- Name some fun facts about you that not everyone knows.
I don’t know how fun these facts are, but I was born on Easter Sunday. I’m from the mountains of North Georgia, and I don’t get cell service where I live—it’s great. I am Appalachian. My grandparents raised me, so often if you hear me talking about Momma and Dad, that’s who I’m referring to. I have two younger sisters. I enjoy reading and writing. At one point I wanted to be a journalist, and I was accepted into the UGA masters in journalism program, but I chose to come to Wake Forest University School of Divinity. I knew that no matter where I went I’d still be doing ministry and writing.
2. Why did you decide to come to divinity school?
I decided to come to divinity school my senior year of college, somewhat hesitantly. My junior year of college, my campus minister took a group of us who had been interning in some local churches through the Jones Ministry Scholarship program and to tour a couple of divinity schools. The two we went to visit were Duke and Wake Forest. After touring Wake Div and hearing why other people came to divinity school, I was intrigued by the way it made me feel. I had such an odd stirring within. I come from a tradition where women are not allowed to preach or vote on church matters, and I was still internalizing a lot of what my church told me I could and could not do as a woman.
When we left Wingate Hall to walk back to our van, I looked at my campus minister and said, “I never saw myself coming to divinity school or being a minister.” He looked at me and said, “That’s funny, because I did.”
That was incredibly empowering for me. Senior year of college rolled around, and I was still hesitant about applying to graduate programs. Momma desperately wanted me not go to school and just find a job and work. I was planning on honoring Momma’s wishes and going to work, but then Wake had the free application November. I thought, if it’s free why not? At the same time, my campus minister and my academic advisor kept encouraging me to apply to graduate programs. I applied to Wake Forest University and University of Georgia, and was accepted to both. I prayed and asked God to tell me whether I needed to even continue my education, in what field and where to go. Long story short, everything kept pointing to Wake Div. Ever since I chose to come to Divinity school everything has been different and I’ve grown far more as a person than I ever thought possible. If it hadn’t been for the kindness of Andrea Edwards I never would have come to Wake Divinity, let alone stayed here. She was willing to walk with me in the hard times and listened to my concerns when I would call and talk to her while going through the application and scholarship process. When I was homesick she would check on me and let me vent to her. There are so many good people here.
3. What makes WFUSD a great fit for you?
What makes WFUSD a great fit for me is the smaller environment compared to other programs. My undergrad only had 1,200 students total. I know that I learn better in smaller class sizes. As well, Wake Div is ecumenical and I don’t have someone telling me what I should and should not think. I have had the ability to wrestle with hard questions and critically assess and think about things that I may have never considered before. As much as we make jokes about it, the introspection has been good for me. I’ve learned more about myself in the last three years of divinity school than I have in the first 21 years of my life. I’m most thankful for the Clinical Pastoral Education at Baptist Hospital.
4. Which professors have helped you grow in your discernment process?
Dr. Crainshaw and Dr. Jensen are the two professors who have helped me the most in my discernment process—perhaps more than they’ll ever know. Dr. Crainshaw’s homiletics class helped me become more confident as a woman preacher. I felt empowered and respected. I was afraid to preach, because I was still holding onto the ideas of people back home who thought it was a sin for a woman to be in the pulpit, even though I no longer held that belief. But in that class when Dr. Crainshaw looked at us and said, “Hello preachers,” I felt affirmed in who I am and who God is calling me to be.
Dr. Jensen was my supervisor for CPE. He helped me to shed a lot of what I had been carrying that wasn’t mine to carry. I felt like I was seeing myself for the first time while in CPE, and Dr. Jensen helped me to feel encouraged in my ministry. If there were ever two professors who I felt like see people the way that God sees us, it is Dr. Crainshaw and Dr. Jensen.
5. Is there a particular class that’s left a lasting impression on you?
There are two classes: CPE and the Grief and Dying weekend course. I underwent a big transformation through CPE and anyone who knew me first year can testify to that. The grief and dying course was incredibly powerful and healing for me. I wish it had been a semester instead of just a weekend. I began to process things that had been buried deep inside that I had not realized I never fully processed yet. I feel like I understand my own grief a lot better, and I am kinder to myself for it, especially since my grief of losing my dad my freshman year of college was a big part of my wanting to go into ministry. Both classes are the kind of classes where you get as much out of them as you are willing to put into them.
6. Any words of wisdom you’d like to leave for first years? Second years?
For first years, it is indeed overwhelming when you first get here. Above all else, be yourself and drop the pretense. My first year of divinity school I got so homesick and had internalized so much shame that I almost left over Christmas break. My wisdom for y’all would be to stick with it and trust the process and yourself. You have so much more to offer than you know, even if it doesn’t feel that way for you right now. You are needed!
For second years, second year is hard in so many more ways. For me, it was like a process of being born and refined. Enjoy the stretching, even when it’s painful.
For both years, I would like to encourage you to know that you don’t have to be friends with everyone. It will wear you out. Instead, find a few good friends who you trust and lean on them and let them lean on you. It makes the process and load much easier to bear. You are not an island, but rather a part of community and you make of that what you can. You will find your way.
7. Post-graduation plans?
Hopefully, I will be doing chaplain residency in a hospital either here in North Carolina or back home in Georgia. I am applying to Baptist hospital here in Winston-Salem and to Emory University and Grady Memorial Hospitals in Atlanta.
8. What will you miss most about WFUSD?
My favorite professors, classes, and the community that I’ve made for myself. I think the hardest thing about leaving is that a lot of the people I’ve come through divinity school with, I may never see again after graduation. I’ve made a lot of great friends here and I know we’ll stay in touch, but that’s different when you’re used to seeing them almost every day. That’s saying something for this introvert.
9. Favorite drink and the theologian you would like to share it with?
I would say cherry coke, and I would love to sit and have a conversation with Wendy Farley. I love the way that she views humanity with a tenderness that I didn’t realize I needed until I read her work. I became obsessed with Farley when I had intro to Christian theology with Dr. Gandolfo my second year. After we read an excerpt from her book, The Wounding and Healing of Desire, I HAD to read more, so I bought the book. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.