Community, Advocacy, and Mentorship
As I have developed as a teacher and scholar, I have found great joy in serving the community, advocating for my peers, and mentoring others, especially women.
The Joys of Being a Woman in the Academy
In 2017, my alma mater matriculated two women doctoral students out of a cohort of ten, and the academic student journal that I edited received one submission from a woman. Frustrated and motivated, I co-sponsored an event with the Women's Center to try to encourage women to pursue further study. The theme, "The Joy of Being a Woman in the Academy," was selected because too often conversations around women in pastoral ministry at the school centered on the challenges faced, and while also valuable, it is not the whole story.
Four women at different points of their careers—first-year MTS student, incoming PhD student, a pregnant PhD candidate about to defend her dissertation, and a retiring tenured faculty member—spoke about their experiences of representation and mentorship, expanding research topics, as well as exclusion and inclusion at the table to a room full of other women. Certain speakers had never been asked about their experience, and several attendees had never seen a scholar that "looked feminine."
At the same time, I created a conversation on campus in the lead up to the event, asking students, faculty, and administration why it is important to them that there are women in the academy and which women scholars had most impacted their lives or work. I passed out index cards during lunch and in classrooms to collect the answers and used them as the centerpieces on the tables at the event. Several professors also allowed me to lead discussions on these questions within my seminars, seeing these topics as inherently connected to the theological content at the core of the courses.
Graduate Student Representation and Coordination of the EAC-CLAS
During my doctoral program, I have had the privilege of serving as Student Representative (2019–2021) for the Graduate Program in Religion and as the Graduate Student Coordinator (2021–present) for the Elizabeth A. Clark Center for Late Ancient Studies. Both experiences allowed me to understand the workings of academic instutitions and to work to create academic spaces that are enriching for both further scholarship and scholars as full human beings with needs and lives outside of the academy.
The Elizabeth A. Clark Center for Late Ancient Studies (EAC-CLAS) seeks to follow in the footsteps of our founder by creating a community for scholars in Durham, NC to engage with recent works in the field of late antiquity. Elizabeth A. Clark's legacy of brilliant and critical scholarship, community-creation and mentorship, and encouragement particularly of women scholars is significant.