Upcoming Chapel: Search for Belonging in the CCM

In keeping with this year’s chapel theme of “Belonging,” various faculty will be speaking in the coming weeks on their stories of belonging on campus, and how they cultivate a sense of belonging for students within their departments.

Kelly Hawk Fitzgerald, director of Disability Resources and Compliance, will be offering the unique perspective of an alumna. Fitzgerald graduated from Maryville College in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in English. During undergrad, she worked on campus as a Bradford Scholar and active member of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, where she found passion in student advocacy through connecting youth with barriers to employers.

After continuing her work in student advocacy as the Title IX coordinator and institutional compliance officer at Lincoln Memorial University, she returned to Maryville College in June 2022. 

 “It used to be a much lonelier job than it is at Maryville,” Fitzgerald said. “Here we have so many people who care — because there is such an emphasis on education, prevention and awareness here, they don’t have to keep the Title IX coordinator at arm’s length, [which is] so important for a college to run well. I really want this college to do well, and for people to feel safe, and like they’re heard.” 

Fitzgerald will be delivering her message on belonging during chapel on March 9.

Chris Freeman, director of Community Engaged Scholars, will also be offering a perspective on belonging in chapel this spring. Freeman oversees the efforts of all students having received the Bonner, Brahms, Bradford and Kyle scholarships. 

On the topic of belonging, Freeman said, “There’s something there about civic-mindedness. In order to be a good citizen, you have to have some type of belonging — I’m proud of the work we do in our office to develop that in our cohorts.” 

This model of developing a sense of belonging in students isn’t limited to the Center for Community Engagement in the Alexander House. 

“What’s neat about our program is it’s not everyone in its space. [For some students] their place is somewhere else. It’s about giving them the tools to find their space…a community they feel like they can make a difference with.” 

“The values [of the college] lined up so well with the values of the work I wanted to do…Yeah, Maryville is that place for me,” Freeman said.

Freeman will be speaking on his sense of belonging at Maryville College and finding community to make a difference with during chapel on March 26.

Jessica Lewis will also be sharing her perspective on the topic of belonging as an MC alumna. Lewis graduated from Maryville College in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a minor in Psychology. 

When recounting her time as a student, Lewis spoke of Rev. Dr. Anne D. McKee, who served as campus minister from 2001 to 2022: “Anne helped me see that ministry could be done by a woman…Campus ministry was what was affecting me, a big part of my college life.” 

After serving as the director of Christian education at First Presbyterian Church in Laurel, Mississippi, for 12 years, Lewis returned to Maryville College in 2022 and was ordained and installed as the director of the Maryville Adventures in Studying Theology (MAST) Program. 

When asked how she encourages spiritual exploration while maintaining an open space for students, Lewis said, “The best way to walk that line is having space and time where open discourse is available. The CCM [Center for Campus Ministry] is one of the last buildings to get locked up. It’s supposed to be a place anyone can go… Its doors are always open. It’s [a space] to see people in different classes, majors and disciplines speak, to hear God however God may speak.” 

Jessica Lewis will be giving her message during chapel on April 2.

Chapel services take place at 1:15 p.m. every Tuesday in the Center for Campus Ministry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *