“In layman's terms, I like water,” O’Hara said. “More precisely, I like the idea of seafaring, riding the waves and seeing the world. This may not be the most meaningful rationale, but life is short and sometimes a little romanticism is not unwarranted.” 

This curiosity about the world around him motivated O’Hara to participate in many linguistic and cultural events while studying on campus at ASU. A favorite was the SILC Café, a weekly event to foster conversation between members of the ASU community in a variety of languages. He also enjoyed the Lunar New Year celebration and annual Language Fair, both of which were held virtually this year. 

“The SILC community in general was quite cosmopolitan, and I always found classmates to be interesting and engaging. The diverse backgrounds of the community provided a striking learning experience in worldview,” O’Hara said. 

For his involvement in campus events and work tutoring English-language learners, as well as his dedication to his studies, O’Hara was selected as SILC's spring 2022 recipient of the Dean’s Medal. The award recognizes high-achieving students from the departments and schools within The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. 

“Being named Dean's Medalist is a nice reminder of what I've learned, how I've grown and the people who have helped me become who I am today,” O’Hara said. “It makes me proud to know that my teachers thought well enough of me as a student and person to nominate me for this award. The fact they even remember me is extremely humbling. More than anything, I'm just grateful.” 

Liao and Senior Lecturer in Chinese Joanne Tsao were the professors who taught the majority of O’Hara’s courses within his Chinese-language major, he said. Beyond just being informative, he said their classes were a joy to attend. His professors at ASU encouraged him to dive deeper into his studies and pursue the topics he was most passionate about. 

“The collaborative nature of their teaching styles made their courses all the more transformative,” O’Hara said. “You could tell that they all really care about both the subject they were lecturing on and their students. They were just as invested in the learning experience as I was. That kind of passion is infectious and inspiring.” 

The respect for academic rigor and dedication goes both ways. 

“The strengths that set Daniel apart from his peers are, first, that he is able to critically analyze textual matter and form critical and insightful interpretations of whatever he might be reading; second, he is able to pinpoint authorial rhetoric and biases and prejudices of argumentation; and third, he is quick to make associations between disparate texts,” Tsao said. 

These are all skills crucial to success in SILC degree programs and beyond. O’Hara said he will take with him all that he learned during his time at ASU as he moves forward into his dream career sailing the high seas and serving in the U.S. Navy.