When she graduated from Thomas Aquinas College, California, in 2008, Meghan Duke never imagined that she would one day join its teaching faculty, let alone at a new campus in New England. She never even expected to attend graduate school.
Miss Duke’s journey to Northfield, Massachusetts, was providentially roundabout, beginning with her primary education in Wilmington, Delaware. “My parents were really good with all of their kids,” she says. “They tried to make sure that each child had the education that was right for them.” As a result, she tasted many flavors of study, from parochial Catholic schools and homeschooling to Waldorf education. Her parents kept their ears open for any new developments in higher — and especially Catholic — education.
“My dad heard about TAC when I was in high school, and he thought it would be a good fit for me,” says Miss Duke. Her father’s hunch proved prescient. “I was always fine in school, but it was always because you’re supposed to do fine in school,” she recalls. “TAC was the first place where I was really invested in the questions we were asking.”
“An intentional part of the College’s program is instilling confidence that reality is understandable.”
Upon graduating in 2008, Miss Duke set about pursuing a career as a writer and editor. “I worked for a small publishing house associated with the Intercollegiate Studies Institute,” she says. “I then worked for First Things for three years as an editor.” It was a fateful time. “I was interacting with the different disciplines, which are the primary sources for authors at First Things,” she recalls. Revisiting the Great Books as an editor sparked an interest in graduate school.
Following that interest led Miss Duke to the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master’s degree in theology. Believing her scholarly itch sufficiently scratched, she took a new position as a writer and research assistant for the president of The Catholic University of America — but the itch returned. “The president taught a class on the virtues for honor students at CUA. Helping him research, I realized I wanted to be doing the other part of his job — the teaching part,” she laughs. “That’s what finally pushed me back.”
Now finishing her doctoral studies at CUA with a dissertation on St. Albert the Great’s theology of the Beatific Vision, Miss Duke is thrilled to return to the College as a tutor — and in her native Northeast, no less. Having acquired some teaching experience during graduate school, she is especially excited to employ the Discussion Method in the College’s classrooms and with its students.
“Many students elsewhere have no confidence in their ability to discern meaning in a text, and sometimes even in reality,” she says. “Reading the Blue Book when I was applying, I realized that an intentional part of the College’s program is instilling confidence that reality is understandable, and giving students the tools that make them deserve to be confident.”
This year, Miss Duke is working with the College’s ever-curious freshmen to discern meaning in Latin grammar, as well as with the sophomores to unpack poetry and history in seminar and the nature of the soul in the philosophy tutorial.