Anif McDonald ’16

Anif McDonald ’16

Headshot of Anif McDonald ’16 standing outside in front of trees.

Trailblazer and Community-Builder, at Fairfield and Beyond.

In my experience, Catholic education has helped me understand that while we may come from different places, we are there for the whole person and we can continue to learn from one another regardless of our backgrounds.

— Anif McDonald ’16

Many talk about giving back to one’s community, serving as a leader and an example, but Anif McDonald ’16 does more than just talk — he lives that philosophy every day. With a deep appreciation for his own Catholic and Jesuit education, McDonald strives to be a positive and trusting voice for the young men who attend Xaverian Brothers High School, his alma mater, in Westwood, Mass.

The Church has always been important in McDonald’s life — one of the reasons that he chose to attend Fairfield in 2012, where he went on to become president of the Fairfield University Student Association (FUSA) in his senior year.

“In my experience, Catholic education has helped me understand that while we may come from different places, we are there for the whole person and we can continue to learn from one another regardless of our backgrounds,” McDonald said. “We are made in the image and likeness of God and we should learn and accept differences because that is the beauty of our world.”

McDonald has excelled in his current role at Xaverian, a Catholic college-preparatory school for boys in grades seven through 12, where he serves as the school’s first ever director of Community, Culture, and Equity (CCE). In this position, he promotes the growth, diversity, and inclusion of all peoples, cultures, ideas, and traditions.

“What drew me into the world of education is the fact that every expert in their field was once a beginner,” said McDonald. “Students are in such a critical time in their lives in high school and college, and if school leaders can set an example of creating trust and care for one another, it will be contagious — making the world a better place for everyone.”

Many of the lessons he learned during his time as a sociology and psychology student at Fairfield continue to serve McDonald well. As the first Black president of FUSA, he broke down boundaries with faculty, staff, administration, and the student body. During his presidency, he learned valuable life lessons – such as, “collaboration is key, and in order to find success there has to be trust and transparency.”

Some of the reasons he chose to attend Fairfield were for its smaller, Catholic community, the scenic campus, and his appreciation of rugby. For similar reasons, he returned after college to his beloved Xaverian, a school established in the Ignatian tradition in 1963 by the Xaverian Brothers — a Catholic religious order, also known as the Congregation of St. Francis Xavier, founded by Theodore James Ryken in Belgium in 1839.

Since returning to the Boston area, McDonald has joined a men’s rugby club called the Boston Irish Wolfhounds, and has recently enrolled in a master’s program in educational leadership at fellow Jesuit institution, Boston College.

His role at Xaverian allows him to celebrate the different stories and experiences that his students share, ones that he believes should be celebrated and not used as a tool for division. He is currently working with the entire school’s faculty, staff, and administration on programming centered around anti-racism and identity-conscious education.

“One lesson we should learn is that unless we cast our nets wide, we’ll never know which gifts from people we could be missing out on,” said McDonald. “If we pull from different areas, we can build a stronger community.”

With teenage boys coming from all over Massachusetts, Xavarian, which boasts a student population of 23 percent who identify as a person of color, has recently begun a campaign called “Redefining Strong.” Part of this new campaign’s mission is about embracing one another’s diversity and having compassion for each person’s individual journey.

“It’s about creating an environment where students in an all-boys Catholic school know that it is completely fine to be the lead in a play and the varsity football captain,” he said. “And to also know that some students have to catch two buses and walk the rest of the way to get to school every day — so if that student is tired, to have some compassion with him. Understanding another’s perspective allows students to better appreciate each other.”

“Fairfield taught me to do what I love,” McDonald added, “and I have not looked back ever since.”

Other Articles in the Spring 2024 Issue

Letter from the President

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Confident, Courageous, Competitive

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The Storm on the Horizon

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Taking Care

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Indie Press Success

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To Elevate the Discourse

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Maureen Winkler Belger ’87

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Women of the 50th Reunion Committee

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