Recent alumni Mary Clare Young ’22, Roc Swiniarski ’22, and Lucy Gay ’22 are all headed to graduate school this fall.

Attending graduate school is a dream for many college students, as they hope to continue their studies and become experts in their fields. Achieving that dream is easier said than done, however, with competition, GREs, and application essays all standing in the way. Nevertheless, recent alumni Mary Clare Young ’22, Roc Swiniarski ’22, and Lucy Gay ’22 are all headed to graduate school this fall, gaining acceptance to Ph.D., M.P.A, and M.A. programs respectively — taking their Christendom education out into the broader academic world in the process.

For Young, she believes she would not be able to succeed in graduate school without her Christendom education.

“I would not have been able to succeed without the help of multiple faculty and staff and without my education here,” said Young, who will be studying in the Ph.D. program in Classics at the University of Virginia. “Many faculty gave me excellent advice on how to prepare for the application process, how to decide where to apply, and, ultimately, which offer to accept. They looked at multiple drafts of statements of purpose; they wrote letters of recommendation; they offered to put me in touch with other students whom they knew; they did everything they could to help me to succeed. Director of Career and Professional Development Kristin Stephens was also a great help with preparing for my interviews and with weighing my choices.”

Mary Clare Young '22.

Mary Clare Young ’22.

Young, who was also the valedictorian of her class, has had a passion for researching and teaching at the collegiate level since her senior year of high school. Her time at Christendom confirmed her desire to pursue an academic career, and she began her journey towards attending graduate school early in the spring of her sophomore year, when she began speaking with Dr. Michael Kelly, the head of the college’s graduate school mentorship committee.

He advised her on what she should look for in a graduate program and how to craft a stellar academic profile over the next few years — something she worked incredibly hard on every day for the rest of her time in college.

“I took advantage of as many opportunities as possible to grow as a classicist, whether by presenting at conferences, serving as president of our school’s chapter of Eta Sigma Phi, or by taking on extra research in Advanced Studies contracts,” said Young, who earned her Bachelor’s in Classical and Early Christian Studies and minors in history and theology from Christendom.

Roc Swiniarski ’22.

Roc Swiniarski ’22.

Meanwhile, down at Southern Utah University, Swiniarski will be taking his first step in his larger career goals when he begins his graduate studies in Public Administration. Once that is complete, Swiniarski plans on getting involved in the public policy issues that will be shaping the future of the country.

For Swiniarski, he has felt called to pursue further education for years, and the support of Christendom’s faculty helped convince him to pursue his Master’s in Public Administration degree after completing his undergraduate education.

“I have always felt drawn to pursuing further education of some sort, and access to the faculty and Kristin Stephens helped me make that possible, from letters of reference to scheduling a time to take the GRE,” says Swiniarski. “Without the constant guidance from the faculty both in and out of class, I would certainly be nowhere near as ready as I am to tackle this next stage in my life, and perhaps may have never chosen to tackle it in the first place.”

Swiniarski, who earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from Christendom, along with a minor in theology, will begin his rigorous studies this fall in Utah, with a hopeful emphasis on local and state government.

Lucy Gay ’22.

For Gay, she has always known she wanted to pursue graduate studies following her time at Christendom. What she did not expect was where she would ultimately study — George Mason University. Her economics professor this past year, Professor Kacey West, told her about the school’s economics program and the Mercatus Fellowship program, which, if she earned the fellowship, would cover the cost of her tuition as well as provide her with a monthly stipend. With the help of West and political science and economics professor Dr. Kevin Burns, Gay got to work on making the strongest application possible.

“Professor West wrote a strong reference letter for me, read over my application material and provided further readings for me to complete in order to flesh out my application essays,” says Gay. “Dr. Burns also wrote me a reference letter for the program and provided me with helpful advice in his office hours. Without the guidance and help of Professor West and Dr. Burns, I would not have been awarded the Mercatus Fellowship. I am very grateful for all the advice and direction that Christendom staff have given to me. Kristin Stephens was also of tremendous value to me throughout my time at Christendom. I was very supported and encouraged by the staff and faculty at Christendom to pursue graduate school, and I could not have hoped for a better outcome.”

Political Science and Economics Professor Kacey West.

Gay, who transferred from school in Canada to Christendom for her final two years of college, was initially unfamiliar with the United States’ political system after living in Canada for her entire life. However, thanks to her studies at Christendom, she not only understands the system, but is now set to continue her studies in a prestigious fellowship.

“The education at Christendom has provided me with a foundation of research skills that will be of use to me in my graduate program and in my fellowship,” says Gay. “After two years of political science at Christendom, I am now very comfortable discussing the American political landscape. The political science faculty have helped me understand what principles underpin the American Constitution and how the Constitution is influential to the American identity as a whole.”

Director of Career and Professional Development Kristin Stephens.

Director of Career and Professional Development Kristin Stephens.

Together, Young, Swiniarski, and Gay 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 these alumni, 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.

“I am grateful for the thorough, rigorous liberal-arts based curriculum at Christendom for molding me,” concludes Young. “Thanks to my coursework here, I learned to how read and engage with texts critically, to express myself clearly in my writing, and to ask thought-provoking questions about literature and culture, all with a Christocentric worldview.”

Find out more about Christendom’s career services offerings here.

Recent alumni Mary Clare Young ’22, Roc Swiniarski ’22, and Lucy Gay ’22 are all headed to graduate school this fall.
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