By Celine Klosterman
For years, Andrew Schilling has been interested in politics.
So while enrolled at Notre Dame Junior/Senior High School in Burlington, he got involved in student government — as well as football, basketball, soccer, choir and the debate team, which he helped launch. Such opportunities, along with devoted teachers and a sense of community, made Notre Dame a place that educates the whole person, he said.
After graduating as valedictorian in 2010, Schilling began studying government at Georgetown University, a Jesuit school in Washington, D.C. “It’s interesting to learn about public policy issues that face the country and the world. Few things are more important to study,” he said.
So he’s completing an internship with a congressman on Capitol Hill, four years after volunteering for a candidate’s campaign preceding the 2008 Iowa caucuses. College mock trial competitions take him throughout the East Coast.
Schilling sees law school in his future. But he’s grateful for the opportunity at Georgetown to pursue a second interest: theology, in which he’s considering declaring a minor. “I get to learn about St. Thomas Aquinas, Karl Rahner and some of the greatest thinkers of our time.”
He’s completing a fellowship with the Woodstock Theological Center, an independent, nonprofit institute at Georgetown. His research project, “Catholic Identity in an Age of Individualism,” looks at the different ways young adults view and practice Catholicism. “I eventually want to do my own interviews to get a feel for how students on Georgetown’s campus approach their faith,” he said.
Schilling’s studies and college experiences have broadened his understanding of what it means to be Catholic.
“They’ve allowed me to take what used to be a very intellectual approach to my spirituality and make it a personal one — living it out more in everyday life.” Service plays a new role; he resides in a Living Learning Community that unites Muslims and non-Muslims to foster positive change. He and other community members take on projects such as writing letters to inner-city students and promoting Teach for America, which encourages educators to spend two years in low-income areas.
Schilling knows the impact faculty can make. In small classes at Notre Dame, he had the opportunity to have personal relationships with teachers. Being close with some high-school instructors inspired him to get to better know his professors at Georgetown, he said.
“I think teachers at Notre Dame do a good job of encouraging their students. The teachers don’t let anyone slide by, and make an effort to get involved in extracurricular activities. They help establish an environment that educates the whole person.”