Name: Sean O'Grady

Field of Study: International Economics and Finance

Status: Undergraduate  

Graduation Year: 2021

Hometown: Seattle, Wash.

Why did you choose Catholic University? Coming from Seattle, I wanted a chance to go to school in the D.C. area, where I believed there would be more opportunities for me to grow my career. Specifically, I found this school to be a perfect blend of public-service education, research-driven opportunities, and a high-quality religious environment. I have always been interested in fighting for justice wherever I can, and I thought of no better place than in Washington, D.C.

Organizations and activities: I am a researcher within the Department of Economics, where I currently am working on developing insurance policies for farmers of Northern Ghana in West Africa. Additionally, I am a member of the honors program, and I am a resident assistant and served in Quinn House last year. Most importantly, however, my work is always rooted in the idea of justice. I have had several legal internships in the D.C. area, including at the Department of Justice and at Columbus Community Legal Services. I also have founded a D.C.-area non-profit dedicated to financial education for young people, which works to promote economic justice.

"I don’t have to choose between a fulfilling career and one grounded in faith.'
– Sean O'Grady

Favorite course: My favorite course was most definitely Applied Econometrics, which is a graduate economics and computer science course taught by Dr. Richard Gallenstein. Dr. Gallenstein, who is also my research advisor, helped me to really become engaged in the economics field and show me what incredible opportunities are in store for me with the combination of econometrics and computer programming.

What are your goals? I plan to enter law school after graduation, where I will be training to become a military lawyer, or JAG. In this role, I hope to serve members of the military and fight for justice, especially in cases where I can assist service members who have suffered from sexual assault. After this, I hope to combine my knowledge of law and economics by starting my own firm dedicated to both ending mass incarceration and helping former inmates get back on their feet financially. There is legal injustice everywhere, and I believe that by combining financial security with legal advocacy, we can work to ensure that every person has a stable footing in a more just society.

Is there a faculty or staff member who has made a significant impact on you? There are a few amazing professors who have definitely helped me greatly at CUA. I first want to thank my research advisor, Dr. Richard Gallenstein, who has guided me through my research experiences throughout last year and this year as well. His guidance and career advice which he has given to me have propelled me toward greater success here at CUA. Additionally, Dr. Martha Cruz, chair of the economics department, and Dr. Sophia Aguirre are two women that are huge role models of mine that I look to for advice in the economics field.

What makes Catholic University unique? As a student coming from a public high school in the Pacific Northwest, I did not have very much religious exposure outside of church, and I also found it difficult to see my dreams coming to fulfillment. However, after flying out to study for the first time at Catholic University, I am so grateful for the opportunities it has given me. I have found a strong, diverse community of friends who not only have given me strength to come closer to God, but also a group who has made me more confident with myself. I especially find this university to be unique in the sense that I don’t have to choose between a fulfilling career and one grounded in faith. I can change the world, and keep God alongside me as I pursue my dreams! This is especially true when it comes to my desire for justice. Jesus taught us to treat those around us justly and to never judge someone without getting to know them. I believe this school has equipped me with the ability to fight for this principle and uphold the dignity of every human being, just as Christ teaches.

Awards/recognition: I am a two-year finalist for academic research here at CUA, where I was awarded for both my research on studying the unemployment rate for U.S. military veterans, and also my research on creating insurance policies for farmers in Ghana. I am also the recipient of the Novak Symposium award, which I received for my presentation on education reform. Also, while it is not a personal accomplishment, I am proud of being a resident assistant for the 2020 RA staff of the year, Centennial Village.

Proudest accomplishment: I am most proud of being someone who fights for justice. While in the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice, I investigated international crimes against women, children, and innocent people in various parts of the world. I compiled data on these cases and then handed them off to prosecutors so that justice could be served. Also, I worked this past year for Columbus Community Legal Services, where I helped to close all sorts of cases, from immigration, to tax fraud, to family law, and veterans affairs. CCLS, which is attached to the CUA law school, helps DC-area clients below the poverty line to get legal justice in their cases. These internships most definitely have strengthened my desire to fight for justice in my career.

What Catholic University means to you: My most profound experience that has solidified my desire for justice as a CUA student was running for student government president this past spring. When I ran for president, my team, called Fresh Start CUA, represented the outsiders at CUA. Our campaign stood for the quiet, forgotten students. We stood for students who felt like they didn’t have a place in the CUA community because of their background, history, skin color, sexuality, or beliefs. We were the voice for the transfer student and the low-income scholarship recipient. My goal was to fight for justice for these students. So, although we didn’t win, I realized that a massive group of students really found their voice in supporting my team. That is what Catholic University means to me. It is a place where I can both find my own voice and be a voice for others. This university may seem like a monolith to some from the outside, but running for student government president this year really showed me that there are so many diverse people who may just not speak up all the time. And I want to fight for justice for those people. They are students too, and they are the reason why I love this school so much, and that is what CUA means to me!