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Student Spotlight: Mount Man of All Seasons Harry Scherer

Shannon Hunt, C'19
Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts

Harry Scherer feature

As students complete the spring semester via remote instruction from their homes due to the 2019 novel coronavirus, the lack of activity on campus underscores how active Mount students are under normal circumstances! Sophomore Harry Scherer's varied interests and activities surely identify him as a Mount man of all seasons! As the unusual circumstances give us reflective pause, it’s worth tracing the seasons of Scherer’s academic year.

Summer 2019

harry-scherer-monestary.jpgThis Pittsburgh native chose the Mount because of its Catholic identity, beautiful campus, small classes and personal relationships with professors. One of the professors with whom Scherer developed a relationship in his first year at the Mount, Philosophy Professor Joshua Hochschild, Ph.D, recommended Scherer apply for a Monastic Wisdom Seminar sponsored by the Lumen Christi Institute and held at New Melleray Abbey, a Trappist monastery in Iowa.  Joining 11 other young men at various stages in their educational journeys, Scherer in June learned about the vocation of monastic life and the role it has played in the Catholic intellectual tradition.  “As a mere observer, it was one of the most impactful weeks of my life,” he reflected. July he went on a three-week pilgrimage to Italy with generous support from the Office of Competitive Fellowships, directed by Associate Professor of History Jamie Gianoutsos, Ph.D.  A group of Mount students, led by the Rev. Diego Ruiz, visited Rome, Milan, Turin, Florence, Siena, Assis, and Lucca.  In the Vatican Museum, the Mounties were delighted to see a statue of Pericles they recognized from their Western Civ reader! The trip ended with a three-day conference organized by the Institute of the Incarnate Word, whose theme was the “evangelization of culture.”  “It was very high energy,” Scherer recalled, “not a silent retreat!” 

Fall 2019

The indefatigable Scherer was back at the Mount in mid-August for resident assistant (RA) training.  Working with fellow honors student Elena Rittie, C'21, Scherer was placed in charge of an honors dorm in one of the Mount’s Integrated Living and Learning Communities, sponsored by the Office of Residence Life.  Scherer learned a great deal and enjoyed getting to know the young men he supports.  “Being an RA is more than just a job,” he stated, “It’s an opportunity to see how community is built and to be there for residents when they are at their best and their worst.”  This campus leader is already planning ways to better integrate his programming with the goals of the Honors program next year. Also during the fall, Scherer served as a member of the editorial board of Tolle Lege, a student journal devoted to essays in philosophy and theology. “It’s always fun to see thoughtful research from university and seminary students," he noted. "I’m interested in the ideas of my peers and enjoy working with them.”

Winter 2019-20

harry.scherer-in-text.jpegWinter at the Mount means Founder's Day, or two Founder's Days to be exact, when the university invites talented high-school seniors to compete for two full-tuition scholarships.  It’s a lively and popular event that also provides an opportunity for the Mount to showcase all it has to offer.  Scherer remembers he was “humbled” to learn that he would receive a Founder's Scholarship during his senior year of high school.  He finds the Founders Scholarship to be a “great example of the generosity of the Mount and how she invests in her students.”  Scherer, moreover, returns the favor each year by giving a “Become a Mountaineer” address to the invited students and their families.   “It’s been a real honor,” he said, “and I hope to influence how prospective students think about the Mount.”

Spring 2020

This spring has been like no other in the history of Mount St. Mary’s.  Along with other Mount students, Scherer is back home, completing his classes online. “The students know that this is as hard on the professors as it is on us. It has taken some adjusting, but we will get through it,” he said.  Before he left campus, he learned a paper he submitted had been accepted for the Richard Macksey National Undergraduate Research Symposium at Johns Hopkins University.  The essay, which grew out of a course taught by Philosophy Department Chair Richard Buck, Ph.D., uses the political thought of John Rawls to explore how theories of economic inequality impact our understanding of economic liberalism, as well as classical and contemporary capitalism.   While the coronavirus has forced the cancellation of the physical conference, Johns Hopkins is offering participants the opportunity to present their papers virtually. 

Still hoping to get some “on the ground” experience this summer, Scherer has been accepted into a program sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute titled “Liberal Education in an Age of Distraction.”  He is still waiting to hear about other summer programs sponsored by Thomistic Institute at Catholic University and the Acton Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Whatever the summer holds for Scherer, we know he will be busy—physically, intellectually and spiritually!

All Seasons

As a man of all seasons, Scherer has interests and activities that run throughout the year.  In addition to his being attracted to the Mount because of its small size, Catholic identity and personal relationships, he was also drawn to its Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) major.  Mount St. Mary’s is the first university in Maryland to offer this undergraduate program, which is popular in Europe for those who wish to go into public and governmental service.  Reflecting on PPE, Scherer said, “We can’t think about these disciplines in isolation.  We need to attack the issues facing our world in the integrated way that PPE allows.  It gives us a broad way to think about issues concretely.”  He especially credits Professors Hochschild, John Larrivee, Ph.D., and Barrett Turner, Ph.D. for bringing clarity to his interdisciplinary work and for being active agents of the university’s mission. 

Throughout the year, Scherer also writes for the Emmitsburg News-Journal, which features columns by Mount students during all fours years of their undergraduate experience, as well as separate columns for sports and the arts.  Scherer has written articles on Bishop Fulton Sheen and the importance of literacy, including what and how one reads.  He thanks his previous Mount coordinating editor, Shea Rowell, C’19, for helping him write more clearly, and he appreciates how his current editor, Morgan Rooney, C’20, helps him narrow his focus.  Scherer says, “The gift of being able to write for this publication gives me the ability both to represent the Mount and speak to our neighbors in Emmitsburg.” 

This man of all seasons is nearly two years into his Mount journey.  Many enriching twists and turns remain, but he wants everyone to know he is “incredibly grateful for the people who make the Mount special, who they are and what they do. The Mount is who she is because of the people, and that should never be forgotten.”

Shannon Hunt, C'19
Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts