On the evening of Saturday, March 11, the members of the Thomas Aquinas College Class of 2023 submitted the final drafts of their Senior Theses, one of the last steps on their road to graduation. In both California and in New England, seniors celebrated with their classmates and faculty to commemorate completing this rite of passage — in California, students even rang a ceremonial bell for every thesis received!
The Senior Thesis project is integral to the College’s education. Students must raise a question similar to those considered in the Great Books and offer a defensible answer in light of the central themes of the College’s classical curriculum. Writing, and later defending, this paper synthesizes both the students’ analytical acumen and their general grasp of the wider Western intellectual tradition.
“It was a lot of fun to delve into Scripture and use the skills we’ve learned the last of couple of years,” said Marius Covington (CA’23), whose thesis reflects on Christ’s silence during His passion. “It’s also a good lesson in humility, because looking back on it, you realize that you’re only scratching the surface.”
Fun, humbling — and difficult! It was not without considerable relief that seniors submitted their final drafts. “I’m so glad we’re all done!” laughed Maggie Huckins (NE’23) as she handed her paper (about Leo Tolstoy’s understanding of love in War and Peace) to Dr. Patrick Gardner, assistant dean in New England. “It was definitely a lot of work,” concurred John Metilly (NE’23), whose own paper considered how men can have a friendship with God. “But it was great to be able to investigate a subject more deeply — and to do it with friends.”
Drs. John Goyette and Steve Cain, deans in California and New England, respectively, were on hand to personally congratulate each senior. In New England, Dr. Cain grilled and distributed hamburgers to the hungry seniors; in California, meanwhile, Sophie Cummings (CA’23) dispensed some home-cooked treats while Dr. Goyette delivered a humorous address to mark the occasion. “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come not to praise your theses, but to bury them!” he began. “I hope this is something that you’re proud of,” he added. “This is just the beginning of the end. I want you all to finish strong and really savor these last few months. It’s going to go by fast.”
Thesis defenses on both coasts are scheduled to begin as soon as next week. The seniors are, indeed, well on their way toward graduation — and beyond.