The classes that Anne Whelan (‘17) took at Oakcrest played a crucial role in shaping her future. Thanks to the intellectual foundation built at Oakcrest, she is now thriving at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.
“My Latin classes at Oakcrest made me want to continue taking Latin in college,” says Anne, who is majoring in Classics with a concentration in Latin. “I loved Latin IV with Miss Boles. We read parts of St. Augustine’s Confessions and of Book IV of the Aeneid. That class helped me to see the beauty of reading such great works in the original Latin, and discussing them as literature.” After taking a class in ancient Greek at William and Mary, she was sold on becoming a Classics major. “I love the beauty of Greek and Latin, the experience of reading works in the original, and the fact that the department and classes are small enough that you can really get to know professors and classmates,” Anne notes.
Anne pursues intellectual interests outside of the traditional classroom as well. In conjunction with the Thomistic Institute (TI)—a research institute of the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC—she started a TI campus chapter at William and Mary. The main function of the chapter is to bring speakers to campus who give talks on topics related to the Catholic intellectual tradition, especially the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas. “I love philosophy, the beauty of the Catholic intellectual tradition, and the work that the Dominicans do,” Anne explains. “I listened to recordings of some incredible Thomistic Institute lectures last summer and wanted to bring that to William and Mary. With some friends from the Catholic Campus Ministry, I organized the first Thomistic Institute event at William and Mary this past fall. It was a wonderful talk on ‘God and Suffering: How Could God Allow Evil?’. The second event we hosted was about ‘What Is Politics About Anyway? Thomas Aquinas on the Common Good’.” Anne believes that this outreach is meeting a great intellectual need at the college and looks forward to organizing more events in the future.
Anne recalls many great Oakcrest memories. At school, she was involved in the Junior Classical League and the cross country team. She still remembers the wonderful feeling of the cross country team winning the league championship her senior year and celebrating the hard-fought victory with her teammates. She says that Ancient & Medieval Literature and World Literature & Senior Thesis with Mrs. Kenna were classes that left a particularly deep impression on her. The spiritual formation at Oakcrest, especially the chance to go to Mass every day, was invaluable to her as well.
“Oakcrest gave me a coherent education, as the different disciplines all related to each other, in the pursuit of the truth,” Anne says. “Teachers fostered a love for learning for its own sake and set high expectations. They challenged me to work hard and form good study habits. Instead of being caught up in grades, I came to see mistakes as opportunities to learn. After being well formed at Oakcrest, I have the confidence to defend my beliefs, whether in the classroom, from class discussion to a final exam, or around campus as a leader in the Thomistic and pro-life groups.”