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Life for Ireton senior revolves around faith and science

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Hannah Hermann has spent much of her life immersed in Catholic culture. She was raised Catholic, graduated from St. Rita School in Alexandria and soon will graduate from Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria. She even works at her home parish, St. Rita, as a part-time after-hours receptionist. Attending a summer science camp at the University of Notre Dame with students of all backgrounds was one of the first times someone had questioned her faith.

“Growing up Catholic and going to Catholic school my entire life, you don’t have to explain yourself, the very basics of what you believe,” she said. “That was a growing experience for me to have to spell that out.” As she headed off to Mass alone that Sunday, Hermann realized she wouldn’t always have her family or a Catholic school to rely on. “I was going to have to make this my own,” she said.

Ireton has given Hermann a mature understanding of the religion of her childhood. She feels classes such as Theology of the Body will equip her to share the church’s teachings.

The Catholic Witness Club, of which she is co-president, has deepened her knowledge of the faith. The group helps publicize the March for Life, holds monthly adoration and recently hosted a speaker who discussed mental health through a Catholic lens. “The common thread (of our activities) has been respecting the dignity of the human person no matter what state of life they’re in,” she said.

Next year, Hermann will be leaving her longtime roommate and little sister, Stella, to study astrophysics at Ohio State University in Columbus. Hermann wanted to be an astronaut as a child, but soon decided she wasn’t cut out for life in space. “Once I realized astrophysics meant doing space things but not being in space I thought that was the coolest thing ever,” she said.

For the past few years, Hermann has taken advanced math and science courses to prepare for her eventual career. She also joined Ireton’s astronomy club and now serves as president. The group discusses current events, familiarizes the members with basic facts about planets and stars, and is planning a trip to the Air and Space Museum in Washington.

Hermann chose Ohio State based on two of her biggest priorities:  a good astronomy department and a strong Neumann Center, which will be close to her future freshman dorm. This time, as she interacts with people of various religious backgrounds, she hopes to have well-thought out, reasoned answers for their questions in addition to her own example of a Christian life.

“Being at a Catholic school really has prepared me,” she said. “(My faith) has been my life and it's not going anywhere any time soon.” 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017