Bostonians alumnus Tom Leyden '94 wuth Anna Stephan '20, Jolene Lozano '21, and Savannah Freitas '20, winners of the Ronan Jack Donahue Scholarships, which support members' service activities. Leyden had the idea for the scholarships 10 years ago in memory of the son of another Bostonians alumnus, John Donahue '92. (Photo by Christopher Huang)

Student organizations are considered a hallmark of college life not only for the activities they offer, but as a source of camaraderie and fellowship – even after graduation.

That’s certainly the case with the Bostonians of Boston College, an a cappella group more than three decades old that responded to a former member’s family tragedy with a compassion that extended outward, and continues to resonate today.

In 2006, the Bostonians were sorrowed to hear of the death of Ronan Jack Donahue, infant son of alumnus John Donahue ’92 and his wife Dominique Dallmayr. At its reunion that fall, another ex-Bostonian, Tom Leyden ’94, proposed setting up a service scholarship in Ronan’s memory to assist current Bostonian members seeking to improve their communities, whether through personal outreach programs or by working with national or international service organizations.

“Because both John and Dominique had always dedicated so much of themselves to others, we felt it would be appropriate to honor Ronan’s memory with a service scholarship dedicated in his name and awarded to a current Bostonian who showed an interest in serving people,” said Leyden, who is sports director at Fox 25 News in Boston.

Last month, at the group’s annual fall concert, the Bostonians marked the 10th anniversary of the Ronan Jack Donahue Scholarship by naming three recipients – the first time more than one RJD scholarship has been awarded: Anna Stephan ’20 will work with MEDLIFE in Peru, helping underprivileged people in need of basic healthcare; Savannah Freitas ’20 will travel to Puerto Rico and assist in ongoing recovery efforts following the devastating hurricanes of last year; and Jolene Lozano ’21 will volunteer in South Africa, working to empower women and young children through computer training.

“I’m very proud of my friends for supporting this great cause and even prouder of the students who have stepped up to make such a huge difference in the world,” said Leyden, who noted that the group raised $5,150 during the fall to fund the RJD scholarships. “We couldn’t have asked for a better way to honor the Donahue family.”

Donahue and Dallmayr, who live in Portland, Ore., with their two children, will never forget the generosity of spirit of the Bostonians, whom Donahue credits as having played “a critical role” in his BC years.

“Not only did it provide me with opportunities for travel, community service and incredible musical enjoyment, but also a priceless, closely knit circle of friends with whom I shared life, love and loss – like when my mother died during my sophomore year,” said Donahue, who has relished attending Bostonian reunions and keeping in touch with fellow alums.

When they heard of Leyden’s idea to create the scholarship fund, “Dominique and I wept with gratitude,” Donahue recalled. “The RJD Scholarship Fund, created from the collective grief, compassion and love of many, is testimony that even a lost newborn child can incarnate and inspire incredibly courageous and merciful works, now felt around the world through the tender hands of our award recipients.  

“With each passing year, Dominique and I marvel at contributors’ incredible generosity and applicants’ intentions to serve the poor globally, revealing to all Bostonians, young and old, our responsibility toward living a compassionate and socially just life – ultimately for the glory of God.”

–Sean Smith | University Communications