James O’Donnell was born in Stony Brook, Long Island in the historic state of New York and grew up in the small Hudson Valley town of Hopewell Junction, New York all his life. He graduated from John Jay Senior High School in June of 2015 and began his college career as a commuter student at Marist College in August of 2015. While not his top choice school, but he is very happy to be at Marist and can no longer picture himself attending school anywhere else. James is majoring in History/Adolescent Education and is grateful for Marist’s excellent education program that has provided him with opportunities to build a network at local schools and to meet many amazing teachers, educators, and students. James possesses a passion for history and has always sought to share that passion with just about anybody willing to listen. He is also very interested in politics, writing, and sports, such as baseball and football. James is here at the Hudson River Valley Institute as an intern to expand his knowledge and understanding of the local areas’ historical significance and share those stories with others.
Outside of school activities and studies, James is always busy with his hobbies, but most importantly with his family. Some of his family have lived in the Hudson Valley for many years. At home, James enjoys spending time with his amazingly supportive fiancé and their five-month-old son. He always makes sure to set aside time from working and homework every day to spend time with them both. Additionally, if free time allows, he enjoy hikes and outdoor activities and sometimes video games, board games, and other fun activities. Also, James has always aspired to be a fiction author and even has an idea for a great novel, so he enjoys sitting down occasionally to write creatively and allow his imagination to wander. Some of his favorite titles include a mix of fiction and nonfiction books, such as The Hunger Games series and the World War II nonfiction book The Longest Winter. James is also a movie buff and has always loved Star Wars (except for the sequel trilogy, which he thinks are terrible) and the Marvel movies.
Following his graduation from Marist, James plans to complete his teaching certification and become a high school history teacher. Per New York state requirements, James will get his master’s degree and possibly a doctoral degree someday. He has always been fascinated and intrigued by the history of the French Revolution and Napoleon Bonaparte and would likely seek a Ph.D. in that era of historical study. Should he eventually graduate with a Ph.D., James would seek to become a college professor. The education program here at Marist has set him up with many valuable contacts and opportunities. Hopefully, this will allow him to become a full-time history teacher soon after graduation. Lastly, while James loves the Hudson Valley because it is his home, he and his family plan to move out-of-state (for financial reasons) to the Carolinas within a few years and build themselves a new beginning down there. James hopes to take his passion of history with him and share it with new friends, future colleagues, and students. James has a long journey ahead of him and here at the Hudson River Valley Institute, he seeks to take the first steps towards the future and success.