When the Class of 2013 met to choose a class quotation, its members selected the following observation from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: “The ways of the Lord are not comfortable, but we were not created for comfort. We were created for greatness.”
Looking over the plans of the graduates who have settled on a vocation or career path, it is clear that the Class of 2013 is taking the Pope Emeritus’s words seriously. These graduates are foregoing comfort — in many cases taking on years of additional study or other personal sacrifice — to follow the ways of the Lord. They are committed to sharing the fruits of their education and the gifts of their faith, whether in the workplace, in the home, in the classroom, or from the pulpit. They are taking their talents, as Cardinal DiNardo encouraged them, “into the public square,” and they have set their sights on greatness.
Jeffrey Hanley first became aware of a calling to the priesthood while in high school, but “my experience at the College has only strengthened that vocation,” he says. “Being enriched in the tradition of the teaching Church has helped open my eyes to the depth of thought in the Catholic Church, and it has enriched both my prayer life and my intellectual life.” This fall Mr. Hanley will enter formation for the Diocese of Kalamazoo, where he will be joined by classmate and fellow Michigan native Maximilian Nightingale. Some 5,000 miles away, Philip Wilmeth will enter into a life of prayer and penance with the Benedictine Order at the Monastery of San Benedetto in Norcia, Italy. Nicole Madro also hopes to join a religious community, possibly the Norbertine Sisters, after working for a year to pay off student loans.
During their time at the College, several members of the Class of 2013 were blessed to discern vocations to the married life. “Four years of training in this program have taught Peter and me to be more comfortable and capable of discussing all of our thoughts and concerns, and to work as a team in pursuit of something higher and better than the two of us,” says Clare (Ryan), who wed Peter Asper (’12) one week after Commencement in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel. Two days later, Christopher Lawless married Kate (Becher ’14), and a third Class of 2013 wedding is planned for later this summer.
“I worked for a construction company in Washington, D.C., last summer,” recalls Nathaniel Roberts. “I was supposed to be a helper on the job site, but they ended up being shorthanded; so my boss kept assigning me more and more responsibilities that a superintendent would normally do. Eventually I was running the site.” Impressed with Mr. Roberts’ attention to detail and decision-making, the company contacted him earlier this year and offered him a superintendent’s position starting this summer. He will be in charge of a work site, supervising employees, and organizing the subcontractors, schedule, and budget.
Mr. Roberts’ story is typical of those members of the Class of 2013 who are pursuing careers in business. For the last three summers, Arielle Dunkel worked for Morningstar Packing in Santa Nella, Calif. — an experience that has landed her a full-time job with the company in research and office support. Following a successful summer working for All-Terrain Marketing in Milwaukee, Thomas Lawlor has been promoted to a field coordinator, managing event promotions for Chevrolet in the Indianapolis market. Having worked two summers at the Owen Roe Winery in St. Paul, Ore., (owned by David O’Reilly ’87), Alexander Tombelli foresees a career in winemaking, starting with a job at a winery in Ojai, Calif. Katherine Edson is building on her three years’ work-study experience in the Thomas Aquinas College kitchen with a position at a food and catering company in Portland, Ore.
“Reading works at the College about the dignity of beauty made me want to pursue that as a career,” says Augustin Zehnder, who intends to earn a master’s degree in violin performance at California State University, Long Beach, and then work as an orchestral violinist and composer. A cartoonist and comedienne, Elizabeth Rosema is moving to Chicago, where she will try to land a spot with the Second City improv/comedy-screenwriting school. David Trull is staying in Southern California to begin a career as a professional singer and songwriter.
Every year, teaching is the most popular career choice among the College’s graduates, and 2013 is no exception. “It is important to instill in children an interest in what’s going on around them, a love for the truth, and a strong foundation for their lifelong search,” says Margaret Mary Cain. For this reason Miss Cain looks to become a teacher, first earning a master’s degree in education, and then teaching at the elementary level.
