College can be a crucial time in the development of a young person’s faith.  A positive formation in religion during these years can lead one to be a faithful, lifelong Catholic; a negative experience can lead to a life away from the Church. I spoke with students at four traditional Catholic colleges—three seniors, one junior—about their experiences at the college and how it has impacted their lives.

Corinne Zay, 22, senior at Ave Maria University, from Huntington, Indiana

 

Why did you want to go to Ave Maria?

“I heard of Ave Maria University through our President Jim Towey. He made a visit to Bishop Luers High School when I was a student there. I loved the service opportunities it provided and the strong Catholic identity.”

 

What impact has the college had on you?

“It has been a life changing experience in more ways than one.  I have become a better version of myself at Ave Maria and have found so many others who encourage me in my faith along the way.”

“I have been a part of the Mother Teresa program and a part of household life.  Both have formed me greatly introducing me to community prayer and service.  I have come to understand a greater appreciation of our Catholic faith and a love for serving the poor like Saint Teresa of Calcutta did.”

[alluding to her plans to marry fellow student Philip Rhein after graduation] “We both have grown so much deeper in our faith here, but we are most appreciative because we have found our vocation to marriage.  We are excited to grow in holiness together each day of our lives and are thankful for the springboard Ave has been for us.”

 

What do you wish to do after graduation?

“I hope to move back home to Indiana area and work in public policy in state government.  I love Indiana and politics!”

 

Sophia Michael, junior at Wyoming Catholic College, from Rogers, Minnesota

 

Why did you want to go to Wyoming Catholic?

“I was interested in a liberal arts school, with a strong Catholic philosophy and theology program. I had heard about Wyoming Catholic’s outdoor program, and I knew it would help me grow.  Students have the opportunity to go on two Outdoor Weeks each year.  My freshman year included 21 days of backpacking before the start of the school year.  These trips give you the opportunity to learn about yourself, and teach you how to lead others in the back country, as opposed to the classroom. You also get to experience the beauty of nature.”

 

What impact has the college had on you?

“It’s been wonderful. I’ve been very happy here. I love the academic life, and the challenge of the outdoor program. The experience has brought me joys I did not expect.  I had the chance to lead a kayaking trip; it was a wonderful experience to be able to facilitate for other people.”

“I’ve also loved the Catholic culture. You’re surrounded by people interested in the same things, working toward the same goal. We have the chance to go to daily Mass, and I can talk about the faith whenever I want to. When we sit at the dinner table, we have discussions about theology and morality. It’s a good environment, and how I want to live my faith out.”

 

What do you want to do after you graduate?

“I want to be a canon lawyer, working closely with those in the Catholic Church. I also want to do missionary work, walking and talking with those people who are suffering.”

 

Daniel Leahy, 23, senior at Thomas More College in New Hampshire, from Scotch Plains, New Jersey

 

Why did you decide to go to Thomas More College?

“Although I went to a Catholic high school, I was not around faithful Catholics, and was not practicing my faith.  I had a ‘reversion’ at age 19, and was looking for a solid Catholic college that offered a traditional liberal arts education.  I came across Thomas More, looked at the curriculum and community life, and I thought it would contribute to my growth.”

 

What impact has the college had on you?

“I have loved it. I’m sad for people at other schools who are not here. Thomas More is a place that really sustains you, and gives you an atmosphere to grow in the spiritual, moral and intellectual life. That’s a rare treasure today. I’ve also made great friendships here, which will continue for the rest of my life.”

 

What do you want to do after you graduate?

“I want to go to graduate school and teach. I’m also thinking about entering the seminary.”

 

Jose Guardiola, 22, senior at Thomas Aquinas College in California, from Cuauhtemoc, Chihuahua, Mexico 

 

Why did you decide to attend TAC?

“My family came to the U.S. when I was age 4.  We were a culturally Catholic family.  My father had three master’s degrees, which pulled him into academic atheism and secularism.  However, my mom took the family to church, and my father was okay with it because he thought it was a good place to learn morals.  I had a conversion experience, and when it came time to go to college, I was looking for a place that offered a rigorous academic education. I wanted a place where I could read a lot, and study philosophy and theology.”

 

What impact has the college had on you?

“I love it. It was an incredible decision. My freshman year was difficult, as I had quite a culture shock when I arrived. But, I stayed because I loved the curriculum.  That decision has paid off.”

 

What do you want to do after graduation?

“I want to get a master’s degree in creative writing.  I want to write fiction novels and stories, and down the road, I hope I have the opportunity to make a movie.”

 

Did your father ever come to the Church?

“My father found his faith along with me. My mother has been growing in the Faith as well. We’re all practicing Catholics.”