"An Incredible Gift"

Scholarships and Fellowships Open Doors for Catholic Studies Students

The rising costs of attending a four-year, Catholic university have increased at an unparalleled pace. In 1977, the year that the College of St. Thomas began to admit women, a gallon of gasoline at the corner Sinclair was 62 cents and St. Thomas' yearly tuition bill was $2,280. Today, the corner BP charges $2.75 per gallon, and University of St. Thomas tuition is $29,467, not including a J-Term course.

Incomes have risen, too. In 1977 the minimum wage was $2.20, the median household income was $13,572, and Rod Carew's salary was $205,000. Today, Minnesota's minimum wage is set at $6.15, median household income is $57,318, and Joe Mauer earns $23 million a year. Unfortunately, tuition for higher education outpaces the general rate of inflation and most people's income growth.

Higher education costs have been increasing at both religious and secular universities, but Catholic institutions face unique challenges. Catholic colleges and universities initially were founded by religious orders or dioceses, and these founders provided the outlay for land purchases, funded building projects and provided faculty members at minimal or no cost. Today, this is no longer the case. In addition, Catholic universities have a particular openness to students who have greater financial needs, thus decreasing tuition revenue and increasing costs.

As part of its commitment to Catholic Studies students and to the belief that a Catholic education should be affordable to those who desire it, the Center for Catholic Studies awards scholarships each year. In fall 2009, the center awarded more than 50 Catholic Studies scholarships and fellowships, ranging from $750 to $5,000, based on academic merit, financial need or participation in the Rome program. These scholarship funds come from a wide variety of sources:

-The Koch Scholarship in Catholic Studies, an endowed scholarship fund created by David and Barbara Koch at the founding of the center in 1996.-The Schoenecker Scholarship in Catholic Studies, an endowed scholarship fund created by Guy Schoenecker.-The Donald Leyden Memorial Scholarship, an endowed scholarship fund, created by Arlene Leyden supporting students majoring in Catholic Studies or journalism.-The Catholic Studies Grant Scholarship, annual gifts from individual donors. These funds are designated for students majoring or minoring in Catholic Studies. Some gifts may be designated to support the Catholic Studies/Angelicum Program in Rome. These awards are based on financial need or on merit.

Both donors and students benefit from this philanthropic partnership. Longtime donors Mollie and Tom Raih write, "The study and practice of the Catholic faith offers students the gift of hope in their personal lives and will have a ripple effect on the future of society. It is a gratifying experience to support these young people who will become the future lay or religious leaders of the Church and contribute positively to the betterment of our culture.

The Raihs' own Catholic formation was foundational to who they are today, and they wish to pass on this gift: "The Catholic Studies Program at the University of St. Thomas assures students the same blueprint of beliefs and practices we received. Its students will continue to disseminate the beauty of truth and hope, illuminated by Christ and his Church, to each area of the campus, and from there, to the world."

In addition, the students are deeply grateful for the financial support. On the following pages, you will hear from four students – two undergraduate and two graduate – who are receiving scholarships or fellowships from the university.

Graduate Fellowship Recipient: Kevin Anthony Clemens

Previous education: B.A., philosophy, classics, humanities, Valparaiso University, 2008 Career goal: I hope to pursue doctoral work in theology and one day to teach at the university level.

The graduate program in Catholic Studies provides an ideal bridge between my undergraduate studies and future doctoral work. The interdisciplinary nature of the program has furnished me with a more comprehensive view of the Christian tradition and a great understanding of the continuity between the ages of this rich and complex history. Keeping this view in mind, I move more confidently toward specialized work in theology. My fellowship has allowed me to devote the time and energy that true scholarship requires. For the first time in my education, I have been able to reread texts and to engage them much more fully. This has been invaluable for my intellectual development during the past two years.

I have been particularly fond of participating in Mass in Sitzmann Hall, alongside faculty, staff and fellow students. Following Father Keating's course on the history of Western education, I became much more attuned to the relationship between worship and study. Pope John Paul II argued that "the university community should give a practical demonstration of its faith in its daily activity, with important moments of reflection and of prayer," the Eucharist being "the most perfect act of community worship." My studies have led me to a more complete embodiment of the faith I profess, and in turn my devotional life sustains and nourishes my academic work.

