By: Mary Carolyn Manion
Stanford University ‘19
When I attended Areté Academy in the summer of 2017, I entered a weeklong experience of people opening their hearts and minds to each other—from the podium, from the seat next to me, from the other side of the table at dinner.
At this one-week training program put on by Alliance Defending Freedom, we as a large and diverse group of young people were given the opportunity to build kinship in Christ while at the same time fostering our professional, academic, and personal development.
The speakers we were so privileged to hear integrated hard-hitting ethical and theological questions in their talks, whether primarily informative or exhortative, and left us all with food for thought. Nobody steered clear of controversy, and I by no means agreed with every keynote or even with most of my peers on some topics. However, students and speakers alike were united in a search for truth and an advocacy of the foundational Christian virtues at the root of a healthy intellectual diversity.
As a current senior in college, I realize now that the greatest benefit I received from Areté was the infusion of Christian ideals into the discernment of my adult life. I mistakenly expected the Academy to suddenly convince me to attend law school. Instead it empowered me to recognize where my talents can best be applied while letting my faith shine through every action.
As my peers at college express their post-graduate intentions and wait for me to do the same, I realize that Areté left me with a lasting impression of how vital it is to include God when planning your future. Many of the dilemmas I face now I already started to answer at Areté, which equipped me with the tools I need to recognize both my professional and spiritual vocation in a largely secularized world.
Representatives of business, law, academia, and social impact spoke at Areté, but they all shared a unified message: The path is not easy, but inner peace and true success come through integrity, prayer, and commitment to the truth.
I would highly encourage any young person who foresees major decisions in the future to attend Areté. Whether you aspire to post-graduate study, a corporate profession, or are waiting for the right door to open as I am, Areté will not only provide you with mentors to guide and encourage you but also a community of exceptional young people whose virtues and accomplishments still amaze me.
If you fear that the rat race of the secular world leaves no room for prayerful discernment, or that you must choose between your talents and your faith, Areté Academy is the place for rallying with your fellow soldiers in the army of Truth.