a Supreme Court guide and a private meeting with Justice Ginsburg. Photo Credit: Just The Beginning

Once we arrived at the Supreme Court, we had a private courtroom lecture with a Supreme Court Docent. She talked to us about the history of the Supreme Court, how a normal court procedure is run, and the daily schedule of the Justices (courtroom wise). Fun fact, above the main Courtroom, there is a basketball court, making it “the highest court”. We then went into a private conference room and waited for Justice Ginsburg. Excitement filled the room the moments to her coming in. When she first came in, she said, “Welcome to my workplace, you may be seated.” She then went to the front of the room and named the person in every painting on the walls of the room. I was blown away by just how vivid her memories were. She could recall a case, a moment, almost anything and tell it with keen detail as if they happened yesterday. The Q&A consisted with a lot of advice and storytelling of her biased past. She included a story where she attended a meeting, gave a proposal, yet got no response. During that same meeting, someone else would say the same proposal and get praise for it. She said that people would “hear a woman’s voice and tune out.” She also gave her thoughts on women’s rights. She said that women are “making progress, not rapidly, but in the right direction.” She also gave us advice about dealing with adversity and who to surround ourselves with.

Student participants at the Summer Legal Institute had the opportunity to meet Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Photo Credit:

Justice Ginsburg also shared with us her love for reading was her mother who took her to the library very often. Justice Ginsburg also told us what her typical week consisted of. She sits in to hear cases for half of the week. After the cases, she heads back to her chamber to meet with clerks. Her days consist of a lot of reading and preparing for the next day at work. She has a great relationship with her daughter and spends a lot of time with her as well. Two nights throughout the week are spent with her personal trainer, whom she has been training with for over 25 years. To end the day, Justice Ginsburg told us who she wants to be remembered as. She told us that she was to be “remembered as a hard worker.” and that she does not want to change anything she has done in the past.

All in all, this was an amazing experience doing the JTB Supreme Court Day 2018 and I highly recommend this and their Summer Legal Institute to anybody interested in the field of law.

A Chemical Engineer for 31 Years, Mr. O’Connell Transitions to a New Career in Teaching

Mr. O’Connell teaches his sophomore Chemistry class.

Mr. Daniel O’Connell, a father of a Mount grad, a Notre Dame graduate, and a first year Chemistry teacher, has had a very different and unique past. I had the privilege to sit down with him and talk about his path to The Mount.

Mr. O’Connell grew up in a “blue collar” family. His father was a steel worker and his mother ran a beauty shop out of the basement. Living in this type of household gave him a strong work ethic, which he takes pride in. He attended Elizabeth-Forward Senior High School, a small public high school in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania. Like all high school students, Mr. O’Connell discovered that he had a passion for a specific subject. This subject was Chemistry. Chemistry was essentially the best of both worlds due to his passion for Science and Math courses. Even though he was a stellar student in those two subjects, he was a well-rounded student. He normally scored very high scores on standardized tests and finished with an outstanding GPA of 3.94. This then gave him quite easy admittance into Notre Dame University.

After entering Notre Dame University, Mr. O’Connell pursued one of the most difficult majors in Notre Dame at the time – Chemical Engineering. He selected this major due to be influenced by his sister’s boyfriend, who also attended Notre Dame University. Mr. O’Connell loved everything about the field. Also, Chemical Engineering had a very good reputation of providing well paying jobs, and to an 18 year old, that is quite enticing. Even though he didn’t play a sport at the athletic powerhouse that is Notre Dame, he got into weight training. He found a passion in that, and he even still weight trains today. After his 4 years at Notre Dame University, Mr. O’Connell graduated with a 3.1 GPA and a Chemical Engineering degree. He then went on to take a job at Honeywell UOP (Universal Oil Products).

“It is better that they learn personal responsibilities now, and apply it to college, than to get to college ill prepared for the expected rigors.”

He worked at UOP in Chicago, Illinois for about 3 years. He then left UOP  for a job at W.R. Grace in Columbia, Maryland. A fairly well-known chemical engineering plant, where he worked at for approximately 31 years. In the midst of being a chemical engineer, Mr. O’Connell became a part of the Mount Saint Joseph community when his son, Danny, decided to attend the Mount. Mr. O’Connell only let Danny shadow and visit the Mount. No other school was in his mind for his son to attend besides Mount Saint Joseph. His son would then attend the school and graduated in 2014.

Mr. O’Connell spent 31 years working in the field of Chemical Engineering before starting his teaching career at his son’s alma mater.

Now having 1/4 of the school year done, Mr. O’Connell is quite settled in as a Chemistry teacher. He also wants to see specific actions and behaviors done by students. He does not want to teach the class and have the students think “this is the work you have to do next,” he wants his students to understand why certain things happen in Chemistry and to raise curiosity in his students. He also believes that students should learn how to handle personal responsibilities, meaning their homework, studying, etc. “It is better that they learn personal responsibilities now, and apply it to college, than to get to college ill prepared for the expected rigors.” The first part of a school year as a new teacher is always hard, but after getting settled in, Mr. O’Connell has a bright future as a Chemistry teacher.