As a seminarian, Newman helped me grow

By Matthew Cooke, Guest Writer

I still remember my first class I had at Newman, one of the first classes that the men of the House of Formation would be attending. I was nervous and a little fearful of how adjusting to life on Newman’s campus would go.

It wasn’t because it was my first college experience. I had already finished a year of college before I entered seminary. I was nervous because I was one of seven men to start building a relationship between the House of Formation and Newman University. I was afraid, really, of two things: I would mess something up or that Newman wasn’t what was right for me.

As for my first concern, I am sure I have messed things up. I am also sure I have built up the relationship in other areas. I am human. I will mess up. I came to grips with this about a year in.

As for Newman, I was surprised. I had received several degrees (no pun intended) more care and instruction than I previously knew at a college level.

During my time at Newman, every professor I encountered cared that I learned the subject and often went beyond and cared for me. I don’t want to suggest that some professors didn’t have stricter rules or expectations, rather that in the diversity of expectations from my professors, I knew each cared.

If they were more lenient, it was to help growth and personal initiative. The stricter were hoping to build character and a strong work ethic. On top of this, the professors were excited about their subjects, inspiring me to pay attention even when I had no desire to.

I learned to critically think, much better than I had before. While I had this skill before coming to Newman, my concern for such a skill was lower on the totem pole for me. I was STEM focused and interested specifically in Cyber Security. I didn’t care too much for the arts.

Newman challenged this mindset of mine, both the Saint and the university. I still have a vivid memory from my first year, talking with a brother seminarian about how much liberal arts mattered and about how surprised we were. (He had come from a STEM major as well.) I had wanted to make as much money as I could. Newman challenged that. There is much more to an education than being employable.

I came to realize that I had value, that knowledge should be sought after, not simply for something else, but for knowledge itself. That by learning, reading, and expressing my views in class, I was in some sense made more whole. I felt more complete.

I came to love reading. I used to hate reading. Even my mom made the comment, “What happened to you? You used to hate books!” This was in part due to Newman University, for which I am eternally grateful.

Thank you, Newman, for the amazing professors. For welcoming the House of Formation. For an education that challenged my world view, that led not only to a better, more wholesome understanding of the world but also was wholesome in what it did to me and for me.

Thank you Newman!

Matthew Cooke

Member of the Inaugural Class at the House of Formation

Newman 2020 Graduate