Alumnus, musician uplifts students with music at impromptu coffeehouse


Photo by: Elizabeth Wagner

The J.C. Williams Center was filled with music, musings and mirth as a Franciscan University of Steubenville alumnus and guitarist entertained and uplifted students on the evening of Feb. 11.

David McHugh, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2007, raises his five children, works as a youth minister and dabbles in music at his current home in Dodge City, Kansas. McHugh came to Steubenville to record a music video for his new single “Between the Bridge and the River,” and he reached out to the university to offer an event for students during his visit.

The idea for a simple event centered around music and the idea of happiness reached fruition during the fun and upbeat but occasionally serious performance hosted by senior resident assistant Caitlin Bowser.

Over the course of the night, McHugh played pop and alternative rock hits, mixing in line dances and Disney songs, interacting with his audience and cracking jokes and creating an energetic atmosphere for the several dozen students gathered around the atrium.

“The music is just the cheese in a mouse trap to get you to stay,” McHugh said to his audience, transitioning from fun music into a brief time of teaching and witness on the topics of happiness, addiction and suicide.

McHugh started by explaining the four levels of happiness: immediate, short-term, long-term and eternal. Lasting and eternal happiness can only come from a relationship with God, McHugh said.

McHugh also warned against losing one’s happiness, saying, “One thing will kill your happiness, and that is addiction.”

According to McHugh, his current home, Dodge City, is sometimes called the “capital city of suicide” in the United States. In his position as youth minister, McHugh often deals with teens whose communities and friendships have been ravaged by frequent occurrences of teen suicide.

The title for McHugh’s single, “Between the Bridge and the River,” was inspired by what Padre Pio told a mother grieving the loss of her son. “He’s okay. Between the bridge and the river, he repented,” McHugh quoted.

McHugh expressed his gratitude for being able to carry out this ambitious project with a team of talented videographers, “even people who did CGI for the Avengers movie,” he said.

McHugh hopes that his song gives hope to those who have lost friends and relatives to suicide and those who are contemplating it for themselves.

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