Jack Gardner

When he was in high school, Jack Gardner never imagined he would study theology and philosophy at Thomas Aquinas College, let alone work as one of the prefects for the 2022 High School Summer Program. Now a rising junior on the California campus, though, that’s just how the years are unfolding.

“Both my parents came to TAC and loved it, and my older brother came here a few years ahead of me,” Jack explains. But the College didn’t appeal to Jack. “It sounded too abstract and dull for me,” he laughs. “I was always the kid who was running from one thing to the next, never able to stay interested in one thing for too long.” Jack thought he would be happier working for a tree service in his hometown area of Scranton, hauling logs, cutting trees, and running an excavator.

Unsurprisingly Jack did not attend the Summer Program, because “I didn’t plan on coming to the school at all!” It was a fateful visit to his brother that prompted his second thoughts.

Seeing the students engaged in the day-to-day pursuit of the intellectual life — formal discussions, informal conversation, and recreation — humanized what Jack had taken to be an arid lifestyle. “I loved it here! I realized that this was more than just a place where nerds dug through dusty tomes to talk about meaningless distinctions; it was an opportunity to fully examine both your own life and how life ought to be lived, and then how to bring those two together.”

Jack’s newfound enthusiasm for the dynamism of the intellectual life properly lived has not reduced his love for working in the outdoors, and he still intends to work with the tree service. “It just goes to show that this school can really fit anyone, as long as they want to take advantage of the wisdom of some great thinkers to better themselves and those around them.”

Jack will bring that grounded enthusiasm for pursuing wisdom to Summer Program. “I hope to inspire many to investigate the intellectual life with all its richness,” he says. “It’s an opportunity to share the treasures of knowledge and friendship that I’ve found here.”