Elizabeth Jordan, Magdalene Vandenburg and Emma White proudly pose with SWC’s new sign. Before the degree accreditation, the school was called Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy. Photo by Kaitlyn Krikorian

Seat of Wisdom attracts influx of new students

By  Monica Sifert, Youth Speak News
  • December 7, 2017
Degree-granting status has given Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College an elevated place in higher education, but that’s not why Elizabeth Jordan chose to enrol.

“It is not hard to quickly absorb the studious, faith-filled atmosphere here,” said the first-year student. “And it is even easier to develop our faith as a community, with everyone encouraging each other.”

Jordan said for her and for many of her friends, the college’s biggest appeal is the tight-knit community atmosphere. Still, the small Barry’s Bay campus cannot ignore the 30-per-cent increase in student enrolment this semester after being awarded the ability to grant degrees last spring. 

Now known as Seat of Wisdom College or SWC, the school has 136 students compared to the 104 students it had last year and 109 students in 2015.  

The three-year Bachelor of Catholic Studies degree allows students to transfer to other universities to finish a fourth year or go on to do a Master’s or work in various trades.

“I love the fact that more credits are able to be transferred to and from a greater variety of universities and colleges, making it easier for students like me to choose where to go next,” said Jordan. “Overall, SWC’s degree-granting status is a big appeal to me, though it was not the only factor in my decision to attend the college.” 

Jordan plans to pursue an interior design career after graduating from SWC.

SWC was founded in 2000 after a group of parents, who could not afford to send their children to a good Catholic post-secondary school in Canada or the U.S., decided to create their own school.

In its first year, there were about a dozen students enrolled.

Catholic artist and author Michael O’Brien and his wife Sheila were part of a group of parents who sought a strong Catholic higher education for their children.

“We made very valiant initial efforts and slowly our Lord, using the building material of our humanity, our weaknesses, our strengths, began to build a thing,” said O’Brien. “It is the Lord’s delight to use, at times, those least likely to succeed, to do a great thing, a beautiful thing, an impossible thing.” 

Professor John Paul Meenan, who has been teaching at the school since the beginning, said small class sizes allow for a “mind meeting mind” connection between teacher and student.

Emma White, who received her Bachelor’s degree in April, said she is thankful for all the sacrifices the professors have made for their students.

“Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College is forming our modern-day saints,” said White at a Sept. 30 banquet celebrating the school’s accreditation. “As a student, I feel as though Our Lady has literally wrapped us in her mantle and has given us an incredible secret to the Kingdom of God, namely, how to use our reason in a culture of unreason.”

“The degree-granting status did hold an appeal for me …. I would definitely have come to Our Lady Seat of Wisdom even without the status,” said first-year student Magdalene Vandenberg. “With the status, I’m very strongly tempted to stay for the entire three years.” 

Vandenberg plans to further her education after SWC and teach literature.

(Sifert, 21, is a third-year student at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College in Barry’s Bay, Ont.)

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