Thayer Wade is a member of the Class of 2017 at Harvard University, where he is studying electrical engineering and pursuing a minor in government. On campus he is an active member of the Institute of Politics, where he served as liaison for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and is an usher at the Forum. He has also served as VP of Intellectual Development for the Catholic Student Association, Treasurer of Harvard Right to Life, and Deputy Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus. Thayer played football in high school and transitioned to crew in college. He now rows for the Dunster House intramural crew team. Thayer is a native of Needham, Massachusetts, and the oldest of four children.
- How did you find out about ISI? What drew you to get involved in ISI's programming?
Several like-minded friends from college participated in the Honors Program in years past. They highly recommended it—in fact, they said it was a must-have experience to get a good, well-rounded college education. I was hooked after I met and spoke with my good friend and ISI regional director, Chesterton Cobb.
- If you had to choose one highlight of your undergraduate experience, what would it be?
My undergraduate experience has been incredible, and it is tough to choose one highlight. I have received an excellent education in political philosophy and American government from professors Harvey Mansfield, Roger Porter, and Carlos Diaz, each of whom have been great advisors and mentors. A core group of students found ourselves together in many of these classes, and we have become comrades on campus. Professor Mansfield’s seminar on The Federalist and Democracy in America definitely stands out.
- What have you valued most about your ISI experience?
I value the relationships most. As my high school headmaster, Bill Burke, would say, “The essence of life is in relationships, and ours are forever.” The Honors Program provides attendees an incredible education in ordered liberty through the lenses of politics, philosophy, and economics, and many of the lecturers and scholars who give this education have become very close friends. I am confident that I will be in touch with the ISI lecturers and fellow scholars—whether discussing liberty or life in general—for a long time.
- How have you spent your summers while in college?
I spent my first summer as a junior financial analyst at the Kraematon Group, a small financial services company out of Wellesley, Massachusetts, where I learned about investing strategies across several industries as well as the fundamentals of options trading. The summer after my sophomore year, I interned in the Heritage Foundation’s Roe Institute for Economic Policy. At Heritage, I researched regulatory policy and received an excellent education on America’s first principles. This summer, I worked in brand management at the Knights of Columbus in addition to attending the ISI Honors Conference. I have been blessed to spend invaluable time with my family on Cape Cod each summer.
- Whom do you admire most, and why?
I have a tremendous admiration for my parents and grandparents. A loving and supportive mother and father is a tremendous gift. They have taught me the meaning of love and sacrificed so much for me. My maternal grandfather graduated early from high school so that he could work to support his mother after my great-grandfather died, and he has filled my life with wisdom and joy. My dad’s father (whom I am named after) fought in the Tenth Mountain Division of the Army in World War II, received his doctorate in education from Harvard, and was a tremendously well-respected superintendent. At 90 years old, he continues to teach me so much about life. I also deeply admire many of the saints: St. Joseph, St. Sebastian, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. John Paul the Great, and soon-to-be-Saint Mother Theresa of Calcutta.
- What advice would you give to other students who want to preserve the principles of liberty?
Get a great liberal education and pursue truth relentlessly. Study the great works of the Western tradition, challenge your worldview by engaging opposing opinions on campus, and fortify your understanding of liberty by getting involved with ISI! Each of us is called to greatness, and when we fight the good fight with openness, courage, and joy, we will win a few hearts and minds along our way.