Associate Professor of Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies
BS, Eastern Mennonite University, 1980
MS, University of Virginia, 1983
WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD, WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
I don’t remember ever dreaming about a profession or a future much beyond what I knew. I was conservative Mennonite and where my life was headed was clear – I would find a husband and have children, then grandchildren. I would garden and can/freeze and do my share on the farm. That was my trajectory and nothing else seemed possible.
WHY OR HOW DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR FIELD?
Kicking and screaming I often say. My degrees are in nursing but a car accident made that difficult. I had taken a mediation training while in college but walked away and said, “I’ll never use that.” Years later I was asked to temporarily fill a position at a mediation center. Soon after I was asked to apply for a position with Mennonite Conciliation Service. Then ten years later to Goshen College to teach conflict studies courses. Each time I initially said, “No way, I can’t do that,” and each time, something (or someone) propelled me toward it.
WHAT’S EXCITING ABOUT YOUR JOB OR THIS FIELD?
Well, there certainly is job security given the nature of the world! There’s so many other things that are exciting about it: The fact that it’s real and practical and absolutely essential. The invitation into the messiness of others’ lives and relationships. The satisfaction of seeing the light come on as a student understands and embraces a transformative concept. The opportunity to make a real difference.
WHAT HAS BEEN A STRUGGLE IN YOUR CAREER JOURNEY?
Confidence. It takes a ton of chutzpah (for me at least) to insert myself into the middle of a conflicted relationship/family/congregation/organization.
Congruence. My own personal life so often doesn’t live up to what I teach in my classes and promote in my interventions. It’s a constant struggle to hold the personal and professional together in a way that has integrity.
Legitimacy. This is a new field and has all the problems thereof. Much is still in the developmental stage: theory, research, standards, accreditation, academic legitimacy, etc.
WHAT GREAT ADVICE HAVE YOU BEEN GIVEN?
To surround myself with a community of people who know and love me and who are living out kingdom values. Then to take that community very seriously in terms of my strengths and challenges, the direction for my life and decisions about how to live faithfully in this world.
WHAT ARE YOU REALLY PROUD OF? (IN A MENNONITE, HUMBLE SORT OF WAY, OF COURSE)
I am proud of how far I have come. My parents grew up Amish and college has not been a part of my heritage – or of my six siblings’ lives. I also feel good about my commitment to hold together peace and justice activism and conflict transformation. That’s not a given in this field.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNG PERSON JUST STARTING OUT?
-Don’t panic – there’s not just one path that is perfect for you. You can choose to let God make something holy out of anything that happens.
-Practice the “discipline of gratefulness” no matter what you encounter. An attitude of gratitude can transform life, relationships, and difficult situations.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY?
Well, I wouldn’t travel at night when the driver and I are both tired!…..I would have actually gotten a degree, including a PhD, in my field (or at least in something more closely related). I would have learned Spanish and traveled more. I would have spent less time worrying about what people think.