When Claire Guernsey, Henry Summers, and Rose Norris first applied to Christendom, they had an idea of what kind of education they would get. As they each moved through the application process, the Padre Pio Full-Tuition Scholarship Competition, and the eventual winning of that competition, they grew in their excitement and in their expectations. And yet, with one semester complete, the Christendom experience thus far has exceeded even those expectations, with the classroom experience and the campus culture singled out as particular highlights.
For Summers and Norris, they are both the children of alumni parents, so they heard about Christendom their entire lives. Even with that first-hand exposure, the classroom experience has wowed them both so far.
“The classes at Christendom are indescribably amazing,” says Summers, who grew up in Virginia. “To have professors enthusiastic about their work, to have fellow students equally willing and eager to learn is a profound blessing. In every Christendom classroom, truth is loved and pursued by teacher and students alike with incredible passion and incredible joy.”
Christendom’s education seeks to form the whole person — something that was very appealing to all three winners. Norris was raised nearby Christendom in Front Royal, Virginia, so she has seen the Christendom mission of “restoring all things in Christ” take place first hand in her own community.
Seeing that mission in practice led her to not only apply for the college but also for the Padre Pio Full-Tuition Scholarship Competition. The rigorous process, which requires applicants to have certain standardized testing scores and submit a resume, eventually led Norris to become a finalist and be invited to campus for the competition. While there, Norris shined in the essay competition and in the faculty panel interview, resulting in her coming to Christendom for only the cost of room and board.
After one semester, Norris is already feeling more confident in her ability to go out into her community and have a positive impact on it.
“Coming to Christendom has helped me truly flourish and find my own way to impact the lives of others,” says Norris. “I was never really the kind of person to get up in front of a crowd or assert myself, but since coming to Christendom, I’ve found a new confidence in myself and a deeper love for Christ in the people around me. I find myself leading unexpected study sessions, encouraging people to get involved in campus events, and working to bring Christ’s love to my fellow students in a more outgoing and proactive way. ‘Restoring all things in Christ’ no longer seems like a daunting task, but rather an exciting challenge.”
Guernsey feels similarly. Hailing from Ave Maria, Florida, Guernsey did not have a prior connection to Christendom like Summers and Norris but still saw it as her #1 choice for college, due to Christendom’s emphasis on challenging students to grow fully as human persons. She has certainly felt the challenge so far but also the reward, with her knowledge increasing along with her Catholic faith. Guernsey is also involved with varsity volleyball, the Shield of Roses pro-life group, and serves as a student ambassador on campus, taking full advantage of all that Christendom has to offer.
“Prior to my first semester, I decided that I would accept every opportunity that would help me grow or learn something new,” says Guernsey. “Even in the short time I’ve been here, it’s incredible to see things already come to fruition. I’ve been able to dialogue with professors and ancient minds, participate in numerous new extracurricular activities, and form Christ-centered friendships. The uplifting, Catholic community at Christendom has provided a platform for me to spiritually, academically, and socially thrive.”
To paraphrase something that Christendom’s founder, Dr. Warren Carroll, once said: one semester can make a difference. The Padre Pio Full-Tuition Scholarship Competition enabled Guernsey, Summers, and Norris to come to Christendom — something that has impacted their lives for the better, according to them. With one semester down and many more to go, the chances to grow even more in education and in faith are numerous, making Christendom more exciting than ever.
“I see my time at Christendom as a joy-filled adventure,” concludes Guernsey. “I’m so excited to put my energy into every activity I do, because each activity is an opportunity to connect with others and discern what I ultimately want to pursue. In only 5 months I have taken on more roles and responsibilities than I ever anticipated, and I look forward to opportunities my upcoming semesters hold. I have total confidence that it is through the Christendom community that I will be given the tools to discern and live out my vocation.”