Senior Jack Lynch was more than a talented distance runner at Loyola. That was evident May 25 at the school’s graduation ceremony at Northwestern University when he received the prestigious Graduate at Graduation Award. The honor is given to one boy and one girl who best exemplify the Jesuit ideal of being intellectually competent, open to growth, religious, loving, physically fit and committed to doing justice. Sophia D’Agostino, a varsity cheerleader who’s going to Vanderbilt University, was the other award-winner. Lynch, who’s bound for Cornell University, was a three-year varsity member of the cross country and track and field teams. He starred at cross country. As a senior captain, he helped the Ramblers to their first Catholic League championship since 2014 by taking sixth place to earn a spot on the all-conference team. An Evanston resident, Lynch went to Haven Middle School and was the first in his family to attend Loyola. 

MAROON & GOLD: Your selection as a Graduate at Graduation should come as no surprise to those who know you. But you said it wasn’t something you expected. 

JACK LYNCH: It’s a tremendous honor and really cool. People asked me after graduation why I didn’t tell them beforehand that I won it. I had no idea until that day. 

M&G: You sport an impressive résumé. You were a three-year varsity athlete in two sports. You were a member of the Clavius Scholars Honors Program and eligible for a National Merit Scholarship. You served as a leader of Kairos, a a spiritual retreat connected to the campus ministry, and LA Way, a program that helps freshmen and sophomore assimilate into the school’s culture. Bottom line: You took advantage of the extensive opportunities Loyola offers to its students. 

JL: I went there for a number of reasons. One was the running program, led by [Loyola boys cross country and boys track and field head coach Dan] Seeberg and [Loyola assistant coach Dave] Behof. Another was its high-profile academics. I also made sure to immerse myself in everything I could, and I couldn’t be happier with the return on my investment. 

M&G: How did you get started running and why? 

JL: Soccer was my biggest sport when I was younger, and I played it through eighth grade. My parents both are runners, especially my mom. They saw the endurance I had playing soccer and thought I could be good at running. I gave cross country a try in sixth grade and started winning races. I had to make a decision once I got to high school because both sports are in the fall. I chose cross country thinking I’d have more success and a brighter future. I’m happy with how it turned out.  

M&G: Other than the competition, what do you like about running? 

JL: Being with my best friends on a daily basis. Best day of my life was winning conference [in cross country]. We worked so hard and logged so many miles in the offseason. To see it pay off was awesome. 

M&G: Now that you’re done with high school, how are you spending your time? 

JL: I work almost 40 hours a week at Fleet Feet in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood. I’ve been there ever since the spring of my freshman year. I love it. It’s cool to help people find the right gear, whether for a marathon or their local 5K. The discounts on shoes and apparel is also a huge bonus. It’s a great gig. 

M&G: As someone who lives in Evanston, you commute roughly one hour by public transportation to your job. But you told me you enjoy it. Why is that? 

JL: I was born at Northwestern’s hospital and lived in the South Loop [a Chicago neighborhood] for the first few years of my life. When I applied for the job, I wasn’t old enough to drive, but I was fine with taking the train. I’ve always been good with public transportation. It’s an easy way to get around. I’ve always loved the way of life in the city.

M&G: You’re going to Cornell with the purpose of majoring in urban planning and minoring in architecture. It’s clear you have put a lot of thought into your future career, which is rare for someone your age. When did you realize your calling? 

JL: I remember the moment vividly. I was in seventh grade, and we had a career day. There was a married couple who worked at the same architecture firm. I don’t remember exactly what they said, but it definitely sparked an interest in me, and it didn’t take long to figure out that’s what I wanted to do. A big draw to Loyola was its accredited architecture courses. After awhile, I became more interested in urban planning, which includes architecture. It focuses on every element that goes into making a city function. 

M&G: Will you continue running competitively?  

JL: It takes a toll on your body, so I am not running in any events this summer. I do plan on competing at the club level in college. I will gear up for that the closer I get to leaving. Running is something I love to do, and it’s a great way to meet new people.