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Karol Wojtyla Medallion & Senior Essay Prize

Pope John Paul II

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. Our Wojtyla Medallion winners are:

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 Depart 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.


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

Recent Senior Essays

Contact Us

Department of Humanities

St. Augustine Center Room 304
Villanova University 
800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085 
Phone: 610.519.6165
Fax: 610.519.5307

ChairpersonDr. Michael Tomko