The incoming Christendom College class of 2019 promises to be one of the largest in the college’s history, featuring premier students from across the United States. From valedictorians and national merit scholars to film directors and scholar-athlete award-winners, each member of this next generation of students chose Christendom for a variety of reasons, with a common goal in mind: receiving one of the most challenging, satisfying liberal arts educations in the nation.
“When students return and meet the new freshman class this fall, they’ll realize something we’ve seen throughout this year’s entire application process: this is one of the most exciting incoming classes in the college’s history,” says director of admissions Sam Phillips. “These men and women are already accomplished leaders, both in the classroom and outside of it, that will help make Christendom even richer in its community and academic life.”
Nathaniel Reyes is one of those leaders, hailing from Manassas, Va. The salutatorian for Seton School’s class of 2015, Reyes is one of the two winners of this year’s Padre Pio Full-Tuition Scholarship Competition, with the other being Laura Cermak, the valedictorian of Oakcrest School in McLean, Va. Despite a desire to study engineering, Reyes chose to attend Christendom first, believing that the liberal arts would help him succeed beyond his peers.
“I believe that my liberal arts education will help me to become a better engineer. By studying the liberal arts at Christendom, I will learn critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, and public speaking skills. These are talents that would be much harder to develop by only studying math and science courses in college. I will be able to apply such skills to an engineering career, and even if I choose to pursue a different career, these skills will be indispensable,” he says.
Mercy Gjolberg, a national merit scholarship finalist, from Yoakum, Tx., is excited to be attending Christendom this fall. Gjolberg courted offers from many different colleges during high school, but ultimately fell in love with Christendom, and the promise of a new mathematics major, after attending the Experience Christendom Summer Program. Gjolberg has already taken on many leadership opportunities, including being invited to speak at the Wisconsin Right to Life State and Teens for Life Conference. She has the speaking talent to succeed, but believes that Christendom will help her mature in these skills.
“While I could obtain an education at other colleges, they would pale in comparison to the remarkable opportunity presented by Christendom due to its excellent professors, thoroughly Catholic culture, and motivated students who are guided by their love for the Faith and their quest for knowledge…attending Christendom will provide me the opportunity to capitalize on my true potential. Now I have to answer the call,” says Gjolberg.
Transferring this fall from Washington and Lee University, Ryan Farrell is a recent convert to Catholicism — a conversion that motivated him to apply for Christendom College. Farrell, who is an all-state swimmer and accomplished leader from Bloomsburg, Pa., desired a rigorous, Catholic education in the Thomistic tradition that would help him in the pursuit of Truth.
“The intellectual formation of students is in complete fidelity to Holy Mother Church, guided by her doctors and saints. Of great and particular delight to me is the emphasis on the writings and method of the Angelic Doctor, who is ever a sure guide in the pursuit of Truth. I can arrive at Christendom with the certainty that I will increase in sanctity while in attendance and leave with a rock-solid intellectual foundation,” says Farrell.
Hailing from Charlottesville, Va., Emily Farabaugh distinguished herself in public school both in the classroom and outside of it. Academically, Farabaugh achieved the highest score possible on multiple AP exams, and was one of the finalists for Christendom’s Padre Pio Full-Tuition Scholarship this past spring. Outside the classroom, Farabaugh won the scholar-athlete award for both varsity cross-country and swimming, and was chosen as the editor-in-chief for her high school’s literary magazine. While she received competing offers from many other colleges, including the College of William and Mary, Farabaugh ultimately chose to further her passion for history at Christendom this fall.
“What stands out to me about Christendom is the school’s integration of the Catholic faith in every aspect of its academics, extra-curriculars, and life on campus. Up until now, I have been educated through the secular public school system, separate from my religious formation at church. But at Christendom, I can prioritize God by letting Him be the focus of my education and all that I do. I am beyond thrilled to meet everyone and become a part of the uniquely authentic community that will not be found at any larger, generic university,” says Farabaugh.
Christendom’s new mathematics major is attracting many high school students to the college, including incoming freshman Alexander Brefeld of Georgetown, Ky. One of this spring’s Padre Pio Full-Tuition Scholarship finalists, Brefeld enjoyed success with robotics in high school, taking first place in a state championship for his design work. Brefeld’s passion for success with new technology flowed into his documentary filmmaking as well, with his film on the Traditional Latin Mass in Lexington, Ky., Missa Saeculorum, earning the blessing of his diocesan bishop in 2013.
Brefeld chose Christendom after attending the Experience Christendom Summer Program, believing the college will give him the necessary critical thinking skills to excel beyond his peers.
“I am looking forward to taking advantage of the mathematics major that Christendom offers while, at the same time, gaining a solid Catholic liberal arts education. With the skills I learn from Christendom’s liberal arts curriculum, I will be able to ‘think outside the box’ and communicate my ideas and interest in mathematics to others who will benefit. This has great personal value to me,” says Brefeld.
This is part one of a series focusing on the incoming Christendom College Class of 2019. Discover more about the Class of 2019, their achievements, and why they chose the Christendom difference at christendom.edu.