Mike O'Brien '73

Senior VP of Global Development, Turner Construction


 How has your high school experience impacted your life?

It's hard to know just how many things we carry forward from our teens. Ever since my sophomore year Chemistry project of making wine using Welch's grape juice, a balloon, and a radiator, I've had a favorite pastime as a winemaker and ultimately owner of a commercial vineyard.
I became interested in languages through one of my favorite classes, German, which greatly helped me later on when I needed both French and Spanish for different work assignments. Cretin certainly nurtured curiosity about math and science and that led to a long career in engineering and business. There are probably hundreds of examples. Mostly though, I would say that Cretin immersed me in an appreciation of a balanced pursuit of happiness that includes the pleasure of continuous learning and focusing on our friends, family, and community.

What advice would you give a current CDH student?

I'd encourage you to get politically active, even as most of you are not yet old enough to vote. Our elections next year could mean so much to the future of the world that you're going to inherit - from climate reform, to the rights of the underprivileged, to the potential threat to our democracy. Next year is the 50th anniversary of the original Earth Day. Unfortunately, our generation didn't live up to its initial promise for social change and we've left you with a bit of a mess.

What does being a graduate of Cretin mean to you?

I've lived on the West Coast where few people have heard of CDH. I enjoy walking around wearing a "Cretin" t-shirt - it's a great icebreaker and opportunity to start a conversation.

What is your favorite memory of high school?

Without a doubt, there were outstanding classes, extracurricular activities and inspired teachers, but in all honesty, my favorite memories are mostly things we shouldn't have been doing - goofing off with friends, giggling behind teachers' backs, etc. I think we can still take our lives seriously without taking ourselves too seriously.

Why is it important to you to support our school?

I think it is human nature to want to share our good fortune and positive experiences. Giving to CDH is an opportunity to "pay it forward" to the next generation in the hopes that they can form similar and lifelong bonds. Even after 46 years, my closest friends are still fellow Cretin grads. From my experience, that's pretty exceptional.