In a commencement speech given last year, CNN host Fareed Zakaria outlined why he believes a liberal arts education can lead to better employability in the future, particularly focusing on how it teaches you to write well — an invaluable skill that many institutions are failing to teach students in the modern era. Christendom College senior Rebecca Willen is proving Zakaria’s belief before even leaving college, working as an intern with famed author, and recent Christendom Major Speaker, Joseph Pearce at the St. Austin Review, and by acting as project manager for the completion of Dr. Carroll’s final, posthumous work, The Crisis of Christendom, in 2013.
Willen, who is graduating this spring with a degree in English, has been steadily building her resume during her collegiate career, both at Christendom and in other locations. Using the liberal arts skills Christendom strives to provide every student, Willen has worked as an assistant to the director of the Catholic Writers Conference since her sophomore year, now acting as volunteer coordinator for the 2015 conference.
In 2012, she met author Joseph Pearce at the conference, who was impressed enough by Willen to offer her an internship with The St. Austin Review, where she continues to work as a proofreader for the popular, internationally read journal.
“Words impact culture, and people’s minds, in an incredible way in today’s world, so having the ability to not only understand those words, but know how to use them correctly is an incredibly important ability I’ve gained from my Christendom education,” says Willen. “The liberal arts, particularly the critical reading and writing skills, that I’ve learned help me to take a work, analyze it, and understand it in all its facets. This enables me to bring a unique, well-rounded perspective to my editing work that I didn’t have previously.”
Christendom not only gave Willen the skills to succeed outside of college, it gave her a great opportunity at the school as well, where she worked with Christendom Press to complete Christendom founder Dr. Warren Carroll’s final, posthumous work The Crisis of Christendom. As project manager, she set up the contract with the publishers, oversaw the printing decisions, wrote the back cover description, proofread all 920 pages, helped with the cover design, and worked with Mrs. Anne Carroll to clean up the footnotes and bibliography.
Willen, in addition to her ongoing internship at the St. Austin Review, currently works in the call center at Christendom, assisting the donor and alumni relations offices in answering important questions for alumni and donors to the college. She also works as an intern for CatholicMom.com, gaining experience in social media publishing, and as the proofreader for the college’s quarterly magazine, Instaurare, as well.
Many college students wait until after college to begin planning their careers, wasting valuable time that could be spent while in college to plan for the future. Willen, and other current Christendom students, are proving success can be found before leaving college, using the writing, communication, and critical thinking skills that are best provided by the liberal arts to pave their way towards a bright future.