While studying abroad in Paris during the fall 2009 semester, VIA scholar Sam Young '11 was shocked by how little he knew compared to the Europeans he encountered. "The only areas where I was able to hold my own in conversation and debate with Europeans were the various topics that I have learned in the VIA program, like philosophy, racism and consumerism," he says.
Up to 25 students are admitted annually to VIA, a challenging program of six interdisciplinary courses exploring the great ideas in history. Those students take one course together each semester beginning in the fall of the sophomore year and continuing until graduation.
Young's appreciation and enthusiasm for VIA has led him to actively recruit freshmen interested in applying for the program. "I do what I do because I feel that I owe it to the program," he says. "I feel bad for students that graduate from Salve Regina and missed out on VIA. We are the only school in the world that I know of that has this program, so why would you come here and not take advantage of it?"
Although Young knew little about the VIA program when applying to Salve Regina, he indicated an interest during the application process. "When I got here and learned it was a small group of students that study together and remain together all four years here, I wanted to be a part of it," he says.
The VIA program fosters the desire to learn and enables students to make connections across a wide spectrum of learning, helping them converse and write with confidence and clarity on a variety of topics.
"VIA is real life learning," says Young, an aspiring high school history teacher. "I think VIA really pushes students to an uncomfortable place that allows them to look not only around them, but also inward. I know that the worldview I have constructed and hold in the present has been largely shaped by the VIA program."