Students rejoice at Commencement.

Karol Wojtyla Medallion for Excellence in Humanities

Before he became bishop of Kracow and eventually Pope Saint John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla was a poet, playwright, and professor of philosophy in Poland. His thought and writings articulate a deeply authentic humanism that is at the foundation of the Department of Humanities. His life bore witness to the vitality and expansive vision that is the fruit of such a humanism. In his encyclical Fides et Ratio, St. John Paul spoke of the love of wisdom that is “born and nurtured when the human being first asked questions about the reason for things and their purpose” and that “shows in different modes and forms that the desire for truth is part of human nature itself.” Our medallion winners are students who have not just excelled in their studies but whose love of wisdom has been stirred into a flame during their undergraduate studies. Below you’ll find the full list of our medallion winners since 2005.

2020: Timothy Long

2019: Emily LaPorte

2018: Ethan Swain

2017: Gabriella Berman

2016: Hindley Williams

2015: Sara Thoms

2014: Michael Vazquez

2013: Ryan M. Brown

2012: Paul M. Dupont

2011: Paul R. Trahey

2010: Charles A. Gillespie

2009: Madeline A. Chera

2009: Anne Marie Bonner

2008: Loretta A. Vasile

2007: Paul John Gorre

2006: Michael Ostroff

2005: Gregory Grimes


Senior Essay Prize

The Department of Humanities Senior Essay Prize is awarded to a major in the Department of Humanities for an essay that demonstrates excellence, rigor, and wisdom in its sustained engagement with a question deserving renewed attention at the end of the degree.  Seeking depth over breadth, students build on texts and issues from the gateway and elective classes to craft a long essay on a question that they identify in conversation with the symposium professor and an additional faculty advisor. Each essay is distinct in its demonstration of students’ particular intellectual loves and integrating interdisciplinarity. Below are our past winners and posters of recent Humanities Senior Essays.

Caroline Arnold, 2020 "Insignes pietate viriVirgil, Augustine, and Dante on the Virtue of Piety"

Matthew Faller, 2019, "A String of Minor Graces"

Patrick Hudak, 2018, "Acedia, Psychopathology, and the Human Person: Exploring Walker Percy's The Moviegoer and the Necessity of Meaning"

Eric Aldieri, 2017, "'Where Time and Eternity Spatter Each Other with Foam'": Signs of the Sacred & the Beautiful Impossibility of Home"

Ali Laird, 2016, "Sticky Little Leaves: Non-Locality, Non-Euclidean Geometry, and Positive Knowing in the Brothers Karamazov"

Charles Bates, 2015, "Is God Love?: Converging and Convincing Arguments for the Truth of Christian Faith"

David Kim, 2014, "Reconciling Man’s Irrationality through Synthesis: Love, the Crown of Rationality"

Sarah J. McNally, 2013, "The Good Life in the Age of Advertising"

Victoria L. Barry, 2012, "The Abolition of Justice: Exposing the Need to Restore the Virtue of Justice to American Legal Theory"

Cristina D'Averso, 2011, "The Circle of Love: Tracing Its Origin and Discussing Is Implications"

Keenan D. Lynch, 2010, "A Better Search for the "Better Place": Consideration of Hannah Coulter with regard to the State of Happiness Today"

Madeline A. Chera, 2009, "Counterculture and Communion: Beyond Industrial Systems for a Fuller Understanding of Food"

Caroline Arnold
“Insignes Pietate Viri: Virgil, Augustine, and Dante on the Virtue of Piety”
What is piety? How does Christian revelation change our understanding of true piety, and why?

Gina Arnold
“Love and Dating on the College Campus”
To what extent has dating on the college campus become dysfunctional and how might it be transformed for a better future?

Molly Bonini
“Exploring Restlessness through Dancing After Hours”
How do we seek to still our restless hearts if not through spirituality?

Abigail Carr
“Finding Fullness in the True Self: When the Seeds of Christ Strip the False Self Away”
What are the limitations of only living in the false self?

Quinn Dang
“On Humility and Beauty: Servitude in Excellence”
Where is the proper place of human being in this reality?

Marikate Des Rosiers
“On Despair and Relationality”
How do we navigate the ceaseless flow of our temporal life?

Christina Dietzler
“Tilling Soil in the Human Heart and Mind: Recovering the Ultimate Questions that Dispose Us Toward Seeking to Know and Love God”
If “the desire for God is written in the human heart,” what causes us to forget, overlook or reject this reality?

Ashley Hock
“Controlling Consumerism: Labor as a Mean to a Useless End”
How has modernity shaped our conception of work? How should we think about work in order to create a better society?

Connor Kovacs
“A Search for a Happiness”
What is our final end?

Timothy Long
“Even the Mercy of the Lord Burns: Violence, Distortion, and Grace in Flannery O’Connor, Jacques Maritain, and Karl Barth”
What is the strange relationship between violence and grace in Flannery O'Connor's fiction?

Chaisen Petrino
“Know Thyself: It’s Complicated”
Can we fully know ourselves?

Felicity Petruzzi
“And Other Stars”
What is it like to be on the cusp of independent life?

Hannah Rao
“The Call to Holiness: Lessons from Irish Saints”
What do early Irish saints have to teach us about the call to holiness?

Aiden Riess
“The Philosophical Roots of our Ecological Crisis”
How has the impoverished view of reality present in modern philosophical thought led to what Pope Francis describes as the “Technocratic Paradigm?”

Kendall Smith
“The Quest for Joy Through Aspirations and Vocations”
What are the true values of work and vocation as they relate to human happiness?

Timothy Warren
“Unplugged: An Examination of Digital and Physical"
Escapism: What are the different ways we escape from reality? Is one better or worse for our flourishing?

Rebeccah Zalar
“Love is All: The Different Dimensions and Intricacies of Humanity’s”
Most Intense Emotion What kinds of love create a life well lived?

Department of Humanities

St. Augustine Center Room 304
Villanova University 
800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085

Chairperson: Dr. Michael Tomko