Laura Cermak - Intercollegiate Studies Institute: Think. Live Free.

Laura Cermak

CHRISTENDOM COLLEGE, Class of 2019

Things to know about Laura

Laura will be a junior this fall at Christendom College, where she is majoring in political science and economics. She is a member of the Chester-Belloc Debate Society and Cincinnatus League, Christendom’s Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) chapter. Laura also directs Christendom’s Crusader Chamber Orchestra. She is passionate about Latin and Greek, and she loves participating in study abroad programs and mission trips. Laura was a 2016 Honors Scholar with ISI. Laura is very interested in studying law and cannot wait to start a career in Washington, D.C. promoting conservative policy and values.

“Initiate conversations with peers and professors—conservatives, liberals, anyone who cares to discuss these important ideas. The Intercollegiate Studies Institute is a perfect avenue for that.”

How did you find out about ISI?

I was invited to join Christendom’s ISI chapter, Cincinnatus League, at the beginning of freshman year. After the first semester of book club meetings, our chapter president recommended that I apply for the Honors Program. Since the 2016 Honors Conference, I’ve also attended weekend colloquia co-sponsored by the Liberty Fund, and it’s been a great blessing to be part of the ISI community. What attracted me to ISI’s programming was the fantastic reading list and the chance to discuss conservative ideas with students and professors from all over the country.

What was the highlight of your undergraduate experience?

In the summer of 2016 I attended the St. Columcille Institute, a three-week study abroad program in Co. Donegal, Ireland. We had a small, tight-knit group and our professors were like family. We studied the history and literature of Ireland and Catholic apologetics. We explored the grounds of the monastery where we lived, ate, and studied. We sang and danced and read poetry and visited Irish towns and castles. We even went swimming in the ocean, chilly as it was up on the northern coast. Best of all, we got to pray and grow closer to God in the land of St. Columcille and St. Patrick.

What have you valued most about your ISI experience?

ISI has introduced me to the great authors and seminal works of American conservatism. ISI has also given me an unparalleled opportunity for fellowship and dialogue with fellow young conservatives. The lectures, seminars, and spontaneous discussions during hospitality at the conferences have enriched and encouraged me and my peers in pursuing the life of the mind.

How have you spent your summers while in college?

Last summer, in addition to the ISI Honors Conference and the St. Columcille Institute, I interned at the Institute of Catholic Culture in Front Royal, VA. The institute provides free, college-level, solidly Catholic educational programs, and it was very rewarding to help the institute transition to a new website and reach a wider audience. This summer I interned at The Heritage Foundation, working with Ryan Anderson and the entire research team in the DeVos Center for Religion & Civil Society. I loved tracking legislation and court cases concerning religious liberty and pro-life, pro-family policy. I also had the opportunity to review commentary articles and Ryan Anderson’s next book, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment.

Whom do you admire most, and why?

I have so many people in my life who have inspired me, whom I pray I can emulate. But most of all, I admire Dr. Brendan McGuire. He is an alumnus and history professor of Christendom College, and though he is only in his mid-30s, he is a three-time survivor of an exceedingly rare bone cancer. He is a husband and father of three children, and he is a teacher and role model of hundreds of Christendom students, who all love him as family. He is the smartest, most articulate person you’ll ever meet, his laughter and bagpipe playing brighten up all of campus, and if anyone is feeling low, he’s the first to notice and the first to reach out and support.

What advice would you give to other students who want to preserve the principles of liberty?

First, read and study the writings that established the conservative movement in America and that shaped Western culture as a whole. Secondly, initiate conversations with peers and professors—conservatives, liberals, anyone who cares to discuss these important ideas. ISI is a perfect avenue to achieve these two goals. Finally, seize opportunities to intern and volunteer in conservative organizations. Find out what you’re good at and where your passions lie. And whatever your work, whatever you do, have in the forefront of your mind what kind of person you want to be.