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Archive for the tag “Benedictine College”

Saint Martin’s University

Saint Martin’s University (visited 6/19/17)

StMU chapel 1This is a very Catholic school with a Benedictine monastery on campus. The school was here before the town, founded when a student canoed up the Hood Canal; he was the only student being educated by the monks for several months. This then served as a boys’ boarding school for many years; the original location of the school is now an organic garden which provides food for a local food bank.

StMU statue 1

The statue at the top of the steps by the main building on campus

Some of the 20 resident monks (ages 27-90, we were told) teach while others have different duties such as tending to the gardens, raising chickens, etc. We ran into one of the monks in the library who was highly personable and happy to talk to a random group of counselors. “I’m in my informal summer garb. I guess I don’t look very monk-like!” he said, wearing short sleeves and a collar. I asked him if he wanted to give us a 30-second spiel about the students, college, or anything else he thought we should know. “The monks here take a vow of stability. This is home; we aren’t going anywhere. The goal is the buried in the cemetery here. This is our house. We tell the students, ‘Welcome to our household for 4 years.’”

StMU dorms

One of the dorms

Fewer than half of the 1324 undergrads self-identify as Catholic, and there are 24 faiths (and students of no faith) represented on campus. Regardless, the school holds tight to the values of Faith, Reason, Service, and Community. There is quite a bit of outreach since access to education is one of the hallmarks: 38% of students are first-gen college-goers, 35% are students of color, and 32% come from outside Washington. There is a 2-year residency requirement and just over ¾ of first-year students live on campus. The newest dorm on campus is all first year students. There are a few triple rooms which are designed as such; “they’re mostly corner rooms. There aren’t forced triples here,” said the tour guide. Juniors and seniors have access to apartment style housing.

StMU quad“It’s a unique atmosphere here,” said the monk we talked to. “It distresses us when they fall through the cracks. It’s rare when that happens.” Average classes have 12-14 students. The largest lecture hall holds 75 students; our tour guide’s classes ranged from 6-30.

They offer a fairly standard selection of majors with a couple exceptions:

  • StMU engo bldg 2

    The Engineering building; the award-winning concrete canoe is displayed under the overhang towards the left

    They have ABET accredited Civil and Mechanical engineering programs with a minor in Electrical and a 4+1 in Engineering Management (they’ll start their grad work in senior year). There’s a new building that’s partly exposed so it’s a learning lab, as well – they can see how it was constructed. The Engineering Innovation lab was donated by Boeing, and the SMU team beat UW in the concrete canoe competition.

  • Nursing is only an RN to BSN program.
  • Environmental Studies is pending approval. They’re hoping that classes will be available in fall of 2017 with the official major in 2018. Parsons Farm Partnership, Sustainability & Stewardship, climate change.
  • Although not a major, they’re designated as an official Peace Corps prep school.
StMU deer

Much of campus is wooded or undeveloped; this isn’t an unusual sight.

Campus is located in Lacey, only 8 minutes from downtown Olympia (the state capitol). They’re centrally located between Seattle (an hour north) and Portland, Oregon (2 hours south). Their ID is their bus pass for public transportation. “Students don’t need a car, but it could help,” said the tour guide. “It’s easy to have fun if you know where to find it.”

StMU 4They offer a range of merit, athletic (they’re a DII school), and other scholarships (including a Campus Visit scholarship of $400). Merit scholarships do not transfer for study abroad. One notable award is the Benedictine Scholarship to award strong students who value service. Finalists are invited to campus for the final round; up to 10 scholarships of $10,000 are awarded per year and are stackable with other merit scholarships. They also have an Honors Floor in the residency hall.

StMU mt rainier

Mount Rainier, when it’s “out,” is visible from the Chapel on campus!

