Students in the Honors Program at St. Thomas Aquinas College have the opportunity to study at the University of Oxford during the summer following their junior year. Honors Program students can choose one 3-credit course among several offered by The University of Oxford. St. Thomas Aquinas College provides a full scholarship covering tuition, room and board for the summer program at The University of Oxford.
The Honors Program at St. Thomas Aquinas College is growing and for a significant reason. The unique program gives students the experience of the inter-relatedness of knowledge while introducing a passion for learning that goes beyond the classroom.
Offering small classes and purposefully curated experiential learning opportunities, Honors Program students engage in a rigorous core curriculum designed to challenge and inspire.
A key element of this program is the opportunity to study at Oxford. The experience allows Honors Program students to spend 3 weeks studying at the University of Oxford during the summer before their senior year under a full scholarship provided by the College.
Dr. Meghan De Witt, Honors Program Director, noted: “We are proud to have welcomed our largest Honors class earlier this fall. Honors students at STAC lead the school in-service opportunities, academic success, and leadership throughout their four years of study. They experience unique classes, culminating in the amazing opportunity to study at Oxford. This experience provides a paradigm shift for our students as they experience a global learning environment and are exposed to ideas and experiences that are life-altering and unforgettable.”
Along with taking classes at one of the most prestigious universities in the world, Honors Program students immersed themselves in the culture and history of the United Kingdom, traveling throughout England and visiting sites such as the British Museum, Stonehenge, The Prime Meridian, and Big Ben. To supplement their studies, they also visited many notable literary landmarks, touring the homes of Shakespeare, Rudyard Kipling, and J. R. R. Tolkien, and visiting the Charles Dickens Museum. When the students weren’t in class or sightseeing, they enjoyed dining at Merton Hall and studying in the breathtaking Bodleian Library.
STAC Honors student Katherine Cording ‘23 feels that the summer Oxford trip was a once in a lifetime opportunity. “I’m so grateful for the STAC Honors Program for giving me the chance to go on this amazing trip. I spent three weeks studying Shakespeare’s works and was able to travel both to Stratford-upon-Avon to see the Royal Shakespeare Company Perform and visit the Globe in London. As an English major, it was a dream come true. This trip to Oxford was something I was looking forward to ever since I joined STAC as a freshman, and it lived up to my every expectation! As for the Honors Program itself, it has helped me make a lot of connections, both with my peers and with professors, that I cherish a lot. The experiences I have had throughout the Honors Program will stay with me long after I graduate.”
(Publish Date: Fall 2016) This past summer, from July 15 to August 6, 18 STAC honors program students traveled to England to study at The University of Oxford.
The trip, offered through the Oxford/UC Berkeley Extension Program, enables honors students who are entering their senior year to live and study at Oxford. St. Thomas Aquinas College provides a high full tuition scholarship for the Oxford experience, covering tuition, room and board for the full three-week program. Students are only required to pay airfare.
Honors Program Director Dr. Ryan Wynne says the trip is, for many, the opportunity of a lifetime. Students not only spend three weeks immersed in Oxford’s culture and traditions, but they also get to experience what it’s like to be a student at the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Students also have free time to explore the city and take weekend trips throughout Europe.
“This exceptional program is life changing for many of our students, and I am delighted to help organize this once-in-a-lifetime adventure,” Dr. Wynne says. “It pleases me to have our students experience the world via this study abroad opportunity.”
Courtney Gray ’17, says the trip far exceeded her expectations.
“As part of the Honors Program, this trip is something I’ve known about for three years, so finally getting the opportunity to go was a dream come true,” Courtney says. “It lived up to my expectations and far surpassed them. This trip changes your life.”
Theresa McKenna ’17, agrees.
“Words fail. This trip allowed me to experience things I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise,” Theresa says. “Oxford is so beautiful. When you think of sophistication and prestige, that’s what Oxford is. I still can’t believe I was there.”
A typical day for a student in the Oxford Berkeley Program centers around Merton College, one of the two oldest colleges at Oxford. Students participating in the program live, eat and attend classes – taught by Oxford faculty – in the Merton community.
Each student who participates in the program gets a private room, which includes weekly maid service and complimentary in-room tea service. In addition, students get to dine at Merton Hall, which served Queen Elizabeth I in 1566.
“My favorite part of the trip was the formal dinners at Merton Hall. It was a formal occasion with three to four courses beginning with a Latin prayer and ending with coffee,” Courtney says. “Sometimes we got invited to attend High Table, which was an amazing experience.”
High Table, a longstanding Oxford tradition, is an invitation-only opportunity to dine and have cocktails with faculty. Courtney says STAC students were selected to join High Table three times over the course of the program.