Date: Mon, Mar 28th, 2022

Great Falls College student places in top 40 on national exam

Great Falls College student Cody Tucker placed in the top 40 in the nation on national exam and had his essay published.

Great Falls College MSU student Cody Tucker recently placed in the top 40 in the nation for all students taking the Classic Learning Test, an alternative college entrance test similar to the ACT or SAT. 

The humble 19-year-old immediately pooh-poohed the achievement when congratulated and gave several reasons why it’s “not that monumental.”

Finally, he conceded: “It was pretty cool. I was super surprised when I heard. I was pretty shocked.”

Someone who was not shocked was Tammie Hickey, director of the Career and College Readiness Center who worked with Tucker in the fall in the Connections 101 class to help him prepare for college classes and find his path.

“Cody is amazing,” Hickey said. “AMAZING. He came to us for direction and just to believe in himself.”

Mission accomplished.

“It’s a great program,” Tucker said. “Connections really helped with everything, settle what I wanted to do and helped me settle what my path was to get me there. It was wonderful.”

Tucker plans to transfer to either the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota, or Christendom College in Royal, Virginia, next fall, where he plans to study philosophy and then become a Catholic priest.

Tucker was a home-schooled student who graduated high school in Great Falls in 2020 and then worked as a paraprofessional at C.M. Russell High for the 2020-2021 school year.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so the gap year really was just a year to settle in and find what I wanted to do,” he said.

He then enrolled in Connections 101, a nationally recognized partnership between Great Falls College, Great Falls Public Schools and the Department of Labor and Industry that was one of five practices recognized nationally with the Advancing Innovation in Adult Education honor in 2021.

Connections helped Tucker identify his desired calling and instilled confidence that he was ready for college.

“In addition to building academic and work-ready skills, we help people believe in themselves,” Hickey said. “Building confidence while opening their eyes to next step possibilities is so powerful.”

After going through the 16-week Connections program last fall, Tucker started classes at Great Falls College in January, and he had direction as he realized he wanted to become a priest.

“It was just a pull in that direction,” he explained. “It was not something I could explain. It kept coming up as something I could really dedicate my life to.”

He already has been accepted into the University of Mary, but his first choice is Christendom College.

Trouble was, he needed a standardized test score to apply, and there were no dates to take the ACT or SAT in time to apply when he realized the path he wanted to take, but Tucker saw Christendom accepted the Classic Learning Test for an entrance exam.

According to the CLT’s website, “CLT exists to reconnect knowledge and virtue by providing meaningful assessments and connections to seekers of truth, goodness, and beauty. CLT offers the only standardized tests that complement a liberal arts education, are 100% online, and provide a comprehensive measure of achievement and aptitude.”

Tucker decided to write his essay for the CLT on Thomas Aquinas, a 13th century philosopher and theologian, who Tucker described as, “one of the most influential minds of the day; one of the most influential Christian theologians ever. He had a massive impact. He took the newly translated works of Aristotle and started really working with them … and reconciling them with Europe, which was more familiar with the teachings of Plato.”

 He chose Aquinas because he was reading a biblical commentary on him at the time.

“I felt connected to and really enjoyed reading it,” Tucker said. “And I thought I could write an essay about this guy.”

As one of the top 40 people in the nation who took the test that day, his essay has been published by CLT Journal and can be found here.

Tucker plans to join the Dominican Order as a priest.

“They do a lot of teaching in universities for instance,” he said. “Thomas Aquinas, he was a Dominican, and he was a professor at the University of Paris for most of his life. And so that was another draw (for doing the essay on him). I was drawn toward Aquinas because of his way of thinking and pulled toward the order, so that was a really cool connection across the centuries. I will probably end up teaching at some point with the Dominicans.”

While Hickey was not shocked Tucker did so well on his test because of his natural intelligence, she was surprised to learn of the achievement because she has been in contact with Tucker recently, and he never told her well he did on the exam.

“Cody!” she said, feigning exasperation at his humility. “I’m going to tell him what I think of (not telling her). No, I’m just so happy for him and excited for his future as he is destined for great things.”


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Record Number: 779


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