On choosing the O’Neill School
Originally from the suburbs of Chicago, junior Patrick McPartlin first learned about the O’Neill School from his older brother Matt, who graduated in 2018. Like any good alumnus, his brother offered advice about how to make the most of his time at IU. But once he arrived on campus, McPartlin forged his own path.
“Ultimately, I chose O’Neill for myself because I knew I wanted to work with people. You do that more here than at any other school on campus,” said McPartlin. “The O’Neill School really fosters collaboration. Every single course has a group project aspect where we work together toward the common good. That shared vibe — ‘leading for the greater good’ — is something I was looking for.”
Developing tangible skills through hands-on experience
McPartlin was also looking to develop real world experience – something his Nonprofit Management and Leadership coursework has offered in abundance.
In one class, McPartlin and his classmates were paired with a hospital foundation in nearby Greene County. Over the course of a year, McPartlin worked with the foundation to secure a grant for multiple automated external defibrillators to use in first responder vehicles.
“It was rewarding to learn about the community, assess their needs, and then realize I had the opportunity to help actually change lives, even as a student,” said McPartlin.
In another class, McPartlin and his peers were charged with starting their own nonprofit. They decided to focus on improving access to healthcare for the local homeless population.
“We really learned the fundamentals, like which tax forms to use, how to file as a nonprofit, and how to set up a governing board,” said McPartlin.
Outside the classroom, McPartlin has been able to apply what he’s learned at O’Neill to his volunteer work with IU Dance Marathon, a student-run philanthropy that raises money for Riley Hospital for Children.
As part of its executive council, McPartlin oversaw all of the events for IUDM—including a recent concert where, as a COVID precaution, they painted circles on Dunn Meadow to allow students to enjoy a local band while staying physically distanced.
“We’ve really had the opportunity to practice how we engage with donors, shareholders, and our target audience. We’ve also had to practice being strategic about communicating our mission and being more inclusive,” McPartlin said.
McPartlin notes that building a community of friends has been just as important as building his resume.
Many of his closest campus friendships started in the Civic Leaders Center (CLC), where McPartlin and his fellow CLC-ers bonded over shared classes and special trips to places like Washington, DC, and Greece.
One of his classic O’Neill memories took place his sophomore year, while he was a resident assistant in Briscoe. “There was a debate going on in our Civic Leaders group chat about some sort of campus policy. People were arguing both sides, and it was getting pretty heated. My suitemate, who was a CLC mentor, said, ‘That’s it. We’re settling this debate-style in the lounge. I’m bringing my gavel.’ Picturing him presiding over the debate, waving his gavel while they argued, is something I’ll take with me,” said McPartlin.
While studying abroad in Athens, McPartlin remembers bonding with CLC Director Paul Helmke over the classic Hoosier card game Euchre. “He got frustrated with me because I was his partner, but I kept accidentally trumping him,” said McPartlin. Despite losing a few rounds, their relationship recovered. Helmke asked McPartlin to be his teaching assistant the following year. “Forming that relationship—and keeping it—was something special.”
Of his study abroad experience, McPartlin says, “I’m a visual learner. In Greece, I got to see where democracy was born and conceptualize how it’s changed over time. And, of course, bonding with my classmates by staying up too late on the balcony of our apartment in Athens – those moments are unbeatable.”