Emma Rhodes on the Aquinas Program: “Amazing! I Love Books”

When Emma Rhodes came to St. Thomas as a first-year student, she wasn’t sure what the Aquinas Program was about, but a course built around books intrigued her.


Now finishing her degree, she couldn’t have predicted the valuable lessons she learned.


“I read about STU’s Great Books program and thought, ‘Amazing! I love books.’ I read through the list of books in the program and it was everything I wanted. When I went to register, I realized that the Aquinas Program counted for three blocks of my schedule.”


“I expected three separate courses, but the program combines all three subjects without separate classes. This was a nice surprise because I was able to gain course credits for three courses and learn about Philosophy and Human Rights all by reading books. I’ve always been an English kid, so I loved this.”


Rhodes is completing an Honours in English Creative Writing. She said she expected the Aquinas Program to improve her academic writing, but it helped her grow as a creative writer as well.


“Reading is one of the best things someone can do to help with writing,” she said. “So many different texts helped my creative writing in ways I didn’t expect.”


Reading, discussing, and understanding texts is key to the Aquinas Program. It offers students texts from a variety of time periods and cultures to broaden the scope of study and give students the ability to understand concepts through different perspectives.


“All different sorts of texts are studied,” said Rhodes. “Both fiction and non-fiction, political and moral philosophy, poetry and film—from as far back as ancient Greece to the 21st century.”


“Even if texts were written hundreds of years ago, Aquinas taught me to recognize how they apply to today. I was taught different ideologies, and this helped me form my own beliefs and think about why I hold those beliefs.”


“The professors are noticeably concerned with your success. I ultimately chose to continue and do a Great Books major because Dr. Dinan approached me.”


Dr. Matthew Dinan is a professor in the Aquinas Program.


For him, building these connections and helping students grow is the best part of teaching in the program.


“My favourite thing about teaching in Aquinas is developing strong relationships with my students and having the time and space necessary to help them develop as writers and thinkers over their first year. I'm an alumnus of the Aquinas program—way back in 2002—so I know how it helps prepare students for success in their degrees.”