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Career Conferences: Corrigan O’Donohue ‘87 and Kyle Smith ‘04

Catholic Central Alumni Kyle Smith ‘04 and Corrigan O’Donohue ‘87 spoke to students interested in careers in law services, law enforcement, and city planning on March 16 as a part of CC’s Career Conferences series.

Both alumni discussed their career paths and touched on possible paths post-graduation for students interested in careers in law services or law enforcement. 

O’Donohue, Police Chief of Sylvan Lake and Retired Police Chief and Assistant City Manager of Royal Oak, completed three years of active duty in the Marines after graduating from Catholic Central. Starting out as a patrol officer in Royal Oak soon after, O’Donohue worked his way up the ranks and was named police chief in 2011. 

“I know there’s a lot of pressure on many kids here,” O’Donohue said. “It’s okay not knowing what you want to do. It’s okay to pursue a path different from your friend.”

O’Donohue stressed the importance of Catholic Central values to students as they look towards their future.

“What’s the school motto? ‘Teach me Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge’. That’s all you need to be successful in life—but you have to learn them in that order, said O’Donohue.”

Advising students on skill sets to cultivate for a career in law enforcement, O’Donohue highlighted the importance of reading and writing.

“For law enforcement, everything you need to learn about police work will be in the academy,” he said. “On your own, learn how to read and write well. If it’s a well written police report, defense attorneys will take you seriously. I can teach you a lot of things as a young police officer, but I can’t teach you how to write. ”

Smith, a private practice attorney, first completed a Bachelor of Arts in Supply Chain Management from Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business before continuing onto law school. It was not until Smith’s final semester of his business degree, however, that he discovered his passion for law. Taking a business law class, a requirement for the degree, Smith realized he was excited for class each week. 

“In that class, there weren't any wrong answers,” he said “The whole point of the class was to look at the issue from the other side, to look at your own argument and see where your weaknesses were.”

Smith walked students through the LSAT process and next steps after school, encouraging students to connect with the Shamrock Bar, an alumni network of lawyers, for shadow and internship opportunities. Smith also encouraged students to explore the many facets of law, explaining that not all lawyers are in the courtroom. 

“For me, private practice has opened up a lot of different doors,” he said, “You don’t have to be pigeon-holed to just one sector of law.”

Like O’Donohue, Smith also stressed to students the importance of Catholic Central values.

“You’re not going to understand how special this place is until you leave,” Smith said, “You’re going to realize that not everyone in the world has the same standards of Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge. Treat your values like a rock. Wind doesn’t move your values, water doesn’t move your values.”

To close the conference, Smith encouraged students to realize the gift of their Catholic Central education.

“Please go home and thank whoever is allowing you to be here today,” he said. I didn’t realize the sacrifices my parents were making to send me here. My four years here were some of the best of my life. It’s always great to come back home”

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