June 13, 2024

Elijah Feret first heard about The Catholic University of America from the men’s swim coach, who wanted him on the team. Once Feret saw the opportunities to pursue his athletic and academic aspirations, he dove right in. 

Growing up in a strong Jewish community, he said his decision to go to Catholic University was nevertheless a surprise to himself and the people back home. He initially felt like a fish out of water on campus, but the welcoming community soon made it feel like a second home. 

“I didn’t ever expect to be going to college somewhere where I would see nuns walking around and not bat an eye,” said Feret. “I've had such amazing support from everybody at this school — students, faculty, and staff.” 

Among the people who stand out most is Franciscan Father Jude DeAngelo, who led Campus Ministry when Feret first arrived. 

“Father Jude and I were very close and he helped me out a lot…regardless of the fact [that] we’re from different faiths,” he said.

A big advantage of the University was the small size of the biomedical engineering program. He pursued his own original research on photo-crosslinked hydrogel smart wound dressings under the guidance of Christopher Raub, his professor and chair of the department.

“I'm pretty sure I know most of the faculty members by name in the School of Engineering and that they also know me by name,” said Feret. 

Feret was a champion in the classroom and in the pool. He pursued a bachelor’s and master’s degree at the same time, crediting his coaches for making sure he didn’t sink his grades to swim. 

“There was definitely a lot of time management involved that wouldn’t have necessarily been possible without the support of the team,” said Feret. He graduated magna cum laude this May and will soon start a nanoengineering doctoral program at a different institution. 

The swim team has won eight consecutive Landmark Conference Championship titles and he said being on what he described as a big, but close-knit team for four of the title runs “was really, really fun.”

Despite the challenges of his packed schedule, he especially values the bonds built during many late nights at Pangborn Hall— home of the engineering department— that are part of what makes the community within the program so strong. 

“We’re all very close,” he said. “ With finals week when everybody's there all day and all night, you end up getting to know people and helping each other out a lot.”