Humans of UWL: Jack O’Donnell


Jack O’Donnell. Photo taken by Morgan Hose.

Morgan Hose, Executive Editor

As students of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse prepare for the upcoming finals week for fall semester, some students are also preparing to graduate at the winter Commencement on Sunday, Dec. 18. One of those students in particular, is one of The Racquet Press’s very own editors, Jack O’Donnell.

O’Donnell, the multimedia editor of The Racquet Press, is a communication studies major with a media studies emphasis with a minor in digital media studies and design. “Originally, I went into college as a psychology major, but after the first semester, I switched to a math education major,” said O’Donnell, “The following year, I realized that wasn’t for me, and that’s when I discovered communication studies.”

O’Donnell had taken CST110: communicating effectively, and had “a great professor that helped introduce what communication studies is and what you can do with it post-graduation.”

O’Donnell chose the media studies emphasis because of his interests in social media and sports media. “I’ve always been a huge fan of sports, such as the Minnesota Wild Hockey Team (NHL), so it seemed like the right fit for me,” said O’Donnell.

Photography has always been a passion for O’Donnell and he said, “I can explore this hobby throughout my minor in digital media studies and design.  I’ve created some really cool photographs during my time in college.” Photography and imaging I and photography and imaging II were some of O’Donnell’s favorite classes, along with the public relation classes taught by Dr. Gregorary Ormes.

Communication majors of all four emphasis areas conclude their degree by taking a yearlong capstone course, CST 498 and CST 499. According to the UWL course catalog, these courses are designed to “examine research methods for answering communication research questions” and to allow “students to conduct an individual investigation of a specific research question that results in a formal written research report.”

O’Donnell, who is conducting a research study on why people watch/listen to the true crime genre and what their perceptions of crime in their personal environments are, said, “This was the biggest challenge of my college career. It was hard, but I am very proud of the work I completed this semester.”

Once finished, UWL hosts a capstone poster presentation open to the public for people to learn about the different kinds of senior projects done by students. This semester, it is being held on Monday, Dec. 19 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in the Student Union on the second floor in the Bluff’s room.

When asked why he chose to come to UWL, O’Donnell had the opportunity to run for the UWL Cross Country team, which he said, “unfortunately, didn’t work out in my favor, but it was a blessing in disguise as I got to meet all these great people through running, but without having to competitively run.”

Other reasons for choosing UWL was because of the geographical area, mid-size campus feel, and close distance to his hometown in Lakeville, MN.

O’Donnell started at The Racquet Press in the summer of 2021 where he served as the sports reporter for the 2021-2022 academic year. Starting in the summer of 2022, O’Donnell was promoted to multimedia editor for the upcoming fall semester.

“I’ve always been interested in sports media, so I got the opportunity to interview athletes, people in the athletics department, and cover live sporting events,” said O’Donnell, “It has been a great experience for me to learn what goes into it [sports media].”

Along with that, O’Donnell said through his editor position, he got to explore what goes into the behind-the-scenes of reporting. “As the multimedia editor, I designed advertisements for The Racquet, created our press passes and Instagram templates, and helped to increase engagement on our social media,” said O’Donnell.

“I’ve enjoyed being a part of The Racquet Press because I got to know so many people and learn more about our campus, overall allowing me to get to know about UWL as a whole,” said O’Donnell.

Outside of school, O’Donnell spends his time golfing, playing hockey, and watching sporting events with his friends and roommates. “Golf has become my biggest hobby, I enjoy it because of the individual aspect of you against the course,” said O’Donnell, “It is something I could do for the rest of my life and never be bored with it as you will rarely ever have the same shot.”

“I was hired last spring at the La Crosse Country Club in golf services where I communicated with member’s needs, set up golf events, and taught junior golfers,” said O’Donnell.

O’Donnell’s dream job would consist of working with the Minnesota Wild hockey team for the director of communications. He would be interested in “setting up press conferences, managing their social media accounts, and getting to be a part of their live events.”

While O’Donnell currently has no plans set in stone following graduation, he said, “I think for now I’m going to relax and enjoy being a college graduate.”

“Graduating is something I am super proud of as I will be the first in my family to graduate with a college degree right after high school. It took a little longer than I expected, but I wouldn’t change anything about the last four and a half years because then I wouldn’t be who I am today,” said O’Donnell.

When asked what advice O’Donnell has for incoming freshmen and underclassmen, he said, “Just be you. Don’t let anyone tell you what to do or who to be. These are some of the most fun four years of your life. Accept anything that comes your way.”