Winner of the 2018 Monsignor Robert Paul Mohan Student Award, on the executive board of six campus organizations and president of three, Owen Salyers is a man for all seasons. How does such a leader develop? In Owen’s case, it’s likely a mixture of nature and nurture. Growing up, Owen had a close relationship with his grandfather, Donald Salyers, who rose from an entry-level worker at Goodyear to become a vice president of the company. He absorbed the lessons of his grandfather, “a mentor and an inspirational figure to me.” 

Owen selected Catholic University because of its dual five-year architecture/civil engineering degree program. Those plans changed freshman year when he enrolled in President Garvey’s Virtues class. The course inspired a love of the virtue ‘justice’ and a deep need to help people claim it. “President Garvey intertwined a secular and religious understanding of the virtues and how they can apply in your everyday life. I fell in love with politics, the nation’s capital, and the law,” says Salyers. Owen is thinking about litigation in construction law, which would utilize his background in civil engineering.


While Owen’s career goals are focused on law in the business arena, his leadership positions display his dedication to the principles of Catholic social teaching. Owen is a trustee for college council #9542 of the Knights of Columbus; president of the Student Philanthropy Council; president of the Pre-Law Society; president of National Residence Hall Honorary; committee chair for Colleges Against Cancer; and a resident assistant.

As one of three campus trustees for the knights, Salyers has chosen to help steer advocacy for pro-life issues on campus as well to assist in monitoring the group’s finances. In his freshman year when he joined the knights, Owen attended “The March for Life” in Washington, D.C., and was inspired to advocate for the sanctity of all life, from conception to death. Subsequently, he initiated and served as co-chair of a new campus event, Solidarity in Suffering, a Week of Awareness for Persecuted Christians. The week is a joint effort between the Knights of Columbus and the student government association, and Salyers hopes it will become an annual campus tradition. A highlight of the week is a candlelight vigil in the name of those who have suffered and died; the community prays the rosary on the student center’s lawn. For each prayer, a quote is inserted from a Christian who has been persecuted. “Every life is sacred,” says Salyers.