Below is the Letter of Intent I wrote when applying to study in the Graduate Certificate program at the Atlantic School of Theology. I start in January!
To whom it may concern,
If my relationship with God had a Facebook status, it would be: “It’s complicated.”
I grew up in the Catholic Church. I know the names of my saints and which I should speak with when faced with a particular problem. I know my prayers and the Ten Commandments. After teaching Sunday school for three years and being raised by a teacher who is Catholic, I know my church dogma. The problem? I don’t believe it.
Despite my lack of faith and specific contentions, religion continues to be an integral part of my life. I’ve started going back to church because I feel intrinsically compelled to do so. I never stopped discussing and debating religion because I want to learn more; to challenge and be challenged; and to discuss what may be the most important subject of our lives. My friends consider me one of the few people they know that enjoys discussing and debating religion with an open and inquisitive mind.
I apply today to enroll in the Graduate Certificate in Theology at the Atlantic School of Theology on a part-time basis starting in January 2014 for two reasons:
First, I believe that this certificate is a continuation of my life-long study of religion and our society and I look forward to discussing the topics with similarly inquisitive and engaged individuals. The study of religion and theology is not new to me. I completed a Bachelor of Public Relations at Mount St. Vincent University in 2009. In this program, I was only able to take a few electives, but I used them all to study religion. I took Western Religions, Christian Traditions, Perspectives on Death and Dying, and two ethics courses. During my Master of Arts in Popular Culture, my interest in religion influenced my major research paper a great deal. I analyzed the videos that supported Proposition 8, which aimed to make gay marriage unconstitutional in California. Putting their messages within its heteronormative ideological context, I identified seven constructed frames and explained how they portrayed Christians as victims of a “homosexual agenda”.
Second, I believe that the courses at AST will be a welcome and engaging challenge, while providing me with the opportunity to return to an academic mind-set. I have been out of school for three years now and have worked for a variety of non-profit organizations including the MS Society, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, and the Out of the Cold Emergency Shelter. I currently work full-time coordinating volunteers at the CNIB (formerly the “Canadian National Institute for the Blind”). This certificate will allow me to work full-time, while returning to academic study as I consider further enrollment in the Master of Arts in Religion and Theology program and potential doctorate programs in the future.
The courses I have taken, my research, and my experience in the work force give me a unique combination of skills and insight that would make me an excellent candidate for the Graduate of Theology Certificate. After researching the Atlantic School of Theology, I know that it will offer a rewarding educational experience that will prepare me for further academic study. At the same time, I believe that the certificate is a step in my personal journey of religious discovery as I curiously consider changing my spiritual Facebook relationship status.
Thank you for this opportunity and I look forward to hearing from you.
Jeff deViller, BPR, MA