Grad at Grad : Intellectually Competent

This piece was published in the December 2015 issue of the Prep News and was co-written by Hans Hodes and Charlie Caprio


As students of a Jesuit secondary school, we are called to work to the best of our abilities on all academic endeavors and challenges we face. This does not stop when we graduate from Rockhurst; rather it is just the beginning. Being intellectually competent, the final pillar of the Graduate at Graduation, means students must continue to seek knowledge on life’s greatest mysteries and to continue asking critical questions of life.

“For a graduate to be intellectually competent, it means that he or she is able to ask critical questions of himself and of the world around him, questions that point to life’s ultimate meaning,” Fr. Vincent Giacabazi, SJ, said.


One of the main components of Jesuit spirituality is reflecting on one’s life and the world around him. When a graduate exemplifies the full meaning of being intellectually competent, he is able to successfully approach a problem by asking questions, reflecting and acting accordingly when solving the situation.

This allows for students to react effectively and positively to problems that occur in life at and beyond Rockhurst. For example, students at Rockhurst are provided with an informational seminar put on by Bob Stutman that gives students answers to questions on drugs and how to approach dangerous situations involving substance abuse.

Intellectual competence may not seem to fit in with the other pillars of the Graduate at Graduation because it does not directly relate to morality, but it lies at the root of all other aspects. Being intellectually competent is the foundation with which a relationship with God and the community are able to stem from. The lifelong search for knowledge and answers to questions leads to God and through God the community.

“In order to develop a relationship with our God, Who is a trinity of persons, we must be able to engage our intellect and our reason, along with our spirituality and deepest desires for that which we call God,” Fr. Giacabazi said.

Without the ability to reason and critically question the world around him, a student could not develop the other aspects such as being religious, loving, open to growth, and committed to doing justice. Intellectual competence is a necessity in order to fully understand and live out the Christian messages of the other facets of the Graduate at Graduation.

Since reasoning and critical thinking are necessary components to living a moral and successful life beyond Rockhurst, continuing to practice intellectual competence is an ongoing struggle that can last a lifetime.

“One of the greater tragedies a Jesuit high school student can face after he or she leaves one of our buildings is to stop thinking, stop reading, or stop being curious,” Fr. Giacabazi said, “So in order to fully live out being intellectually competent, one needs to continue being curious without be cynical, continue being open without having your brains falling out, and to continue reading intellectual things that challenge your opinions in order to grow into a fuller understanding of life.”

Rockhurst hopes to instill intellectual competence in its students by holding them to higher academic standards to give students an opportunity to grow into this fuller understanding. To achieve this, Rockhurst supplies students with all the opportunities for better education. For example, the new robotics program, STEAM program and flash seminars provide options for a high quality education.

“These things promote creativity and critical thinking, which are crucial to full intellectual competence beyond what is normally in the curriculum,” senior SGA President Daniel Henry said.

Being a Graduate at Graduation goes beyond our time at Rockhurst. We must take what we have gained through our high school education and implement it in everything we do. Intellectual competence acts as the root for all other aspects of the Graduate at Graduation which allows for students to truly act as men for others.

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