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Summer Program Blog

volleyball

If lunch today was any indication, this morning’s class on Genesis must have captured the imagination of the High School Summer Program students, because it was all they could talk about!

While enjoying a menu of burgers, fries, and a Mediterranean salad, the students continued classroom conversations about the first book of the Pentateuch. They discussed symbolic elements of the text, different kinds of knowledge — both before the Fall and after — and how God can know evil. They also considered the question of free will in Original Sin, and how that compares to Sophocles’ treatment of fate in Oedipus Rex and Antigone.

After lunch, the students made their way to the athletic field for the much-anticipated, 16-team volleyball tournament — still ongoing as of this moment — after which the winning squad will take on a team of TAC tutors. Then there will be a barbeque dinner, followed by Eucharistic Adoration and a Rosary procession, study hall, and the first round of dance lessons.

Check in Thursday for photos and a full report!

Volleyball spectators


Swimming in the campus ponds

This post begins where the last one left off, at the conclusion of Monday’s second class, in which students considered the meaning of piety as it relates to Plato’s Euthyphro. Afterward it was recreation time, which focused heavily on sports. The program’s chaplains, Fr. Sebastian and Fr. Paul, led a long series of volleyball games, while others took up football, basketball, volleyball, soccer, tennis, and Ultimate Frisbee. A smaller group headed down to the campus’ three spring-fed ponds, where a game of water polo took place, more or less spontaneously, and lasted for about 90 minute! “It was a heavy sports day in the Southern California sun, says one prefect. “We brought sunscreen and bottled water!”

  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Recreation
    Slideshow: First Day recreation
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Recreation
    Slideshow: First Day recreation
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Recreation
    Slideshow: First Day recreation
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Recreation
    Slideshow: First Day recreation
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Recreation
    Slideshow: First Day recreation
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Recreation
    Slideshow: First Day recreation
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Recreation
    Slideshow: First Day recreation
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Recreation
    Slideshow: First Day recreation
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Recreation
    Slideshow: First Day recreation
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Recreation
    Slideshow: First Day recreation
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Recreation
    Slideshow: First Day recreation
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Recreation
    Slideshow: First Day recreation
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Recreation
    Slideshow: First Day recreation
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Recreation
    Slideshow: First Day recreation
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Recreation
    Slideshow: First Day recreation
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Recreation
    Slideshow: First Day recreation
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Recreation
    Slideshow: First Day recreation

Following dinner (chicken nuggets, sweet potatoes, and salad), the students gathered in St. Bernardine of Siena Library for their first study hall, where they prepared for Wednesday’s classes on Sophocles’ Antigone and the pre-Socratic philosophers. Some even began reading up on Boethius in advance of next week’s classes. “Study hall was awesome,” said one prefect. “The students were really focused.”

  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Evening
    Slideshow: First Evening
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Evening
    Slideshow: First Evening
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Evening
    Slideshow: First Evening
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Evening
    Slideshow: First Evening
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Evening
    Slideshow: First Evening
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Evening
    Slideshow: First Evening
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Evening
    Slideshow: First Evening
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Evening
    Slideshow: First Evening
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Evening
    Slideshow: First Evening
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Evening
    Slideshow: First Evening
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Evening
    Slideshow: First Evening
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Evening
    Slideshow: First Evening
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Evening
    Slideshow: First Evening
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Evening
    Slideshow: First Evening
  • HSSP 2017 -- Day 01 Evening
    Slideshow: First Evening

Afterward, the prefects led the nightly Rosary in Our Lady of the Most Trinity Chapel. Attendance is optional but, as far as the prefects could tell, just about everyone was there. Then students met up in the Dumb Ox Coffee Shop for Italian sodas, iced mochas, and board games. Turnout was so high that the group spilled out into the rest of St. Joseph Commons, where some played foosball and ping-pong, and others began singing and playing the piano.

At curfew the men and women found their way back to their respective residence halls for icebreakers and snacks of chips, salsa, and guacamole. Then it was time for nightly consecration and lights out. Day 2 of the Summer Program awaits!


Summer Progam 2017 group photo

If this morning was any indication, this year’s students are acclimating well to the schedule and pace of the High School Summer Program. After a busy and eventful evening last night, they woke up bright and early, arriving at breakfast as soon as it opened. “I got my food and went to go sit down at a table,” admits one prefect, “only to discover the students had already all finished eating!”

