Dave MacDonald “You’re at a grenade range, blowing up human-looking targets. And you ask yourself: Is this the way to deal with all our problems?”

It all looked so easy. Take your telegenic good looks, your on-camera experience, and a gift for speaking-bang! You’re a Star. But for Dave MacDonald, former soldier and now a devout Buddhist, something happened on his way to Hollywood success. “I planned on being an actor, but one day I just felt a void in myself. Life’s been awfully good to me,” he says. “But I looked around at all these people whose daily life is a horror, and I decided on what would be my career: I would simply help people.” To that end, Dave is working tirelessly to get the homeless back on their feet.

“I found that the most important things in recovery among the homeless is their faith in God,” says Dave who plans to work on a relief mission through his Buddhist church. “I’ve realized that I don’t need to be a ‘superstar’. I need to help.” For Dave, this realization hit home when he delivered his badly injured girlfriend to an emergency room one night.

“The surgeon that helped her began to cry when I thanked him. He’d just treated three people with gunshot wounds,” recalls Dave. “And I thought, a guy like Christian Slater gets mobbed by people when here’s a guy-sewing people up and not sleeping for 48 hours-who hardly gets a kind word. It dawned on me that our culture is a little bit wacky about what we value. And when I look at the violent way we deal with problems,” he continues, “I don’t see how we can condemn gangs for their behavior. What we all need to do is somehow set better examples with the lives we lead.”

Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.