|Graduates discovered foundation for ministry at Centre
RELEASED: Feb. 19, 2004
DANVILLE, KYWhether they knew their calling before they came to college or discovered it thereafter, a number of recent graduates found the encouragement and preparation they needed at Centre to pursue graduate studies in the seminary.
Kerry Rhoads Mansir '99 graduated from Harvard Divinity School in 2002 with a master's in theological studies.
"Centre prepared me really well for the master's program at Harvard, and I wasn't overwhelmed," she says.
Mansir, originally of Russellville, Ky., now lives in Gardiner, Maine. She says Centre teaches students that learning is a lifelong process.
Jason Ball '03 is attending Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He's pursuing a master's degree of divinity in theology. Originally from Ardmore, Okla., Ball was a music major and religion minor at Centre.
Ball says the most important skill he acquired at Centre was critical thinking.
"Critical thinking was perhaps the most valuable scholastic skill I learned at Centre, and the one I use everyday."
Jason Travis '97, of Somerset, Ky., graduated from Centre with a degree in religion and plans to attend seminary. In the meantime he's been working in sports promotions for several years in North Carolina.
"I know the academic requirements of Centre have prepared me for what lies ahead," he says. "I've spoken with several graduate students who describe how well Centre prepared them for their respective graduate programs, not only for the content but also with the amount of studying necessary. Many of them already knew how to study on the graduate level thanks to Centre College. Many of their classmates had to learn to study at that level."
Typical of most Centre programs, graduates also found that the religion professors offer diverse views, which encourages students to think beyond their initial thoughts and beliefs.
"Centre's religion program is liberal and wide-ranging compared to seminary education," Amanda Huffman-Dennis '02 says. "I was able to get a more holistic view of religion, not just a Judeo-Christian one, which was very interesting. The professors were very diverse in their own faiths, which helped to broaden my own understanding of religion and expand my cultural competence."
Huffman-Dennis, originally of Harrodsburg, Ky., graduated from Centre with a double major in religion and anthropology/sociology. She now attends Truett Seminary at Baylor University in Austin, Texas, where she's pursuing a dual master's degree in divinity and social work.
Travis and Ball agreed with Huffman-Dennis.
"Centre helped me to appreciate such a wide variety of subjects and open my mind to different points of view on all of them," Travis says.
"It's nearly impossible to simply hide in your room at Centre," Ball says. "You will have to do something that will stretch your comfort zone as a person. You can't stay the same at Centre, whether you like it or not."
Through their Centre coursework and involvement in student activities, students discovered needs within society and areas in which they'd like to serve once they complete their education.
"It's my desire to start a church geared to the post-modern generation," Ball says. My wife, Hannah '03, and I gained our passion for ministering to college students at Centre, and it's our desire to provide a place where students can get spiritually connected and find real, honest, non-churchy answers to their questions. We want to start a church for people like us and like Centre students."
Travis discovered his passion through conversations with advisor, teacher and friend Rick Axtell, associate professor of religion at Centre.
"[Axtell] was a great advisor who really challenged and guided me in religion, in addition to becoming a great friend along the way," Travis says. "Through many of his classes, I realized I also had a passion for people and a desire to do what I could to help others in need."
To find out more about Centre's religion department, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/academic/majors/religion.html.
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