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Senior Reflections: Giving up a Full Scholarship to Attend TAC was Worth It

Posted: July 16, 2020

By Michael Murphy (’20)


Note: The following essay is adapted from remarks made to the Thomas Aquinas College Board of Governors at its meeting on November 16, 2019.

Thank you very much for having me here today to say a few words. First and foremost, I would like to thank you all for what you have done for me and my class. We are all well aware that we live in one of the most beautiful places on earth and study some of the greatest minds to ever live, not through any merit of our own but only because of the generosity of people such as yourself. For that we will be forever grateful. I have known about Thomas Aquinas College all my life, as my parents both attended the College, and three of my four older siblings have now graduated from here. For this reason, the stubborn Irishman in me immediately rejected the idea of coming here. I wanted to do something “cool” and “fun” with my college experience, as I thought throughout high school.

Growing up, I always wanted to join the military, and my top choice among the schools I was accepted to during my senior year in high school was the Virginia Military Institute (VMI). I was also accepted to TAC, but I did not imagine I would ever end up here. I had applied mostly out of love and respect for my mother.

My desire to attend VMI grew even more when I received an academic scholarship for full tuition. To obtain this scholarship I had to travel to the VMI campus and be interviewed by a panel of nine officers who were in charge of admissions. The interview lasted about 45 minutes, and we discussed a wide variety of topics. There was one question an officer asked me, however, which left a lasting impression. He asked why I was interested in both TAC and VMI, which were both extremely prestigious schools in their own respective fields of study.

I did not have a good answer at the time, but I remember being shocked that a successful military officer would call Thomas Aquinas College a prestigious school. His question marked the first moment that I began to seriously consider attending Thomas Aquinas College. I visited the College a couple of weeks after that interview. Although I was somewhat considering coming here, I viewed my trip much more as a five-day vacation to Southern California to see my brother than as an official college visit. But while I was on campus, I sat in on some classes, and one particularly captivated me.

It was a class led by Dr. Michael Augros, in which the students discussed the chapter of the De Anima in which Aristotle considers the faculty of sight and the medium by which we see. Although I didn’t know the answer to any of the questions, I wanted to talk many times, and I wanted to know the answers to these questions which I had never thought about before. This desire to know, coupled with being on campus and getting to know members of the student body, made it clear to me that I should attend TAC for my college education.

When I first arrived as a freshman, I was excited to be here and to meet my classmates, but after about a month of studies, I found myself extremely frustrated for two reasons. The first was that, in many of our classes, we would raise all kinds of interesting questions, but we would not always come to a concrete conclusion by the end of class. The second was that I did not realize how many times I could be wrong in front of my section — in just an hour-and-a-half class.

Looking back, I now see that the majority of freshman year is spent wondering at questions and gaining the tools necessary to answer them in the later years. I also had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful and amazing woman, Kayla, during my freshman year. We quickly became good friends and started dating during the second semester. After three years of dating, we recently got engaged and will be getting married this summer.

I am very grateful to Thomas Aquinas College not only for giving me a well-rounded liberal education, but also for preparing me for the professional world. In all the internships and jobs I have applied for in the last year, employers’ three desired qualities were always critical thinking, strong communication, and problem solving. At TAC we read original texts and think critically about them, communicate our thoughts to our fellow students in class, and solve problems we might have in understanding the various texts. We practice these three skills every day in class, and I am very excited to take them out into the professional world.

I know that all of this is a gift from God, made possible by your generosity. Thank you very much.


Mr. Murphy is from Cheshire, Connecticut.

Michael Murphy, Class of 2020
Brooks Braden

“At my alma mater and in the Marines, hard work and high standards are the norm.”

– Major Brooks Braden (’97)

Judge Advocate, U.S. Marine Corps Reserves

“I am grateful to Thomas Aquinas College for educating new leaders for our Church, leaders who are grounded in their personal relationship and commitment to Jesus Christ.”

– Most. Rev. George Niederauer

Archbishop Emeritus of San Francisco