(Photo: Caitlin Cunningham)

BC senior named America Media O'Hare Fellow

Grace Lenahan '24 of the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences is the second member of her family to be selected

Grace Lenahan, a Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences senior from Scranton, Pa., is the latest Boston College undergraduate—and the second person in her family—to be selected for a Joseph A. O’Hare, S.J., Postgraduate Media Fellowship by America Media.

Starting in August, Lenahan will spend 11 months working at the New York City offices of America Media, which publishes the magazine America: The Jesuit Review of Faith and Culture, a leading Catholic journal of opinion in the United States. O’Hare Fellows generate content for America Media’s multiple platforms: print, web, digital, social media, and events, and gain professional experience through ongoing mentoring and other opportunities. Fellows meet regularly with America’s editorial staff to cultivate their skills and professional networks.

“At the conclusion of the program, O’Hare Fellows are uniquely suited to pursue successful careers in the Catholic media or other forms of professional journalism,” according to the program’s website. Among the other institutions represented in this year’s applicant pool are Georgetown University, Seton Hall University, Williams College, the College of the Holy Cross, and Fordham University.

Lenahan is the eighth BC student to earn an O’Hare Fellowship since the program was established in 2016. Among the past winners is her sister, Christine, a 2023 BC graduate and a current O’Hare Fellow.

She is a fourth-year Dean’s Scholar whose experiences attending a Jesuit high school helped lead her—as they did her sister—to BC, where she fulfilled a long-time aspiration: “I knew I wanted to be an English major when I was in the sixth grade.” At the Heights, Lenahan has added new dimensions to her reading and writing through a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies and a previously unexplored interest in poetry, as well as working as a teaching assistant to Carroll School of Management Associate Professor of the Practice Thomas Wesner. She also is a member of the BC chapter of national Jesuit honor society Alpha Sigma Nu.

Lenahan has been similarly expansive in her extracurricular activities, as co-president of the student club I Am That Feminist and a leader of the Campus Ministry retreat program Kairos, a writer for student publication The Gavel, and a participant in the Ignatian Society and the Women’s Center. In addition, she facilitates operations for the Catalyst Summer Management Program for non-management students.

The prospect of being an O’Hare Fellow is exciting for Lenahan, who plans to explore legal justice, coverage of the 2024 election, and the evolution of women in the Catholic Church. “I’m in touch with Christine regularly and I can see how fulfilling this experience is for her: Day in and day out, she covers the Catholic Church in the larger world, and how it intersects with our lives. Her stories relate to contemporary issues in the Church, such as the shifting roles of women—something in which Christine and I, having been altar girls, have had a longstanding interest.”

Lenahan has been continually inspired at BC to seek new avenues. Attending the annual Women’s Summit as a first-year student, and hearing speaker Chanel Miller—whose memoir Know My Name detailed her ordeal as a victim of sexual assault—spurred her interest in discussing feminism and gender theory from a theological standpoint, and to minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. After having enjoyed an introductory class in poetry taught by Associate Professor of English James Najarian, Lenahan found a source of encouragement in Allison Adair, a professor of the practice in English and her advisor.

“I’d avoided poetry like the plague: I think I had a kind of ‘imposter syndrome’ which created a fear of it,” said Lenahan. “But I’ve fallen in love with the logic of poetry, in how you pull words together, and Allison has been foundational in my writing. She will challenge me on word choice, tone, everything. Poetry has become like a bubble bath for my brain.”

Her work with Wesner, meanwhile, has pointed the way to a potential career path in law. “I hadn’t thought much about law, but after meeting him it’s been on my mind constantly. The reading and writing associated with law is incredibly interesting; I love creating and crafting arguments. I could definitely see a way forward in law, where you can make a living but also perhaps make a person’s life better.”

The ultimate source of inspiration for Lenahan at BC may be Rev. Michael Himes, a beloved professor of theology who died after her sophomore year. “He always told students about the three important questions to reflect on: What brings you joy? What are you good at? And who does the world need you to be? I think that was a compass which has directed me to these important experiences in my formation, and I feel very blessed.”