Rachel O’Donnell was born in St. Margaret’s Hospital in Dorchester into a family with a father very interested in politics and a mother extremely active in the community. As a child, Rachel’s father would take her to the Carpenters’ Union rallies and protests, which sparked questions in her mind, such as: “What do people want from the government?” and “What does the government do to help, serve and protect the people?” Her mother always welcomed her into community events, from sports at the Boys and Girls Club, to art classes at the McLaughlin Center. When she was very young, Rachel won the Little Miss Dorchester contest and met community officials such as Congressman Joe Moakley and Mayor Thomas M. Menino and received citations from Boston City Council. The day on which she won the contest was the 50th anniversary of her grandfather’s United States citizenship, which was the first day he met Congressman Moakley. Rachel looks up to her grandfather because despite the hardships he has experienced as an immigrant from Galway he is still the most patriotic person she knows. His patriotism led Rachel to realize how fortunate she is to live in the United States.

Rachel wanted to begin a career in public service through inspiration from community members like Paul R. McLaughlin and Leo Lydon. Rachel’s first job was working as a camp counselor at the Colonel Daniel Marr Boys and Girls Club, the following summer was spent with an internship at the BFDS Building for State Street Bank, working with Dreyfus Mutual Funds.

At the end of sophomore year at Boston Latin School, Rachel made the best decision in her high school career up to that point: checking the box on her course selection sheet next to A.P. Government, which is now her favorite class. She was lucky enough to have Ms. Celia Sweeney, who, while teaching a class about Congress through setting up the classroom as the US House of Representatives, inspired her to take an internship at Dorchester Representative Martin J. Walsh’s office. She especially enjoyed working at Martin Walsh’s office because of his importance in the community and his avid support and involvement with local labor unions. There, she not only learned the intricacies of working in a State Representative’s office, how to file, to schedule, and to make phone calls, but more importantly she learned how much she enjoyed being in public service and being around politics in its purest form. Other enriching experiences she had during her junior year at Boston Latin School include tutoring for Project D.E.E.P. at the Murphy School in Dorchester and volunteering for the BLS Guidance Office. These three positive services to her school and community caused her to apply for the John William Ward Fellowship.

After graduating from Boston Latin School, Rachel will be a first generation college student in her family. Her parents have taught her, among many other things, the merit of hard work. Rachel was thrilled to hear that she earned membership in the Ward Fellowship and enjoys working for Linda Dorcena Forry, a State Representative for Mattapan, Hyde Park, Milton and Dorchester.