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Imagine juggling graduate school and the first years of marriage. For some, this might sound impossible. But for alumni Luke and Jane Maschue and George and Margaret Mary Summers, they are doing just that, with all four currently pursuing Ph.D.s, thanks to the example of their Christendom professors and the foundation that was laid in their undergraduate education.

Pursuing graduate studies is an appealing prospect for many college students, but concerns over adequate preparation at the undergraduate level and the idea of having to “pause” life, including getting married, in order to do so keeps some students from taking that next step. The Maschues and Summers are two examples of alumni who found both the proper preparation for graduate school and their spouse during their undergraduate years. Now, they are pursuing their vocations to the fullest.

In the case of the Maschues, Luke and Jane both graduated in 2018 from Christendom, with Jane double majoring in history and classical and early Christian studies and Luke majoring in classical and early Christian studies and minoring in history. After getting married shortly after graduation, they both immediately launched into their graduate school studies at the Catholic University of America, with Jane studying medieval studies and Luke studying Greek and Latin. For both, their time at Christendom proved to be an immense aid at the graduate level, in particular the college’s emphasis on writing skills.

“Writing papers for almost all of our classes every semester improved our writing like no other. It is truly a skill we see lacking in various academic encounters,” say Luke and Jane. “For Jane, the History faculty schooled her intensively in writing and research, and devoted endless time and energy to preparing her for the next step in her education. Most importantly, the history thesis seminar was an opportunity to experience what a graduate class looks like: serious secondary source reading and a major writing project in a semester. The Classics education offered at Christendom is equaled by few in the country. Luke’s foundation in Greek and Latin has allowed him to excel in his program at CUA and begin teaching Latin at the college level in his first summer after starting graduate school.”

Jane recently completed her Master’s in medieval studies in May and moved right into CUA’s Ph.D. program in history, with intellectual and religious history, especially in Jewish-Christian relations, making up the majority of her research focuses. Furthermore, she is working on the history of memory and hagiography and is currently working on the medieval hagiographical lives of Boethius. Luke, on the other hand, is focusing in particular on Latin poetry in his M.A./Ph.D. studies, especially epic, epistolography, and classical philosophy. He is even currently working on a new Greek edition of the Letters of Theodoret of Cyrus, reading the original manuscripts and assisting a professor with various editorial decisions.

If it sounds like their graduate studies are heavily time consuming, that would be true. Nevertheless, Luke and Jane have found themselves flourishing in graduate school.

“Chesterton said that marriage is a duel to the death; graduate school is also quite a bit like a fight for your life. The workload and pressure to produce research can become all-consuming, taking over every moment of your life. We have found, however, that we have flourished in graduate school by making sure that we make time for our marriage,” say Luke and Jane.

George and Margaret Mary Summers both agree with that sentiment. After graduating from Christendom in 2018 and 2017 respectively, with George earning his bachelor’s degree in history and Margaret Mary earning hers in philosophy, they both entered St. Louis University’s Ph.D. program in medieval history, following in the footsteps of other alumni and Christendom professors who have studied there.

In fact, for George and Margaret Mary, it was those Christendom professors and other members of the faculty that influenced their decision to apply for and pursue graduate degrees in the first place.

“We decided to pursue graduate school in large part because of the example and encouragement of our Christendom professors,” say George and Margaret Mary. “Christendom positions its students very well to succeed in graduate school through its robust curriculum and especially through personal faculty mentorship. If you are a Christendom student interested in going to graduate school, you have been blessed more than you realize. This is not only because of the content of Christendom’s curriculum, but because Christendom helps one to develop the tools with which to live a life of continued learning, including good intellectual habits, a knowledge of final ends, and spiritual formation.”

While jumping into a Ph.D. program and transitioning into married life may sound like a lot, both George and Margaret Mary believe that doing both simultaneously has proven to be a great blessing.

“It has been a great blessing to be in graduate school together as a married couple. The intellectual vocation is essentially communal in nature — how much more so in marriage! In practical terms, it means we are on the same schedule, and we assist each other in our teaching, research, and studies,” say George and Margaret Mary.

Like the Maschues, George and Margaret Mary also believe that Christendom’s emphasis on good writing skills and advanced Latin classes were instrumental in their success at the graduate level. The broad familiarity they were provided in the liberal arts gave them a foundation that led them to where they are today.

Both the Maschues and the Summers plan on pursuing careers in academia with their Ph.D. degrees, with the Maschues planning on teaching and researching at the university level or at a seminary, while the Summers hope to research and teach in tenure-track positions at the university level.

Marriage and graduate-level studies are intensely time-consuming, but these alumni would not have it any other way.

“Get married. It is the best, and it makes graduate school a million times better,” conclude Luke and Jane Maschue.

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