At the morning class students discussed Sophocles’ Antigone, whether the title character deserves her fate, and tensions between loyalty to the state, to family, and to the gods. How does one order one’s actions around these three duties, and when they conflict, how should they be prioritized? The students seem to be taking well to the Discussion Method, learning how to work together to achieve a better understanding of a text and derive the truths it contains. “A lot of students are speaking up,” says one prefect. “They seem very motivated and interested in the conversations.”

At Thomas Aquinas College, the Discussion Method works via sections, groups of about 17 students who, for the duration of the academic year, take all their daytime classes together. Because the method depends on open discourse — which, in turn, relies on trust — it is important for students to come to know each other well. By taking nearly all of their classes together, the members of each section achieve a sense of intimacy and come to rely on one another in their shared pursuit of the truth.

Classes in the Summer Program are also arranged by sections, and the slideshow below features photos of each of this year’s sections — all eight of them! — taken after this morning’s class:

  • High School Program 2017 Sections
    Slideshow: Summer Program 2017 sections
  • High School Program 2017 Sections
    Slideshow: Summer Program 2017 sections
  • High School Program 2017 Sections
    Slideshow: Summer Program 2017 sections
  • High School Program 2017 Sections
    Slideshow: Summer Program 2017 sections
  • High School Program 2017 Sections
    Slideshow: Summer Program 2017 sections
  • High School Program 2017 Sections
    Slideshow: Summer Program 2017 sections
  • High School Program 2017 Sections
    Slideshow: Summer Program 2017 sections
  • High School Program 2017 Sections
    Slideshow: Summer Program 2017 sections

After the photo shoot was Mass in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel, followed by an orange-chicken lunch in St. Joseph Commons. Then it was off to the day’s second class, about the pre-Socratic philosophers. Recreation today will likely be heavy on sports once more, plus there will be auditions for Friday’s dramatic readings of select scenes from the works of William Shakespeare.


July 24,
2017

The 2017 Summer Great Books Program for High School Students is under way!

  • HSSP 2017 -- Arrival Day
    Slideshow: Arrival Day
  • HSSP 2017 -- Arrival Day
    Slideshow: Arrival Day
  • HSSP 2017 -- Arrival Day
    Slideshow: Arrival Day
  • HSSP 2017 -- Arrival Day
    Slideshow: Arrival Day
  • HSSP 2017 -- Arrival Day
    Slideshow: Arrival Day
  • HSSP 2017 -- Arrival Day
    Slideshow: Arrival Day
  • HSSP 2017 -- Arrival Day
    Slideshow: Arrival Day
  • HSSP 2017 -- Arrival Day
    Slideshow: Arrival Day
  • HSSP 2017 -- Arrival Day
    Slideshow: Arrival Day
  • HSSP 2017 -- Arrival Day
    Slideshow: Arrival Day
  • HSSP 2017 -- Arrival Day
    Slideshow: Arrival Day
  • HSSP 2017 -- Arrival Day
    Slideshow: Arrival Day

On Sunday morning students began arriving at Los Angeles International Airport — the earliest came in from Guam at 5:00 a.m.! —  where they were met by the Summer Program prefects and then took one of several buses back to campus.

Over the course of the afternoon, more buses arrived, as did cars carrying students who live closer to campus. Upon settling in their residence halls, the students began visiting, playing sports, and touring the campus, while parents attended an orientation meeting and campus tour at 4 p.m. At 5:00 there was the family barbeque, followed by a travelers’ Mass at 6:30 p.m. in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel. Students then returned to their residence halls for an ice-cream social and a talk about the rules of residence, before calling it a night.

Monday morning began with breakfast, at which students were already seen talking about the reading for their first class, Oedipus Rex. “Don’t say everything now!” one prefect joked. “Make sure you save some thoughts for the classroom!” An academic orientation followed, after which students headed over to the Chapel for this year’s opening Mass, offered by program chaplains Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem., and Rev. Paul Raftery, O.P.

After Mass, it was time for the first class of this year’s program!

