CLT10 National Award Winner Spotlight: Gwynith Hayden

In preparation for the release of the CLT10 awards in September of 2023, CLT is celebrating some of our past National Award Winners!

We reached out to a handful of CLT’s scholarship winners from 2020 and asked them to share about their testing experience at CLT, their time at their CLT partner college of choice, and their college preparation advice for other high school students.

This post celebrates Gwynith Hayden, a rising junior at Thomas Aquinas College. She spoke about the benefits of her CLT testing experience, her love of her theology classes, and her realization that asking questions is an indication not of ignorance, but a true desire to learn. Congratulations, Gwynith, and thank you for your thoughtful answers!

The smartest people I have encountered have never been satisfied with moving on, until they understand what is being said and why it is true.

CLT: How did taking the CLT10 prepare you for college?

GH: I now attend a classical liberal arts college, and I think the Classic Learning Test was an integral part of my application as it showed not only my academic abilities but also was a testament to how important a classical education is to me. But even for students not applying to a classical school, preparing for and taking the Classic Learning Test is an advantage as the test emphasizes logic and critical thinking, which are integral components of success in both the academic and business worlds.

CLT: Would you identify a particular class you took this year as the one that impacted you the most?

GH: I feel blessed that this is such a difficult question to answer, as I have taken so many impactful classes at Thomas Aquinas College this year! The class that stands out most in my mind is sophomore theology, where we read the writings of St. Augustine, St. Anselm, St. John Damascene, among others. These texts are challenging and address many of the key issues both of my own faith and of human nature as a whole: Where does evil come from? What does it mean to live a good life? Is there any objective argument for God’s existence? How can people choose evil, if everyone is fundamentally motivated by a desire for happiness?

If I could choose two classes, I would have to mention the sophomore seminar course, where we read many of the greatest Roman and medieval authors, including Livy, Cicero, Lucretius, Dante, Boethius, and Chaucer. This class gives an overview of the thought process of an entire era, bringing to light the questions and themes that were at the center of the human discourse.

CLT: Well, that is an excellent author lineup, so I suppose we’ll allow both classes! Is there any one thing you wish you had known before starting your freshman year?

GH: I wish I could reassure myself that it really is okay to have more questions than answers. I think many people, myself included, are sometimes afraid that asking “too many” questions will make them seem less intelligent or capable. I have actually found the exact opposite to be true in my now two years of college experience. The smartest people I have encountered are the ones who ask the most questions and wonder about everything. They know so much because they have never been satisfied with moving on until they understand what is being said and why it is true. I think that’s worth emulating, and not something anyone should worry over.

CLT: What advice would you give to other CLT10 or CLT test-takers planning ahead for college?

GH: I think the advice you most need to hear is probably dependent on the type of person you are. But if I had to offer my two cents, it would be to try to get as much out of your education as you possibly can, but not to forget to find things that make you joyful and bring you peace.


If you enjoyed this past National Award Winner Spotlight post, keep an eye out for more coming soon as we anticipate the announcements of our 2023 CLT10 Awards!

Published on 5th September, 2023.

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