Interview with Wyoming Catholic Student


Olivia de Laveaga

Formal Picnicking Atop a 12,000 Foot Mountain (Olivia is on the right).

News Reporter Maile Strocker sits down with WCC student Olivia to find out about what life is like as a Wyoming Catholic College student!

1. What colleges did you visit in high school? What made you choose Wyoming Catholic College?

Thomas Aquinas College, Aquinas College, and Wyoming Catholic College were among the colleges Olivia visited. “I advise people to visit as many [colleges] as they can and to live the student life,” Olivia expressed. “That’s the best way to discern.”

Olivia first visited WCC during their Summer Program and was struck by the community she found there. “It was the first experience I had where I could see a great diversity in people but also experience their love of each other and my love for them. . .” In describing her professors during this program, Olivia said that “They had the perfect combination of being both very zealous for what they were teaching and very down-to-earth. . . We would read Flannery O’Connor, great works of literature. . . My heart was on fire! We also went on a backpacking trip, which pushed me out of my comfort zone in the best of ways: bugs, cold, but also just the beauty of the raw mountain air was like nothing else.”

Desert Camping Trip (Olivia de Laveaga)

After her incredible summer program experience, Olivia said that she fell in love with WCC. “I came off of the backpacking trip, the whole summer program in love, but so torn because I thought ‘Oh, I should be more practical about things and choose a monetarily more valuable education.’” In November, Olivia was invited to attend the Founder’s Scholarship competition, which provides prospective WCC students with an opportunity to compete for a full scholarship. Competitors read the dialogue Phaedrus, by Plato. “Over the weekend, I experientially felt as if God was using the Greek literature to redirect my soul,” Olivia declared. “It was not only the Socratic dialogue, but discussing it in this community, with these people, with Wyoming Catholic College professors and my fellow students. . .” Olivia said that she was still torn, but was eventually offered the Founder’s scholarship from WCC.

2. What outdoor trips have you gone on with WCC? What was the Freshman backpacking trip like?

“It has definitely changed the way I experience the outdoors and my comfort with them.” Olivia explained. “I personally have gone on a week long rock climbing trip, a week long canoeing trip. . . two desert backpacking trips, and a week long canyoneering trip. . . I’ve done two camping trips where we spoke only Latin; it was a Latin immersion for the whole week.” Describing these trips, Olivia said: “It’s basically like being offered a feast, where you get to sample a ton of different dishes. . . You might not become an expert rock climber. You might not finish that dish. You might not become an expert kayaker and finish that dish. But in your time here you have the opportunity to try a lot of different adventures. . . It’s just given me a taste and an experience of adventure that I would never have had otherwise.”

Olivia went on to say that every incoming freshman at WCC goes on a 21 day backpacking trip. “It was pretty incredible,” Olivia related. “Twenty-one days in the wilderness is not too long. In fact, it just makes you hunger for more. And yes, it is difficult, but WCC accepts and works with students who come from all kinds of abilities: people who are very comfortable backpacking, people who have never camped in their life. So if you’re a ‘never ever’ you will be pushed out of your comfort zone, but you’ll be given the tools to go out of your comfort zone.”

3. How many outdoor trips does a typical WCC student go on in a year? Do you have a least favorite trip?

“My least favorite trip was winter trip,” Olivia admitted. “Objectively, winter trip is really cool. You go out and you build a snow cave and you spend three days sleeping in your snow cave. . . Then you learn to ski, and you go to a hot tub at the end of the trip. The reason why it was it was my worst trip was because I had wet feet the whole trip, and if you have wet feet in the cold, it’s the worst combination.” Olivia went on to say that as long as one has the right gear, winter trip can be a great experience.

Desert Camping (Olivia de Laveaga)

WCC requires students to go on two to three outdoor trips per year. During freshman year, Olivia went on the 21 day backpacking trip and the winter camping trip. She explained that WCC offers 6-10 different week-long trips over fall and spring break. Students are required to choose one of these week-long trips. In addition to outdoor trips, Olivia revealed that WCC offers “Voyages” which are not centered on the outdoors. “These include putting on a play. . . You audition, learn all your lines, and put on a play in a week,” Olivia described. “There’s been mission trips to inner-city poverty centrals. . . In Denver, we’ve gone to Christ in the City as a college. There have been convent trips where people go and spend a week living the life of a religious to help their discernment.”

4. Do you feel that WCC provides its students with resources and an environment that encourages vocational discernment (married life vs. religious life)? How do they help their students discern their vocation?

“There are [opportunities for vocational discernment], but there should be more. . . I think that they are definitely here. . .” Olivia explained that there have been several instances when religious sisters visited WCC. Additionally, WCC facilitates a week-long visit to a convent. One of Olivia’s professors offered to take any young women who were interested in discerning religious life to visit a convent nearby. “It is a great environment for exposing yourself to different vocations; you have to make sure you don’t become too busy for that,” Olivia expressed. “We have an expert on Theology of the Body on our faculty. . . there’s a lot of opportunity for you to also seek good counsel for discerning your vocation. . . It’s also a great place to find someone to date, if you discern that that’s what you need to do,” Olivia laughingly said. Olivia’s opinion was that although WCC isn’t perfect, they do provide opportunities for vocational discernment. “The biggest danger is making sure you don’t become too busy for them,” Olivia reiterated.

5. What is the cell phone policy at WCC? Do you feel that this policy is detrimental or helpful to students?

WCC does not allow students to have cell phones while participating in college. “I think it’s great,” Olivia promptly stated. “. . .It is like what the Church asks us to do. The Church often asks us to give good things up so that we know how to use them rightly. The Church asks us to fast from food, to give alms to the poor, it asks us to give away our possessions and our bodily good so that ultimately we can come back and use them better. Or maybe discern that we need to live without them permanently. . . We live in a world where people can’t conceive of experiencing life without a cell phone. . . WCC gives you that opportunity to give a good thing up.” Olivia expressed that WCC strives to teach self-restraint and wisdom through their cell-phone policy. But this policy, which Olivia largely appreciated, comes with difficulties as well as goods. “The hardest thing about it is that we don’t always have reliable communications. . . or if our internet is down, due to weather (which, you know, we get snow storms in Wyoming,” Olivia said, laughing), “then we don’t have a means of calling.” Olivia suggested that this is something the college needs to improve. “We need reliable ways of communicating with our family and with home while giving up our cell phone. But overall, I’m glad it’s here.”

6. Do you feel that the culture at WCC fosters authentic friendship? Was it easy or difficult to meet authentic friends?

Olivia de Laveaga

After a pause, Olivia concluded, chuckling, “I think it was both. . . There’s so much goodness here that it’s hard to make sure that you’re living a balanced life.” Olivia praised the spiritual life, the classroom experiences, and the outdoor program as great goods of Wyoming Catholic College. “There’s so many goods that it’s easy to feel overloaded. . . I think that’s true for college students everywhere.” Olivia explained that WCC is a relatively new college and is still trying to discover how much to ask of students in terms of workload, outdoor leadership, and other commitments. “. . . As a senior here, I’m looking around at my class, and [am] deeply grateful for who these people are that are on the journey with me. . . [I am] very much desiring to keep these people in my life, for the rest of my life.”