Recent high school graduates Clare Witter and Bobby Vander Woude were both faced with a question following graduation: where could they attend college without the risk of losing their faith? As the valedictorian and salutatorian of their class at Seton School, they each had numerous options for college studies, but they were committed to studying at a place where they would grow not only in knowledge but in their Catholic Faith as well. Both found their ideal school at Christendom, where they plan to learn the truth, live out their faith, and thrive as Catholics this fall.
Both Witter and Vander Woude grew up knowing about Christendom, with each of their fathers attending the college. Their love for the school stuck with Witter and Vander Woude as they began their own studies at Seton School in Manassas, Virginia, and started thinking about where they wanted to attend college following graduation. Like many their age, they found large state schools appealing, but each kept coming back to the same fear: the risk of losing their faith at a secular school, like so many others their age.
“In today’s world, I do not want to risk losing my faith and ultimately my soul by going to some secular university, and as far as Catholic colleges go, Christendom was at the top of my list because of its strong Catholic identity,” says Vander Woude. “I also wanted to go to Christendom to be a part of the tightly knit community that is similar to what I have experienced at Seton.”
While Witter grew up hearing about Christendom, both from her father and from faculty and staff at Seton School, it was attending the Best Week Ever high school summer program that ultimately sold her on the college. While there, she got a taste of what it would be like to study in the classroom, go to daily Mass in the college’s chapel, and be a part of the authentic Catholic culture at the college. After four years of studying the Catholic liberal arts at Seton, she began to see Christendom as the perfect next step.
“From the time I was little, I began hearing all sorts of stories about how amazing Christendom is and how well it forms people,” recalls Witter. “But then, what brought me in even more was the Best Week Ever Summer Program where I really got to experience campus for a week and discover what Christendom is all about. When I was on campus, I could see myself attending daily mass and enjoying all of the classes. It seemed like it would be a very easy transition for me. Every time on my drive up to visit campus, I would become excited as soon as I saw the top of the new chapel in the distance. I would just get this feeling where I couldn’t stop smiling. Christendom just feels like home to me.”
After being named valedictorian of her class, Witter is looking forward to continuing her studies in the Catholic liberal arts at Christendom this fall, with hopes of majoring in English language and literature and minoring in philosophy. In addition, she hopes to perform with the college’s Christendom Players theatrical group, sing in the college’s choir, and participate in intramural sports, the college’s pro-life group Shield of Roses, and more.
Vander Woude is looking forward to taking part in Christendom’s rich assortment of extracurricular activities as well, especially the college’s varsity soccer and basketball programs. An avid lover of sports, like many in his family, Vander Woude was drawn to Christendom for its Catholic identity both in the classroom and in its athletics programs. Like Witter, he also fell in love with the school while attending the Best Week Ever and eagerly applied.
This fall, he will join his fellow classmates in the Class of 2026 in diving into his liberal arts studies, with the hopes of majoring in political science and economics with a minor in either philosophy or theology.
“A Catholic liberal arts education is important to me because I have come to realize that the formation of the whole person is much more valuable in today’s day and age than devoting oneself to one specific field of study,” says Vander Woude.
For high school graduates, finding a college education where their faith will not be threatened can be a challenge in today’s world. Witter and Vander Woude found their solution at Christendom, where they will be able to study the greatest minds and works of Western Civilization and participate in a rich on-campus culture, all in accordance with the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.