"Theresa, what is your vocational background?"
It was that one simple question that sparked a month-long dialogue and eventual interview that has led me to where I am today. You see, just over 3 months ago my husband, Clint, and I were in Nashville as he interviewed for a position as an Associate Rector at St. George's Episcopal Church. As we ate dinner in The Gulch, sitting on a patio overlooking downtown Nashville (at which point, we were pretty much sold on moving to Nashville), the Rector of St. George's asked me this question. I told him I'd worked the last several years in higher education, and that I was currently serving as an Assistant Director of Student Life for a division of the University of North Texas (UNT). I backed up a bit further and told him about my graduate degree in Leadership from Denver Seminary, with an emphasis in Student Affairs in Higher Education (classes taken through CO State University). I expounded on how this combination of graduate classes led me to my niche within higher education: student leadership development. Lastly, I told him my passion for helping young adults become leaders was something I wanted to continue doing, but perhaps in an environment that offered more flexibility and was located in a smaller community.
This led to my rector's next question:
"Would you be interested in working with young adults in a setting outside the university?"
My response was a resounding yes; my heart for young adults spans all contexts. I have loved working with young adults in the university setting as well as within campus ministry and church settings (which I did when not working). My husband's role as a Campus Minister at UNT and as a priest at a church right off UNT's campus meant that our lives were directly oriented around college students in almost every context.
My rector then went on to tell me about a position I might be interested in with the Nashville Fellows Program (NFP for short - my first thought was, "Wait, doesn't that stand for Natural Family Planning?!" Well, yes it does, but, thankfully, given my background and education, this NFP has to do with young adults and leadership). Upon hearing more about the position, it did seem like it could be a great fit. Thus began many conversations and an interview process that eventually, to state the obvious, resulted in me beginning to work with the Fellows Program.
And I could not be more thrilled.
Working with the Fellows Program has allowed me to continue to work with young adults, but in an environment where I can more openly utilize my seminary degree. The Nashville Fellows Program is also ecumenical, and my husband and I have a heart for ecumenical ministry, given that our own spiritual journeys have led us through many wonderful denominations. Beyond this, the Nashville Fellows Program is only in its third year, meaning the ability to create and grow as a program is very real! I have worked at a few universities creating and / or restructuring departments, and I love every minute of it (well, maybe there are two or three minutes I don't love). I have a passion for creating systems and constantly moving forward to better accomplish mission. The best part of the Fellows Program, however, is that I get to invest heavily in the lives of a handful of young adults each year! There is nothing more life-giving for me than that. I am truly thankful for the opportunity to journey with the Fellows, our support staff at the three churches involved with the NFP, the board, and each of YOU. Feel free to reach out to me at any time; I would love to connect more as we move forward together!