Photo by Peter Julian
Academic excellence. Commitment to service. Peer leadership. Global research and engagement. Christopher Reynolds ’18 embodies these hallmarks of a Boston College education.
In recognition of his outstanding undergraduate career, University President William P. Leahy, S.J., presented him with the Edward H. Finnegan, S.J., Award at Commencement Exercises on Monday. The award is given annually to the graduating senior who best exemplifies Boston College’s motto “Ever to Excel.”
“It is a tremendous honor to receive the Finnegan Award,” says Reynolds, of Wilmington, Del. “I am consistently blown away by my classmates at BC, who are doing amazing work worthy of recognition. Being nominated by faculty for whom I have deep respect is nothing short of the greatest privilege.
“BC commits itself to educating the whole person. I truly believe the well-roundedness that is palpable at BC is a result of the focus on formation that comes from a Jesuit education," he said. "It has been a privilege to attend college with committed classmates and witness such passion on a daily basis.”
(Read about the finalists for this year's Finnegan Award here.)
A member of the Gabelli Presidential Scholars and chemistry honors programs, Reynolds “has combined excellence in his biochemistry major with the principles and values of his theology major in order to live the ideal of ‘men and women for others’ by delivering equitable healthcare to the world’s poorest,” according to Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences Associate Dean Michael C. Martin in his Finnegan nomination letter.
Through his activities, research and internships, both on campus and around the world, “Christopher has already begun this work,” Martin notes.
Boston College commits itself to educating the whole person. I truly believe the well-roundedness that is palpable at BC is a result of the focus on formation that comes from a Jesuit education. It has been a privilege to attend college with committed classmates and witness such passion on a daily basis.
A sampling of Reynolds’ service activities include outreach to his peers as a BC EMT leader and mentor, as well as to marginalized communities—in the City of Boston through his 4Boston volunteer work, and around the globe, as an undergraduate researcher on global health equity in Peru and the Dominican Republic through Advanced Study Grants, in Ecuador through a study-abroad program, and in Liberia.
He also served for two years as a research fellow in Professor of Biology Ken Williams’ laboratory, assisting students in doctoral thesis research, participating in nine scientific paper reviews, and leading the review of two papers.
Reynolds describes the Gabelli Presidential Scholars Program as being “the most formative program during my time at Boston College. BC was my top choice for college since high school, and the GPSP scholarship not only made it financially possible for my family to afford a BC education, but has impacted my life personally and professionally in profound ways. The moment I arrived, I was introduced to caring faculty who developed into mentors. GPSP encourages its members to use their gifts and talents in the service of others, which aligns perfectly with BC’s mission of women and men for others.”
Boston College students “have remarkable talents that the world needs them to use for good,” he adds. “I believe that people in this position have an obligation to care for others in a way that practices sacrificial love. Being attentive to the needs of others is not only important for me because of my Catholic identity, but also because it allows people to share in their common humanity in a profound and beautiful way.”
I want to be a physician, and I see compassionate, person-centered medicine as the perfect intersection of biological sciences and theology...I’m confident that my theology studies will be crucial for my life, both for discerning ethical approaches to dilemmas that are sure to arise as a healthcare provider, and to affirm my lifelong commitment to service.”
In addition to regarding GPSP Co-Director James Keenan, S.J., as his “most influential mentor at Boston College,” Reynolds also cites Center for Student Formation Executive Director Michael Sacco: “Because of him, I was involved for four years with the Freshman League, a male mentor program and hugely important part of my BC experience.”
Another mentor, Assistant Professor of the Practice of Biology Danielle Taghian, “cemented my interest in biological sciences, trusted me as her teaching assistant, and has done so much to help me realize my capacities as a student.”
Taghian returns the praise: Reynolds “stands out in his efforts to promote and spread compassion, social justice and humanitarian care to those in need."
Though he often gets comments on his “conflicting” majors, Reynolds says “they are very complementary. I want to be a physician, and I see compassionate, person-centered medicine as the perfect intersection of biological sciences and theology. These traditions call for practicing accompaniment — walking with another in a mutually reciprocated relationship — and a preferential option for the poor, which I believe should be incorporate into all forms of healthcare.
“I’m confident that my theology studies will be crucial for my life, both for discerning ethical approaches to dilemmas that are sure to arise as a healthcare provider, and to affirm my lifelong commitment to service.”
Reynolds deferred application to medical school when he was awarded a 2018 Fulbright research grant to study health care reintegration among former Colombian rebels and displaced persons. He then plans to pursue a dual-degree graduate program in medicine and public health and become a physician who will treat and advocate for vulnerable individuals in Latin America and Africa.
What will Reynolds – who cites the St. Ignatius statue outside of Higgins Hall as “his favorite place on campus” – miss most about BC?
“College is special: You’re surrounded by thousands of people your age, all with different passions but an eagerness to learn," he said. I’m going to miss above all else the friends I’ve made, and the chance to always connect with these people who mean a great deal to me – whether it’s to have intense debates about something in class or a social justice issue, or just to hang out.”
Rosanne Pellegrini | University Communications | May 21, 2018