Tell us about yourself?
My name is Kirsten Antonacci, and I will be a junior this year, majoring in Theology and Finance. St. Louis is my hometown, where I have lived all my life with my parents and three younger siblings.
How did you decide to attend Benedictine College?
Well, I heard about Benedictine College from – believe it or not – my childhood babysitter, Amanda Hahn, who just so happened to be a classmate of Dr. Swafford. She was the first person I heard of who had gone to BC and though she never said, “You should look at this school,” her excitement, energy, and love of life, of her faith, and fascinating adventures she would share with me certainly peaked an interest. Then the college search engine that my high school, Cor Jesu, offers its students kept showing Benedictine as one of the few schools with the criteria I wanted: a living and active faith life, majors in Theology and Business, a population of under 5,000-10,000 students, a Midwest location, a study abroad program in Italy, a good variety of intermural sports and campus activities, and so on. So I signed up to visit.
On the day before my visit, I actually visited another school but was so excited to visit BC that I could hardly paid attention on the tour there…whoops. It was dark and stormy when my Mom and I drove into Atchison and one of our first sights was the gas station on the Missouri side of the river that has bars on its door. We gave each other the, “Oh boy,” look, and said a prayer that the weather would clear up for our visit the following day.
When we drove onto campus the next morning, the sun was shining, Atchi-stench wasn’t bad, and everything looked beautiful with that after-a-good-rain glow. Pete Helgeson and Anne Faucett met up with us at the Admissions office with their welcoming smiles. After talking with them, I felt a bit overwhelmed but even more excited. The tour was great! I listened and watched eagerly as our guide pointed out and explained different facts about each building. Every building seemed to have its own character, its own history, and rather unique architecture. I really liked the abundance of Mass options on campus, and loved the reminiscing and homely, yet sophisticated atmosphere in the MCI and Haverty Center. Don’t even get me started on Ferrell, now Elizabeth Hall. My mom and I couldn’t get over how neat the rustic archways in the dorm looked.
We went to Mass where we saw both students and families. At lunch we also saw a variety of people. President Minnis was sitting at one end of our table and an adorable little girl, I think one of the RD’s daughters, sat next to me. My mom particularly loved getting to see that family-friendly atmosphere on campus.
Then I got to speak with Dr. Swafford (Prof. Swafford at the time). He started explaining the logistics of the theology program and everything he said sounded – sorry for the cliché – like music to my ears. I sat on the edge of my seat the whole time. From that short half-hour conversation, I gathered that BC has a truly Catholic theology program whose faculty do their best to give students the true framework of the Catholic faith based on the most dependable sources; to develop them in apologetics; to broaden their views and understanding of other faiths and of real-world issues in order to defend their own view and respectfully dialogue with others. The list goes on. As a whole, my visit at Benedictine led the college to the number one spot on my competitive list of college choices.
When I attended the Presidential Scholars competition, I fell in love with the school even more. Hearing President Minnis talk about Benedictine’s mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship and how the she lives it out just affirmed more and more that this was the place for me.
I had visited a total of five colleges, and applied to six. Other schools had offered me as much if not more in scholarship money, and I really could “see myself” at most of those schools. They had fairly sound theology programs, plenty to do on campus, and some had much more to do in the town due to their city location, so why did I choose Benedictine? Well, aside from the fact that Benedictine met every one of my main requirements for a college, it boils down to the fact that I truly felt “at home” there. When I drive onto campus from St. Louis, I tell my parents, “I’m home, now,” rather than, “I’m at school.” Benedictine is where God has called me for this part of my life, knowing that the environment, the people, and the experiences will help me become the woman God knows I can and wants me to be.
What activities are you involved in at Benedictine College:
Currently, I am a participant in a FOCUS bible study as well as a leader of another study. For intramurals, I play soccer, which is my favorite by far, but I also enjoy sand volleyball. I am a tutor in the Student Success Center for Theology and Finance students. I also tutor Latin for the children of one of my professors. Through my Catholic Social Thought (CST) class, I got to serve at UPLIFT, a non-profit organization that provides food and other basic necessities to the homeless throughout Kansas City. Dr. Coronado, one of the CST professors, is an ardent proponent of the organization. I have taught at the Raven School of Dance, am part of Ravens Respect Life, and help out with liturgical and retreat ministry whenever I can. I definitely make use of the racquetball courts, and play tennis once in a while. I like to be busy, if you can tell, but then it is great to have 24-hour adoration available to just go and rest a while in the Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. This upcoming semester, I will be studying at Benedictine’s campus in Florence, Italy. To say the least, I am stoked!
What do you like most about Benedictine College?
O gosh, this is a tough question. I honestly can’t pin down one thing so in general, here’s what I like most: the tight-knit, friendly, faith-filled community; the small class-size that enables students to get to know and learn from their professors really well; the unique variety of architecture in every building on campus; the opportunities to feed others and to be fed (in regards to education, faith, ministry, food, etc.); the wide variety of activities from faith to sports; the growing progressive atmosphere in terms of education, facilities, etc.; and simply the passion for life that you can see clearly evident in students, faculty, and staff.
What is your favorite class and who is your favorite professor?
Out of my theology classes, my top two are Dr. Blosser’s History of the Catholic Church II and Dr. Zia’s New Testament I: Synoptic Gospels.
I honestly think that Dr. Blosser belongs in a Sherlock Holmes movie. He is knowledgeable, articulate, and professional, but has these quirky mannerisms about him that make him intelligent to the point that he cannot always express everything he wants to in an explanation, but when he does, it sounds fantastic. The class itself took a neat approach by looking at history in terms of the philosophies of the time period rather than being solely or mostly event-based. It helped put Catholic history in a new, intriguing perspective for me.
Dr. Zia is clear and precise, and whether or not I agree with him, he brings to light historical, linguistic, and other various facts about Scripture that I never came close to thinking of. He helps students make connections and understand more of what and why different passages mean what they do. In the Synoptic Gospels class, he required us to read A Rabbi Talks with Jesus, which gives a rabbi’s perspective of what Jesus said, who he was, and how his message was difficult to accept given the Jewish beliefs, history, and customs. The book challenged students to understand the Jews’ opinion that Jesus wasn’t the Messiah and it helped me to learn to defend why I think he is.
From my business classes, my favorite has been Entrepreneurial Financial Management with Dr. Hoy.
I have always had an entrepreneurial mindset. The idea of and factors involved with starting a new business are extremely interesting to me. From finding funding, evaluating the competition, and deciding on pricing to figuring out a beginning budget and how much one really needs for a loan, it is all very appealing to me. We used real-life cases that were previously presented to the loan company Dr. Hoy works with. Using the business plans and financial statements in these past cases, the students were given the opportunity to find out what was wrong, what was right, what other options there are, and give their opinion in a class presentation.