Graduate Fellowship Recipient: Allison Koop

Previous education: M.A., theater history and criticism, Catholic University of America Career goal: I hope to pursue a Ph.D. in theater history. I want to be able to teach at the university level, preferably at a Catholic institution. Ideally, I hope my Polish becomes strong enough to enable me to translate some of the many amazing Polish plays that are currently out of reach to English-speaking theater artists.

While I was at Catholic University, I wrote my master's thesis on underground theater in Kraków, Poland, during World War II. Naturally, this included the work of a young Karol Wojty?a and the Rhapsodic Theater. I read his plays and was astounded by their radical form and even more radical message – one of love and the ultimate worth and dignity of each human person. Polish theater always has been intimately connected with the Catholic Church. I'm fascinated by how the relationship between art and religion persists so intensely in that country. Rather than move into a Ph.D. program right away, I decided that I needed a stronger background in theology and philosophy, as well as Catholic history and culture, in order to fully understand the unique phenomenon that is Polish theater.

Having spent so many years in the theater world, both academically and professionally, I've found it so refreshing to immerse myself in a new field of study. I used to think philosophy wasn't up my alley, but one class with Dr. Catherine Deavel totally changed my mind about that. It is also important for me to know that there are other people out there like me – young adults with a wide range of secular interests who are striving to tie those interests to their strong foundations of faith and love for the Catholic Church.

Receiving this fellowship means everything to me. Since I already had student loans, I knew that I didn't want to take on more debt. I felt called to do the graduate program in Catholic Studies, and so I had to trust that God would take care of me.

Undergraduate Scholarship Recipient: Matthew Slattery

Career goal: I plan to attend a graduate institution to study chemistry or engineering with the intention of entering into a career field that utilizes my interests in both science and Catholic social thought.

A major in Catholic Studies was appealing to me because of the students who were involved. After a much deeper investigation, I found that the Catholic tradition had a much richer treasure at its center – that of the Incarnation-inspired approach to the world. I could not really picture what my college experience would be like if I had not chosen to be a Catholic Studies major. The courses, by design, target the person as a whole seeking to advance the intellect and increase a person's capacity for learning. One would think that my mind would be in two parallel worlds if I was studying thermodynamics at the same time as Cardinal Newman; however, it is quite the contrary. Catholic Studies combines faith and reason together, without compromising either, to create a fulfilling and deeply humanizing atmosphere. The philosophical, historical and theological aspects of Catholic Studies courses have improved my analytical skills by teaching me to examine a subject logically, from a historical context, and with prudence.

The growing cost of higher education and a developed appreciation for the value of a university education have both influenced my appreciation for scholarships. Receiving scholarships, such as the Koch Scholarship in Catholic Studies and the Donald Leyden Memorial Scholarship, allows me to spend less time at work and more time pursuing endeavors such as undergraduate academic research, student clubs and organizations and the Catholic men's fraternity. I benefit not only from my own scholarships but other students' scholarships as well. Scholarships help keep students focused on their academics and allow them to participate in extracurricular events that transform the typical undergraduate experience.

Undergraduate Scholarship Recipient: Paula Thelen

Majors: Catholic Studies, theology and secondary education Career goal: I hope that through teaching religion in a Catholic high school or university or directing a religious education program in a parish, I can share the beauty of our faith with others.

While searching for colleges, I was at a point in my life where my hunger for knowledge about our Catholic faith was ever deepening, and my personal study and reading were not enough. The Catholic Studies Program was the major reason St. Thomas even came on my radar screen at this time. I was inspired by the students and faculty I met who were in love with the Lord and eager to discover truth. It seemed like so much more than an academic program – it was a community that formed the mind and the spirit.

The Catholic Studies Program has taught me to look at the world in a dramatically different way. Through my classes and community experiences I have learned that our faith is not something stale or lost but rather very much alive and thriving. I have learned about the beauty of both marriage and the consecrated life and have been prompted toward my own discernment process.

The education I have received in Catholic Studies has made only me more eager to teach others what I have learned. Catholic Studies has given me reason to look at my future not just as a career but as a calling.

This scholarship is an incredible gift to me. Not only does it free some of the financial burden that comes with a fabulous Catholic liberal arts education, but it has demonstrated to me the true generosity of those who support the mission of Catholic Studies. I am incredibly grateful for the sacrifices donors have made so these scholarships are possible. I sincerely hope that these awards can continue so even more students can experience Catholic Studies.

Read more from Perspectives

Next in Lumen