HSSP Prefects


Rising high school seniors are invited to experience Thomas Aquinas College this summer at the Great Books Program for High School Students, offered on both the California and New England campuses. Throughout the programs, students will get to partake in the College’s unique classroom experience, its rich spiritual life, and the deep friendships forged within this community of faith and fellowship. 

Leading the way throughout the two weeks are the prefects, a team of current students and recent graduates who share their love of the College with the visiting “programmers.” In the weeks ahead, the Summer Program blog will introduce all of this summer’s prefects for both campuses. For today, though, we begin with the head prefects for this summer’s two California programs.


Monica Weinkopf (’25)

Monica Weinkopf

Serving as the head women’s prefect for California’s one-week Summer Program in June is Monica Weinkopf (’25). The oldest of seven children from nearby Santa Paula, Monica often visited the College growing up, and in 2020 she attended the Summer Program for herself. “It was a coming home,” she says. “It felt right to live my life there.” Now as a TAC junior, she loves how classroom discussions often overflow into daily life. “There’s so much to know in four years — it’s so vast!” she reflects. “In your little classroom, the whole world bursts open.”

Monica has worked as a prefect on the last two Summer Programs and finds the experience richer every time. “I love getting to work with the other prefects,” she says. “There’s a joy and unity there, which is a fruit of TAC’s formation and community.” A great part of that joy derives from introducing the TAC experience to newcomers. “I hope to share a ‘coming home’ with the high schoolers,” she says, “whether they just come to see or whether they go on to become TAC students.”


Jonathan Phelan (’23)

Jonathan Phelan

Hailing from Mesa, Arizona, Jonathan Phelan (’23) will serve as the head men’s prefect for both the one-week program in June and the two-week program in July. In high school, Jonathan spent much of his time on the football field — which was also, thanks to his older brother, Brendan (’22), and his coach, Tom Brittain (’96), where he first heard about Thomas Aquinas College. Since graduating last May, he has worked as a counselor for the College’s admissions department while discerning the priesthood. He hopes to enter the seminary this fall!

During his time at the College, says Jonathan, “I was able to grow in pretty much all the ways that are worthwhile as a human being.” He is, therefore, eager to pass along that opportunity for growth to this year’s attendees. “I love the conversations the students have with each other, late-night Adoration, the trips,” he says, adding with a smile, “And all the basketball, of course.”


Elena Walz (’26)

Elena Walz

Lifelong Californian Elena Walz (’26) will serve as the head women’s prefect at the two-week Summer Program in July. Having had no prior connection to the College, she now regards learning about the Summer Program — just days before it commenced in 2021 — as an act of Providence. Her sudden encounter with the Great Books was as transformative as it was unexpected. “I pushed myself in high school, but I wasn’t fulfilled by that,” she says. “There was this shared goal of learning at TAC that I found, and I loved the type of people I found here. Their authenticity was lifechanging.”

Elena was honored to work last year’s Summer Program as a prefect, paying forward the gift she received in 2021. “It was so special to watch the students fall in love with the parts of TAC they found,” she recalls. “The Summer Program marked a real change in my life. It’s the highest honor to be set out as a leader. My whole life changed in high school, and I want that for the students.” In addition to her love of the curriculum, Elena looks forward to the long afternoons of recreation under the sun, ready to go head-to-head on the volleyball court.