From LCC to PhD

Sharon Huff
Adjunct Faculty, Religious Studies

Of all my students in community college, Nate is among the most impressive. An older student, although only in his early 30’s, Nate is in his second go-around of college. The first round ended badly and he has in the past decade sorted out his beliefs and come to a sense his own personhood. Raised a Methodist, Nate is currently a practitioner of Buddhism, in that religion, having found the peace that he was missing.

I’ve had Nate in two of my religion classes, and in both he has shared his upbringing and difficulty with self-acceptance. Growing up in a small town near Lansing, he had questions and concerns with regard to religion but these were never taken seriously, nor was he allowed to express them. He grew up doubting his own perceptions and experienced depression and anxiety. He spent a few years at Saginaw Valley State College, but because of depression and substance abuse he ended up leaving.

Today as a student at LCC, Nate has virtually nothing in terms of material possessions. He lives in a communal style home with 20 roommates, he has no car, few possessions, and only a few sets of clothes. His primary love is books and he has an extensive collection of them.

Nate loves learning about religion. At LCC he is a religious studies major and has taken every religion class offered. In both classes I’ve taught his work has been the golden standard. Not only does he do well in class, he is extremely well versed in religion. His collection of primary religious books is both impressive and extensive. He frequently brings books for me to peruse, which are extremely in-depth and heavily theological. He is currently wading through Everyman’s Talmud, a very deep and not so engaging commentary on the Talmud. I would be lucky to get through a couple of pages before mental fatigue would set in, yet Nate continues to plow through this and other books with a thirst for knowledge that is unsurpassed by any other student I’ve taught.

Nate’s goal is to obtain a PhD in Religious Studies. It is heartening to see a motivated student with high goals who has been given the opportunity to study something he loves in a place he can afford. LCC has handed him a second chance to achieve his aspirations.