Everberg, Belgium, just outside of Brussels
Student at Phillips
Worked as an Electrical Engineer for more than 20 years
What advice would you give to a prospective students returning to school after being out for many years?
It was tough, so just expect it to be. Two words of advice:
(1) I would not start out taking more than two classes.
(2) Do not be afraid to ask for any help. Any question is reasonable and everyone at Phillips will not hesitate to help you be successful – professors, staff, and students alike.
What do you plan to do with your Phillips education?
To be honest, when I first entered seminary, I had no idea. But after the first semester, I knew that Phillips was the right place to explore and discern what ministry I am being called to. If you are not sure, be patient. I plan to be an advocate for people with mental health conditions – fighting against the stigma of mental illness, and working toward the inclusion of people with mental illness in all aspects of life.
What are five words that describe the Phillips community as you've experienced it?
Loving, Accepting, Challenging, Progressive, Nurturing
What is the change or transformation in the world you want to see?
Overall, to help build the Kingdom of God on earth by advocating for people on the margins of society.
How have you changed during your Phillips experience?
The way I approach scripture is much different now. Phillips is giving me the tools for different approaches to biblical interpretation. Also, my Phillips education has made me aware of many groups in society that are marginalized, that I had not previously considered to be, and of the concept of the “Other.”
Tell us about a time you felt challenged.
I have a disability (I prefer to say that I am differently abled, but people may not know what that means), and it is not possible for me to explain how much everyone at Phillips supports me to ensure my success.
Accommodations for disabilities are often located in the “fine print.” Phillips genuinely supports students with disabilities to ensure their success – it is not a just a policy they must adhere to due to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Is there a topic or conversation that you have been drawn to at Phillips?
The most eye-opening and fascinating area of study I have been exposed to at Phillips is the social-scientific critical approach to the New Testament. Exploring, understanding, and discussing the social and cultural dimensions of early Christianity is academically and theologically challenging and is deeply affecting the way I approach scripture and incorporate its meaning into my life as a Christian.
Tell us about how financial aid has impacted your experience.
As a member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in good academic standing, I am blessed to receive an 80% scholarship that goes toward my tuition. We have three children in college. Enough said.
How would you describe the online class community at Phillips?
Because I live in Belgium, I had not even been to the Phillips campus for the first two years of my studies! To be honest, it took a while for me to feel part of the Phillips community. I think that the switch to Moodle has facilitated the sense of community, because students are able to engage in more intimate ways in small groups. Professors are always actively inviting questions and never hesitate to answer them (via Skype or phone).
Tell us about being a student and a pastor at the same time.
Now that I am in my Supervised Year of Ministry, I am able to directly apply what I have learned in my classes to ministry at my site. Phillips classes are not just academic; they have given me a theological foundation for ministry practices. I am also able to apply what I have learned across academic disciplines, for example, when working on a video series for the online church I am serving, I did not just apply what I had learned in one class, but several. I think this makes Phillips unique – they make a concerted effort to integrate the instruction of different disciplines, so they complement each other. This is already affecting my ministry in profound ways and will continue to do so once I graduate and am ordained.
Tell us about the relationships that you made at Phillips.
At Phillips, you don’t just have relationships, you are in relationship; you are not just part of a community, you are in community. My faith is constantly challenged, confirmed, reimagined, deepened…I could go on. Just come here and see.
If you had one sentence to convince someone to choose Phillips, what would you say?
Phillips – it’s just not a seminary education; it’s an exciting place of exploration and discovery in the midst of dynamic community that approaches learning in challenging ways.