Following the Call: Interview with Benjamin Staff (College Ambassador, St. Katherine College)

In today’s environment, where young and people and the future the church are a topic of discussion, we are pleased to present interviews with young people who have followed the call of the church in different ways.

We were pleased to make the acquaintance of Benjamin Staff, at OCA’s 18th All-American Council this July in Atlanta. Mr. Staff is a college ambassador for St. Katherine College, a unique Orthodox Christian liberal arts college, located in San Diego, California.

Family Life Ministry: When did you become a college ambassador for St. Katherine?

Benjamin Staff: I started working for Saint Katherine College as a College Ambassador in May of 2014. This was immediately following my graduation from Saint Katherine College with a Bachelor’s of Science in Public Health and Policy.

Family Life Ministry: How long has the college been active? What is your attendance like?

Benjamin Staff: The college had its start in 2010 and received its first students in 2011, with a total of 12 students attending. In the 2015 Fall semester, we have 53 students that attend Saint Katherine College.

Family Life Ministry: What was the impetus for creating St. Katherine?

Benjamin Staff: Our Orthodox Christian faith is based on a holistic consideration of the person- mind, heart, soul, and strength. To be a person means to engage our minds as well as our other attributes. But we must engage our minds in a way that is seeking Christ. Without that focus, we are merely seeking something else which does not truly matter to a Christian. SKC was founded to bring back the ideal that seeking and living the life of the mind means seeking the Lord. This ideal is best-expressed in the context of our authentic Orthodox Christian faith. Unfortunately, this integration of faith and learning in the Orthodox Christian understanding has not significantly developed in the US. SKC aims to make available this approach to teaching and learning for all Americans.

Family Life Ministry: What are some fields that graduates can enter?

Benjamin Staff: Teaching, business, medicine, law, various church ministries including clergy.

Family Life Ministry: In your experience, what sets St. Katherine College apart from other liberal arts schools?

Benjamin Staff: Saint Katherine College is unique because it offers a rigorous liberal arts education in the tradition of Orthodox Christianity, which means realizing that Christ is present in everything that one does in life. Christ can and should be at the center whether one is called to be a teacher, an artist, or a businessperson. This is accomplished by the Core Curriculum, which is an integrated method of learning in that all courses are linked together throughout one’s college career. Every student receives instruction in Orthodox Theology, Church History, Ethics, and Rhetoric to form a firm foundation for the rest of their education. Out motto is Inquiry Seeking Wisdom. We are not seeking the wisdom of this world, but the Wisdom of God. The faculty and staff genuinely care about our students and are willing to help each student one-on-one with any questions or concerns they have. Personally, my decision to come to Saint Katherine College was one of the best decisions I ever made. I learned so much about myself and about my faith by participating with everything I could on campus. The professors, the administration, and the clergy on campus all worked together so that I could grow. I cannot recommend the college enough to people who are serious about their education and faith.

Family Life Ministry: Where can students and parents find more information about St. Katherine?

Benjamin Staff: There is a wealth of information on our website at stkath.org. In addition, anyone who has questions is welcome to call the college at 760-471-1316 during normal business hours.

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