When Logan Monahan stood at the podium to address first-year students during the Welcoming Celebration in September, he urged them to follow their hearts, strive to make a difference, stand up to injustices and advocate for each other, especially those targeted by hate.

“I encourage you to go out and meet students who are different than you, open your hearts and ears to diverse perspectives and never forget that love is a powerful thing and is the root of all positive change in our world,” Monahan said to the crowd inside the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex’s Schoenecker Arena.

As president of the Undergraduate Student Government, Monahan is committed to creating an inclusive culture on campus. A pre-med student majoring in neuroscience with a justice and peace studies minor, Monahan is passionate about his future with aspirations of being an innovator in the world of health care. He’s also a really good bowler. His family owns a bowling center in the small southern Minnesota town of Hayfield, where he grew up learning firsthand about the business of entertainment and hospitality.

The Newsroom recently caught up with Monahan and asked him about everything from his favorite place on campus and his love of music to the person who most inspires him and the things that make him smile. Here are the highlights from our conversation.

What is one goal you’d like to achieve during your time as student body president?

I ran under the platform that we are better together. You can take that in many different ways – clubs, organizations, academics or student life. We don’t lack a community, but I think the community aspect of our campus could be stronger than what it is right now. With all of the work coming from Dr. Sullivan and her administration with the Action Plan to Combat Racism, it’s a unique time at St. Thomas to build a community and to shape what our new community here is going to look like. My biggest goal for student government is to unite the campus a little bit better. Build more community and make sure everyone feels welcome here, because everyone deserves to be here and everyone has a right to be here.

Do you have any advice for first-year students?
It sounds a bit cliché, but get involved and try things that you necessarily wouldn’t have tried during high school or wherever you were before. Throwing yourself into something that makes you a little bit uncomfortable, but not to the point where you don’t feel safe, is a really good way to form new relationships.

What’s your favorite place on campus?

I really like the space behind Brady Educational Center. There’s a nice lawn, lots of trees – it’s a good place to throw down a blanket and read a book. You can’t ever go wrong with the upper or lower quad – those are great places to hang out with friends, too.

You quoted Dolly Parton twice during your Welcoming Ceremony speech. I’m guessing you’re a fan?

I am a huge Dolly Parton fan. I really like her attitude – she promotes happiness. I think a lot of the problems we have can be solved by being happier, more forgiving people. Finding yourself and finding your own happiness can help create others’ happiness. She has a lot of quotes like, “If you see someone without a smile, give them yours.” There are simple things people can do like hold a door for someone and smile – that acknowledgement that they’re there. It’s a small thing, but really could change the way the world is today.

If your life had a theme song what would it be?

Dolly Parton’s “Better Get to Livin’.” I really love the song and it has such a positive message behind it. It is all about moving forward through the tough times and not getting stuck on your failures. It just reminds me to keep moving, forgive people and show love to all.

What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to?
I’m a huge Elton John fan. Elton John is an amazing person making great music that has a lot of meaning behind it, but also it’s very easy to listen to. You don’t necessarily have to get his messages out of his music if you don’t want to. My mom bought me Elton John tickets for my birthday when I was a junior in high school. I missed a high school basketball game (I played on the team) for it.

Who inspires you?

My mom. She has a very difficult heart condition. She was an amazing athlete. When she turned 20 or 21, she had been training with different college coaches and was thinking of going to the Olympics for track and field. Then she started to experience these episodes where she would faint. Because of this, she’s been disabled pretty much ever since. She has taught me that no matter what life throws at you, if you get knocked down just get back up and try again and keep going. I am so close and grateful for my mom – she’s supported me throughout my life, in all of my activities and achievements. She’s very inspiring. She keeps going no matter what.

What makes you smile?

People. I know that sounds way too general, but I don’t think I could ever go a day without talking to people. It makes me smile to see others interacting, especially if it’s people helping other people. As a sidenote, my dog, Cody, always makes me smile.

What’s your biggest frustration?

When others can’t see or hear another side of an argument or a decision, policy, anything like that. A lack of openness. Another big thing that frustrates me is the mindset of ‘this is how it’s always been and we can’t change it.’

Besides being involved in Student Government, are there any other things you’ve done during your time at St. Thomas that you’re proud of?
Last fall I was accepted into the University Innovation Fellows program through Stanford University. I have a fellowship with them for innovation and design thinking. That’s a huge part of my experience at St. Thomas and something I’m really proud of. I actually went to Stanford and attended a five-day retreat where I heard a bunch of different speakers from all around the world. Another thing I’m proud of is I’m a member of Pulse, the dance group on campus.

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