Odyssey Grant Brings More New Mexicans to St. John’s
In 2012, St. John’s College, Santa Fe instituted the Odyssey Grant for graduates of New Mexico high schools. The grant was designed to serve the financial needs of qualified students from New Mexico to attend a world-renowned liberal arts college in their home state.
The Odyssey Grant is renewable all four years as long as recipients are in good academic standing. It even allows for students to take a gap year or time off for an internship after the sophomore year, as many St. John’s students do. The grant is available to new high school graduates as well as all New Mexico students who are within three years of their high school graduation.
Prior to coming to St. John’s in fall 2012, grant recipient Billy Trabaudo—a 2010 graduate of Albuquerque High School—worked for three years as a stage manager for theatrical productions in Albuquerque and around the state, at the Vortex Theater, the Adobe Theater, the Santa Fe Opera, and Opera Southwest. He plans to pursue advanced degrees in directing and thought St. John’s would give him an expansive foundation of knowledge on which to build, especially historical context. “If we’re reading a Greek play, then I also learn the philosophy and the math and the science, all the things that are around the play. It gives me a lot more depth,” he explained.
When Billy visited the college as a prospective student, he sat in on a junior laboratory class. “I had no idea what they were talking about, but I understood the conflict they were discussing on an abstract level,” he recalled. “I understood that they were debating a moment that had occurred in Western thought that was so crucial and intense that it changed the course of everything after. To see students engaging with these great minds, with the tutors, and with each other—I was inspired. Other than theater, St. John’s is the first place I feel like I truly belong.”
As for the rigorous academic Program at St. John’s, Billy said he was adequately prepared for the reading, and that every person brings something different to the seminar table. “St John’s is not just for the super-intellectual person; it’s for the real, grounded person—kids from public schools. The key to getting more people who might not think they’re worthy or somehow able to come to St. John’s is to make them realize that everything we study here informs our existence in some way. We examine the world here, examine our outlooks. So to come to St. John’s, you just have to be a person. You have to have existed.”