John Walsh (Photo by Yiting Chen)
Hometown: Franklin, Massachusetts
Major: Accounting and theology; minor in Film Studies
Notable Activities/Achievements: The Heights Momentum Award 2017; Agape Latte co-chair; Student Representative on C21 Advisory Committee; Emerging Leader Program facilitator; 4Boston and PULSE volunteer at Pine Street Inn; Student Admission Program tour guide and panelist; Appalachia Volunteers trip leader; Halftime leader.
John Walsh always dreamed of coming to Boston College – and when he got the chance to do so, he made it his mission to be as involved as possible. Discovering a talent and passion for film production led Walsh to create numerous videos that for him were both fun and skills-building experiences. Perhaps best known on campus for his “Shake It Off” music video – which went viral after Taylor Swift tweeted it to her millions of followers – Walsh also has made an impression through the expression of his faith. A volunteer for service trips and a participant in the PULSE Program for service learning, the Agape Latte co-chair devotes himself to others, finding joy in hearing their stories. Whether it’s running across campus (tripod and camera in hand), leading service trips with Appalachia Volunteers, or simply saying a friendly hello, Walsh has made a lasting impact at BC, and hopes to continue to blend his love for video production with his strong faith.
How has BC made a difference in your life?
BC has changed everything for me. I never could have imagined the love, support, and growth that I experienced here over four years. Being a part of this community has taught me to be open, to be grateful, and to try and live a life spent loving others. It has encouraged me to value people’s stories, to see the goodness in others, and to both acknowledge and grow from my mistakes and shortcomings. And the best part of it all is I’ve been blessed to find lifelong friends and mentors who offer me a daily example of how to be a better human being and I hope to carry these relationships far beyond the Heights upon graduation.
What experience at BC has the most significant impact?
The combination of being involved with Agape Latte and working to become a filmmaker on campus has been my most significant experience at BC. When I realized that what I loved so deeply was storytelling so many things fell into place for me at BC.
I feel so privileged to be a part of Agape Latte because I have the chance to act as a facilitator of stories, to meet incredible mentors and people on campus, and to be a part of something that is much bigger than myself.
Working to become a filmmaker on campus has been one of my life’s greatest joys. I love bringing other people’s visions to life, seeking to inspire or move someone with visual storytelling, and enjoying the very human process of filmmaking.
Being a part of this community has taught me to be open, to be grateful, and to try and live a life spent loving others. It has encouraged me to value people’s stories, to see the goodness in others, and to both acknowledge and grow from my mistakes and shortcomings.
Who has had the greatest influence on you during your time at BC?
I couldn’t quite imagine Boston College without [Theology Professor] Fr. Michael Himes, who has been like a second father to me. I am extremely thankful for the friendships formed and the many independent study conversations shared with Fr. Himes and my roommate John Robert Scordino over the last few years. [Retired Student Affairs administrator] Mer Zovko’s unconditional love, support, and friendship will always be one of my life’s greatest blessings. [Church in the 21st Century Associate Director] Karen Kiefer’s friendship and mentorship has been a catalyst for incredibly positive change in my life. I must also thank [Carroll School of Management lecturer] Tom Wesner for his mentorship and friendship, my two-time PULSE teacher Dave Manzo for always inspiring me, and [University Communications Senior Creative Producer] Sean Casey, who is the best possible creative mentor and supporter I could ask for.
Talk about what got you interested in video production and why it’s important to you.
Honestly, if you had told me I’d be graduating with a love for video production as a freshman, I would have never believed you.
When I was a sophomore I attended my first Agape Latte board meeting in September and I suggested creating a promotional music video. Karen Kiefer, John Campbell and I decided that we’d make a “Shake It Off” video. I put together shots for certain lyrics including Fr. Michael Himes holding the speaker, a capella groups for the rap sequence, Sexual Chocolate on the tables in Bapst, and Fuego del Corazon to end the video with their Showdown stunt and imitation of Taylor Swift.
I think I’ll always remember sitting in the Rat and looking out to see multiple computers playing “Shake It Off” that same day. And there was no better feeling a few weeks later when Taylor Swift tweeted the video late on a Thursday night. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.
But perhaps the best part of it all was video production kept being nudged back into my life, forcing me to pay more attention to it. I decided to make a Christmas gift for my Mom, interviewing my siblings and relatives and editing together a home video. A few months later Leah Nelligan and I made a “DSTRONG” video in support of the incredibly inspiring eight-year-old Dorian Murray. I later brought a camcorder along for my Appalachia trip to Big Creek, Ky., where I made a documentary about a formerly homeless man we met on the trip named William England.
Suddenly, it all clicked for me; video production encapsulated so much of who I was and what I loved about the world. From that point forward in late March of my junior year, I started shooting, editing, and learning the art of filmmaking every single day.
Did you accomplish everything you set out to do during your time here?
I’ve always dreamed of going to BC, and consider it one of my life’s greatest blessings that I was afforded the opportunity. There are countless friends, mentors, and memories that I will treasure from my four years at Boston College, and this place has made it very easy to live my life with a sense of gratitude.
I think the best part about BC is I could never have imagined the path I’d be on, the person I’d be today, and all of the people who would become a part of my life. I owe an immense “thank you” to so many people on this campus, and I couldn’t be more grateful to call myself an alum of Boston College.
What advice would you give to incoming freshman?
Read the poem, “The Opposite of Loneliness” by Marina Keegan during your freshman year; it helped me to live my time at BC with a sense of gratitude, and to recognize some of the best moments of my college experience. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to wear your heart on your sleeve, be open to plans you didn’t quite imagine for yourself, and prioritize people before anything else in your life.
–Siobhan Sullivan / University Communications