A Cook, a Superhero or Both?

John Donley '14 poses for a photo in Prague. He studied political science in the Czech Republic during the fall semester of his junior year.

John Donley '14 poses for a photo in Prague. He studied political science in the Czech Republic during the fall semester of his junior year.

By MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

Healthy, purposeful living is a mission for John “Draper” Donley ’14. He’s a student-athlete and captain of the three-time Centennial Conference-winning lacrosse team who hopes to help save lives as a volunteer for the American Cancer Society. He also enjoys preparing nutritious food. After graduating this spring, Draper plans to combine two of these interests in a dramatic way and then pursue a career in the third. Learn about his upcoming summer adventure, who makes him laugh and the most important things he’s learned so far.


Political science.

Clubs and organizations:

Men’s lacrosse, Relay for Life (team captain).

On choosing to attend Dickinson:

I wanted to be able to pursue the love I had for lacrosse and also get a great education. I was looking at other schools, but the first time I met Coach Dave Webster, I knew this was the place for me. He is a phenomenal leader and role model.

Favorite class:

My senior seminar, Comparative Political Corruption, with [award-winning] Professor [Mark] Ruhl.

Favorite place on campus:

The Durden Athletic Training Center.

Favorite book:

Lone Survivor, by Marcus Luttrell.

Favorite movie:


On studying abroad:

In fall of my junior year I studied in Prague, Czech Republic. It was interesting to study politics in an area of Eastern Europe that was still under communist rule less than 25 years ago.

As a kid, I wanted to be . . .

. . . either a cook or superhero.

Favorite Dining Hall food:

Banana-bread bar.

Little-known talents/hobbies:

I love to play golf with father when I have some downtime. I also love to work out and just kick it with my friends.

Post-Dickinson plans:

Next summer I will embark on the adventure of a lifetime. I was accepted by the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults and the 4k for Cancer to bike across the United States. It will be a 70-day, 45,000-mile trip, beginning June 1 at Inner Harbor, Baltimore, Md., and ending Aug. 9 in San Francisco, Ca.

I am dedicating this ride to three individuals who have all been affected by cancer: my cousin, Merle Peace; one of my mom’s good friends, Anne Braig; and my friend’s grandfather, Donald Lopez. All three of these people have been influential in my life, and they all continue to fight this awful disease. After I finish, I hope to attend the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, Ca., where I wish to pursue my love of food. Eventually I would love to own a few successful restaurants all over the country.

The most important thing I’ve learned so far:

Coach Webster has taught me many things over the past four years. The most important is his notion that we [must] always be good men. No matter where I am or who I am with, I always represent Dickinson with pride.

In a perfect world . . .

. . . people would care more about being healthy. Also, golf would be free.

If I could have dinner with anyone, it would be . . .

. . . Will Ferrell. I don’t think I would be able to stop laughing the entire time. The guy is the best at what he does.

My biggest influence:

At this point in my life my mother has been my biggest influence. She has cheered me on in every aspect of my life. She taught me how to love by example, and if I can be half the parent and spouse that she has been, I will live a pretty awesome life.

Published February 14, 2014