Thomas Aquinas College welcomes first students 

  • Sophomore roommates Sophie Steigerwald, left, of Wisconsin and Simone Kelly, right, of California stand inside their new dorm Friday at Thomas Aquinas College in Northfield. STAFF PHOTO/ANDY CASTILLO

  • Sophomore Simone Kelly of California walks past empty boxes toward her dorm room at Thomas Aquinas College in Northfield on Friday. STAFF PHOTO/ANDY CASTILLO

  • A student reads in a dorm common room at Thomas Aquinas College on Main Street. STAFF PHOTO/ANDY CASTILLO

  • Todd Draper, the executive chef among other hats at Thomas Aquinas College in Northfield, cooks dinner for students and their families on move-in day Friday. STAFF PHOTO/ANDY CASTILLO

  • Jon Daly, left, director of admissions at Thomas Aquinas College in Northfield, helps other faculty members prepare for the first day of classes next week. STAFF PHOTO/ANDY CASTILLO

  • Jon Daly, director of admissions at Thomas Aquinas College in Northfield, walks through the chapel Friday. STAFF PHOTO/ANDY CASTILLO

Staff Writer
Published: 8/24/2019 6:58:10 AM

NORTHFIELD — Thomas Aquinas College sophomore Clara Ramos said she’s been looking forward to being among the first students at the college’s New England campus ever since she applied.

When Ramos, along with 29 other sophomores and 30 freshmen, moved into her dorm at the college’s new Northfield campus on Friday, she got her wish.

“It’s exciting to be part of the pioneering New England class,” Ramos said.

Freshman student John Metilly said it’s great to finally have a campus on the East Coast as three of his older siblings attended Thomas Aquinas College’s flagship campus in Santa Paula, Calif., but their family is from Massachusetts. Metilly’s brother, Paul, is a sophomore who transferred to the Northfield campus.

“It’s a totally different feel,” Metilly said. “Of course, you have the same logo and the same people, but it’s different.”

The 217-acre campus has been mostly unoccupied since Northfield Mount Hermon School, the previous occupant, consolidated to its Gill campus in 2005. The campus will see 60 students occupying the facilities for the 2019 to 2020 school year, with the sophomores having transferred from the West Coast campus. Classes will begin Tuesday.

The college will have eight seasonal faculty members who will act as a source of congruence between the two campuses, as well as four recently graduated resident assistants. Dr. Tom Kaiser will be the New England campus’ associate dean of students.

Resident Director and Admissions Assistant Barbara O’Brien, an alumna herself, will be one of the full-time faculty on the New England campus. O’Brien said the incoming freshman class has drawn students from all regions of the country and abroad.

Jean Guerreiro, a sophomore student from Brazil, applied to the college after attending its high school summer program in Northfield last year. Immediately after the program ended, he applied and was accepted at Thomas Aquinas College’s California campus, knowing he would transfer to New England.

Now, Guerreiro assisted with this summer’s high school program, allowing him to spend extra time getting acquainted with Northfield. Guerreiro said he’s excited for the year and is looking forward to helping usher in the new students.

Director of Admissions Jon Daly, who has been traveling back and forth between the two campuses to prepare for the school year, said he has enjoyed seeing the Northfield campus energized by student presence.

Still, the school won’t use the entire campus just yet, as it plans to grow over the next few years and refurbish other parts of campus as it moves along. For this year, two dormitories were refurbished with fresh coats of paint and touch-ups in time for the student move-in on Friday.

Other buildings that are planned for use include the athletic hall, Margaret Olivia music hall, Gould Hall as a dining and student center, and one classroom building, which includes laboratory classrooms. The chapel on campus was also refurbished with new floors and renovations to the original pews.

“We wanted to respect the history of the campus and avoid changing as much as possible,” Daly said.

The private, Catholic, coeducational college offers a single classical curriculum and one degree — a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts, which is considered to be the equivalent of a double major in philosophy and theology, and a minor in mathematics.

According to Daly, student classes will consist of 15 students per class, and last anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. Students will attend a two-hour seminar once a week, as part of classes. As freshmen and sophomores, students are required to take Latin as a language.

Daly said learning Latin is helpful both as a root language and in reading the St. Thomas Aquinas texts, which are at the core of the college’s academics. When they enter their junior year, students can take a music course. In their final year, students use this extra class time to work on their senior thesis.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at or 413-772-0261, ext. 264.


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