Student Profile


Hal Kokes

Ages: 20
Year: Senior
From: Absecon, New Jersey
Major: Philosophy
Extracurriculars: Going to Mass, playing on the varsity rugby and soccer teams, intramurals, praying, volunteering on the Student Activities Council, altar serving, serving on the Senior Philanthropy Board, swing dancing, wrestling, etc.

What do you find unique about our academic program?
The personal dedication of the professors really impresses me. Their love for their subjects (students) is shown by the attention they give inside and outside of the classroom. They offer one on one help to any student who wants it, even if they currently don't have classes with them.

Give us a highlight from your Christendom experience?
I'd have to say that it is the people here at Christendom who have made my experience as great as it can be. The professors and other students have helped to form my character throughout the past four years and I have been changed by far for the better because of them.

Any parting words of advice for prospective students?
You've heard it before, and you will hear it again - you get what you put in to it. Everything about this school provides opportunity for growth - especially the availability of the sacraments -but like anything in life, God will let your work at Christendom determine your reward.

Core Knowledge

      with Rachel Hoover ('17)

Summing it All Up

Hello again! It’s the last week before finals, and the last post of another semester. This fall has been a truly amazing experience, full of things I’ll never forget. Trying to sum everything up in a way that does justice to it all will be near impossible, but hopefully I’ll succeed in giving you at least a taste of it.

In history, we started with the Renaissance back in August and moved through the Reformation, then discussed the Catholic revival that nearly coincided the Reformation, and finished up with overviews of the three major powers in Europe in the 15th-17th centuries: Spain, England, and France. We talked about the Reconquista, the Spanish Inquisition, and the great Catholic renewal in Spain as exemplified by mystical saints and by the new order of Jesuits. As for England, we discussed Henry VIII and his successors, the Stuart and Tudor royal families, and the various controversies that arose surrounding Catholic monarchs in opposition to Protestant nobles. All of this culminated in the English civil war, when the Puritan nobles beheaded the king—although the monarchy was restored soon after. In conjunction with England we learned about Ireland and the many revolts and battles that erupted because of the English efforts to convert the Irish to Protestantism. Finally we learned about France and the cultural atmosphere under Cardinal Richelieu (of Three Musketeers fame!), including the Cardinal’s efforts to implement Trent’s decrees and strengthen the Church. However, we learned that his main purpose in strengthening the Church was to strengthen the monarchy. Read more »


The Week in Photos


Above: Girls decorate Christmas cards to bring to the elderly at a local nursing home.
Above and Below: The last Life on Tap for the semester was held on Thursday evening. Alumni Colleen Harmon and Cyrus Artz gave brief talks on life in the political field after Christendom.

Above and below: Catholic historian Dr. Christopher O. Blum gives a talk on St. Francis de Sales, followed by the launch and signing of the book he and Christendom professor Dr. Christopher Shannon co-wrote, titled "Past as Pilgrimage."
iTunes U
Above and below: The Christmas Formal Dinner and Dance this past Sunday was a huge success. The gym was transformed into "Christmas in New York," featuring a picturesque photo room, a city skyline, and a beautiful replica Cathedral, and was full of students, faculty, and donors celebrating the coming holiday together before the upcoming break.
Donors enjoyed a special reception in the library prior to joining the students at the transformed gymnasium.
Above and below: Students gather for the annual Christmas Party in Campion Hall, where the girls decorate each floor and provide snacks for their fellow classmates' enjoyment.
Emily Bot
Above and Below: Theology theses defenses were held on Tuesday night. Seniors, who wrote their theses this semesters, defended their theses in 20-30 minute presentations.

Phil Gilbert
Laura Wynne

Antonia Cummings
Above: On Wednesday, students enjoyed a fun and insightful discussion on the married life by Bob and Bev Ward, parents of Christendom alumnus James Ward ('99). The Wards are regular speakers at the Arlington diocesan conferences for the engaged and have been married for 50 years.

Alumni in Action


Tim Halisky
President, RLA Mid-Atlantic
Class of 2001
Major: History

“As I have progressed in my career, the value of my liberal arts education has only become more apparent.  The insurance brokerage industry (and the business world in general) is about relationships.  In general, people prefer to work with people they like.  Key to this is communication - my liberal arts education, complete with its multiple disciplines, has helped me to 'multi-task' in my interactions with others.  Too often I run across people who cannot hold a conversation outside of their particular job function.  These are not the types that you will find in the corner office.  A liberal arts education enabled me to 'think outside the box' well before I was introduced to that concept in the business world.  That ability is highly valued in my industry and in the business world in general.”


