Jonathan Langerak arrived at Grand Valley from Zeeland, with intentions of majoring in history and perhaps becoming a teacher. During his first semester, he enrolled in a Latin class simply to continue his Latin studies from high school. But that first Latin class led to another, and then other courses offered by the Classics Department.
Now a junior Classics major and philosophy minor, Langerak has been named a recipient of the 2012 Manson A. Stewart Scholarship, awarded by the Classical Association of the Middle West and South (CAMWS), an academic organization that focuses on the study of ancient Greece and Rome. He receives $1,000 to support his study of the Classics.
In his winning essay Langerak shared his thoughts on the value of studying the Classics, and how it stimulates the joy of learning for the inquisitive and serious student. “I’m a bit old school in that I see the value of education as something more than a means to make a living,” he said. “College is a wonderful opportunity to explore many interests and develop a greater understanding of many different subjects, and Grand Valley’s liberal education approach supports that ideal. Knowledge for its own sake is a maxim as relevant for us in the 21st century as it was for the ancients.”
The Classics Department has also recognized his abilities with the Epyllion Award for Accomplishment in Intermediate Language Study in 2010, and the Award for Distinction in First Year Greek in 2011.
“Jon is an outstanding student and a man of many parts,” said Department Chair Charles Pazdernik, associate professor. “The CAMWS Stewart Scholarship recognizes him as a most promising young classicist among a group of peers from distinguished institutions around the country.”
Langerak said that two of his uncles attended Grand Valley and highly recommended it – and its Classics program. “Both of them became ministers and impressed on me the value of studying the classical languages of Greek and Latin,” said Langerak, “especially Greek, which is the language of the New Testament.” Langerak has also decided to pursue pastoral ministries after graduation.