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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.)

Veronica Jost (’17)Veronica Jost (’17)Yesterday’s prefect introductions concluded with John Jost (’17), and today’s begins with his sister, Veronica (’20), a rising junior from Algonquin, Illinois. In 2015 Veronica attended the program as a student and she made dear friends with whom she remains in regular contact. “My favorite thing about my Summer Program was how many wonderful and inspiring people I got to meet, from my fellow attendees to the staff and prefects themselves,” she says. “The feeling of the complete greatness of a real Catholic culture overwhelmed me.” At this year’s program, she looks forward to “meeting more great people” and “sharing the beauty and fun that I experienced at my own Summer Program.”

Joe Daly (’19)Joe Daly (’19)If you have spent any time on the Thomas Aquinas College website over the last three years, you have likely seen Joe Daly (’19 ), a rising senior from Berwyn, Illinois. He’s the tall fellow who appears in most plays, directs others, and helps lead the annual trip to the Walk for Life West Coast (along with fellow prefect Meg Downes). “I love that the Summer Program makes the discussion method and the great books so accessible to high school students who are trying to figure out their next big step in life,” he says. “I almost didn’t enroll at TAC. I was ready to sign on the dotted line at another university to study music until I visited for the first time. The classes blew me away then, and continue to do so now.”

Rachel Rivera (’19)Rachel Rivera (’19)When she attended the Summer Program as a student in 2014, Rachel Rivera (’19) of Kendall Park, New Jersey, “fell in love with the school, especially the spiritual life and the study of Euclid.” She even used to joke — whenever asked why she was choosing Thomas Aquinas College — that it was “60 percent Jesus and 40 percent proving the square!” Now, as a second-time prefect, she aims to share what she has learned with the high school students. “Working the Summer Program is really wonderful because I get to see so many new people come and take the first few steps of this journey,” she says. “I love watching students get excited about the great books and the Discussion Method, and knowing that their lives — whether they know it or not — are going to be changed forever!”

George Stypa (’21)George Stypa (’21)Attending the High School Summer Program as a student in 2016 made such an impression on George Stypa (’21) of Tucson, Arizona, that he actually passed up a scholarship from another school in order to attend Thomas Aquinas College. “It was one of the highlights of my life,” he says. “It not only allowed me to delve deeper into some of the greatest minds of Western civilization, but also allowed me to meet some very exceptional people.” Among his favorite memories was the student-prefect basketball game. “I am very excited now that I have been ‘drafted’ to the prefect team!” he jokes, adding that he’s looking forward to experiencing the Summer Program from the “other side” as a first-time prefect.

Zoe Appleby (’18)Zoe Appleby (’18)A member of the College’s newest graduating class, Zoe Appleby (’18) of Santa Paula, California, “can’t wait to return” for this, her fourth year as a Summer Program prefect. She attended the program while in high school and “fell in love” with the College’s unique curriculum and teaching method. Her favorite program authors are Euclid, Fabre, Flannery O’Connor, and Søren Kierkegaard. She has always been passionate about museums, art, and beauty, and she wrote her Senior Thesis on “The Beauty of the Crucifixion.” This fall she will continue her studies in a medieval art history master’s program. When not studying the great books or art history, Zoe enjoys rock climbing, swimming at the beach, oil painting, and reading poetry. She reports that she is “extremely looking forward” to the Summer Program’s trip to the Getty Center.

Andrew Rossi (’13)Andrew Rossi (’13)Returning for his sixth 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.”

Shelby Heaton (’21)Shelby Heaton (’21)This past fall, Shelby Heaton (’21) of Kalispell, Montana, enrolled at Thomas Aquinas College as the age of 26, making her the senior member of the Freshman Class. She had intended to apply when she was 19 but was, she admits, “complacent and intimidated.” Seven years of working as a waitress and as her parish’s director of religious education, however, led her to realize that the fruits of a Catholic liberal education would outweigh the sacrifices. “I’m loving being here,” she says. “It’s really hard, but I’m not scared. I have a peace of mind because, for all that it took to get me here, this must be where God wants me.” Her advice to Summer Program students: “Be packed 24 hours before you travel, and sleep as much as you can beforehand!”

Dillon Raum (’21)Dillon Raum (’21)It’s been a great summer for Dillon Raum (’21) of Anthem, Arizona. First he went to Rome as part of a singing tour with a men’s choir, The Floriani, composed of Thomas Aquinas College students and alumni (including Joe Daly). And now he’s coming to Santa Paula for his first-ever Summer Program! “I hope to make lots of great memories this summer,” he says. As a rising sophomore, he has some practical experience to share with the high school students. “Try not to split the program into two parts: the classes, and the ‘fun stuff,’” he advises. “Keep thinking and talking about the ideas and conversations from class while you’re having fun, and have some fun in class!” He’s looking forward to sharing the “TAC culture” with the summer visitors, and “can’t wait to see all the high-schoolers learn to swing dance!”

Maggie Dillon (’21)Maggie Dillon (’21)“I attended the Summer Program two years ago, and it was life-changing,” says Maggie Dillon (’21), a rising sophomore from Lunenburg, Massachusetts. “I met some of the best people I have ever met and had some of the best times. In just two weeks my intellectual life, my spiritual life, and my social life took a turn for the better.” Returning for the first time as a prefect, she is now eager to pass along that experience to this year’s students. “I am really looking forward to being a part of it again,” she says. “I am very excited to make new friends and to be with them through this incredible experience. These upcoming two weeks are going to be so much fun, and I cannot wait!”