Mentoring is key. Rachel McDonald with her faculty advisor, Robert Fowler. (pictured above)

Rachel McDonald '12, is studying at Princeton Theological Seminary to earn a Master of Divinity. She plans to become an ordained minister for the United Church of Christ.

"Small and Mighty" Department Uses Collaboration to Connect Student's Passion and Possibilities

From Berea to Boston to Princeton and Chicago...Baldwin Wallace students are being accepted into prestigious graduate programs such as Harvard, Princeton and the University of Chicago.

What are the factors that allow BW Religion students to be so successful? “We help students dream bigger than they are dreaming,” believes Dr. Alan Kolp, religion faculty member and Baldwin Wallace Chair in Faith and Life. This forward-thinking philosophy, plus mentoring and rigorous coursework, gives BW students an edge.

Successful Experiences are the Result of Challenging Education and Mentoring

Rachel McDonald, a 2012 graduate with a Religion and Philosophy double major spent four years at BW gaining perspectives in her courses on the world’s religions and challenging her beliefs to discover the person she wants to become. As a student in BW’s Religion Department, she did not go through this process alone. She was part of a vibrant community of fellow students and supportive faculty members who encouraged her growth and development as a student and as a person.

In the Fall of 2011 McDonald applied and was accepted to the Harvard Divinity School’s Diversity and Exploration Program, a selective program for students interested in exploring opportunities in ministry and graduate theological studies.

She followed two other BW students, Josh Whitson ’10 and Katelynn Carver ’11, both Religion majors who were selected to participate in the program in fall 2009. Whitson graduated from Harvard Divinity School with a Masters in Theological Studies, while Carver is in her second year at HDS.  Whitson and Carver follow another recent BW grad, Glen Rectenwald ‘07, who earned his Bachelor’s degree in Religion and Philosophy.  He is a 2009 graduate of the Harvard Divinity School, where he earned a Masters in Theological Studies.  Rectenwald recently graduated from Duke University Law School and secured a position at a Pittsburgh law firm.

While McDonald was accepted into several prestigious seminary programs, she chose Princeton Theological Seminary. Her BW education and experience helped her develop a commitment to diversity, social justice, religion, theology, and ministry, and she joins a long list of talented BW alumni who have gone on to successful careers in graduate study.

Size and Structure of Religion Department Perfect for Student Growth

With four faculty members and roughly twenty majors and minors, the Religion Department focuses on building a student’s potential through challenging coursework, research initiatives, mentoring and self-reflection.

“We establish a sense of community where students are encouraged to flourish and to spread their wings,” Dr. John Gordon, Chairperson and Chaplain, said. Accessibility is a key component. Through informal events such as a department meal each semester, along with a Colloquium experience that meets each Wednesday, students get the opportunity to think, discuss and learn on a more intimate level.

The Colloquium class offers a structured, but informal discussion-based class, that is required for students who choose to major or minor in Religion. The one-credit course fosters discussion and exposes students to a plethora of experiences and perspectives within the broad discipline of Religion. It is designed to challenge values, promote the importance of diverse ideas and thinking, and encourage students to broaden their scope of intellectual thought. 

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