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A Chosen Place for Future American Leaders

Eight years of stocking shelves and working the night shift at Pine River Family Market seem worlds away from being dressed in a suit and speaking to a room full of bankers and business leaders in Kansas City. However for John Welte, small jobs in the store paved the way to a humble work ethic that is proving to be the key to sustained student success in college.

Transferring to Benedictine College from Pine River, Minnesota, John Welte is an active leader on campus. As a Constitutional Fellow with the Center for Constitutional Liberty, Welte has been working with business leaders nationwide, and a college volunteer in numerous programs, including being the chair of homecoming and a bus captain for the annual March for Life trip.

Community is a favorite aspect of campus culture for Welte who said, “Everyone at Benedictine feels like a big, tight-knit family.”

“At Benedictine, there are opportunities that I never could have imagined – exposure to nationally known authors, prominent business leaders, and blessings too numerous to count,” said Welte. “They ask me and I say ‘yes’!”

For Welte, a junior majoring in Economics and Philosophy, one such unique prospect was to speak at the annual Thompson Medal Ceremony in Kansas City (watch the recording or read more here).

Benedictine College’s Byron G. Thompson Center for Integrity in Finance and Economics, in conjunction with the Thompson family and Country Club Bank of Kansas City, annually presents the award recognizing an individual in business who exemplifies integrity and competence, as well as making significant contributions to both their sphere of business and their community.

At the event, Welte commented on the variety of growth possibilities he has had at Benedictine College, including going to the National Moot Court Competition in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Welte noted the importance of these experiences in making him a well-rounded individual.

“I could learn the theories of supply and demand from any college in America,” Welte said. “But as Byron Thompson said, this would just make me a dangerous man whose education is incomplete. At Benedictine, we are taught the tools of economic trade. But at the same time, we are taught Catholic social teaching that makes us morally mature.”

An authentic Catholic faith that embraces its identity solidified the decision to attend Benedictine for Welte. He said, “We begin class in prayer. In Economics, we look at the subject through our Catholic faith. Here, I always feel like I can say what I believe and earn a fair grade.”

At Benedictine, President Minnis takes time to personally sign each student acceptance letter and leads the Rosary for students each Wednesday during the academic year. “It’s definitely a chosen place,” a smiling Welte said. “What other college can say that the president prayed for you by name?”

Participating in the Constitutional Fellows program, which is led by Dr. Kevin Vance, has allowed Welte to be individually mentored by professors. The quality of faculty stands out for Welte. “Teachers are approachable and really care about you. Dr. Vance has supported me so much,” Welte said. “He wrote a letter of recommendation that helped me earn a valuable internship. He has diligently developed the competitive Moot Court program on campus.”

The Center for Constitutional Liberty’s mission is to advance the understanding of the founding principles of the United States of America so that our nation’s unique experiment in self-government can continue to inspire, inform and direct new generations of Americans to transform culture in America.

The Constitutional Fellows program provides students who are interested in careers in law, public policy/government, journalism, or academia the critical thinking, speaking, and debating skills necessary for success in these fields. Fellows will study and engage issues of Constitutional liberty within an interdisciplinary context, including Political Science, History, Economics, Journalism, and Philosophy.

“As a Constitutional Fellow, I have been able to learn more about how Catholicism and the Constitution work together. All three aspects of the Benedictine mission of community, faith, and scholarship have tremendously strengthened my life,” Welte said. “This summer I am doing an internship with the Religious Freedom Institute. Part of my costs this summer will be covered by the Constitutional Fellows program. I would not have been able to do this internship without the support I received from Dr. Vance with my application.”

Looking ahead, Welte said he plans to attend law school. “I actually took the LSAT in April. I chose to major in Philosophy and Economics because they are the best majors for the LSAT and law school,” said Welte. “Benedictine is one of the few colleges that teaches classical philosophy and logic. There are many other motivated people on this campus that push me to try my best and succeed. Many of my friends are also taking the LSAT or have just taken it. My advisors and role models all check in on me to ensure I am meeting my academic goals. “

Presently there are over 90 students who actively participate in the Constitutional Fellows at Benedictine. To learn more about its highlights or to apply, please visit the Constitutional Fellows homepage.

Benedictine College’s new strategic plan is to transform culture in America, a program based on the Rule St. Benedict used to transform culture in Europe in the Middle Ages. The strategic plan forms students in the college’s mission of community, faith, and scholarship, places students in key positions after graduation, and extends the mission beyond the borders of campus.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is honored to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, the best private college in Kansas by The Wall Street Journal, and one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide. The College prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. Benedictine College has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship. For further information, please visit https://www.benedictine.edu.


Anna Sluder