Student Spotlight: Ellen Francis ('22)

Ellen heard about the Honors College when a recruiter visited her high school in Tennessee and gave her an application for the Summer Scholars program. Not thinking anything of it, she tucked it away in her binder, but then her teacher told her that her homework that night was to fill out the application. When the acceptance came in the mail, she decided to give it a try. 

At Summer Scholars, they read Aristotle’s Ethics with Dr. Brian Williams, and she thought, “this makes sense; this is the kind of life I wanna have; somebody put it into words, thousands of years ago.” After Summer Scholars, she says, “I think I always knew I wanted to come to Templeton.”

Early in her education she showed natural ability in Latin. While this ability suggested studying Classics, her interest was deeper.

“It’s kinda like people who can play the piano… they say that half of it is ‘yes, I’ve practiced this day in and day out for years and years… but also there’s something in me that feels right at a piano,’ and that’s how it was for me and Latin. I loved Latin, but I really loved Latin because of what it told me… about order and beauty and the God who is the author of order and beauty.”

While Eastern did not have an established classics program, she knew, “if I went to Templeton...I could make my own Classics major and people would actually respect that.” And that’s what she did: make her own Classics major. She wasn’t the first Honors College student to have done this, but it was still quite a project and required support from the faculty and students who had blazed the trail. “I am deeply indebted to a lot of people… I’ve had lots of helpers and lots of cheerleaders.”

Ellen FrancisWhen asked “what’s your favorite place on campus” she said, honestly, “My heart says my dorm, because that’s where my bed is.” But when not sleeping, her favorite place to study is Baird Library. “There’s books all over the walls and this portrait above a fireplace and I can picture: there’s Tolkien in that room and there’s Lewis in that room and here I am doing my West Civ. essay.” This elegant, old-fashioned library makes her feel part of a Great Tradition, and it reminds her that “Beauty matters…It’s not secondary to Truth and Goodness.” 

For leisure, she and her roommates “have people over for tea and boardgames, and normally as the night goes on… the conversation always turns into something very thoughtful and contemplative.” That’s one of her favorite things about the Honors College: the people. “I thought initially when I came to Templeton that I was coming for the curriculum.… But as the first year went on I realized that what I love most about this is that I’m getting to study these Great Books and have these conversations with this group of people that I’ve come to know and love.” She concludes, “You can read the Great Books by yourself, but you can’t have Templeton by yourself. It’s all about the cohort.” 

One part of Honors College life which has shaped her is the Morning Prayer service which Dr. Fred Putnam (known to his students as Mr. P) leads two mornings a week in the old chapel with the small group of students who get up early especially for it. “Parts of it have definitely sunk in somewhere; I will jus

“While life after college seems far away, I know that whatever my circumstances in life are, the Honors College is going to prepare me to be a thoughtful, faithful Christian and a good, moral person, whatever I do for a living.”