Charlotte Collins ’10 M.A.R.
B.A. Oberlin College 2008
During my time as an undergraduate student at Oberlin College, it became clear to me that I had a passion for social justice and activism, a passion for community service, and a passion for the academic study of religion. During my senior year at Oberlin I had the privilege of having breakfast with Dr. Emilie Townes, associate dean of academic affairs at YDS, when she visited our campus in the fall. I was also afforded the pleasure of hearing Dr. Townes speak. During this lecture Dr. Townes stated that what we (as scholars of religion) do in theological education should challenge the norm. It should be our goal to examine where we stand in the world, while continually taking note of who is present, who is missing, and why. As I listened to her words, it became clear to me that Yale Divinity School (YDS) was where I needed to continue my theological education. Admitted to the newly formed Black Religion in the African Diaspora MAR program, I arrived at YDS as a 21-year-old college graduate ready to take advantage of all Yale had to offer.
During my time at YDS, I have come to see that the worlds of religious studies and African American studies are unique—and unquestionably interwoven. Within these disciplines lie the potential for a rigorous integrative education that encourages involvement, commitment and social action. While at YDS, I have been able to remain academically inquisitive, exploring issues that are not just on the page of a textbook but that progress into the realm of real life. In this nurturing environment I continued to evolve into both scholar and activist, realizing that one invigorates and strengthens the other in very positive ways. From this came a drive to study, remain faithful, and carry out assigned missions; listening always for the times when God speaks to my spirit, calling me to action.
While I look forward to one day completing a Ph.D. in the area of religious ethics, I feel strongly that God is calling me to take pause, and give of myself to others. For the past two years I have served as an academic advisor for the Yale-Bridgeport GEAR-UP Program, which helps prepare low-income students for college, and I plan to take at least one year to continue working on this initiative.
YDS provided me with an academic environment that allowed me to continually make the connection between what I study and what I see happening in the world around me. As the sun sets on my time at YDS, I find myself excited to touch the lives of others. While at YDS my spirit has been renewed, my faith strengthened, and my mind nourished. It is with an open mind and open heart that I move away from YDS toward my next destination, listening closely to the call God has placed on my life and career.