It is roughly a nine-hour drive from Jackson, Michigan, to Front Royal, Virginia. Not a short stretch by any means, and quite a long distance for college students to be away from their families during those critical four years. And yet, two students from Lumen Christi Catholic School, located in Jackson, will be joining Christendom’s Class of 2023 this fall. They are the latest in a new trend of Lumen Christi students and alumni attending Christendom, drawn far from home to the college due to its challenging curriculum and thriving Catholic culture.
The two students attending Christendom this fall — Jacob Stevens and Madigan Gannon — now raise the total number of Lumen Christi alumni to three within two years. Just a few short years ago, Christendom was not even on the radar of the Michigan-based school, whose alumni typically went to schools closer to the state. That all changed with the hire of theology professor Matthew Anderson, a Christendom alumnus, and former Experience Christendom Summer Program counselor. He encouraged his students to consider at least visiting Christendom, offering scholarships to the Experience Christendom Summer Program to interested students. Those scholarships were what brought Stevens and Gannon to Christendom in the first place and are what helped make the school their #1 choice for college.
“Eight months ago, I was looking at a variety of colleges to attend here in Michigan,” remembers Stevens. “However, after discussing college with a friend and with Professor Anderson, I was able to attend the Experience Christendom Summer Program in June of 2018. When I first arrived on campus for the week, I didn’t know exactly what it would be like. All my friends who have gone to the program had absolutely loved it, and I was interested in what this little college in Virginia had to offer. I didn’t expect to have an experience quite like this. My view of college had changed.”
Stevens truly fell in love with Christendom after that one week. He applied and was accepted and is now excited to join the community this fall. When he arrives on campus, he will bring with him a variety of experiences that will serve him well, including time as president of Lumen Christi’s Students for Life and as a cross-country and track runner.
“One of the top priorities of any collegiate institution is education,” says Stevens. “However, Christendom believes in the complete formation of the human person, and Christendom cultivates this formation through its curriculum and culture. The unique liberal arts education Christendom offers can make me and hundreds of other students a unique and virtuous person in the workforce, at home, and in the parish.”
His classmate, Gannon, could not agree more. A gifted singer who has performed at Carnegie Hall, she also credits Anderson with leading her to Christendom by offering her a scholarship to the highly-rated program.
“At first I was wary, and only traveled to get the experience,” says Gannon. “I was not expecting to fall head over heels for the college. During my time at ECSP, I saw the true nature of Christendom, and the atmosphere that is established. I also saw the good in the teachers there, along with the students.”
A passion for philosophy only further helped her apply to Christendom. While she could have attended a public university closer to home, Gannon desired more from her collegiate education — she wanted a challenge, and an opportunity to grow in knowledge and in faith.
“As someone being part of the Catholic school system for most of their life, it would be too easy to switch into a public college curriculum,” says Gannon. “If a person wants to push themselves to their fullest potential, knowing fully that a public college would be too effortless, Christendom might be most suitable. Christendom’s academic program is certainly challenging, and students know that when applying, but that does not stop them. As someone who is looking to further their faith and challenge themselves academically, Christendom is the best choice.”
Christendom has seen Lumen Christi students visiting campus during the summer for two straight years, with students applying to the college each time soon after. This summer, another group of students are attending the summer program, ready to see what their fellow classmates have been raving about since 2017.