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Child Star of Long-Running TAC ad
is Member of Freshman Class

Posted: September 14, 2020

“Because the future has never needed the past more than it does today.”

So reads the headline of an advertisement that Thomas Aquinas College has printed many times over the last 15 years. The ad depicts three generations of a family walking across the College’s sunny California campus: The silver-haired grandfather offers sage advice to his son, a young man clasping the hand of his own child — an adorable redheaded boy of about three years, who gazes up admiringly at his forbears.

Hard though it may be to believe, that adorable redheaded boy now stands at close to six feet tall. He is also a member of the Thomas Aquinas College Class of 2024.

The Freshman

Brendan (’24) and Jon Daly (’99) Brendan (’24) and Jon Daly (’99)In that now-iconic advertisement, which promotes the College’s Legacy Society, Brendan is holding the hand of his father, Admissions Director Jon Daly (’99), who is flanked by the College’s late publications manager, Don Boardman, standing in for Brendan’s grandfather. “Back in those olden days when people read newspapers and journals, we scheduled that ad in the Wanderer, the National Catholic RegisterFirst Things, Our Sunday Visitor, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, National Review, and many other publications,” says Tom Susanka, the College’s director emeritus of gift planning, who commissioned the ad sometime around 2005.

“When we first saw it published in National Review, Brendan actually saw it before any of us — he wasn’t reading, but he enjoyed flipping through and looking at pictures,” remembers Jon Daly. “After seeing himself in the picture, he called out from the other room, ‘Mom, I’m in the magazine!’” For his part, Brendan reports that the majority of his sightings of the ad were in the College’s Newsletter. “But one time, I got to see it in the National Catholic Register, which I thought was pretty cool!”

For Jon Daly, who has served as the emcee at the College’s Matriculation ceremony every year since becoming admissions director in 2004 — and who has welcomed countless bright-faced freshmen to the school — announcing Brendan’s name at this year’s event was especially rewarding. “I’ve been working at TAC all of his life, and as anyone who works here knows, our jobs are very fulfilling,” he says. “We all know the good in which we’re participating, and we see it day after day, class after class. To be able to announce my eldest son’s name in the freshman roll-call, and to know that he will have the opportunity to benefit directly and personally in all the ways that we work for, is truly wonderful.”

The Outdoor Scholar

Although Brendan grew up in a TAC household, it was not always obvious to his parents, both of whom are alumni, that he, too, would attend the school. “Marie (Sale ’00) and I certainly hoped that Brendan would consider the College,” Mr. Daly recalls. “But we were careful from the beginning to never assume or push him in any way. We wanted it to be his decision.”

While Brendan did well in school, he was an outdoorsman first. “Brendan has always enjoyed being active,” says Mr. Daly. “He has loved and participated in every sport he could over the years, and he enjoys camping and backpacking as well as hunting and fishing.” For much of his childhood, Brendan admits, the intense academic program at the College did not appeal to him. “I fought the idea of coming to Thomas Aquinas College,” he says.

Then he attended the Great Books Summer Program between his junior and senior years in high school. “It completely changed my view of TAC,” Brendan explains. “I applied to the program just to see if I liked the style of classes and the people I met, and after those two weeks I decided that this was the only place I wanted to be.” Before the program, “I thought I knew what the social life at TAC was like, but I had no idea what the academic life was like,” he continues. “When classes started, I was shocked at how interesting and fun the daily classroom discussions were.”

The clinching factor in his decision to come to the College, however, came when Brendan “was able to play sports and hang out with the same kids I was just discussing Boethius with in class.” An outdoorsman, it turns out, can also live and love the life of the mind — in the company of good friends, no less. “I doubt many other colleges, if any, have this amazingly intertwined academic and social life. That is the reason I decided to apply to TAC.”

Past and Future

Even though some 15 years have passed since that Legacy Society ad was first published — and Brendan has graduated from poster child to freshman — Mr. Susanka remains confident that “the Brendan Daly ad has not yet run out of steam.” Efforts have been made, over the years, to update or replace it, but none has passed muster.

“Although it is not now possible to calculate the ad’s effectiveness, our Legacy Society has grown considerably over the years since Brendan and his father and ‘grandfather’ were introduced to a waiting, breathless audience,” says Mr. Susanka. This depiction of one family in three generations has demonstrated in a very real sense that “the future has never needed the past more than it does today.”

Brendan Daly has been promoting Thomas Aquinas College from his earliest days. For the next four years — and for the rest of his life — he will get to benefit from the fruits of his efforts.

God bless Brendan and the Class of 2024!

2015 Legacy Society ad featuring Jon and Brendan Daly

A Legacy Society ad, circa 2005, featuring TAC freshman Brendan Daly (right)

Patrick Nazeck (’19) -- quote 1

“No one here tells us what to think. We read the great books, look into them deeply, and then discuss them actively in class, which has forced me to take responsibility for my own education.”

– Patrick Nazeck (’19)

Ridgecrest, California

“The Church will flourish through the inspiring example and praiseworthy endeavors of Thomas Aquinas College.”

– The Most Rev. Pietro Sambi (†)

Apostolic Nuncio to the United States