Leandra Hubka’s faith is a priority, and she has been active in the Catholic Church in multiple ways. After graduating from St. Thomas in 2010 with majors in both Catholic Studies and music, she worked in Minnesota as a freelance musician – teaching, directing and performing. Originally from Rochester, Minn., Hubka now lives in Tucson, Ariz., where she is pursuing graduate studies in music.

Leandra, can you tell us a bit about your life after graduation from St. Thomas? What have you done and where are you headed?

I graduated from St. Thomas with a B.A. in Catholic Studies and music. My original plan was to attend graduate school (in classical guitar performance) immediately upon graduation, but I decided during my senior year to first take a year off from school.

I lived in the Twin Cities last year while working as a freelance musician. My primary job was directing a Lutheran church’s vocal choir and handbell choir. I also taught private guitar lessons and gave various performances. A good portion of my time was spent applying to graduate programs, and I traveled to four schools to audition. I was accepted at all of those places and in the end I chose to attend the University of Arizona in Tucson. This fall, I began pursuing a master of music degree in guitar performance, which is a two-year program.

I am seriously considering getting a doctorate in music, with the intention of one day teaching at the university level while also having a private guitar studio; however, it is all in God’s hands and I will have to see where He leads me.

Many students in Catholic Studies at St. Thomas are double majors. You combined Catholic Studies and music majors. Can you tell us a bit about why you chose these majors and how they shaped your undergraduate experience?

When I was visiting colleges during my junior year of high school, two of my criteria were that I could study guitar and Catholic theology/religious studies.

At St. Thomas, I majored in music because it had been part of my life for so long that I couldn’t imagine dropping it in college. I chose Catholic Studies because I had begun to delve into and examine the Catholic faith in high school and I had a strong desire to have a more structured look at Catholicism. I also was very intrigued by the Catholic Studies’ Rome program, which I participated in during the fall of 2008. Both of my major departments were relatively small, which enabled me to develop close relationships with professors and fellow students. These communities were influential in shaping me as a person.

My Catholic Studies experience particularly showed me how faith permeates all facets of life. My classes went beyond academic knowledge and ingrained in me a deeper understanding of the vitality of Catholic thought and culture. The interdisciplinary nature of Catholic Studies helped me form a more holistic view of the world, where faith is grounded not only in academic studies but in every aspect of life. Faith became no longer an abstract concept, but a concrete reality that I could, and should, live out.

What were highlights of your Catholic Studies academic experience and student life?

One of my best Catholic Studies experiences was the time I lived and studied in Rome. It was there that I formed some of my closest friendships, and that semester was the most steeped I had ever been in Catholic culture. I was surrounded by classmates who shared my faith, and we not only lived near Vatican City, but also in a country where the life and culture are closely intertwined with Catholicism. Those four months were an amazing experience, and I am incredibly thankful for my time there.

Another highlight of the Catholic Studies program for me was taking the course, Woman and Man. I find the topics of masculinity and femininity fascinating, and this was my favorite class in the program. The course covered some of the most controversial issues our culture is facing today, including sexual equality, the role of women in the Church, sexual ethics, and feminism, and it explored and explained the reasons behind the Church’s teachings on these and similar issues. The readings and in-class discussions were eye-opening and engaging, making me eager to delve into the issues at hand.

Along with perhaps any liberal arts degree, one often hears students ask what they can “do” with a Catholic Studies major. Perhaps, in the long run, it is less a matter of “doing” than “living.” How has your Catholic Studies major been influential in your life?

I think that the distinction between “doing” and “living” is excellent to note and is, in fact, the difference between my music and Catholic Studies majors. Of my two majors, music is definitely the most “practical” in terms of what I can “do.” I love music and with my music major I am equipped with the tools to accomplish my music goals, such as teaching, performing and attending graduate school. But my Catholic Studies degree taught me how to live.

Through my many Catholic Studies experiences and the examples of my professors, I learned that the meaning of life is found in doing God’s particular will for me, and that I can only fully thrive by genuinely living out my faith. For me, the value of my Catholic Studies degree cannot be measured necessarily in terms of money or practicality. Instead, its value is in how it has taught me to live an authentic Catholic life. My Catholic Studies major has been instrumental in forming me and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

You can hear Leandra play classical guitar by searching “Hubka” at www.tommiemedia.com.

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