Stay tuned for more updates …


We now have photos of some of the events mentioned in this morning’s post, specifically the academic orientation and the opening Mass:

  • HSSP17 -- Day 01
    Slideshow: First Day
  • HSSP17 -- Day 01
    Slideshow: First Day
  • HSSP17 -- Day 01
    Slideshow: First Day
  • HSSP17 -- Day 01
    Slideshow: First Day
  • HSSP17 -- Day 01
    Slideshow: First Day
  • HSSP17 -- Day 01
    Slideshow: First Day
  • HSSP17 -- Day 01
    Slideshow: First Day
  • HSSP17 -- Day 01
    Slideshow: First Day
  • HSSP17 -- Day 01
    Slideshow: First Day
  • HSSP17 -- Day 01
    Slideshow: First Day
  • HSSP17 -- Day 01
    Slideshow: First Day
  • HSSP17 -- Day 01
    Slideshow: First Day

We also have reports from the day’s first class, on Oedipus Rex. Students discussed the question of Oedipus’ culpability for killing his father — was he acting in rage or in self-defense? — as well as the role that fate played in his decision. At lunch, prefects report, students were already debating the definition of piety in anticipation of this afternoon’s class on the Euthyphro, their first encounter with Plato. The juxtaposition of the two works is significant, as both deal with the shattering of filial piety, unwitting in the case of Oedipus, and deliberate in the case of Euthyphro.

The afternoon class has now come to an end, and students are enjoying their first afternoon recreation period. Still coming up: dinner, the first study hall, Rosary, and coffee shop. Look for photos in the morning! 


Now that readers have had a chance to meet the prefects for the 2017 High School Summer Program (see parts one, two, and three), Thomas Aquinas College would like to introduce the program’s counselors. These are the regular members of the Admissions Office who, for 50 weeks of the year, focus on putting together the College’s next freshman class, but for two weeks each summer pour out their hearts and souls into creating a program that reflects the goodness, joy, and fun of the Thomas Aquinas College experience. In the upcoming weeks, we may also introduce you to some of the behind-the-scenes folks who help to make the program possible.

Jon Daly (’99) Jon Daly (’99)Jon Daly (’99)

First on the list is Jon Daly, who grew up in South Dakota but has been in Southern California more or less since he came to the College as a freshman in 1995. He graduated in 1999 and began working in the Admissions Office in 2000, becoming its director in 2004. Mr. Daly has been part of every Summer Program, beginning with its inaugural year in 2000. “It’s been a joy to see it grow from about 40 students to 140 students over the years!” he says.

Mr. Daly and his wife, Marie (Sale ’00), live in Santa Paula with their five sons and two daughters. “Our youngest, Stephen, is two months and a wonderful little addition,” he says. “And our oldest, Brendan, began driving yesterday, so look out! (Actually, he’s a good driver.)” The Dalys, who live in Santa Paula, occasionally make it up to campus for barbeques and other Summer Program events, so students will likely get a chance to meet some of the crew before the two weeks are up.

“Meeting the summer program students has always been the high point of the year for me,” says Mr. Daly. “What I most appreciate, though, is seeing the students come together as one from so many different places and backgrounds, with their varied interests, and become a true community. I also deeply appreciate working with the prefects — some of them are students here themselves, others are graduates from around the country. Seeing how they pour themselves into this program so intensely and fully for love of the students is inspiring and edifying.”

Scott Benigar Scott BenigarScott Benigar

Part of the magic of the Summer Program is the logistics: buses shuttling students to destinations throughout Southern California; mountains of food materializing, as though out of thin air, whenever they are needed; the endless stream of intellectually, spiritually, and physically rewarding activities. Much of the credit for this marvel belongs to Associate Director of Admissions Scott Benigar, who — with lots of help from his fellow Admissions counselors, the prefects, and countless others — works diligently behind the scenes to make it all look easy.

Returning for his seventh program, Mr. Benigar is an Orange County native who now lives in Santa Paula with his wife, Mary (Conklin ’01), and their four boys. He is a regular presence on the basketball courts, both as a player and as a referee, and a known card shark. (Look for him at lunch, playing games with others on the program.) His colleagues in the Admissions Office often call him a “rock star” for his ability to help prospective students learn about the College’s program of Catholic liberal education.

“A big part of my role in the Summer Program is to try to ensure that our activities, dorm life, BBQs, and trips to the Hollywood Bowl, Getty Museum, and Santa Barbara, are well planned and run smoothly,” he says. Some of his favorite events include the “Theology on Float” question-and-answer session over root-beer floats with Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem., the students vs. prefects basketball game, and Mr. Daly’s world-famous roll calls. “Most of all, though, I enjoy meeting students from all over the country and the world,” he says, “and watching them build relationships with one another.”

