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More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

John McDonaugh

Graduation year: 2020

High school: Glenbrook North High School

Hometown: Northbrook, Ill.

Majors: Physics, mathematics

Minor: German studies

Activities: Club water polo, Delta Omega Nu fraternity, Augustana Physics and Engineering Society, Phi Beta Kappa

Internship: Undergraduate research with Dr. Nathan Frank here at Augustana

Post-grad plans: I am pursuing a Ph.D. in physics at the University of Notre Dame.

Why Augustana?    

When I was looking for a college, I wanted to go to a small college. I really liked the idea of having smaller class sizes so that I could get to know my professors and fellow classmates. Ultimately, it was my visit to Augustana that helped make my decision. When I came to Augie for my first visit, there was just something about the whole place that made me feel like I could call it home for the next four years.

Are you where you thought you'd be when you first came to campus?  

In some ways, yes. I expected to be able to graduate from Augie in four years, and they have done a wonderful job to check up and make sure that I graduated on time. However, the number of different experiences at Augie helped me realize that I wanted to continue with my education beyond undergraduate and into graduate school.

Who helped you get to where you are now?  

Those who helped me were definitely my professors and my classmates. My professors helped make sure I had the right tools to pursue the goals I had set for after Augustana. My research advisor Dr. Nathan Frank especially helped make sure that I experienced all the things necessary to be able to continue doing research in graduate school as well as beyond.

I also wouldn't be where I am today without the friends and classmates that I have been able to meet at Augie. They truly helped provide a healthy environment to want to push myself and continue to grow, no matter how hard things got.

Peak experience?    

One of the best experiences I had was presenting my physics research from Augie at a national conference. This opportunity that being at Augie provided was an amazing way to see how everything I had learned was culminating into a potential career in research.

What surprised you?    

What surprised me the most are the friends that I made during my time at Augustana. I never imagined I would meet such a great group of individuals who care about me and will for sure continue to be in my life even after I leave Augie.

How did you use your Augie Choice? 

I used my Augie Choice to go on the physics and music Alps study abroad trip in Germany. It was one of the most exciting and interesting things that I was able to do during my time at Augustana. Going around and living in another country was definitely eye-opening and beneficial.

What will you miss the most?   

What I will miss the most are the connections I have made not only among the students but also the faculty at Augustana. It will be tough to move on not being able to see 10-20 familiar faces every day that want to talk and make sure you are doing okay. I will also miss that same aspect from my professors and not having the ability to just walk into their offices and chat about life.

Advice for the Class of 2024?

One of the best pieces of advice that I got from a senior my first year was to get to know the professors in your areas of study. They can be one of the best ways to help you understand your ambitions as well as help with your classes.

"John (JP) excels in everything he does, which makes it no surprise that he will pursue a physics Ph.D. this coming fall at the University of Notre Dame. JP is good-natured, friendly and a hard worker. These traits, combined with his natural ability, have allowed him to develop into a great student researcher and student. We all look forward to seeing what JP ultimately will do in his future studies and career."

– Dr. Nathan Frank, associate professor, physics