October 01, 2016
Summer in Selinsgrove
After a lonely summer interning in Chicago after graduation in 2014, I was hesitant to move to New Haven, Conn. I deeply missed the familiarity of college, and I wasn’t ready to face another new city. Fortunately, I fell in love with New Haven as I worked at a soup kitchen and lived with other young adults during a 10-month service program. I’ve stayed in the city to pursue my master’s degree at Yale Divinity School.
Though my Selinsgrove and New Haven experiences have been quite different, they’re undoubtedly linked. I was reminded of this one morning last fall as I helped lead a morning prayer service.
Episcopal services typically use a book called The Book of Common Prayer. That day I used a copy given to me by Susquehanna’s religious studies faculty in recognition of my departmental honors. In this instance, I relied on a material gift from my Susquehanna experience, but it could easily represent the countless immaterial gifts that I brought with me to seminary in the first place.
I entered college studying creative writing, but I was so deeply inspired by religious studies courses that I added a second major and began considering graduate theological study. Immersion in both disciplines prepared me for Yale’s Institute of Sacred Music, a unique interdisciplinary program dedicated to religion and the arts.
Being involved with SU’s InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity bolstered my desires to live in a Christian community and serve others—desires that led me to the Episcopal Service Corps. That service year was essential in clarifying my interest in ministry. Perhaps it was inevitable that my pursuits would bring me back to the place so pivotal in their development!
My return to Selinsgrove this summer was directly prompted by my exploration of priesthood in the Episcopal Church. To be considered for ordination, I was required to meet with a committee from a sponsoring church to discuss ministry and call. The congregation I attended in Selinsgrove agreed to join me in this process over my summer break from Yale.
Meanwhile, I worked part time in the communications office. As I interviewed alumni this summer, I often identified with the twists and turns of their stories. Becoming a minister would’ve sounded absurd to me as a first-year Susquehanna student. Over four years, however, I was able to explore my interests, question what defined me, and ultimately discover new dreams.
Nevertheless, it was still strange to return to Susquehanna, a changed person on a changing campus. Over the summer, I saw the new admissions building being constructed, our old communications office torn down, and Benny’s (now The Hawk’s Nest) being renovated. There are also changes beyond buildings—in faculty and staff, mascots, academic programs, etc.
Just as my life kept hurtling forward after graduation, so did the life ofthe university! This can be both good and disconcerting. For example, it’s been unsettling to realize Susquehanna no longer feels like home in the same way, though I am grateful that I’ve found a sense of home again in New Haven.
I still see Susquehanna as a special place and remain a fervent believer in its ability to change lives. My perspective has simply shifted from seeing it as my landing pad to seeing it as my launching pad. I am excited for those who now get to make Susquehanna their home. Details change, but the core of the Susquehanna experience—exploration and discovery—remains, inviting new students, year after year, into a bevy of surprises.
Megan McDermott ’14, from Lewisberry, Pa., is in her second year at Yale Divinity School. She is affiliated with its Episcopal seminary and the Institute of Sacred Music. Megan worked on Susquehanna Currents for four years as part of her assistantship in Susquehanna’s university communications office.