Mercy Gjolberg was an exceptional student in high school — more than exceptional, as a matter of fact. A native of Yoakum, Texas, as a high school senior, she was selected as a National Merit Scholarship finalist due to her outstanding PSAT score, essay, academic record, and an endorsement from a school official. With such accolades, she could have gone anywhere for college, and many, of course, opened their doors to her. She visited many schools, looking for something that is exceedingly rare in higher education: authenticity. Finally, she found it in the Shenandoah Valley.
“I have always flourished when presented with a challenge, and that was something that I desired in my future college,” says Gjolberg. “I wanted a place that would push me academically, but the problem was finding a school where I could learn more than just one narrow field. To me, a true education doesn’t consist of knowledge of one subject; an authentic education is learning about yourself, the world, and its history. When I attended the Experience Christendom Summer Program, I realized that Christendom was offering me all this and even more. It was here that I found professors who were willing to spend time with me, to get to know me as a student and a person. I learned through this summer program that Christendom would encourage me to pursue knowledge, mentorships, and true friendships.”
The education and culture of Christendom appealed to her, as did the chance to continue fighting for pro-life issues — a passion that led her to being invited to speak at the Wisconsin Right to Life Conference in high school. Her hard work in becoming a National Merit Scholarship finalist paid off, with Christendom awarding her a full-tuition scholarship thanks to her outstanding academic record.
Today, Gjolberg is experiencing that authenticity first-hand as a sophomore, and is even getting to share it with other prospective students as a student ambassador. In the classroom, she is capitalizing on her true potential. Outside of it, the story is the same: Gjolberg is currently rehearsing for Christendom’s spring musical “The Drowsy Chaperone,” where she will dance, sing, and perform on stage — another dream of hers that she is now able to realize. Gjolberg is also taking part in the college’s spring break mission trips, helping the impoverished in countries such as the Dominican Republic.
Thanks to her National Merit status, Gjolberg could have gone anywhere. But now, almost two years since making her decision to attend Christendom, she could not imagine making a different decision, and sees Christendom as she saw it in high school: as a school of true merit.
“I have found the encouragement and the challenge that I craved in high school,” she says. “Every professor and class inspires me to strive further in my education. To live in a society where I am nurtured both academically and socially is an asset that has affected me greatly. Christendom constantly presents me with opportunities to step outside myself and work with others. I have taken advantage of this through employment opportunities on campus, participating in the upcoming play, tutoring fellow students, and enjoying various clubs and activities. At times, I have wondered what I would have turned out like had I chosen another college; I am thoroughly convinced that life here is better than anywhere else I could have chosen,” says Gjolberg.