|David Weaver-Zercher '83 is chair of the Messiah College Department of Biblical and Religious Studies.
Helping students find vocations is central to the school’s mission, which helps launch alumni into careers and graduate programs from law, government, library science, and teaching to marketing, business, journalism, and fine arts.
Professors also hope to instill a sense of calling. “We not only think about how we need to earn a living, but also about what makes life worth living,” explains Huffman. “We want to give students tools to be lifelong learners.”
Sarah Adams, an English major with a concentration in writing, explains that her interest in the humanities goes beyond her plans for a career in journalism: “Humanities has given me not just tools for a job, but a way to structure my life. Literature is something I want to structure my life around. I want to be sure that, whatever I’m doing, I’m giving myself time to read books carefully—and a lot of books—and to talk about books with other people.”
Faculty members exemplify lifelong learning through their own scholarly work. “Students work beside model scholars who are actively engaged and up to date in their fields,” says Huffman.
This deep immersion into a broad education is funneled into senior-year capstone courses that require every senior to wrestle with tough questions and write a reflective paper—an exercise that integrates academics with Christian faith and helps humanities students bring four years of learning into clear focus.
“What does it mean for a committed Christian to be a student of other religions? What does it mean to be both a Christian under the authority of the biblical text and a biblical scholar? These sorts of questions undergird all our departmental offerings,” says Weaver-Zercher. “It is rewarding to witness the level of discussion we can have with students who have spent four years here,” he adds. “It indicates to me just how much they’ve grown as people and as academics during their time here.” One, two, or even 25 years later, Messiah humanities graduates don’t often forget their hard-earned perspectives.
English alumna Melinda (Fisher) Nowak ’76 has been a journalist, a teacher, a graduate student, a trial lawyer, and a judge since completing her Messiah education nearly 30 years ago. Today, as an administrative judge for the Pennsylvania Insurance Department, Nowak still holds the foundational perspectives she developed in college. “My experiences at Messiah shaped my notions of fairness and justice,” she says. “They also firmed up my understanding and belief that God is at the core of everything—that faith is not off in a box and separate from what we do every day.
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