Gwynith Hayden
Gwynith Hayden (’25)


The makers of the Classical Learning Test (CLT) — a college-entrance exam designed to offer a classical alternative to the SAT and ACT — are set to announce their 2023 National Award Recipients. To that end, they have recently published interviews with a number of past recipients of this prestigious honor, among them, TAC-California junior Gwynith Hayden (’25), who placed among the award’s 2020 cohort. 

While most standardized tests reflect an educational vision which treats different branches of knowledge as entirely separate and equates value with utility, the CLT seeks to revive a vision of “forming and equipping the whole human person — intellectually, emotionally, and ethically — to live a happy and fulfilling life.” In addition to offering alternative standardized testing, the CLT also awards national and regional scholarships to its highest-scoring test-takers, such as Gwynith.

In her interview, Gwynith exults in the Catholic liberal education she is receiving at Thomas Aquinas College. “The class that stands out most in my mind is Sophomore Theology, where we read the writings of St. Augustine, St. Anselm, St. John Damascene, among others,” she says. “These texts are challenging and address many of the key issues both of my own faith and of human nature as a whole.” 

But in the broad spirit of the College’s integrated curriculum, Gwynith finds she cannot prefer just one class. “I would have to mention the Sophomore Seminar course, where we read many of the greatest Roman and medieval authors, including Livy, Cicero, Lucretius, Dante, Boethius, and Chaucer,” she adds, celebrating the course’s “overview of the thought process of an entire era, bringing to light the questions and themes that were at the center of the human discourse.” 

Gwynith’s interview reinforces the educational consensus that unites the College, the CLT, and a growing number of organizations, such as the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education and Adeodatus: that education should be focused on nothing less than the pursuit of truth — with an emphasis especially on the “pursuit.” “The smartest people I have encountered are the ones who ask the most questions and wonder about everything,” observes Gwynith. “They know so much because they have never been satisfied with moving on until they understand what is being said and why it is true. I think that’s worth emulating.”