A number of this year’s aspiring educators will head to Arizona, where the Great Hearts Academies — a consortium of charter schools that boast a classical curriculum — is expanding rapidly, and thus requires a steady stream of qualified new teachers. Starting this fall, Dustin Bates will teach the arts and poetry to students in grades 5 through 12. Jordan Brittain will be an assistant teacher, and Katherine Hufford a teacher’s aide. Megan McGuire will be teaching 7th-grade English literature and composition and 11th-grade drama, and Molly McAlister, high school drama and 6th-grade fine arts.
Rose Langley and Andrea McCann will also be teaching classical curricula, in their case at private Catholic schools. Miss Langley has accepted a job at The Lyceum in South Euclid, Ohio (founded by Mark Langley ’89), and Miss McCann with the Mother of Divine Grace distance-learning program in Ojai, Calif. (founded by Laura Berquist ’75). Others plan to teach at conventional K-12 public and parochial schools, including Patrick Dodd, Elizabeth Urban, Maggie Harrahill, and Alyssa Eubanks. Still others have more specialized teaching goals: Michelle Lawless has accepted a position with the Institute for Excellence in Writing in Hulbert, Okla.; Lindsay Astalos, who taught piano part-time while at the College, will expand her business; Athena Mota de Alcântara expects to pursue graduate studies in, and then teach about, marriage and the family.
Three other members of the Class of 2013 will work in education administration. Peter LaFave has applied for development and marketing positions at various Catholic institutions. Christopher Sebastian is the new director of public relations and marketing for Mother of Divine Grace School. Although she has a long-term vision of becoming a Montessori teacher, Jean Collins will first return to her alma mater as the College’s resident assistant.
Because the whole of the Thomas Aquinas College curriculum is ordered toward the study of theology, it is not surprising that every year at least a few graduates undertake further studies in this discipline. After a year of teaching, Bridget Coughlin plans to study theology at Ave Maria University because, as she puts it, “theology makes me love God more.” Sarah Cotugno looks forward to deepening her theological knowledge through graduate studies at the Augustine Institute in Denver, Colo.
Between her sophomore and junior years, Eleanor Logsdail took a year off from her studies and worked with the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta at a home for the destitute and dying. “I fell in love with the work there, just taking care of people,” she reflects. Inspired by that experience, she will spend the next year completing the prerequisites to apply for a nurse-practitioner program, after which she wants to assist surgeries or work in an emergency room. Maggie McCann will also spend the next year completing prerequisites, and then apply to veterinary school. Alexandria Montes has accepted a position for the WellPoint insurance company, and Catherine Mohun will work in elder care, but both also seek to earn nursing licenses, as does Therese Pfeiffer. The oldest of 11 children, Jane Grimm has a love for babies which will serve her well as she studies to become an obstetrical nurse or midwife.
Upon graduating, Salvador Miranda will begin the process of applying to the Air Force, where he aims to serve his country as a pilot. Robert Richard intends to put his talents to work for his community as a firefighter. “I’ve wanted to do that ever since I was a little kid,” he says. “It’s a good job and a good way to help people.”
“At the College you get to think about ideas on a really big scale, and that was helpful for me to clarify my thoughts and opinions about government,” says Maria Santos. The beneficiary of a Collegiate Network fellowship, Miss Santos will spend the next year as an editors’ assistant at The Weekly Standard, pitching and writing articles about politics and policy. George Thomas is enrolling in a master’s program in cultural studies at the William Carey University, with the goal of working eventually for an NGO, most likely in the developing world.
Some members of the Class of 2013 are following career paths that are unique to them alone: Combining a lifelong love of sewing with an admiration for the way the College’s dress code “disposes us toward acting professionally in the classroom and in our community,” Catherine Baer hopes to nudge American fashion in a more positive direction as a professional in the material-textile industry. Rebecca Lemieux, who credits the College with helping her to “recognize the beautiful,” yearns to bring more beauty to family life as an interior designer. After completing his aviation license, Alexander Bueche will seek employment as an agricultural pilot. Finally, Lauretta Brown, Mara Gawarecki, and Liam Collins are applying to graduate school to study law, English literature, and physics, respectively.