Patrick Cross (’14) Patrick Cross (’14)Patrick Cross (’14)

A native of Western Massachusetts, Patrick Cross came to Southern California for Thomas Aquinas College. Soon he will return to Western Massachusetts … for Thomas Aquinas College.

Back in 2010 Mr. Cross entered the College as a freshman. When he graduated in 2014, he joined the Admissions crew as a counselor. And shortly after the conclusion of this year’s Summer Program, he will head back to the Bay State to become the Admissions Office’s point man at the New England campus that the College hopes to have up and running — contingent upon the approval of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education — in the fall of 2018. He looks forward to talking with students at this year’s program about what the College’s aspirations are for the region and answering any questions they may have.

In his spare time — “pretty much all I do with my free time,” he says — Mr. Cross draws political cartoons. His work, which has appeared in the National Catholic Register, is regularly published on various political and Catholic websites.

This year marks Mr. Cross’ fourth working on the Summer Program. “I love the fact that the program gives students a chance to experience the intellectual traditions of the West, if only for two weeks,” he says. “Many students have never experienced that before. Some might not have a chance to experience it again. They are immersed in a genuine Catholic culture on campus. It’s really wonderful to see students experience the beauty of that culture.”

Sarah Dufresne (’14) Sarah Dufresne (’14)“Sarah Dufresne (’14)

“During the Summer Program, the students have a real encounter with the true, the good and the beautiful,” says Sarah Dufresne. “It is a joy to witness how this encounter transforms them into young people with hope and zeal for their futures.”

Miss Dufresne began working on the Summer Program while she was still a student at the College, and has continued ever since. For the first three years after her graduation in 2014 she worked in student life at the College, and she has recently transitioned into a new job as an Admissions Counselor. “It is a great blessing to work for a college whose mission is that of an intellectual apostolate,” she says. “Our founders believed that a renewal of Catholic liberal education was necessary, and we carry on this mission in our intellectual life here. The formation of the mind and heart is so essential for our Church and our culture, and here we strive to do this joyfully, with the hope that our graduates will be part of the renewal and strengthening of our Church.”

As an Admissions counselor, she considers it her privilege to help pass along the blessings of a Catholic liberal education. “I have the opportunity to invite young people into our community,” she explains. “As a student here myself I began to understand the meaning of true freedom as I was given the opportunity to learn the timeless truths that, when understood under the light of faith, truly set us free. What a gift! I want others to have this incredible gift as well.”

Follow this blog over the next two weeks for regular updates from the 2017 High School Summer Program!


Prefect Thomas Cain (’18) takes a break during CPR training in preparation for this year's High School Summer Program. Not that he has any expectation of using it, but best to be prepared!

Stay tuned to this blog for updates throughout the next two weeks!


Below is the final installment in our three-part series introducing the prefects for this year’s High School Summer Program. (See Part 1 and Part 2.)

Tom Cavanaugh (’18) Tom Cavanaugh (’18)“I thought that I would go to college to swim or play water polo, but the Summer Program changed my path,” says Tom Cavanaugh (’18) of Larkspur, California. “It turned me more toward intellectual pursuits rather than athletic pursuits for college.” He particularly cites the influence of some of his prefects, including Andrew Rossi, as “making a big impact on my life,”  adding that he hopes to “give back” to the program for what it, and they, did for him. Tom is a fan of surfing, fishing, hunting, swimming and water polo — “anything having to do with the water,” he says.

Siena Hsu (’18) Siena Hsu (’18)A rising senior from Redondo Beach, California, Siena Hsu (’18) says that when she was in high school, “The summer program introduced me to a world that I had always wanted to be a part of, and honestly didn’t think existed anymore.” It was fun and, at times, intimidating. “A lot of what TAC offers was new and a little scary to me, but the amazing students and prefects I met guided me through the whole program and helped me to have a really great experience.” She has just returned from a two-week art program in New York that focuses on a traditional approach to drawing and painting in the classical realist style. “I would love to share that with students,” she says, “as well as my sense of adventure and love of the outdoors.”

