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Academic year includes largest international student body

When Christendom’s 40th academic year begins this fall, it will welcome one of its most international classes ever with students from all over the world, including Spain, Ireland, Mexico and Canada.

Why do they want to study at a small college in the Shenandoah Valley? The answers from each student, while varied, all contain similar truths: because of Christendom’s rigorous liberal arts education and truly Catholic culture.

Maria Rechner, hailing from Ottawa, Canada, is the third member of her family to attend Christendom. A piano player and a sensei in Jiu Jitsu, Rechner heard glowing things about the college from her siblings but was not sure if the college was for her. One week during the summer changed all that.

“My two older siblings attended the college for a short time. I have always heard of the great academics, teachers, friends and positive experiences they have had,” said Rechner. “However, my main motivation for applying grew after my visit to the ECSP this past summer. This visit really allowed me to see for myself the incredible opportunities that Christendom has to offer. I realized the type of person I could become through receiving the education and participating in the faithful community at Christendom College.”

Jacob Cassidy, from Limavady, Ireland, plans on majoring in philosophy. Cassidy, who loves playing rugby, taking part in choir, and art, is transferring to Christendom after studying for three years at another college in Ireland. While he enjoyed his previous studies, Cassidy was moved to do his final year at Christendom after participating in the college’s St. Columcille Institute — a three-week study abroad program in Ireland.

“The few weeks I spent at the institute were honestly some of the best weeks of my life,” said Cassidy. “The academics were outstanding. The teachers presented the fascinating subject material in such a clear and attractive way. The students who had come from Christendom were such great models of how young Catholics should live.

“After leaving, I just wanted to have what they had, that great zeal for Christ and his church, which Christendom nurtures in all who go there,” said Cassidy. “I had heard many great things about Christendom before attending the program in Ards, but what I was exposed to there really inspired me to proceed and apply to study in Front Royal.”

When looking for her college of choice, Claire Amaya of Las Rozas de Madrid, Spain, sought a place where she would be challenged to grow not just intellectually, but spiritually, athletically, culturally and socially. Already studying through Seton Home Study, also in Front Royal, Amaya applied to study at the college, seeing Christendom as a place that would give her the challenges she desired.

“A student’s contribution to a university can be marked by their individuality, by their character, their talents, abilities, experiences and options,” said Amaya, who plans on majoring in political science and economics. “Personally, I wish to contribute to Christendom’s intellectual scope, participating in its debate club, projecting my ideas in the classroom, and by contributing to the student journal. In regards to the cultural and sportive scope, I hope to join the soccer and softball team, as a well as the theatrical productions. As a European international student, I hope to contribute to and learn from the campus’ international atmosphere, participating in its truly Catholic culture.”

Someone else who hopes to play soccer and basketball at Christendom is Santiago Pardo Gasque. Born in Mexico City, Mexico, Pardo Gasque will be the third member of his family to attend Christendom, joining his siblings Carlos and Adela this fall. Pardo Gasque finished high school at Chelsea Academy, a private Catholic school in Front Royal, after his family moved to the area temporarily when Carlos came to Christendom. Ready to major in theology, Pardo Gasque sees Christendom as the perfect place to prepare him for his future.

“I like order and discipline. I like to be close to God. I like large families and conservative people,” said Pardo Gasque. “I believe that Christendom College will allow me to complete my general education, develop my character, practice sports and prepare myself for the future when I expect to study architecture or medical school in Mexico City.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018