I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked, “Why Catholic University?” since I made my college decision last year. “Because I want to study theology.” This usually springs a second question: “Why theology?” I think I have to answer both questions at once.
Growing up right outside of D.C., I always knew how much the area has to offer an active learner. I’ve been through countless phases of academic interest– American history (thanks, National Treasure), space (thanks, Space Camp), Renaissance painting– and D.C. has always provided me an outlet to explore them. In addition to that, I got highly involved in pro-life activism in high school and loved the opportunities to attend demonstrations, lectures, and conferences in the city. Thanks to my proximity to D.C., I grew up spoiled by hands-on education from experts. The city is teeming with primary resources in every imaginable field, and as someone who likes to draw her own conclusions from the facts, I knew I didn’t want to give up this kind of access when I went to college.
My love for learning is part of a greater passion: the desire for truth. Every niche interest or phase I’ve had fits into the broader framework of trying to understand the truths of the universe. In the first semester of my senior year alone, my dream career changed from journalist to lawyer to politician to teacher. Considering how quickly my life plan changes, the most important quality I sought in a college major was academic rigor flexible enough to sustain my various interests. I realized that theology and philosophy were the fields capable of this: they span the vast fields of classics, art, logic, and writing. If my goal for college was to prepare myself for whatever life could throw my way, this would be the way to do it.
Although Catholic University had always been on my radar because it’s my dad’s alma mater, once I realized what I wanted my college education to look like, it quickly became clear that CUA was the only place for it. Here, Theology and Religious Studies is its own school, not just a section of a liberal arts program. It has over 40 full-time faculty members who are leading experts in their fields– I study textbooks with the men and women who wrote them, read classical texts under the experts who translated them. The professors here are dedicated to the truth: they discourage us from taking their word at face value, instead focusing on providing the necessary tools to examine evidence ourselves. In a tumultuous world where opinion has come to pass as fact and feelings accepted as arguments, the School of Theology lives out the mission of the Catholic Church by being countercultural. Here, we learn to think critically and examine our assumptions carefully, whether that be a complex theological teaching like the Incarnation or the Catholic response to the global refugee crisis. No question is “off-limits” in a CUA theology classroom because what we learn affects every aspect of life.
It is nothing like what I imagined studying theology would be– it is infinitely more exciting and personal. Here, I’ve found a place that challenges my mind and my soul, pushing me into closer encounter with Truth Himself (that is, Jesus) every single day. And that’s why I chose Catholic University.