John Jost (’17) John Jost (’17)When he was in high school, John Jost (’17) strongly considered going to college on a swimming or baseball scholarship — until he attended the High School Summer Program. “It changed my life,” he says. “And it’s the greatest decision I have made thus far.” During the program, he discovered that “there was something bigger in life than sports,” and that he “actually liked reading.” Back in his hometown of Algonquin, Illinois, he is the head coach of the Trails of Algonquin, a youth swim team with some 130 members that recently placed fifth place in state’s most competitive conference, breaking 14 records in the process!

Micaela McCall (’20) Micaela McCall (’20)Micaela McCall (’20) comes from a long line of what are known at Thomas Aquinas College as second-time freshmen — students who have spent a year or more studying at conventional or specialized colleges before deciding that they wanted to pursue a Catholic liberal education instead. Micaela, who hails from Denver, Colorado, studied for one year at a musical conservatory in Ohio before coming to the College, where she has just completed her Freshman Year. “Even though my head’s in a book more than ever before, I haven’t stopped playing music,” she says. “I can’t wait to get us all singing on the Summer Program!” 

Rachel Rivera (’19) Rachel Rivera (’19)“My first Summer Program introduced me to the college that has become my second home these last two years,” says Rachel Rivera (’19), a rising junior from Kendall Park, New Jersey. Rachel is the third in her family to attend the College, following in the footsteps of her sister, Sarah (’15), and brother, Joseph (’17). It was her experience in the Summer Program, she says, that led her to offer her service for the first time as a prefect this summer. “I am very excited to meet all the students and hope to help show them a little of why I love TAC!”

Daniel Selmeczy (’08) Daniel Selmeczy (’08)A teacher at St. Monica Academy in Pasadena, California, Daniel Selmeczy (’08) is best known as the Summer Program’s dance instructor, turning neophytes into skilled dancers in time for the end-of-the-program dance. To say he is an expert at dance instruction is an understatement: Daniel has been a prefect for 11 years, meaning that this year’s attendees were still in kindergarten when he was first showing their forerunners how to swing dance. His favorite part of the program, he says, is “is seeing the excitement of high school students experience the joy of the intellectual and community life of the College for the first time.”

Caleb Skvaril (’19) Caleb Skvaril (’19)An independent filmmaker, an award-winning mock-trial attorney, and a passionate surfer, skateboarder, and basketball player, Caleb Skvaril (’19) hails from Asan, Guam, but he has spent the summer working on the College’s California campus. He attended the Summer Program as a student in 2014, “and I loved it!” he says. This year will be his first as a prefect, and he looks forward to the “great people and fantastic energy.” He also hints that he has some exciting plans for the students. What, exactly, are they? He replies, “You’ll just have to wait and see!”

Clare Tuttle (’20) Clare Tuttle (’20)Like this year’s students, Clare Tuttle (’20), a rising sophomore from San Jose, California, is new to the High School Summer Program. “I did not attend the program myself, but I have many siblings and friends who did, and they loved it,” she reports. “They say that it is a perfect way to come meet new, amazing people and experience TAC.”  Her hopes for this year’s session include “sharing my love for the College with the high school students” and “encouraging them to take advantage of this opportunity to get to know and love the College as I do.”

Stay tuned to this blog for regular Summer Program updates and photos over the next two weeks!


Yesterday we began a three-part series introducing the prefects for this year’s High School Summer Program. Below is part 2:

Helen Blain (’20) Helen Blain (’20)Three years ago, Helen Blain (’20), then a rising high school junior, made the trip from her hometown of Albuquerque to Santa Paula for the Thomas Aquinas College High School Summer Program. Three years later — and now a rising sophomore at the College — Helen is serving for the first time as a program prefect. After spending the first few weeks of the summer rock-climbing, going on adventures with her friends, and working as a waitress, she looks forward to “playing with the students on the athletic field (especially soccer), as well as guiding them in their introduction to the beauty and truth that the great books offer.”

Jack Blewett (’20) Jack Blewett (’20)“One of the greatest blessings in life is friendship,” reflects Jack Blewett (’20), “and the TAC Summer Program gave me some of the best friends I have.” A resident of Tehachapi, California, he has been working at the College this summer. On his days off, he has taken several trips to the beach with his family — which has whetted his appetite for next Sunday’s beach day. “I also would love to get the students involved in the talent show and help with that,” he says, adding that he has high hopes for this summer’s program. “It's incredible what can happen in two weeks!”

