From The College of New Jersey
My daughter was selected to be a Bonner Scholar at TCNJ. She told me after her Bonner selection group interview that Pat was the most intimidating of the interviewers; very intense and focused. She hoped her responses to his pointed questions were good enough, and was over the moon when she was chosen. Her experience at TCNJ might never have happened were it not for the Bonner Program, and it certainly would not have been as enriching or rewarding. She graduated this year and was among a large group of Bonners that met up with Pat for a photo op of Bonner Love and togetherness after graduation. He was a very special man, and leaves a legacy of love, compassion, and honorable service. He enriched my daughter's life and the lives of many others.
Patricia Kahn, TCNJ Bonner Parent
Pat was my neighbor. Even though he was my neighbor for only a short time, he was deeply involved in improving the neighborhood for everyone. He made Mill Hill a better place to live. I also knew him as a colleague at TCNJ. I saw the evidence of his good work daily as I interacted with students who were Bonner scholars. Their dedication for making positive change in the world benefited not just those they helped directly, but other students who learned from their commitment to giving.
I was an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Bonner Institute from 2013 to 2014 at the College of New Jersey. I worked directly under Pat in setting up the Old Trenton Neighborhood Network, the TrentonWorks art gallery, and a number of community events hosted at downtown space when it was brand new and an extension of his vision of bringing back TCNJ and its resources to downtown Trenton. Not only is this still the most fulfilling work of my career thus far but I also have plenty of fond memories of working with Pat into the night at TCNJ's downtown office, being offered rides in his car, and talks about basketball at Trenton Social. Pat made a major impact on my life and career and he will be greatly missed. My condolences go out to his family and friends.
There are so many times in the past seven years that Pat inspired me. He made it EASY for so many faculty like me to have our students take part in meaningful community engaged learning projects and semesters. My students have been so affected and inspired by their weekly service in Trenton with the soup kitchen, El Centro, and others. Perhaps my favorite moments have come though when Pat would help put together panels of Trenton leaders just for my classes. Each of the leaders would inspire my students with their personal histories and their struggles, and ultimately tell us how they got to do the inspiring work they do. My students would leave with goosebumps and often tears. And none of this would have been possible without Pat. We were all incredibly lucky to have known him.
As an academic trained in the humanities, although I shared Pat's commitment to social justice, I felt like a klutz when I tried to engage students with the Ewing and Trenton communities. I was in awe of Pat's capabilities. Pat was endlessly encouraging, supportive, and patient. Everything seemed possible, or at least worth trying. I cherish the opportunities I had to glimpse the wider network of human relations through his eyes.
I relocated to NJ from the DC area about 2 years ago and Pat would always tease me about being both a Ravens and Redskins fan. His kindness and humor made me feel welcomed at TCNJ. He was easy to work with and was truly dedicated to improving the lives of those which Bonner served. He is sorely missed by all.
I worked with Pat to expand the number of opportunities for students to participate in community-engaged learning in all the majors of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. We worked together with others at the Bonner Institute to conceptualize how we would engage faculty to develop the new courses to provide breadth across our curriculum. We also worked together to develop new approaches to depth in community engaged learning, beginning the conversation about one or two community-engaged majors within our School. Pat was a key figure in the development of the strategic plan for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences back in 2009-2010 and he suggested that we develop a Socrates Cafe. That idea morphed into a new HSS tradition, the War of the Words, with fun and serious debates. I remember very fondly the time we spent together with other TCNJ faculty and staff at a retreat for Bonner-Funded institutions at Siena College in July 2013. Pat routinely inspired students and faculty to make their work more meaningful through engagement with the community. In doing so he changed so many lives: the lives of people in the community whose needs were met, the lives of students who had the opportunity to apply what they were learning to real people in real situations, and the lives of all of us who designed these experiences. Pat was the spark for all of this, and for all of us, and we saw that spark in the twinkle of his eyes and in his beautiful laugh. It was an extraordinary honor and privilege for me to have worked with Pat Donohue.
Patrick Donohue was my valued colleague and friend. We collaborated on mapping the strategy for the Bonner Program at TCNJ and more recently we both attended the Ashoka Campus Change Academy conference in Washington DC. Pat was a visionary social activist and a leader both on the campus and the Trenton community. His abrupt resignation from TCNJ and then his death by suicide were utterly unexpected and shocking to me. I do not understand it, but I must believe that he was struggling with a severe depression that he had managed to hide from most of his friends and colleagues. His passing should remind us all to be kinder to one another for we do not know what demons people may be struggling with in their lives. Pat Donohue gave back much during his life, and this is how I plan to remember him.
