What led you to divinity school? What has kept you here?
After I graduated from Appalachian State University, I worked as a nursing assistant for a private family practice office in Boone, NC. I loved my job and loved working with my patients. At that time I was planning to get my accelerated Bachelors of Science in Nursing and then go on to get my Masters in Public Health. But in working in this private practice, I noticed that several of my patients came in with pain symptoms that always went unresolved, regardless of the medication changes or therapies that were prescribed to them. I began to wonder if there were other issues going on such as spiritual or general life stressors that could be contributing to their pain. Unfortunately spirituality and discussions about patients’ lives were never addressed during the medical visit. Instead the physicians focused solely on the body, the pain they were experiencing, and different medications they could try. I wanted more for my patients, a more integrated approach to healthcare. I want whole body health- wellness interventions that incorporates both mind, body, and spirit, when dealing with patient’s health care needs. While nursing is a profession that I loved, I did believe it would allow me to incorporate an integrated approach to health and wellbeing like I wanted, so I began to explore other opportunities that would allow me to do just that. Chaplaincy fit that role and it is ultimately what brought me to Wake Divinity School and kept me here. While I have been at Wake Divinity, I have has numerous opportunities to explore chaplaincy in a variety of settings including hospital, hospice, and within retirement communities. Each one of these opportunities has helped to reaffirm my call and my desire to become a Chaplain.
What has been life-giving for you while in divinity school? (School-related or not)
I have found that one of the most life-giving thing for me has been the freedom and encouragement to explore connecting to the sacred through a variety of different ways, whether that is through nature, conversations with other people, through drum circles, or through healing touch, finding different ways that I can sense the presence of the divine in my life has been incredibly rewarding.
How have you managed the stress of graduate school and practiced self-care?
Some of the ways that I have managed stress is through exercise, cooking, and spending time with friends. I also try to allow at least one day in my schedule to be a free day- where I set my schoolwork aside and do things that are fun and energizing for me. Another self-care practice I use is to manage stress is taking full advantage of the school breaks that we have. Although I know it’s not always possible, I try to schedule some sort of fun trip during Spring break or try to schedule a couple of weekend get-aways during the year. Sometimes just getting out of Winston Salem for a few days can be really great way to be reenergized and refreshed before classes begin again.
What has been the most challenging aspect of divinity school for you?
The most challenging aspect of divinity school for me has been the challenge in my theology. I did not grow up in a faith tradition where questioning the Biblical text or redefining your understanding of God was an acceptable practice. Here, however, I was invited into looking at the Biblical text with a critical eye and exploring the ways in which theology can either be helpful or harmful for those around me. These new perspectives have been an incredible gift to me, but the process has also been quite painful. My task now is to reconstruct my theology in a way that it is life give and sustaining for me, and this too, has been a beautiful but difficult undertaking.
What do you think you will look back on years down the road as the biggest impact Wake Div has had on you as a person?
I think the biggest impact that Wake Divinity has had on me as person is that it challenged me to be more fully aware of myself; how I think, what activities energize me or drain, and where I feel closest to the Divine or most distant. These are learning about myself that I don’t believe I would have had if I had not come to divinity school.
What have been some of your favorite classes here?
There are so many classes that I have enjoyed, but the ones that are standing out in my mind are; all of the Spirituality classes that I have taken, Clinical Pastoral Education through Baptist Hospital, The Providence of God, and Myths of Creation.
Which professors have been particularly influential to you?
There have been numerous professors that have influenced me over the course the three years that I have been in Divinity school. Each professor that I have had has taught me something new, challenged me to grow, and encouraged me to explore my faith in different ways. However, I believe one of the most influence professors that I have had is Dr. Tupper. His Providence of God class, really helped me to redefine my understanding of God and how God works in the world. Through his vulnerability and his wisdom, he renewed my faith and gave me a sense of hope. I’m incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to take a course with him before he retired.
What are your hobbies? Do you have any hidden talents?
Although I haven’t had time or money to do this lately I really enjoy finding and refurbishing old furniture. There is something about making an older piece of furniture that has lots of character more modern with paint or fun fabrics that I really love. It is a process that I find both a relaxing and fun for me to do.
What is some advice that you would offer the incoming class at Wake Div?
Remember that you are not alone and no one really has it all-together, even if they seem like they do.
Find a group of people that you can both laugh with and cry with and share a glass of wine with.
Try to do at least one activity a week that nourishes and energizes you.
Remember your vocational call and what brought you into this place. When the journey gets difficult remind yourself where you’ve been and why you’re here.
What are your post-graduation plans?
I will be doing a CPE residency at Suncoast Hospice in Clearwater, Florida.