We asked some of the faculty to describe the students here:

  • They put their hearts into whatever they do
  • They’re incredibly caring – about what’s going on in the world and in regards to each other. They’ll rally around others and will help.
  • Competitive: but we’ll help
  • Dynamic
  • Leaders

StMU gardens 3I asked students what their favorite class has been:

  • Complexities: It covered a lot of social justice, being aware of privileges, and how that changes people around us. It’s really poignant with what’s going on. I’m more cognizant of who I am and how I can use my voice and position to help people get where they need to go.
  • Communications/Religion class: This is one of the of gen ed classes. We learned about religions and how they communicate. It’s nothing I’d learned before.
  • History 142 which was linked class with English 102. The professor talked about major social and political issues and perspectives. In English, we’d write about that so we could research the topics. It gave us a way to think critically about different issues.
  • Theater and Buddhism: We meditated, talked about mindfulness, and performed scenes.

© 2017

Saint Anselm College

Saint Anselm College (visited 10/18/16)

st-a-2This is the place for students who want to get away and try new things, who want a highly residential campus (students tend to stick around all 4 years) and access to lots of activities as well as strong academics with professors who say, “let’s try that!” This is also the place to be for studying politics!

St. A’s impressed me. The students were friendly and people were engaging with each other all over campus, even on a misty fall day. During the tour, I learned that they’re ranked 6th in the country for most involved students. That didn’t come as a surprise after meeting many of them. “There are opportunities to get involved in community service, be tough, be a dork … you can do it all.”


The main building on campus

“The faculty is the best part about this place. You’ll find at least that one person you can have the good conversations with when you’re freaking out about what you want to do with the rest of your life.” One of the tour guide’s favorite classes was his “Conformity and Rebellion in the 1950s” class (in the English department), in large part because he had a great relationship with the professor. “It was interesting and well taught. I loved going to that class.”


The Chapel

Socially there’s a lot to do beyond athletics. Skate Night, movies on the quad, weekly trips to different ski resorts, and plenty more options are offered. “If you’re going to have a problem, it’s because there’s too much to do. It’s actually good to learn stress and time management.” There are usually 5 or 6 speakers, panels, or movies each week on politics, Black Lives Matters, TED Talks, LGBTQ issues. Saint A’s was ranked #1 for Christmas Traditions: they have a gingerbread house competition, light the 30 foot outdoor tree, and more. One of the students we spoke to took part in “Walk a Mile In Their Shoes” – she walked 130 miles from Maine to NH for Road of Hope. “I never thought I could do that, but now I do everything! I figure if I can do that, I can just go on a 20 mile hike on the weekend.”

st-a-lower-quadFood here gets amazing reviews from students (and the dinner we had speaks to the quality of the food!). It’s not hard to see why they’ve been ranked #8 in the country for food! Crepe night is a particularly big hit.

There are plenty of opportunities for Interdisciplinary learning and research. Students get practical experience early.

  • One of the nursing students has already gone into the community as a sophomore. “I’ve gone to drug-addiction meeting, worked with low-income families, stuff like that.”
  • st-a-grotto-statue

    Statue in the Grotto

    Politics is the top major because St. A’s hosts the NH Institute for Politics. They host the DNC and RNC debates, and students often get to intern with these organizations. They turn the hockey rink into the press room!

This is a Benedictine college; 25 monks live on campus, 6 of whom are active on campus (not all professors). Monks do get involved: a recent email came out about a dinner/discussion about “How to be your best self.” Their mission revolves around service, hospitality, and respect. The religious requirement includes Biblical Theology (“It’s almost a history class, not about being indoctrinated,” said a student) and Biblical Literacy classes. These could be ethics, Christian Saints, etc. Mass attendance is not required.


The Political Library in the NH Institute for Politics Building

To help students adjust and acclimate, they have Transitions for Freshmen, a little like a pre-orientation, where students take trips, meet people, etc. Orientation leaders have to organize a couple activities every semester to check in with their group.

Admissions for non-nursing majors is test-optional; the average incoming GPA is a 3.3. Applicants to nursing, one of the top majors, will need to submit test scores; students admitted to this program have an average 3.6 GPA. All applications have 2 readers, and they give an “impact rating” – what will they give to the community? Things like leadership, work, family commitments all get factored in.

© 2016

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