“What, exactly, can one do with a classical education?”
It is a question that graduates of Thomas Aquinas College know well, one that is invariably asked whenever they mention that they have devoted four years to studying the greatest works of Western civilization. Yet when one considers the College’s alumni and their contributions to Church and society, it becomes evident that a better question would be: “What can the classically educated student not do?”
All students at Thomas Aquinas College study from the same fixed, classical curriculum. They all read the same great books and engage in similar Socratic discussions, with no majors, minors, or electives to divide them. Nevertheless, upon leaving campus they excel in a wide array of studies and careers.
About one third pursue either graduate studies or professional education. They have earned advanced degrees in law, business, medicine, engineering, architecture, mathematics, philosophy, and theology. Clearly endowed with a great love of learning, as much as a third have become educators, in all subjects and at all levels, such as Laura Berquist (’75), who founded the Mother of Divine Grace distance-learning program, or Dr. Jean Rioux (’82), who chairs the Department of Philosophy at Benedictine College.
The College’s ranks of alumni further boast architects such as Anthony Grumbine (’00) and artists such as Maria Rangel (’99), whose classical education continues to inform their work; bankers and businessmen such as Rolfe Kratz (’97), whose ethics are shaped by Catholic teaching; military leaders such as Col. Sam Shaneyfelt, USAF (’86), who serve the country with honor; and faithful public servants such as Matthew Bryan (’15), mayor of Dunsmuir, California.
And that is only the avocations. As for vocations, about 10 percent of the College’s alumni have entered the priesthood or religious life, including Rev. Gary Selin (’89), formation director at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, and Sr. Marcella, M.C. (’86), of St. Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. Most of the rest marry, often wedding fellow Thomas Aquinas College alumni and raising fruitful, faithful families that bear joyful witness to the Culture of Life.
Whether it is by fully embracing the call to motherhood, or tirelessly devoting one’s life to prayer in a cloistered monastery, or consciously choosing to live out the tenets of the Faith in the modern marketplace, the alumni of Thomas Aquinas College — each in their own way — live lives of service. Many, too, lead lives of leadership, in the home, of course, but also within their parishes or local communities. Others still serve as leaders on a larger stage, whether in business or politics, academia or media, Church or society.
As St. Paul writes, “There are many members, but one Body” (1. Cor. 12:20). Endowed with the spiritual and intellectual formation they obtain as students, the alumni of Thomas Aquinas College go on to serve as members in the Body of Christ with distinction and in myriad ways. They are the strongest evidence to be offered not only for the universality of the College’s curriculum, but also to the agility of the classically educated mind.