Pat's influence and impact on me is deep and indelible. He will live on in me, as he will in so, so many people whose lives he inspired and empowered. Passion. Relentless creativity, innovation and action. Unconditional love. Generosity. Insight and intelligence. Love for family. Courage and tenacity. Fun. Friend. Trust. All in service of lifting up those whom society has told "you don't matter." Pat said "you matter" to everyone with whom he crossed paths. Most important to Pat was helping marginalized youths hear and feel that they matter, and empowering them with opportunity, possibility, belief. For Pat, no isn't an answer. And never is it enough. Pat wouldn't leave us if he didn't trust that we will pick up where he left off. He taught us well. He filled our hearts. Through us, Pat's legacy will live on and on and on. Love to all.
Below is an email I wrote to Pat just 4 days prior:
I just really wanted to take this time to thank you for everything! I know I wasn't one of the most outgoing bonners but the organization that you nurtured has forever impacted my life in uncomparable ways. I am truly truly blessed to have had the opportunity to serve among such loving caring people. I feel so spoiled rotten because I havent been able to find such people or an organization that could measure up even the slightest bit to TCNJ BONNER. Pat, and I believe your DNA is what made it everything it was for me and what it will be for everyone who will come after me. Thank you for dedicating your blood sweat and tears to an amazing cause and giving opportunities to students who will probably never be able to get this kind of opportunity anywhere else. I always admired your spirit, your vibes, and your motivational speeches. I always felt like I could change the world after those.
I came to TCNJ as a quiet business major and had trouble finding a group to fit into. I became a Bonner Volunteer as a freshman and worked at Columbus and ASA. After these experiences, I knew I needed to change my major to education. I had found my true passion and was eager to start making a difference. I also knew I found my second family, and formed some of the best friendships of my life. The next year Pat invited me to become a part of the Bonner family. I was thrilled and had the opportunity to serve as a site leader for three years. I was humbled that Pat believed and trusted in me to lead three different education sites during my years at TCNJ. I will never forget the children I worked with and the opportunities we were able to provide them. I also learned so much from my sites and all the service trips that they morphed me into the person I am. I am forever grateful for the memories, experiences and opportunities Pat provided through such a close knit community. He will be missed, but always remembered for all he has done. My prayers are with him and his family.
He was passionate about civic duty and community service and inspired his colleagues and students to identify the needs of others and develop solutions to improve the quality of life of others. He stressed that we would gain and learn as much as those we were attempting to help and he was very sincere and genuine, which is a rare quality amongst administrators. He did things quietly, quickly and well and I was greatly impressed by that. There's a saying in my culture that compassion is when you give with your right hand and your left hand doesn't even know. Pat was an embodiment of that kind of compassion.
Being in TCNJ's Bonner Program was an immense influence on my life and it gave me the extra push I needed to figure out how I wanted to fit myself into the world around me. Pat was someone I was very fortunate to observe as a good person who focused his energy and skill toward doing good (what is more noble than this kind of vocation?). After Bonner, which Pat was such a large figure in growing and bettering, it became very easy to see my place in the realm of education, and I am forever grateful for the experience in Bonner that helped me realize this. I just finished my first year in a doctoral program in rhetoric and composition (which focuses on English education at the postsecondary level), and I can't see myself as anything other than a teacher, which I owe in large part to my time in Bonner.
I can't imagine my college experience without the influence of Pat. I don't know what that would look like or be like. In fact, I don't think I would have stayed at TCNJ without Pat's influence. Pat instilled a fire in me that flourished over the years. He showed me what conviction was based on how he lived his everyday life. 'No' was never in his vocabulary and as staff/students we also were discouraged from expressing failing thoughts...because when Pat was there- we knew we wouldn't fail. When I met Pat at the age of 18, I had no clue what he would mean to me and my future family. Tariq and I are so grateful for his faith in us as Bonner Scholars, friends and now future husband and wife. He always reminded me how incredibly blessed I was to find someone like Tariq by sharing many stories about Donna and how lucky he was to marry someone that share the same values as him. One day, Pat asked his staff to feed our brains by reading an article by the NY Times titled: A Formula for Happiness. In his email, he stated "Please take a few moments and read it this week--and send me a one paragraph reaction. As we re-start the "what is right" discussion, I will probably weave it in to our conversation." In my response to Pat, I decided I would 'challenge' him by asking him the following: "How do you balance the need for personal happiness while helping others find happiness too? In our line of work, I often find myself wanting to be the "fixer". After knowing you for 7 years, I see how much time you dedicate to your work and see how you act as the "fixer". I also see how much you believe in people and the right to do good work in this world but I have wondered if you consider yourself content with your own personal happiness? How do you not get so consumed with fixing the world without forgetting or not giving enough attention to your own personal life?"
