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Padre Pio Scholars Thriving at Christendom

September 12, 2019

Catherine McCaughey, Matteo Stocco, and Katie Svoboda are the class of 2023’s Padre Pio Scholars. After submitting essays and coming to campus in March for a series of interviews, these 3 students won the three Padre Pio full-tuition scholarships offered by the college each year.

Catherine McCaughey is from Nashville, Tennessee, and is graduate of Seton Home Study School.  Catherine’s cousin, Maria Bonvissuto, a class of 2015 graduate and Padre Pio scholar herself, encouraged McCaughey to consider Christendom. After attending the Experience Christendom Summer Program and visiting campus, McCaughey fell in love with Christendom. According to McCaughey, the Catholic identity that permeates every aspect of life at Christendom, from the classes, to the sports, to the student activities, is what most attracted her to Christendom.

“It was evident to me that Catholicism is the heart of Christendom”, says McCaughey. “[After visiting] I saw how the Catholic Faith was beautifully interwoven with every aspect of the college life.”

Now that McCaughey’s Christendom career is under way, she is discovering an interest in many of the liberal art disciplines she is studying, and predicts that she will major in English Literature, although when the time comes to choose her major it will be a difficult decision.

In addition to her studies, McCaughey plans to get involved with some of the college’s writing-centric clubs, such as the Rambler, because of her interest in pursuing a career in journalism or publishing. But, given the flexible nature of a degree in the liberal arts, McCaughey is also open to a number of career paths, including teaching English abroad, or attending graduate school and becoming a professor.

McCaughey’s time spent pursuing the liberal arts will help her to develop important skills, and to pursue her dreams. 

Before coming to college, I often wondered if I would really enjoy college life or just ‘get through it,’” says McCaughey. “Now I know it is an incredible experience and I am so glad to be spending the next four years of my life here!” 

Homeschooled student Matteo Stocco from Winchester, Virginia, knew he wanted to attend Christendom after his week at the Experience Christendom Summer Program. The engaging classes and robust culture he experienced brought Christendom to the top of his college list. 

In the few weeks that Stocco has been a student at Christendom, his interest in the liberal arts has only increased, and he is now considering a major in philosophy, as he enjoys the intellectual challenges posed by this field of study. 

In addition to his studies, Stocco is excited to become an active member of the Christendom community. He looks forward to attending Shield of Roses, Laudamus Te Holy Hours, Thomistic Tuesdays, and Into the Deep (a men’s formational series). Stocco also plans to attend the Chester-Belloc debates, and will be a part of the Swing ‘n Sundaes leadership team. In addition, Stocco is a fluent Italian speaker, and is planning to co-host an Italian lunch table with Dr. Wunsch. This will allow students to practice their Italian before their semester abroad in Rome. 

After Christendom, Stocco has considered working in local government or in business, and has an open mind about the priesthood, too.  

Though settling into a completely new lifestyle can be challenging, my friends and acquaintances have made it a fun growth experience for me these past few weeks,” says Stocco.

Like Stocco, Katie Svoboda is a Virginia native, growing up in the Arlington area and graduating from Oakcrest School in Vienna, VIrginia. Several of her favorite teachers at Oakcrest were Christendom graduates, and they encouraged her to consider a Christendom educationUpon visiting campus, Svoboda was struck by the positive atmosphere at Christendom.

“When you visit Christendom you are immediately aware that you are in a place where people value knowledge, where people value beauty, and, most noticeably at first glance, where people are genuinely kind,” remarked Svoboda.

After visiting, Svoboda was sure that Christendom was the college for her. Now that Svoboda is finally living the life of a Christendom student, she is excited to commit herself to her studies. 

Even with only my first few classes under my belt, I am sure I made the right choice,” she says. 

Svoboda is considering a history major and sees the study of history as “a core basis of knowledge essential for a liberally educated person.” Svoboda has considered pursuing a career in teaching or in politics post-graduation. 

Christendom is proud to have these three scholars as a part of the class of 2023, and the entire community is eager to see these bright students, and the rest of the gifted freshman class, thrive during their years at Christendom.