Did You Know?

You Can Hang Out with the College President

Dr. O’Donnell, the President of Christendom College, makes it a priority to reach out to the students. Though his position as Consultor to the Pontifical Council for the Family keeps him busy, he takes time each year to teach a section of History of Western Civilization I to the freshmen. Through the course of the class Dr. O’Donnell teaches students about the way ancient civilization perfectly paved the way for the coming of Christ, and invites all his students over to his house to watch "Ben Hur" together at the end to tie all the lessons together.

Along with this class, Dr. O’Donnell also takes time to reach out to the new freshmen on campus in particular by giving a talk just for them during their Orientation Week. During this talk, he offers caring advice on the coming difficulties of friendships, relationships, and the way to approach each during these ever-changing years of growth into adulthood. Sophomore Emily Gary remembers how touching this talk was for her, and for the other girls in her class who were all facing new challenges far from home together: “The talk was very fatherly. It felt like he was reaching out to us in the same way he would to his daughters, giving advice to guide us and making sure he showed us how much he cared.” Dr. O’Donnell also gives a reflection at the beginning of each semester, as well as at the Christmas Formal dinner, to help put the season in perspective and refocus the students’ minds on Christ and His hand in each aspect of their lives.

Outside of class and lecture, Dr. O’Donnell comes to the school’s events and actively participates in the lives of his students. He can be seen playing the guitar and singing Irish songs front and center during the St. Patrick’s Day festivities, in the crowd during school plays and performances, and leading the Rosary at the First Friday Holy Hour each month. During the summer programs, he has the participants over to his house for a Barn Dance, where he and his sons play music and introduce their guests to the art of barn dancing and Irish Sing-along. In addition to what he does for the students here, he also ensures that the Juniors in Rome have the fullest Christendom experience by taking time to give them a special tour of the Holy City, pointing out interesting spots known only to locals and using his great knowledge of the area to help his visiting students appreciate it. And on top of all of that, he runs the successful St. Columcille Institute each summer in Ireland. To learn more about Dr. O’Donnell visit his page here.


sam phillipsDirector's Cut

 with Sam Philips

        Director of Admissions

The Skill of Conceptualization

How does Christendom prepare its students to tackle the challenges of the real world? How does Christendom’s academic program prepare its students for success in their vocations and careers? How does it make its students great?

Short answer: It makes them conceptualizers. And what, might you ask, are conceptualizers?

A recent article on Yahoo Finance explains,

“Everybody wants a highly rewarding job in a recession-proof field. But the labor market changes constantly and a safe job today can be an endangered one tomorrow.

There’s one vital skill, however, that transcends many jobs and fields and may be every worker’s best shot at financial security. Schools don’t usually teach it, and employers don’t usually mention it in job postings. Yet it will help you get hired, outperform your peers, find the best opportunities and stay a step or two ahead of the computers, robots and other machines that are making many jobs obsolete.

The skill is conceptualization: the ability to see how the elements of an abstract whole fit together and to identify problems that need to be addressed before others do.”

This skill of conceptualization, what John Cardinal Newman described as the “philosophical habit of mind” —the ability to see the whole picture, and not simply the parts—is cultivated in our students in our classrooms through an integrated curriculum and approach that trains their minds to think analytically, critically, and logically. Too many colleges have their students over-specialize, to the extent that they end up highly trained in one particular function, but ultimately paralyzed when it confronted with overcoming new problems.

“There’s no standard definition of a conceptualizer,” the article states, “but employers usually recognize them as creative problem-solvers who see the big picture and make insightful connections in ways even a supercomputer can’t. They might have technical skills, but they also tend to read a lot, write well and show curiosity in many unrelated things.”

At Christendom, through engagement in the different disciplines of philosophy, history, theology, science, literature, math, classics, and political sciences, students learn to examine fully the causes and effects of things and to abstract the principles from each area of study. Consequently, Christendom graduates form a robust worldview that equips them with the intellectual toolkit to pursue any area of interest, tackle any challenge, and be able to provide innovative solutions.

This is what sets Christendom apart and enables our alumni to achieve greatness in their post-graduation pursuits – we help them become conceptualizers, or seers-of-the-big-pictures – and this makes all the difference.

Dare to be great.

God bless,
800.877.5456 ext 1290


Issue 12/11/2014