Meg Downes (’20) Meg Downes (’20)Rising sophomore Meg Downes (’20) returns to campus from her home state of Michigan, where she has spent the summer living with her grandmother in a Great Lakes beach house and working in a nearby resort town. “The summer program changed my life,” she says of her time as an attendee two years ago, “and that is the reason I now attend TAC.” The “most amazing part,” she adds, “is all the people you meet who are as excited about learning as you are.” She also loves volleyball and anticipates some intense matches on the College’s courts during afternoon recreation time. “I can’t wait to see how the kids play!”

Anna Goodwin (’19) Anna Goodwin (’19)“During the Summer Program it is a joy to spend so much time outside and discussing the readings,” says second-time prefect Anna Goodwin (’19) of Alhambra, California. “My favorite part, though, is seeing all the kids fall in love with this school in such a short amount of time and to be a part of a very formative time in their lives — formative because, for many, it is the first realization that an authentic Catholic life is possible for young people, and it starts with a place like this, dedicated to fostering integrity. The possibility of becoming an individual whose life is centered on Christ becomes a reality.”

Seamus O'Brien (’20) Seamus O’Brien (’20)Although born in what he calls “the glorious state of Texas,” Seamus O'Brien (’20) has come to realize that his “true destiny” lies in the “Driftless Region of Southwest Wisconsin,” where he lives with his parents and eight siblings. A rising sophomore, Seamus is working at his first Summer Program this year and looks forward to sharing with the high school students what he describes as “the wonder and passion of pursuing the truth.” Taking a break from his duties as a nursing assistant at a nursing home back in Wisconsin, he plans to bring his wit, his leadership talents, and his love for learning to this year’s program.

Alexis Pomietlo (’18) Alexis Pomietlo (’18)When she first arrived at the High School Summer Program four years ago, Alexis Pomietlo (’18) of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, had never before been to the College or participated in the classsoom Discussion Method. Now a rising senior and in her second year as a prefect, she seeks to help students who also may be facing the unknown. “I hope to be someone the students can feel comfortable talking with, whether about their readings or just their experience of the College in general,” she says. “One of the most beautiful aspects of the program is witnessing the group come together and realize there are people their age who also share the desire for the truth and love for the Lord.”

Andrew Rossi (’13) Andrew Rossi (’13)Returning for his fifth year is Andrew Rossi (’13), a native of Bakersfield, California. A graduate of the College, Andrew works at St. Augustine Academy in Ventura, California, where he teaches logic, geometry, history, and chemistry. “My favorite part of the program,” he says, “is interacting with the students and listening to their first thoughts on the great books.” In past years he has overseen the Summer Program’s athletic competitions, a role he looks forward to taking up once again. “I am very excited for the sports,” he notes, “especially the basketball game between the prefects and the students.”

Patrick Nazeck ’19 Nico Zwemke (’19)“I attended the High School Summer Program in 2014,” reports Nico Zwemke (’19) of Tempe, Arizona. “I was so impressed by the curriculum and the quality of people that I gave up several full ride scholarships to attend the College.” Given that his hobbies include hiking, playing sports, and reading, it only makes sense that he would have felt at home here. Now, having just completed his Sophomore Year, Nico is at the program for a third time, his second as a prefect. “I love the quality of people that the program attracts,” he says. “I am looking forward to helping students find a love for the great books.”

Stay tuned for Part 3 tomorrow!


The 2017 High School Summer Program is just four days away! The prefects for this year’s program — all students and recent graduates of Thomas Aquinas College — cannot wait to get to meet this year’s attendees. But until then, you can now “meet” them, virtually, through the following profiles (part one of three):

Kathleen Sullivan (’06) Kathleen Sullivan (’06)This year’s women’s head prefect is Kathleen Sullivan (’06), a teacher in Virginia who has contributed to many a Summer Program and is its greatest champion. She first attended as a high schooler, served as a prefect for two years while a student at the College, and then continued to serve for several more years while earning her master’s in English literature from the University of Dallas and Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America. “I love the conversations with students, having those epiphany moments when you realize something is true, and seeing the talent at Open Mic Night,” she reflects. “I love the beach day, swing dancing, sitting in on classes, talking to students at the ponds, daily Mass and Rosary. And I am always amazed by friendships made.”

