Getting into graduate school can be difficult enough for many undergraduates. From GREs to LSATs, letters of recommendation to funding, gaining acceptance to a good graduate school is an accomplishment in and of itself. But to secure full funding as well? That is a testament to the strength of one’s undergraduate education. Recent alumni Dario Spinelli (’21) and Gabriel Arango (’21) did just that, obtaining full funding to pursue a J.D. at George Mason University and a Master’s in Classics at the University of Virginia respectively beginning this fall — taking their Christendom education out into the broader academic world in the process.
For Spinelli, he believes he would not be able to excel in law school, let alone pass the LSAT necessary to gain acceptance in the first place, without his Christendom education.
“Christendom has taught me great critical thinking and analysis skills, both of which are essential for practicing law,” says Spinelli. “A liberal arts education has given me great reading comprehension which helped me on the LSAT and will help me during my studies at law school. In that same vein, my Philosophy classes have helped to structure my thought in a logical way which also helped me on the LSAT but will also be useful during my studies at law school. My studies at Christendom have helped prepare me for law school by equipping me with the intellectual skills necessary to excel at law school.”
After attaining his Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Christendom this past May, Spinelli will launch into his law studies at nearby George Mason University in the fall. Getting to this point took a lot of work on Spinelli’s part, but he managed to accomplish his goals and more with the help of the college’s Career Development Office and the faculty.
“Mrs. Kristin Stephens in the career development office was a great help to me in preparing for the LSAT and for my applications to different law schools,” says Spinelli. “The faculty were probably the greatest help. Between the advice and wisdom which they have given me through the years to the letters of recommendation [they wrote], I do not think I would have been accepted to law school without them. [Political Science and Economics professor] Dr. Kevin Burns gave me lots of very good and crucial advice on my application to which I am greatly indebted.”
Spinelli will be pursuing his J.D. at Antonin Scalia Law School, joining fellow alumni Sydney Dominguez (’18), Aidan Wenzel (’17) and Jensen Hoernig (’18) at the school. Together, this group of alumni will look to make a difference as lawyers, ultimately leading to a more moral society.
Meanwhile, down at the University of Virginia, Arango will be taking his first step in his larger career goals when he begins his graduate studies in Classics. Once that is complete, Arango plans on pursuing a PhD in Philosophy before ultimately becoming a professor at a university.
Arango first discerned this desire during his time in Christendom classrooms, where his interactions with professors both inside and outside his classes inspired him to also want to teach one day.
“Coming into Christendom, I had no idea that I would be taking this route and pursuing graduate studies,” recalls Arango, who double majored in Classics and Philosophy at Christendom. “However, it was through taking classes and interacting with the faculty outside of class, especially with Dr. Snyder, that I began to really cultivate my desire to continue my studies. Being at Christendom really opened my mind to the world around me. While taking many different classes in the different disciplines, I discovered in me an intense desire to pursue the truth, wherever I could find it. It is because of this desire that I feel ready and excited to continue my education and pursue a graduate degree.”
Arango is attending the University of Virginia this fall with full funding — a goal he achieved with the help of Christendom’s faculty.
“They all were very willing to work with me on improving and expanding my knowledge in specific areas as well as give me direction in composing application material that is specific to graduate school applications,” says Arango.
Ultimately, Arango wants to study Ancient Philosophy, especially Plato, but he wants to be able to read Plato in his original language first. By pursuing a Master’s in Classics and achieving this goal, he believes he will be a better philosopher, and thus better equipped to study and teach in the future.
Together, Arango and Spinelli are the latest Christendom alumni to go into graduate studies after leaving the school, joining a long list of alumni who have studied at schools such as Carnegie Mellon, Fordham, Harvard, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, and others. For Arango, Spinelli, and others, their time at Christendom prepared them for success in not just their graduate studies but, even more importantly, in living out their Catholic faith in graduate school and beyond.
“Christendom has prepared me both intellectually and spiritually to face this new challenge in my life,” concludes Spinelli. “I believe I will be able to thrive at graduate school because of the academic skills I learned at Christendom and be able to live my Catholic faith at the same time.”