Summer Program Blog
Following up on last week’s introductions of the 2015 High School Summer Program chaplains, we now present the first in a three-part series introducing this year’s prefects:
Sarah Dufresne (’14)The women’s head prefect for this year’s High School Summer Program is Sarah Dufresne (’14), who has served as a prefect on two previous programs and is currently the College’s resident assistant. A onetime volunteer for her high school’s campus ministry team and an occasional missionary with Justice for All’s pro-life campus outreach, Sarah sees being “radically available” as key to working well with young adults. In her roles as a Summer Program prefect and resident assistant, she has organized numerous student outings, including early-morning runs, a pancake breakfast, hikes, a women’s campout, and a trip to Ventura’s Grant Park Cross.
Chris Sebastian (’13)Returning for his sixth High School Summer Program as a prefect — and first as men’s head prefect — is Chris Sebastian (’13). A graduate of the College who attended the program as a high school student in 2008, Chris is the public relations and marketing coordinator for the Mother of Divine Grace distance-learning program. “I’m always gratified by the seriousness with which the students tackle the difficult subjects they discuss during the program, from questions of fate to the existence of God,” he says. “These students give us much hope for not only the future of Thomas Aquinas College, but also for the whole world.”
Anthony Maza (’15)A member of the College’s most recent graduating class, Anthony Maza (’15) attended the High School Summer Program in 2010 — a turning point in his life. Despite having already decided to attend college elsewhere, “after two weeks of thinking, I decided TAC would teach me best how to be truly wise,” he remembers. “The College utterly changed my life, and I made the best friends here.” Later this summer he will head off to Colorado to pursue graduate studies in theology at the Augustine Institute, but first he looks forward to “ultimate Frisbee, volleyball, and talking about the hard questions of life” during this year’s program.
Khyber White (’15)“The thing I enjoy most about the Summer Program,” observes Khyber White (’15), “is being able to introduce our college and the life of liberal education to a new generation of students.” A recent graduate and convert to the Catholic faith, Khyber has a passion for international affairs as well as playing medieval and Middle Eastern instruments, including the Turkish bağlama. (If we’re lucky, maybe he will play it for us on the program.) He has participated in numerous medical missions to Western Africa with his father, who is a doctor, and he will volunteer this fall as a tutor at a Catholic school in Jamaica.
Samantha Wiebersch (’16)A rising senior at the College, Samantha Wiebersch (’16) is returning for her second year as a prefect. “I am thrilled to come back!” she says. “Having the chance to meet so many incredible high school students and engage them in the academic, social, and spiritual life that I love so much is the opportunity of a lifetime.” She is spending the summer in her hometown of Delafield, Wisconsin, providing therapy for an autistic boy. Although she loves her job and the time with family, she cannot wait for the program to begin. “Sharing what you love with people you love — it doesn’t get much better than that.”
David Langley (’15)This summer will be the fourth that David Langley (’15) has served as a prefect on the High School Program. “I enjoy getting to know the young men and women,” he says. A member of this year’s graduating class, David spent last summer performing research in chemistry at MIT’s Jamison Laboratory. This summer he is busy studying for the Medical College Admission Test, after which he plans to apply to at least five medical schools. Thus the Summer Program will serve as something of a study break for him, although, like all prefects, he will be reading the great books along with the students.
Aileen McCarthy (’14)Fresh from a nearly nine-month missionary trip to Cordoba, Argentina, Aileen McCarthy (’14) is returning for her fifth High School Summer Program as a prefect. In Argentina she did various forms of service work, such as aiding terminally ill cancer patients, helping out at orphanages, and tutoring poor children. She is now working for a magazine in her hometown of Gallup, New Mexico, from which she will be taking a break to rejoin the Summer Program. The reason she gives for returning to the program every summer? “I love this opportunity to give back to the College.”
