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Students Look Back on Academic Highlights of Last Semester

Students Look Back on Academic Highlights of Last Semester

Posted: January 12, 2021

Although the first semester of Thomas Aquinas College’s 2020-21 academic year included many more challenges than usual, students and faculty carried on with the essential work of Catholic liberal education. As they read and discussed their way through the College’s classical curriculum, they encountered deeper truths and ever more of the connections that unify the disciplines. Below is a list of a few highlights, as expressed by members of each class, from the recently completed fall semester.

Freshman Mathematics

Graduates of Thomas Aquinas College can all vividly recall moments from their Freshman Math tutorial, in which students spend an entire year on Euclid’s Elements. The class demands serious preparation, as each freshman is frequently called upon to present geometrical propositions before the class. “My favorite part of Euclid class is definitely presenting props,” remarks Luke Cecchi (’24). “It makes me want to study harder.”

A thorough study of Euclid both complements and serves as a foundation for many of the liberal arts. The class is also intellectually formative in an especially important way. “It develops the habit of clear, ordered thinking,” observes Dr. Margaret Hughes, a tutor on the New England campus. “It shows us through experience that reason is capable of coming to certain knowledge, so it inspires confidence in our ability to reason.”

Freshman Maggie Duffy agrees: “It’s very logical and it’s very good to see how all the different concepts that you’ve learned keep building upon each other.”

Sophomore Philosophy

Last semester sophomores began to probe the very foundations of being during their study of Aristotle’s Physics. Many discussions centered around Aristotle’s Four Causes, nature’s acting for an end, and motion. “Oftentimes the things closest to us are the most difficult to grasp,” reflects sophomore Paul Dinan. “Exploring some of the most basic and yet most profound elements of being under the masterful tutelage of Aristotle is a powerful experience.”

A perusal of the Physics reflects the extensive study of nature that students undertake in their second year at the College. “Sophomore year has been very interesting,” says Clare Mangin (’23). “On one hand we’re looking at nature from a very elemental level in Natural Science and in the Physics, seeing if we can define the most basic things of our existence. By contrast, in Theology where we’re seeing how God created the entire cosmos on a very macro level.… I see that as a theme in Sophomore Year.”

Junior Theology

Having received the necessary philosophical and theological tools during their first two years at the College, the Junior Class embarks on a thorough analysis of questions from St. Thomas Aquinas’ masterpiece, the Summa Theologiae. Over the last few months, juniors have meticulously followed the Angelic Doctor in his quest to establish both the existence of God and several of the divine attributes. “It’s the study of God Himself, which is … the end of all of our studies,” reflects John Greene (’22). “It’s what we want to know, what we want to accomplish.”

God’s simplicity, perfection, and goodness have lately been objects of the students’ inquiry. “It really causes you to stretch your mind and think about something so much greater than yourself,” observes junior Katharine Simia. “I understand more about my own life when I read more about God.”

Senior Natural Science

In the fall seniors completed a fascinating exploration of light, electricity, and magnetism. Relying heavily on the calculus they studied previously as juniors, they delved into the modern theories of Einstein and Maxwell, among others. “This study of electromagnetism and electricity, in conjunction with light, brings in something that the ancients had never thought of,” observes Dean Thomas J. Kaiser. “You can see a real development in science.”

Investigating these advanced realities is a difficult yet rewarding task. “The more complex the world is, the more beautiful it is and … it inspires awe in you,” remarks Garin Ballard (’21). “That helps you grow in your relationship to God.”