Erik Landstrom, '12

 

"As my high school years grew to a close, I became increasingly confident that I wanted to pursue a college degree in literature. I knew that I wanted—even needed—to surround myself with books. Patrick Henry College, as a small, new-founded, and (as it seemed) politically-focused institution, was not on the top of my list by any means. There were many other colleges with established reputations, promising tantalizing opportunities both on campus and abroad. In the end, I did apply to Patrick Henry but only at the behest of my brother, a then-current student in the Political Theory track, who defended the school’s literature department as both substantial and credible. With my acceptance letters from several different universities in hand, I set out to visit Patrick Henry and come to my own conclusions on this tiny institution in Northern Virginia.


"It is difficult to describe that first introduction to Patrick Henry College. I remember being singularly struck by the ethos of the campus— the earnestness and intentionality in which both faculty and studentry pursued goodness, truth, and beauty; the caliber of scholarship; the joy of community; the love of God and love of neighbor which upheld everything. I saw, moreover, that this was a school in which the liberal arts were still alive. Here were classrooms where literature students sat in tight circles with their books cracked wide open, their faces glowing in sheer delight of the written word, and their souls animated by a tradition of literary excellence that they knew stretched far beyond them. I saw students who humbly and graciously entered into the Great Conversation. It was unlike any other college I had ever seen--or would ever see--and it was only a matter of time before I would become a part of it. Over the next four years at Patrick Henry, I saw how my professors sought to cultivate in us a balance between a keen, probing mind and a humble, wondering spirit. They invited us to love, and it is only this love for literature which allowed me to truly understanding, appreciate, and delight in literature. Through my professors’ efforts, together with the wisdom and camaraderie of my fellow students, I graduated Patrick Henry with a priceless gift, something far beyond a mere diploma.


"I now teach at a K-12 classical Christian school in Northern Virginia, and this same gift of love goes with me every day into the classroom. My studies in Patrick Henry’s literature department not only fostered a critical understanding of literature and a sharpening of my writing abilities, they also fostered a soul that loves truth, goodness, and beauty as rooted in the threefold personhood of God. I see how my study of literature was part of a robust, full-bodied, and well-rounded education that stretches far beyond the particulars of my field and into my life as a whole. Patrick Henry College truly gave me a liberal arts education, and there are no words to describe my gratitude as I participate in the working world and pursue graduate degrees in my field."