Jessica Robertson

University ScholarsBefore I started my freshman year at SPU, I remember hearing one daunting promise: “In the University Scholars program, we will take the house of beliefs that you have been given, and we will pull it apart brick by brick. Some of those bricks you’ll keep, some you’ll set aside, and you’ll add some new ones. And then, little by little, you’ll start to rebuild that house — but this time, it will be your own.”

That struck a tiny chord of fear in my parents’ hearts — and in mine — the first time we heard it. But having now finished the program, I can say that a little dismantling and rebuilding was exactly what I needed.

I’m one of those rare premed students who love the humanities just as much as science. I’ve always loved reading literature and writing, so I didn’t want to lose those skills in science-intensive classes. The more I heard about the University Scholars program, the more I wanted to join. The "Texts and Contexts" sequence seemed like everything interesting packed into four courses: art history, music, literature, Greek and Roman poetry, philosophy, economics, and sociology. And it was brilliant! UScholars was hands-down the best part of my academic experience at SPU.

My whole class was excited about learning, and I came to know each face — and each mind — in the class very well throughout four years together. A group of us developed a sort of ritual: A few nights before assignments were due, we’d camp out at Bauhaus (a coffee shop that is open until 2 a.m.), study for tests, write papers, and talk over ideas from class. When we were burnt out, we’d head over to Beth’s 24-hour diner for late-night breakfast (bottomless hash browns and cinnamon rolls), then rush home and hop into bed before the stomachache hit.

Every work we read in the program became a hundred times more meaningful in the context of our classroom discussions. In our "Faith and Science I" class, we would often spend entire class periods just talking. Our professors would perch on desks, listening and occasionally asking questions, but for the most part, we students would lead the class with our own ideas and inquiries. Those discussions were some of the richest learning experiences of my past four years.

All courses were team-taught. I loved having two professors from different disciplines weighing in on the same topic. Each professor in the program is incredibly invested ― willing to spend hours talking with students one-on-one.

I never felt forced to change my views, and quite honestly, I’m leaving SPU with almost the same “house of beliefs” I came in with. The difference is that now my house is rearranged a bit, redecorated in a way that makes it more my own. It has a few new bricks, and it’s missing a few old ones. But those renovations happened by my own volition. UScholars classes challenged me to think deeply and to question boldly, and my faith is the stronger for it.

University Scholars

Sam Fullhart explains how University Scholars challenged and informed his faith.