On Thursday, April 23rd, the Department of Religion and Philosophy held its annual induction ceremony for Theta Alpha Kappa (National Honors Society for Religion and Theology) and Phi Sigma Tau (International Honors Society for Philosophy).
A total of 7 individuals were inducted, four of whom are current students, one a recent graduate, and two instructors within the department.
A brief profile of each of the inductees is listed below. Congratulations to them all.
Megan is currently a junior at LVC. She came to LVC from Kingsway Regional High School in New Jersey as an Actuarial Science major in which she has excelled. She studied abroad last semester in New Zealand. She has taken Religion classes since her start here at LVC, first enrolling in Introduction to Religion during the fall semester of her freshmen year. The following year, she was enrolled in the yearlong Symposium on Race and Religion where she distinguished herself by her probing questions regarding the Christian notion of redemptive suffering. She completed an excellent research paper by the title of “Suffering and Redemption: A Christian Mechanism Working in a Racist America” that she presented at two national undergraduate research conferences, the first at Allegheny College and the second at the National Undergraduate Research Conference on Religion and Philosophy where she won 3rd place price for having the most outstanding paper. She is currently enrolled in two upper level, special topic courses on “Suffering and Trauma” and on “Queering God,” and will complete her senior seminar and her remaining major requirements next year. She is actively involved behind the scenes in LVC’s theater troop Wig and Buckle. She is as quirky as she is conscientious, and most deserving of this honor.
Amanda Zelazny Cosnett:
Amanda graduated from LVC in 2011. During her time here she completed one of the most sophisticated theological research papers as her senior seminar project in recent memory. The paper was on the role of eschatology within Pentecostal Christianity. Building on this stellar academic work, she went on to complete an internship at a local Pentecostal congregation under the department’s supervision. She was also active in religious life and service on campus. In her junior year, she took part in the Habitat for Humanity service project over spring break. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with departmental honors with a major in Religion, and a minor in History and Music. After LVC, she spent a year at Asbury Theological Seminary, before transferring the Drew Theological School, where she recently completed her Masters of Divinity degree in December 2014. She is currently a candidate for ordination in the United Methodist Church, and serves as the Director of Children’s Ministries at Suffern United Methodist Church in New York. It is our pleasure to welcome Amanda back to LVC, and wish the same success through service for our current students as she has enjoyed since her graduation.
We have been fortunate to have Gary Gates with us as an Adjunct Instructor of Religion here at LVC since 2008. He is versatile and wide-ranging in his teaching interests and expertise. He regularly teaches classes in the Introduction to Religion, World Religions, Buddhism, and Islam. He also has taken on the upper-level disciplinary perspectives class on “The Search for Jesus”. This interest in the diversity of ways that Jesus has been imagined in theology and culture throughout the ages goes back to his MA Thesis on “The Creation of Christ,” which he completed in the Interdisciplinary Humanities program at Penn State University in 1996. He is a deep and experiential learner who is committed to his students appreciating the fullness of religious life. He is also a model lifelong learner. He has participated in various seminars with leading figures in the study of religion such as John Dominc Crossan, Helmut Koester, Huston Smith, Karen Amstrong and Elaine Pagels. He has also participated in two highly selective National Endowment of the Humanities worksops, and the Red Rose Foundation Scholarship Trip to Turkey in 2007. Locally he is known for his book, How to Speak Dutchified English. Locals might also know him as a Karate sensei or a Yoga instructor. He is a great friend and supporter of the department whom we rely on year after year. And year after year, there is no other single instructor whom I hear more positive reports about from students. He opens students’ eyes. He is beloved.
Yountae is completing his first year as a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Religion and Philosophy at LVC. He was hired after the department conducted a national search that attracted outstanding candidates from the leading graduate programs in the country. After completing his Bachelor of Arts at Presbyterian College in Seoul, Korea in 2003, he went on to San Francisco Theological Seminary, where he completed his M.Div. in 2008. From San Francisco, he went on to Drew University, where he studied under Professor Catherine Keller. He completed his Ph.D. studies with distinction this fall. His dissertation was entitled, “The Groundless Middle: Reconstructing the Self in the Colonial Abyss.” That work is now the basis of a book monograph entitled “The (De)Colonial Abyss: Negativity and the Cosmopolitical Future”, which is currently under review for publication with Fordham University Press. Professor An already has several articles and book chapters published, and has presented at national and international conferences. His national reputation is evidenced by his appointment to the Steering Committee of the Liberation Theologies Groups of the American Academy of Religion and as an Editorial Board Member of the journal Horizontes Decoloniales. And though he has only been here at LVC for a short time, he has enhanced our curriculum and enriched our students immensely. He is our resident expert in Diaspora Spirituality, Postcoloinal Theory and Decolonial Thought, and in Gender and Sexuality. We are pleased that he will be back with us next year as Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion.
Jarrod began at LVC in 2012 as a Chemistry major. He is now a double major in English and Philosophy. This fall he was named an O’Donnell Scholar in English, which is a new prestigious scholarship presented by the English department. He was recently inducted into Sigma Tau Delta, which is the international English honor society. This fall he was one of only seventeen of the inaugural participants in the highly selective Student Summit on Inclusive Excellence at LVC. He has had several starring roles in Wig and Buckle, including the current production of “Tartuffe”, the earlier production in the spring of “All My Sons”, and a performance in the fall of the musical “Curtains.” Though he added his Philosophy major relatively late, he has thrived within the department, and is expected to conduct significant independent and original research next year in courses on Existentialism, the Undergraduate Research Symposium and the Senior Seminar.
Hunter is this year’s recipient of the Don Byrne Award for Undergraduate Research. Like Jarrod, he too is a double major in English and Philosophy. Like Jarrod, he too was a participant in the Student Summit on Inclusive Excellence. And like Jarrod, he too will have his plate full next year while being enrolled in both the Existentialism Seminar and the Undergraduate Research Symposium. But Hunter is no stranger to independent research. This semester, for instance, the college provided financial assistance for him to travel to two separate undergraduate research conferences, one at Pacific University in Portland, Oregon, and the other, the National Undergraduate Research Conference on Religion and Philosophy held at Westminster College in western PA. At both conferences he presented his ongoing research wherein he is exploring aesthetics through philosophy, art and literature. He obviously gets around a lot. And lest I forget, he also found time to study abroad in England during the fall semester of his sophomore year.
Kammi is a graduating senior with a major in English and a minor in Philosophy. She has taken advanced level courses in Envioronmental Ethics, Genocide, and the seminar in Women and Philosophy, where she wrote a paper on the notion of the body as the culprit of woman’s oppression. She has been named to the Dean’s List for the last two successive semesters. Her real passion is creative writing. She has been accepted into Chatham University’s MFA program and has a summer teaching internship with Write Local in Latrobe, PA. In conversations with her Communications advisor, I am told that her writing is very much invested in the life of the mind, and that she is able to create compelling, engaging characters with nuanced inner lives. And so, as our last inductee for the afternoon, it is inspiring to see how she, much like Jarrod and Hunter as well, has allowed her studies in philosophy to inform her primary work in English communications, and thus has become the very model of liberal learning we hope to promote here at Lebanon Valley College.