it was just about a year ago, that a colleague and i were having lunch and talking about what i might do after my job came to end just a few months later. i shared that i’d always wanted to go back to school. and she challenged, almost dared me, to consider studying theology and to start by checking out the divinity school at vanderbilt. i’ll always be grateful to lesleigh for that conversation. it was the beginning of what has been an incredible journey.
now, one year later, i’ve just completed my first year of divinity school and working towards a masters of theology. i’d like to share the 3 things that have helped me survive, and even thrive, in div school. and actually they aren’t ‘things’–they’re three categories of people: a chaplain, coaches, and cheerleaders.
it didn’t take me long to realize that in a university-based divinity school, one’s faith is going to be stretched and challenged. divinity school is not for the faint of heart, nor faint of faith. to navigate this, i needed a solid sounding board as my faith has been challenged and has grown. jim is my amazing senior pastor. long before i started school, i respected his leadership and his theology. and as he is a former youth pastor and military chaplain, he is also very direct which i also appreciate. jim has been my chaplain. he has patiently listened and been a sounding board and helped me process things that have been challenging and sometimes confusing. and he’s also been direct about making sure i have stayed focus on the things that really matter in the midst of all this learning.
going back to school after many years away is a bit intimidating. academia is certainly a distinct subculture and the transition brought a little bit of culture shock. but i’ve had two friends in particular, amy jacober and andrew zirschky, who have helped me understand the culture and learn to navigate. and they’ve both been great about being resources as i’ve had questions about research or best practices or study skills. and andrew especially has been an excellent sounding board for papers and projects. andrew and amy have been my academic coaches.
finally, there have been my cheerleaders who have been numerous! these are the friends who’ve encouraged me, supported me, reminded me that i’m capable and that i’m more than just a gpa. they’ve let me vent and occasionally whine. they’ve commiserated and celebrated with me. i’m so grateful for the love and encouragement of so many who’ve cheered me on!
to my chaplain, my coaches, and my cheerleaders: thank you! you have made this first year of school so much richer because of your presence!