In high school I thought I had to be perfect and not make mistakes. But that changed at Sewanee. Because it's a residential campus, you’re around your friends all the time, so I couldn’t just put on a perfect face from 9 to 3 and then be myself at home. I made friends and learned to be authentic around them, and that was so pivotal to my belonging—my self-perception.
Now, in my work here with students, I draw from those feelings I once had. And now I try to impart that same sense of belonging to them. My job is to be present with them. I stress to them that the Sewanee experience is about being genuine.
On central campus, we are surrounded by these spectacular views, and it takes 45 seconds to reach the woods—all these thin places are here if you want to encounter something divine.
People go to college carrying the same traditions and practices as their families, then they get here and wonder about the things they truly believe. This place offers a cool opportunity to have belief start belonging to you. And then you start to belong to yourself and take ownership of why you believe what you believe.
One of my greatest joys is seeing students encounter the divine on their own terms.