I finally have an answer to that infamous question, “So, what are you going to do after graduation?” Starting in May, I will be working on a farm in Pennsylvania. After a year of working, I will begin a Masters of Divinity degree at Duke Divinity School with a concentration in Faith, Food, and Environmental Justice. These next few years, I hope to gain the necessary skills and experiences to pursue a career in food justice work.

For the past few years, I have been discerning a call towards theological education. Lucky for me, for the past few years, I have also been a student at UKirk UTK. UKirk has given me a wonderful space to explore and grow in my faith and call to ministry. As a student here, I have been given numerous opportunities to strengthen and explore my faith educationally through book clubs and bible studies and spiritually through weekly worship services and generally participating in a faith community in college.

As a freshman on campus, I honestly did not anticipate becoming involved with a campus ministry, but one day as I walked past the UKirk house, the PCUSA cross on the sign in the front yard caught my eye. I grew up in a PCUSA church and was instantly hit with a wave of comfort when I saw that familiar emblem. I decided I would go to worship that week, and I have been going back (almost) every week since. The comfort I felt when I saw the PCUSA cross is the same comfort I feel every week at worship. It’s the same comfort I feel sitting in UPerk with a warm cup of coffee. It’s the comfort of knowing that there is a place on campus where I will be unconditionally welcomed and supported.

As I began contemplating theological education, UKirk gave me a safe space to explore my questions. I had pastors and friends with a wealth of knowledge and varying life experiences to bounce my doubts and ideas off of. I had the opportunity to be on the board which gave me a peek into the nitty-gritty side of managing a religious organization. I served as the missions intern where I tended to the community garden, UGrow. This role was my first glimpse into food justice work and is a major piece of why I have chosen my specific concentration at Duke. Combined, these experiences at UKirk piqued my interest and gave me the confidence I needed to pursue theological education.

While I am a bit nervous about beginning the next chapter of my life, I am confident I can lean on the lessons and friendships I made at UKirk to help me through. Additionally, I hear Duke has a Presbyterian campus ministry. If it’s anything like the community I’ve found at UT, I have no doubt I’ll find a home in Durham.

Margie Peeler