Graduate students share their personal reflections at the annual Marsh Chapel Sunday “This I Believe”
Much of the annual season at the start of this year must have changed due to the pandemic, but one tradition has remained, but for the second year, with a few tweaks: Marsh Chapel’s annual “This I Believe” Sunday, where class members are invited to share stories from their spiritual journeys at BU.
This year’s service was held on May 9, the Sunday before the commencement, a tradition dating back to 1982. Each spring, undergraduate and graduate students representing a range of religious traditions and from all schools and colleges of University, are invited to submit a plan for a three-minute reflection. Several are then chosen by the chapel staff to participate in the annual service.
Since Marsh Chapel’s Sunday Interfaith Protestant church services have not been live since March 2020, the students selected this year have pre-recorded their reflections for the May 9 show, which aired on WBUR-FM. , the University’s national public radio station, as every week. Four of the five speakers — Afsha Kasam (MET’21), Connor Dedrick (Questrom’21), Jordan Neubauer (LAW’21) and Heidi Santa Cruz (CAS’21) lived on or near campus and were able to record their remarks. in the chapel sanctuary. Soren hessler (UNI’08, Wheelock’11, STH’11, ’21) recorded his reflection from his home in Madison, NJ
“One of the downsides of pre-registration is that there is no congregation to provide immediate gratitude and responses to students for sharing their stories,” explains Jessica chicka (STH’07, ’11, ’19), university chaplain for international students, who oversaw this year’s event. “I hope that in the next few days they will hear from others how their thoughts touched them.”
Despite the challenges of delivering this year’s program, Chicka says the chapel staff were delighted with the outcome. “The reflections are powerful. Each student has shared a part of themselves with us throughout this process, and we are very grateful for their willingness to do so, ”she says, adding that they look forward to being able to return to service in no one for next year “That’s what I believe” Sunday.
Kasam, who is Muslim, obtained a bachelor’s degree in public relations and image management from Quinnipiac University, where she was enrolled in the honors university program. She graduated from Metropolitan College with a Masters in Advertising. There she was a teaching assistant and a member of the Gamma Iota Chapter of the Tri Alpha National Honor Society. She has also been a volunteer with Aga Khan Educational Services, guiding students through the college application process, and she taught preschool religious education with ITREB United States.
“Being a woman has taught me a lot,” Kasam said in his “This I Believe” reflection. “But it mostly taught me to speak, even though my voice is shaking.”
Kasam hopes to work in public relations or advertising after his debut.
Growing up in a conservative Jewish family in Princeton, New Jersey, Dedrick says that “all my friends were Jewish the same way I was Jewish.” He was only vaguely aware of other religious traditions. It wasn’t until his first year at BU that he was immersed in what he calls “the deep end of spiritual diversity”. His participation in World Interfaith Harmony Week brought him into contact with students from a variety of backgrounds. In addition to serving as BU Hillel chairman and board member, Dedrick was Dean’s Fellow in Social Impact and Boston Interfaith Leadership Initiative Fellow, and his work with the initiative was a turning point in his life, a place where he discovered a “community.” in celebration “and striving to work towards a” future of appreciating difference “.
After the launch, Dedrick will work as a retail management intern for the Hannaford supermarket chain.
During her three years as a law student at the BU, Neubauer was an active member of the Marsh Chapel congregation, participating in many scholarship opportunities, such as the Global Dinner Club and the Ecumenical Eucharistic Services of the Wednesday. She says she found physical, emotional and spiritual sustenance through her involvement in the life of Marsh Chapel, where she met longtime friends who inspired her to pursue new opportunities for activism. And when the pandemic struck, abruptly ending in-person services, she says seeing these friends on Zoom calls was a lifeline. “Isolation and loneliness have never had the chance to fully take hold, and those terrifying first days of the pandemic were lighted up by the pixelated faces of my friends.”
Neubauer will study for the bar exam this summer.
During his nearly 17 years as a student in five degree programs and an employee of the BU who worked for nearly a dozen academic offices (including 9 years as a staff member at Marsh Chapel , most recently as the Chapel’s Leadership Development Associate), Hessler says the people he met on his trip to BU have all taught him love. And of all those classmates, colleagues and students that he taught and counseled, none taught him more than “the love of my life”, his wife, Rev. Jennifer Quigley (UNI’08. STH’11), whom he met during the freshman orientation.
Now director of postgraduate academic services at Drew University and professor of Christian and interfaith studies at Hebrew College in Newton Center, Mass., Hessler says modern American research universities must be places to “connect. friendships and partnerships and that their education should prepare graduates, whatever their religious affiliation, to be co-workers in taking care of the world and its inhabitants. “
When she arrived in first year at the BU, Santa Cruz said she envisioned “four perfect years” with carefully planned classes and extracurricular activities that would propel her into a successful career in medicine. But just four weeks into the semester, an academic “mentor” told her he didn’t think she was smart enough or “the right fit” for medical school. Santa Cruz says she had a period of doubt afterward, but was determined to pursue her dream. “It was one of the many obstacles that arose in completing my undergraduate career,” she says, adding that each obstacle provided a lesson in resilience.
Upon graduation, she will work at Massachusetts General Hospital as Clinical Research Coordinator in Surgical Oncology. She plans to eventually attend medical school and practice emergency medicine.
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