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Student Profile: Patricia Schlutt

For students seeking reprieve from summer doldrums, streaming movies and nachos are always viable options to the wearied mind. However, many students choose instead to leave the couch and take advantage of this leisure time, building and enriching themselves through internships and other opportunities. Aquinas junior Patricia Schlutt is spending the summer moving her passion for writing beyond the classroom. Schlutt recently received a summer fellowship to write poetry about nature.

Schlutt ‘16 is a community leadership major, with minors in theology and writing. Like many students, scholarships played an important role in her college decision. However, “the community at Aquinas is so different than anywhere else,” she said. “I fell in love with how beautiful everything is, how loving everyone is here.”

Building this sense of community in her sophomore year, Schlutt and others worked to create the Hope House Living Learning Community (LLC). In short, the Hope House was a community of Christian college women, living and working together to put on events for the Aquinas campus. “It really changed a lot of things for me,” she said. “Getting one person after another on board, it formed a really cool sense of togetherness... it was incredible. That community was built, and others grew around it... the whole experience was really beautiful, and it was awesome living with all of the girls.” While the Hope House will reunite for another year in Meijer Hall this fall, Schlutt will be embarking on new adventures with the Aquinas Study Abroad program in Rome.

Coming off of a successful sophomore year, Schlutt is taking her enthusiasm for community and academics to a new arena with the Pierce Cedar Creek Institute. The Institute, a biological field station located south of Hastings, Mich., recently awarded 19 grants to fund 13 undergraduate research projects, including Schlutt. She received the Nature in Words Fellowship, which provides a $3,750 stipend for students, along with a $3,500 faculty mentor stipend that can be used for equipment purchases, general expenses, travel, or training needed for conducting the summer research project. Over the past 10 years, the Institute has hosted 157 student researchers, five artists, six writers, and 49 faculty mentors - including two Aquinas alumni in 2011.

“This year, I am one of two Nature in Words writers,” Schlutt said. “By the end of the summer I will have a 40-50 poem collection of writings about the institute and the nature found there. It’s really an incredible opportunity. The rest of the students are biology students. Most are doing biology-related projects... two guys are studying rattlesnakes, and how different ecosystems breed different amounts of prey, and how that affects the numbers of rattlesnakes... It’s really cool, but for me, I’m walking the trails every day and writing poetry!”

As the recipient of a Nature in Words Fellowship, Schlutt will work with faculty mentor Pamela Dail-Whiting to create a poetry project, titled Communion in the Wilderness: What Poetry has to Teach Us about the Natural World.

Grateful for this new opportunity, Schlutt credits her relationship with Professor Dail-Whiting with connecting her to the Institute’s fellowship. “In the winter,” she said, “I was working with my faculty mentor on an Insignis project about poetry, and she emailed me the link to apply to this fellowship. She said that it really suited the kind of writing I was doing. I don’t think you get that at a bigger school - having a professor so familiar with your work that they can discover opportunities for you!”

Having reached the midway point of her collegiate journey, Schlutt took a moment to reflect upon her time at Aquinas, and offered this advice to prospective students. “I hope that students go to a school where they are going to grow, and Aquinas is really a beautiful place to grow.”