Agnes Tan, '18

B.A. in History, Minor in Classical Studies

How your faith has been affected during your time at Grove City College? Have you seen a connection between faith and learning in your classrooms?
Grove City College has been a groundbreaking experience for me, in terms of learning to pursue truth in a way that is both thoroughly Christian and rigorous. My professors make winsome arguments that engage both the reason and the heart, teach lessons that challenge any honest listener, and regularly leave me in awe of God at the end of class. The connection between faith and learning for many of my professors have been one of integrity and openness, because belief in objective truth makes Grove City College classrooms a place where challenging questions are welcomed and pursued with humility. Belief in a complex Creator and created beings means that Grove City College professors appreciate the Imago Dei and often are attuned to both the human creativity and human depravity in learning. College has often brought to mind the meaning of those words, Credo ut intelligam (I believe that I may understand), and I now see that far from being separated from learning, faith enables knowing with greater clarity and richness.

Share about your academic experience at Grove City College. How has the College’s focus on the liberal arts affected your educational experience?
By focusing on the liberal arts, the College has freed me to fill my four years with classes that teach lessons worth a lifetime. From appreciating the elegance of Greek grammar to analyzing a composition by Brahms, my classes at Grove City College have opened my eyes to see incredible meaning and beautiful in many different fields, but particularly the time-tested fields that have been traditionally acclaimed by men as worthy of pursuit in the western tradition. The educational experience at Grove City College has served the end of making me more richly and more fully human, which is central to the understanding of the “liberal” arts, as opposed to the “servile” arts.

What are relationships like between professors and students? 
As a freshman, I was astounded by my professors’ generosity with their time. Office hour conversations with professors have moved me to both laughter and tears, as we have explored everything from Appalachian folk songs to Confucius and even the topic of biblical educational philosophy. Watching the camaraderie between professors reminds me of how fortunate I am to be in a place of community. Over the years, I’ve been able to get to know different professors in their homes off campus through dinners, game nights, dessert, and emergency babysitting needs, and the time spent in fellowship with my professors and their families have been some of my most cherished memories.

Tell us about any department-related experience (independent study, an internship, studying abroad) that has provided a particular benefit to your academic experience. 
A Grove City College professor personally recommended me for the honors program at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), a competitive yearlong program that brings students from universities across the nation in scintillating conversations about conservatism. ISI conferences have challenged me to see how politics, morality, and history intersect, and it has connected me with students and professors from other colleges who can talk about everything from Alexander de Tocqueville to Jane Austen.

A class on Latin and Roman culture led me to a summer digital humanities workshop with the Center of Hellenic Studies, which is affiliated with Harvard. It was an all-expenses-paid 10-day experience in the heart of Washington D.C., and I toured the most impressive libraries related to the Hellenic and Byzantine civilization, as well as learn about how scholars of ancient texts like the Iliad can make use of modern technology.

Did Grove City College’s affordability play a role in your college decision making?
Many Christian families will agree that college, unlike what Hollywood claims, is not the be-all-end-all. Choosing a college was a matter of wisdom and prudence for our family, and Grove City College was high on our list because of its affordability. As I have given my time to Grove City College, however, the College has given back to me in ways I could never have imagined. There is so much intellectual and spiritual nourishment in Grove City College’s classes, campus, and faculty for one to seek out; I am convinced that at a much more affordable cost, my Grove City College education has rewarded me with much more than my acquaintances at Ivy League universities can conceive.

Why did you study history?
Though I came into college thinking history would be too arcane a major for me, I discovered to my surprise that the professors in the Department of History seemed to have a rich understanding of the things I most desired to learn about. I still remember the class in a course on ancient world history when Dr. Graham explained the coherence of the Old Egypt concept of truth and justice, ma’at. At that moment, I realized that the constant nature of human beings and their similar experiences in life were subjects I could learn about through studying the annals of time. Learning about human beings in other time and space has helped me to learn to avoid what C.S. Lewis refers to as the blind spots of every age; on the other hand, history has been a great vantage point from which to appreciate the best of human endeavors. History has taught me about man’s most riveting stories, most noble feats, most moving speeches – it is a great place to wonder at God, moral philosophy, story-telling, literature, folkways, art, and government all together.

Why should a future student consider studying history at Grove City College?
Studying history at a liberal arts college offers the best of both worlds – the professors are knowledgeable and equipped with expertise in their individual fields, yet classes on various historical periods and topics are interconnected by the professors’ common appreciation for first things. The history program furnishes students with broad factual knowledge of human history, cultivates intellectual skills for seeking out truth, and inspires true sentiment about transcendent things. The undergraduate history experience – it is indeed a whole “experience,” complete with opportunities for real people and conversations and challenges and growth – lays a vital foundation for meaningful living in the long run. 

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