His response are words that will be engrained in my heart: "Balancing personal happiness- I think we all struggle with this--until we come to terms with it in our own way. And, who knows if the answer I give would be validated or shot down by my own family:). Here is my tentative first round of thoughts. 1) I married a woman who also has a cause and our values are the same. She spends all her time and energy working with inner city kids and lives and breathes their struggles. To some degree, we are wired the same way. 2) While I work a tremendous amount of hours, I never miss a kid's game and I usually pack in my 50 to 60 hours during the work week; and then watch espn for 48 hours:). 3) I am convinced that we can all do our best and punch the clock at the end of the day and have private lives. 4) And-the question of balance might be a false question. If your work is part of your broader mission/vision/core belief system--you never leave that in the office. It is part of who you are; and that is good. If we had jobs that were so devoid of meaning (or pressure b/c nothing was really happening) that we could punch the clock and not think or care about it--we would have a different problem and be on a different search. We would want the jobs we have (or ones we can carve out in our immediate world). I am also, unfortunately, struck by a quote from Thomas Hobbes. He said something like 'felicity in this life is not with a mind in repose'. Our minds are constantly working-asking if the grass is greener elsewhere--sometimes not fully satisfied. At times, this could be a source of good. We always look to create or make a difference. Other times, it is not a source of good. The grass is not always greener. Socrates said we have three parts to our soul. The just person uses his or her reason in combination with his or her energy/will--to guide and control their desires. When we act on those desires without a lot of thought (e.g. desire for a different title or to work at a bigger university etc...) we sometimes end up in situations and find ourselves unhappy.
Pat was truly a remarkable man. Not only did he support, push, and inspire me as a Bonner Scholar - but he continued to support me in my career as a teacher. He was selfless, giving, and beyond compassionate. He believed in a better world. He believed in all people. In his memory, we will continue to create the vision of change he shared.
Although I have never personally met Pat Donohue, I had been to his office several times to get paper work signed for a club in which he acted as an advisor. It is hard to explain in words how these volunteer experiences have impacted me as they have influenced nearly every part of life- social, professional, academic, and spiritual. My experience rebuilding houses in New Orleans exposed me to a reality I had never known before. I had seen true devastation and extreme poverty but most importantly, how the strength of hope is the true hammer and nails to recovery. As I live with a disease that impacts many aspects of my life, I do sometimes lose that faith that I am stronger than my illness but it is these experiences and the people I have shared them with that help me see that bigger picture and have helped me accomplish more than I thought possible. While Mr. Donohue may not have even known my name, the experiences that he helped facilitate through TCNJ's Alternative Breaks Club have not only helped countless homeless families in New Orleans and brought sunshine into the lives terminally ill children at Give Kids the World but these experiences have had an immeasurable impact on my life and I am eternally thankful for that.
Even something as simple as his nickname for me (Super Liz) made me feel - and still yet makes me feel - like I have so much to contribute to the good fight.
Liz Moody Kiniery
Pat was the embodiment of what it means to give with your entire heart and soul. He cared more for others than they could have expected from anyone. He believe in change and he believed in people and their abilities to create that change. He was our inspiration, but beyond that he was our friend and our family. We can all honor him by trying to live more like he did, giving and loving to the best of our abilities as often as possible.
There a lot of inspirational people in the world, but they all are just on TVs or YouTube Videos. Pat was a real person, in my life, who I knew personally. He gave the most inspirational and motivational speeches of anyone I have ever met. I may not remember everything that he spoke of, but I will never forget how Pat made me feel. I am sure others feel the same way.
There are no words to express my gratitude for Pat. He was a wise teacher, patient mentor and cherished friend. I am blessed to have known such an incredible person who always sought to make things right, in every situation. I pray that Donna, Patrick and Cate know how much Pat talked about them to everyone--how proud he was of his family and how much he loved them. May Pat rest in peace. He will be missed.
