Saint Joseph's University

My Summer Scholars Journey

At the beginning of my Spring semester of Junior year, I remember being filled with anxiety, anticipating searching for some kind of internship or job experience for the summer. Being an English major meant that I had a lot of options out there, they were just a little harder to find. I knew I wanted to spend my summer writing but did not know where to look.

Luckily, my advisor sent me an email during the semester. She encouraged me to apply for the Summer Scholars program. I had to read and re-read the email a couple of times to make sure I was understanding what she was suggesting. Until this point, I assumed Summer Scholars was a program only for students majoring in some kind of science. I had thought the only way to be a Summer Scholar was to be involved with a professor’s research.  However, as I would learn, this program is open to all majors and departments and the projects do not have to be research-based. After discovering this I was eager to apply to the program and knew the professor I wanted as my mentor right away.

Missy and her mentor, Dr. Green, on their trip to Northern Ireland this summer

Dr. Ann Green was my professor for Identities and Conflicts, a Thursday night class that was preparing us for a 10-day trip to Northern Ireland during the summer. I looked up to her as a person, scholar, and a writer so she was who I wanted to work with. After sending her an email explaining my advisor’s suggestion, she agreed to meet so we could begin creating my proposal. What we came up with is very far from research, but will challenge me as a writer, a student and as a Christian.

This summer I will be writing a spiritual memoir. This memoir will allow readers to explore my spirituality, where I found God, when in my life I had lost sight of Him, how I found Him again in college and even converted to Catholicism. I want this memoir to be relatable and easy to read. God is a complicated subject and I want to help readers who may be struggling to see God understand that religion is hard and complicated but you don’t have to stay lost forever. I want to highlight special moments, big and small, where I felt the most spiritual and felt His presence with me.

For this project, I will have to dive deep into my memory to remember what it was like growing up in a Methodist household. I will then transition to when I was in high school and then end with my time at St. Joe’s. Since my sophomore year of college, I have kept a journal, and these entries will help me organize my book and allow for me to remember where my head was at the time. Throughout my time in RCIA, I also kept a journal to highlight my experiences. I plan on using this journal as well for the bigger work of my memoir.

My mentor(s) and I have compiled a list of books that I will also read over the summer. They are a collection of spiritual memoirs and education works that will help me see other authors’ styles and themes so I can decide what I want my voice to be. I will be meeting with my advisors every few weeks to look at drafts and make revisions and we will be in email contact all summer as well.

I am looking forward to spending my summer writing and reflecting on my spiritual journey and feel so lucky to be able to be associated with a program like Summer Scholars.

– Missy MacPherson, ’20