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 be at 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 this year!” A rising junior from Ave Maria, Florida, she delights in the students’ “genuine enthusiasm” for the life of the College. “It reminds me not to take what I have for granted,” she says. “July 19 can’t come soon enough!”
Admissions staff assemble the packets.
Members of the Admissions Staff have spent the day busily assembling packets of great books for attendees of the 2015 High School Summer Program! The mailings, which went out via the U.S. Postal Service this afternoon, contain the first three readings of this year’s program — Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, Plato’s Euthyphro, and Sophocles’ Antigone.
A note to rising high-school seniors: There are still a few openings for men in this year’s program. It’s not too late to apply. We promise we will get you the readings in plenty of time!
The packets await their trip to the Post Office.
In response to burgeoning demand, Thomas Aquinas College is increasing enrollment for the annual High School Summer Program — from 136 students in 2014 to 153 at this year’s program, which will take place from July 19 to August 1.
“We were pleasantly surprised at how many applications came in for the 2015 program, from across the U.S. and abroad, too,” says Director of Admissions Jon Daly. “Not wanting to turn anyone away, we decided to boost our enrollment.”
Despite the larger overall numbers, classes in the Summer Program will still be capped at 17 students. “We are bringing in another full-time member of the College’s teaching faculty to lead the classes,” says Mr. Daly. “That way our Summer Program students will continue to learn in the same manner as our undergraduate students — in a small classroom setting, sitting around a table, engaged in powerful conversations about the greatest works of Western civilization.”
Although the program is rapidly filling, there are still some spaces available for men and a waitlist for women. “Increasing our enrollment gives people who have been holding out one more chance to apply before it’s too late,” says Mr. Daly. “But they should move quickly.Time is running out!”
Today’s edition of the Cardinal Newman Society’s Catholic Education Daily blog features an article about the College’s High School Great Books Program. “The summer program,” writes author Kathryn Zagrobelny “is designed to encourage students to pursue truth and wisdom and experience student life at Thomas Aquinas College.”
If you are a high school junior, and you would like to spend two weeks in Southern California this summer — reading great books, deepening your faith, considering important questions, making lifelong friends, and having lots of fun — then apply now for this year’s program!
The Admissions Office team looks forward to welcoming some 130 high school students from around the country and abroad to the campus this coming Sunday, July 22, for the Summer Great Books Program. Please check back here regularly for pictures and posts from the program; the blog will be constantly updated throughout the two weeks. We look forward to keeping siblings, friends, parents, and teachers updated about all the classes, activities, and events!
Student check-in for the program is on Sunday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There will be a Parents’ Orientation for those who can make it at 4:00 p.m. in St. Bernardine of Siena Library, and a barbeque at 5:00 p.m. at the picnic area near the athletic field.
Please call the College at 800-634-9797 or e-mail Jon Daly, Admissions Director, for more information.
Monday the students discussed Macbeth, asking questions such as, “Should we pity Macbeth, or is Lady Macbeth really responsible for their downfall?” They were also introduced to Euclidean geometry, discussing the principles and propositions. For the next five days students will be constructing and demonstrating propositions on the chalkboard. While this may be daunting at first, many students come to love Euclid, and even find that this becomes their favorite class.
The students were also given the opportunity to join Admissions Director Jon Daly and Admissions Counselors Scott Benigar and Louis Conklin for a brief admissions meeting. The students were able to have any of their questions about the application process answered. Mass followed, and after afternoon classes, some students headed down to the athletic fields, while others relaxed in the Commons playing guitars, singing, and continuing their classroom conversations.
Study hall found the students busily reading The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius and preparing the propositions for the next day’s Euclid class, before quieting their minds by praying the rosary. Finally, to end the night, there was the much-anticipated students vs. prefects basketball games. The girls’ game was first, followed by the boys’ game. Both were well-matched, intense, and a lot of fun, and the prefects managed to pull away for the win in each.
Below are two new slideshows from this weekend’s hike and trip to Santa Barbara.