It’s hard to find student leaders as dedicated as Michael Bradley. A senior studying philosophy and theology at the University of Notre Dame, he serves as editor in chief of the Irish Rover, a leading member of ISI’s Collegiate Network of independent student publications. In fact, under Michael’s leadership, the Rover took home the ISI Collegiate Network Publication of the Year Award in 2013. Michael is also an ISI Honors Scholar, a student columnist for ISI’s IntercollegiateReview.com, and an officer of the ISI student group at Notre Dame. He has even found time to be a member of Notre Dame’s varsity track and field team, a fellow with Notre Dame’s Tocqueville Program for Inquiry into Religion and American Public Life, and managing editor of Ethika Politika, the online journal of the Center for Morality in Public Life.
We recently caught up with Michael to talk about his faith, his career goals, and the meaning of the ISI experience.
- How did you get involved in ISI?
I heard about ISI from friends at Notre Dame who had been Honors Scholars. Their recommendations of the Honors Program convinced me to look into it during the spring of my junior year, which was when I first discovered ISI for myself.
- What has been the highlight of your undergraduate experience thus far?
When I look back at my time at Notre Dame, I will think of the Masses, the relationships I’ve formed here (some of which will last for life), my work with the Irish Rover, and my time on the track team. The John Paul II Catholic Leadership Summit in March 2014 will, I think, probably be the most fruitful and rewarding event I’ve coordinated or been a part of during my time at Notre Dame.
- What have you valued most about your ISI experience?
I’ve most enjoyed the opportunity to meet, befriend, and work with peers who share my passions, interests, and commitments. That is a blessing, and I am very grateful for the people whom I’ve met through ISI. These are relationships that I would not otherwise have enjoyed.
- How have you spent your summers?
For the past four summers I have worked at a local outdoor kids’ day camp here in South Bend, serving as director for the past three summers. I’ve been able to form relationships with a lot of grade-schoolers in South Bend, relationships that I really enjoy. Working at camp keeps me young. I have loved working there and will miss it.
People have said that I’ve missed opportunities to intern or make professional connections during my college summers. But I wouldn’t trade my summers there for anything—in large part because I’ve been able to live at home and be with my family.
- Whom do you admire most, and why?
Among people I know, my father, who teaches law at Notre Dame. Dad was my first role model as a man of faith and continues to model the same virtues—courage, integrity, humility—that make him a great father and husband, and a great Catholic public intellectual and scholar.
Among those I do not know, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Benedict is truly a servant of the Church and has submitted his life at the feet of the Lord in so many ways that people may not fully appreciate. His writing can only be described as beautiful. He is a saintly man and should be a role model for every aspiring Catholic theologian or intellectual more broadly.
- What advice would you give to other students who want to preserve the principles of liberty?
Surrounding yourself with thoughtful, like-minded peers is essential to one’s growth as a person of faith or a person of conservative inclinations. ISI helps make these inter- and intra-campus relationships a reality. A deep and robust exposure to the great canon of Western thought is also essential, whether one approaches that patrimony through a theological, philosophical, or more broadly classical venue.
- What are your plans for after graduation?
I want to teach at a Catholic university and place my life at the service of the Church as a father, husband, scholar, and public intellectual. In the immediate future I will be taking a year off before applying for master’s programs in theology, and I am continuing to discern what I am called to do during this gap year. I hope to end up somewhere where I will be near loved ones and read, think, and write.