Matthew Dugan (’18) Matthew Dugan (’18)Returning for his third High School Summer Program as a prefect — and first as men’s head prefect — is Matthew Dugan (’18). A Minnesota native, Matt considers his own experience as a student in the program six years ago to have been transformative. “My three years at Thomas Aquinas College have shaped my spiritual, intellectual, and social lives in ways I don’t believe I  would have found elsewhere; and it all started at my Summer Program,” he says. “I encountered grounded young men and women who were mature but tons of fun, a mixture that I hadn’t experienced much before.” His message to this summer’s students: “I hope you all find the same!”

Sarah ABood (’20) Sarah Abood (’20)A rising sophomore at the College from suburban Cleveland, Sarah Abood (’20) attended the program as a high school student in 2015 and now returns for the first time as a prefect. Having spent the first part of the summer “catching up with old friends and family and enjoying the beautiful life that God so graciously has given me,” she is excited to be back on campus. “My favorite part of the Summer Program is meeting new people, partaking in the journey toward the truth, and growing spiritually in the Faith,” she says. “What I hope to add as a prefect is another smiling face to welcome new friends to our beloved TAC.”

Zoe Appleby (’18) Zoe Appleby (’18)Zoe Appleby (’18) is a Southern California resident, an actress, a rising senior, and an aspiring museum curator. Her time at the College has been filled with organizing poetry groups, directing and acting in the annual Shakespeare plays, and giving herself to the great books program. Among her favorite works are T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, Homer’s Iliad, Newton’s Principia, and Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. She has just returned from six weeks in Rome, where she participated in “Beauty and the Sacred,” a great books study-abroad program. Sunday can’t come soon enough, she says. “I can’t wait to share the Thomas Aquinas College experience with all of this year’s high school students!”

Thomas Cain (’18) Thomas Cain (’18)A fellow rising senior, Thomas Cain (’18) is a third-time Summer Program prefect. A resident of Santa Paula, California, he has spent his summer to date working on the College’s grounds crew, helping to take care of his grandfather, working out, and studying. “The Summer Program is always the best,” he says. “The number-one best thing about being a prefect is getting to know everyone, and doing all the things I love best with people who are excited and serious about them, too: the books we read, the prayers we pray, and the sports we play. I’m down, 100 percent.”

Isaac Cross (’19) Isaac Cross (’19)Not all of this year’s prefects are veterans of the Summer Program. A newcomer, Isaac Cross (’19) is looking forward to experiencing it for the first time alongside the attendees. During the academic year, he works part-time in the Admissions Department, which has prepared him well, he thinks, for meeting with prospective students, answering their questions, and describing all that makes the College’s academic program unique and compelling. “To really give prospective students a good idea of what the school is like has made me contemplate and realize the greatness of the education I have here,” he says. “I can’t wait to communicate that to the summer program attendees.”

Clara Diodati (’17) Clara Diodati (’17)When Clara Diodati (’17) attended the High School Program in 2012, she found the experience so powerful that she wrote a song about it.  “I don’t know that I would have come to TAC if it weren’t for the Summer Program,” she says. “So it means a lot to me, and I’m very excited to give back and meet all the programmers” — something she has done, as a prefect, for the last three years. After graduating this spring, Clara has spent the summer with her family in Florida, preparing to study for a master’s in theology at Ave Maria University this fall. “Especially now having graduated, I can say even more firmly about TAC — the curriculum, the people, the spiritual life — it’s all amazing,” she says. “It will change you for the better!”

Andrea Florez (’14) Andrea Florez (’14)When she’s not serving as a prefect for the High School Summer Program — something she has done for the last four years — Andrea Florez (’14) is a theology teacher and the campus minister at St. Bonaventure High School in Ventura, California. There she coordinates retreats, Masses, prayer services, and other student devotions, essentially serving as the youth minister for the school. “I’m looking forward to meeting you all,” says Dre — as her friends call her — to this year’s program attendees. “The best part of the summer program is hanging out in the evenings playing music, singing, and getting to know you all!”

Patrick Nazeck ’19 Patrick Nazeck (’19)Watch out for Patrick Nazeck (’19). Last summer he and a fellow prefect stole the show at Open Mic Night with a re-enactment of the Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye “Sisters” scene from White Christmas. A resident of Ridgecrest, California, he has spent most of the summer working at China Lake Naval Air Warfare Center - Weapons Division in a support role for the Ground Operations division. “My favorite part of the Summer Program is meeting all the new students and hearing how they came to have an interest in the school,” he says. And, hoping to top his performance from last year, he notes, “I plan to bring my killer dance moves this year.”

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow!