When Elizabeth Reyes visited Thomas Aquinas College as a high school senior, she had little intention of enrolling. Her heart was set on a college with a study-abroad program. While on campus, however, something changed her mind: the faculty.
“I was intrigued and impressed with the humility of the tutors,” she recalls. “They ate lunch with the students, and they genuinely seemed interested in what the students had to say. It was clear that the students were the focus of the faculty.”
That impression would lead Miss Reyes to the College twice — first as a student, and now as a member of that same teaching faculty.
It was while at the College that “I started to understand what education is,” Miss Reyes notes. “It is a freeing of the soul and the mind, instead of just learning servile tasks.” A lifelong lover of animals, she was fascinated to explore this interest across the breadth of the College’s curriculum — studying Creation not only through the natural sciences, but also in literature, philosophy, and theology. Her senior thesis examines how animals can help lead man to God, a theme that has endured throughout her academic career.
After graduating from the College in 2003, Miss Reyes went to the Braniff Graduate School at the University of Dallas, where she earned a master’s degree and completed her doctoral work in English literature. There, she also acquired what she describes as the “missionary spirit of teacher,” leading classes of undergraduates through the works of Homer, Virgil, Dante, and other great authors.
This experience was a good preparation for a return to the College, where Miss Reyes is now able to teach the curriculum that once so excited her, while not being confined to any single discipline. “I missed math and science while I was away,” she says. “Physics was one of my favorite studies at the College.” In her first semester she is teaching senior seminar, freshman natural science, and freshman philosophy.
Now a tutor herself, Miss Reyes says she is thrilled to get to know her students and join them around the lunch table. She is also pleased to be working alongside the very educators who once so inspired her. “It is special to be amongst a faculty that loves what they do,” she remarks. “It is such an honor to be here.”
Posted: November 4, 2011