Christendom sophomore going to 'Mom's school'

First slide
First slide
First slide
Previous Next

Like many high school seniors in 2012 Sophia Guerrero had college applications on the brain. The application process was made more challenging after transferring from Florida to Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Dumfries her senior year. There were definitely more questions than answers on this journey to strike out on her own and find her perfect school. Her mother did her best to guide and help her through the mayhem of the college frontier and suggested her alma mater. But Sophia knew one thing for certain: Christendom College in Front Royal, her mother's college, would not be getting her application.

Flashback 35 years, and it's Sophia's mother, then Laura Spooner, graduating high school. Like her daughter, Laura had a passion for trailblazing and a desire to learn more about her Catholic faith. Her journey to Christendom started when her father showed her an article in the local paper that Warren H. Carroll was trying to open a Catholic liberal arts college at her parish, St. Francis of Assisi in Triangle.

"I expressed to my pastor that I was interested in attending, and later I received a call from Dr. Carroll," said Laura.

"I liked him immediately, and he was very candid that at present the school was only a dream."

"I'm interested in becoming part of the dream," Laura said. "What do I need to do?"

She applied and was accepted on the condition that the school would open in the fall. She remembers excitedly telling her high school friends about her acceptance to the new school, and their responses were ones of disbelief.

"They looked at me and said, 'what are you doing?'" she said.

Of course there was still a chance that the school would not open if more people did not apply.

"Dr. Carroll had such an unshakable faith that I never doubted the school would happen," said Laura. "I thought the Lord will not refuse him."

The dream did come true. That summer, she helped set up the school's library, and on Sept. 14, 1977, Laura joined her 25 classmates for the first day of class at Christendom. In four years she would graduate with a major in history and minor in political science and theology.

After marrying and becoming a mother of nine children, she wanted nothing more than to share her college experience. In the early talks about college, it seemed clear that none of her older children wanted to attend "Mom's school." But Laura still hoped.

Flash forward to Sophia's senior year in high school. With each letter of acceptance, she realized that she was no longer attracted to those schools as she had been before. It was around that time that "Mom's school" called.

"My counselor at John Paul called me in and said that Christendom still had openings and had opportunities for financial aid," said Sophia. "After that it seemed like all those doors to Christendom were opened to me, and I realized that God must have something to do with this."

She decided to attend, but was determined to stay for only one year.

"I wanted to study psychology, but three weeks into the school year and I fell in love," said Sophia. "I didn't expect such a diverse community of people who all believed in the same thing."

Sophia was also impressed with the academics.

"When I was in private school, I learned about The Iliad and The Odyssey and many of the topics we cover at Christendom, but before now I was just going through the motions," she said. "Now at Christendom we look at them in a deeper way and see how they have influenced society as a whole and how it relates back to the faith."

Attending Christendom has brought her closer to her faith and her mother. They find themselves talking about the many things they like about the college, including Sophia's upcoming semester in Rome during her junior year.

"I see her growing, and she will be well-equipped when she leaves," said Laura.

Sophia hopes to major in philosophy and is also an active member of the theater department.

"Being at Christendom I realized there was a lot here that I didn't know that I needed," she said. "The students and teachers here encourage you to be a better person and do better."

As for her mother, Laura is happy to finally be able to share her college experience with one of her children. "As parents we want what is best for our children," said Laura. "The best I can give to Sophia is a Christendom education."

Buyers can be reached at abuyers@catholicherald.com.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015