Friday, May 23, 2008

Two Students of Church History

Dan Bell '08 (pictured, right, with roommate Mike Tishel '08) writes:
“I began research for my senior honors thesis following my arrival home from Oxford University in the spring of my junior year (April 2007), where I had spent two semesters studying and experiencing life in that wonderful place. By that September, I had landed upon a topic that I found very fascinating, focusing on the nineteenth-century church historian Philip Schaff and his historical-theological vision of Christianity’s development. During the fall semester, Dr. Tal Howard served as my thesis advisor, providing invaluable guidance and advice for this extensive project. Dr. Jennifer Hevelone-Harper took over for Dr. Howard in the spring (he was spending his sabbatical teaching in Orvieto) and was crucial during the writing and revising process. In addition, she provided some important pointers for my defense before students and faculty, which took place on May 6th. Perhaps providentially, my roommate Mike was also working on a thesis for the history department and we presented our findings back-to-back after months of hard work. Along the way, the two of us gave each other encouragement and offered any suggestions we had for our respective theses.
Over a year and 114 pages later, I completed and submitted my final draft- right in time to study for finals and prepare for graduation! In reflecting back, I believe that the time and energy I devoted to my thesis truly paid off. This is not simply because I received departmental honors in history, but because this process of in-depth research and writing helped to hone my scholarly abilities and confirmed for me my capacity to successfully pursue graduate studies. In fact, this fall, I will begin a two-year masters program at Yale Divinity School that will concentrate on the history of Christianity. I believe that my time at Yale will build on the excellent education I received at Gordon and prepare me for future doctoral work. Perhaps one day I will teach at Gordon or a similar institution and assist students as they pursue topics they find interesting and compelling, just as I did while in college.”

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