Good afternoon all you McBloggers! Today, we’ve sat down with Lora Burge, North-westerner (not the University), and co-moderator of the Deacons. Lora also makes mean desserts. Without further ado, here’s Lora!
Tell us about yourself (where are you from, where did you go to college, that kind of thing, just whatever you want).
Well, I am not from the Midwest. I grew up on an island in Washington—Washington State that is. Then I ended up here in Chicago by way of Guatemala. I was a competitive swimmer for at least a decade of my life. That was a little while ago though and the chlorine stench has finally faded from my skin so I don’t smell like cleaning supplies anymore. In 6th grade, I sang some mean Rodgers & Hammerstein ballads as the Mother Abbess in my middle school’s production of “The Sound of Music.” I participated in a regional geography bee once (don’t worry—I didn’t even progress to the second round.) I tend to attract black bears (not as cool as it sounds). I worked at a gas station for awhile and didn’t like it…so now I go to McCormick!
Tell us about this island you grew up on…
It’s a pretty swell place to grow up..though I might be biased. It’s roughly 35 miles long and 1-12 miles wide and kind of shaped like a “W”. It sits at the northern end of the Puget Sound (where the Pacific cuts into Washington down through Seattle and to Olympia). We sit in the rainshadow of the Olympic Peninsula so we get a lot less rain than some other parts of the state. Lots of great evergreen trees and forest areas, beautiful rocky beaches, good places to hike, bike and explore, good fishing and places to kayak/row/boat, sometimes you can see whales and a small town, friendly community feel. You can ride the ferry or drive over a bridge to get there and no, I did NOT ride a dolphin to school (local joke.)
What brought you to McCormick?
Well, there aren’t any seminaries that interested me especially close to home so then I just started looking all over the country. I was really intrigued in the diversity of the McCormick community, the breadth of viewpoints and traditions represented both demographically but also examined in coursework, and the urban location. Then I visited and just had the feeling of being at home. Didn’t end up applying anywhere else.
What is something that surprised you about McCormick?
How committed the McCormick family is to a strong community, both in and outside of class and academic events. It’s not always easy, but I really value the continual process of forging a better community amidst academics, life and faith.
What’s one thing that has been most challenging to you?
I didn’t study religion, theology, or anything churchy in undergrad so I really had no official experience in the area of theological/biblical studies. All graduate studies are rigorous but I think there’s an especially personal and emotional-spiritual level to it when intricately tied to my personal identity. In other words, I cannot divorce myself and my soul from what I am reading about and (attempting) to write papers on. It’s not bad—it’s been a good time of challenge and exploration but compound that with life, and it’s a lot to think about and process in a short amount of time.
You’re a greek EA, how does that work out for you?
Works out pretty well for me—I get paid to do something I like to do. I would say my job description involves giving pep talks, handing out stickers, grading things, leading discussions, and trying to keep things generally organized. Seriously though, I’ve really enjoyed learning Greek and it’s a good challenge to try and help and encourage my colleagues through the same learning process.
Can you tell us a little bit about your time as a YAV and the work you did before coming here?
I was a YAV in Guatemala. I spent the first half of the year living on the Pacific coastal area (Near San Felipe in Retalhuleu) covered in mosquito bites and the second half of the year living near Xela trying to keep warm (it’s chilly at 8000 feet no matter what latitude you’re at). I had the great privilege of working with the women of the Presbytery of the West. Basically, that means I traveled around a lot, visiting churches and women’s fellowship groups, participating in and leading different events and workshops. I also periodically traveled with different delegations from the States who were visiting different churches and presbyteries.
I also taught English classes to middle school and high school students at a non-profit school in Guatemala the second time I lived there (Miguel Angel Asturias Academy—look it up!
I also was a gas station attendant, swim coach, doer of odd jobs, Spanish tutor, café singer, youth ministries intern and general wanderer since graduating Whitworth and now and before/between/after living in Guatemala.
What’s one thing you hope for McCormick in the future?(uh, I slightly changed this question because I’d been thinking about it and already had an answer for this version of the question.)
A therapy cat in JKM. I’m serious. A friendly, loving cat that can be checked out from the Reserve Desk for 30 minutes at a time. Seriously, it would do so much for morale and stress, especially during midterms and finals. For the record, there’s precedent (just google Yale Law & Monty therapy cat). If we can’t get a cat, then maybe a small, independent coffee shop in the building somewhere where faculty, staff and students can socialize and take breaks together.
What’s one piece of advice that you would give to new/prospective students looking at McCormick?
Come visit! For me, McCormick is a very relational place and that’s pretty much impossible to experience through a website.
Oh, and if you decide to come, bring a really warm winter coat and boots. It’s really cold here in the winters, no matter how much the Midwesterners try to downplay it.
Until next time!