After spending four and a half years serving and working under the Bonner umbrella, I was left trying to figure out a way to convey this time and dedication to my future employers (besides a few general lines on a resume). Like all students looking for jobs, I lined up my references and asked for letters of recommendation. Pat was the first person I thought of, who would be able to put into words all that I did as a Bonner, student, and mentor, and hopefully what I was still capable of achieving post graduation. He graciously accepted one more task to complete on his quest to save the world. I have never read such beautiful words about the work we do as Bonners and active citizens. Needless to say, I submitted my letter with my job applications and during a first round interview for a 6th grade teaching position, was offered a job on the spot. I was flabergasted. The Principal of the school directly quoted from Pat's letter. The confidence Pat had in me, and the potential he saw continues to inspire and motivate me. Pat was one of the best teachers I ever had, and I hope we were able to teach him as much as he taught us.
Pat was the faculty advisor for the TCNJ student run organization, Alternative Break Club. Over the years we have sent hundreds of students across the country to help serve those affected by natural disasters. Pat was also there for us, and helped us help those in need. He was a great man, and inspired countless students to be more giving. He will be, and already is, severely missed.
I served as President to TCNJ's Alternative Break Club in 2013-2014. This is an organization that serves primarily in New Orleans rebuilding homes destroyed in Hurricane Katrina; however, we have also worked in several other locations (addresses provided in the "Other" box). Pat was an integral part of the formation of this club in 2008. He helped the original members find and form connections with Project Homecoming and assisted in the logistics and legalities of trip planning. Since then, he has served as our advisor. Pat has mentored and provided support for myself and all the other presidents as we plan these trips. Currently, TCNJ has had more volunteers at Project Homecoming than any other college in the country. We send over 150 people to New Orleans each year on 3 different service trips. In addition, 4 of our previous members have gone on to serve as Americorps at Project Homecoming and St. Bernard's Project, and 2 members (myself included) have served as Long-Term Volunteers with Project Homecoming. It is safe to say that none of this would have been possible without Pat's influence, support, and guidance. He is a man that we all truly admire and respect, and he has affected many lives by proxy through the work that ABC has done.
I was only in Bonner at TCNJ for two years, but my interactions with Pat had a lasting impact on me personally and professionally. As a TCNJ Bonner, I had the opportunity to get experience working in various schools in Trenton, NJ. I mainly worked at after-school programs, and one of my favorite experiences was planning Read Across America day for elementary school students. I worked at an after school program one year through Bonner where I tutored at-risk students. Pat had a lasting impact on me by providing me with plenty of opportunities to think about issues surrounding inequity in education, and by encouraging me to follow an issue I am passionate about. Pat had the vision to see a better world - and unlike many people, he had the drive to work towards creating it. I think of him often while working with children, and try to be like him everyday.
I recently earned my Ph.D. in Education. My research focuses on improving educational practice for at-risk students. I'm starting this fall as an assistant professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University, where I will teach undergraduate students how to be special education teachers. It truly is a ripple effect - Pat was one of the first people who got me thinking about and encouraged me to work towards educational equity for all students. In turn, I will work with 60-80 undergraduates who will go on to be teachers a year, who will each work with 20-30 students yearly for the rest of their careers...his influence goes on, and on, and on.
I am a backdoor Bonner, someone who did not apply directly from high school but rather entered into the program via alternative channels at some point during the academic process. My introduction was simple. It began with an email to Pat asking how I could connect the club Habitat for Humanity TCNJ chapter with the Bonner Scholars. Pat was quick to invite me come visit and experience the Bonner program, even without ever having met me. Pat recognized my interest in social justice and appreciated that dedication. From then on, Pat became a mentor and friend. He would frequently call/text or email to ask me to help him with something, run a program or add my voice during a CEL day. The faith Pat put in me, translated to over 1800 hours of community work over 4 years in the bonner program. But really Pat's influence on me was to motivate me to motivate others. Given the opportunity from Pat to become a positive voice for community service in the TCNJ community, I was able to strengthen my abilities as leader. I now work for a multinational NGO, Conservation International in La Paz, Bolivia on community based programming regarding sustainable development and climate change. I would not be here without Pat's influence on me and him taking a chance on a young 19 year old he never had met. I owe Pat a huge debt of gratitude. From now until forever, I will work to carry Pat's legacy of providing opportunities for better livelihoods and social justice for all. I will miss you Pat, but I will forever have the confidence and abilities you helped me grow, and for that I am grateful.