Leah Strand, a Catholic Studies graduate, joined the staff of the Center for Catholic Studies in October as coordinator of recruitment and marketing efforts.

The new position will enable the Catholic Studies Department to focus more attention on increasing its visibility and recognition on a local, regional and even national level. The goal is to make students aware that the department exists and to expose them to its many benefits. “Essentially, my purpose is to invite students to consider the opportunity for a sustained study of their faith in college,” said Strand, who graduated from St. Thomas in 2003 with a degree in journalism (concentration in public relations) as well as Catholic Studies.

As the oldest and largest program of its kind, Catholic Studies at St. Thomas has a strong reputation. Initial plans for recruitment, which include strengthening the awareness of the department’s offerings among current St. Thomas students as well as connecting with high school students through their schools and parishes, will build upon that reputation and increase the knowledge of the department in the greater Catholic community.

“We want to meet students where they are,” Strand said. “So many students are exploring and questioning what is important to them; plus, they are trying to make decisions about the college that is right for them and the career path they want to pursue. Our hope is to encourage them to explore the breadth and beauty of the Catholic intellectual tradition and its application to both their personal and professional lives.”

Strand also emphasized the importance of showing students the relevance and practicality of a degree in Catholic Studies. Students and their parents often want to know what they will be able to do with the degree after graduation.

“The beautiful thing about the nature of the program is that it allows for students to go in unlimited directions,” Strand said. The majority of students in the department are double majors in fields ranging from business to psychology to education. Students are able to gain a strong background in pre-professional study as well as a deeper understanding of the Catholic intellectual tradition and its implications for their vocation.

“And they are able to see how the two can be related,” explained Strand, who is thankful for the way her Catholic Studies courses complemented the work she was doing in her journalism courses.

“My own experience as a Catholic Studies student was positive and fruitful. The understanding of my faith that I gained as well the opportunity to think critically about things that really matter have truly shaped the person that I am today,” she said. “I look forward to sharing that experience with prospective students of the program.”

Strand is from Granite Falls, Minn. Before joining the Catholic Studies staff, she worked as an admissions counselor for St. Thomas. Strand says she is “thrilled to be able to play a more active role in advancing the department and spreading the word about the good work being done in Catholic Studies at St. Thomas.”

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