In 2015, Erin Guzmán ’12 graduated with a Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree from Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, TN. Following graduation, Erin took on freelance graphic design and social media projects while also working with a non-profit soup kitchen called Luke 14:12. At Luke 14:12, she served as Volunteer Coordinator/Administrative Assistant, working with churches, businesses, and families to meet the needs of hungry and homeless individuals in downtown Nashville. “Studying religion and communications helped me develop a love for serving people and building community through a lot of different mediums. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to use my degrees, passions, and skills in work that’s making a difference in people’s lives.”
Recently, Erin accepted a Program Facilitator position at Scarritt Bennett Center in Nashville where she will help create programming and workshops centered on faith and social justice, focusing heavily on anti-racism initiatives and young women’s spiritual formation and leadership development.
Megan (Culbertson) Hoxhalli ’11 is Congregational and Community Relations Coordinator for the Night Ministry in Chicago, Illinois. Following her graduation from Simpson, Megan earned an Master’s of Social Work (2014, University of Chicago) and a Master of Divinity (2016, Chicago Theological Seminary). In her words, “The Night Ministry is a Chicago-based non-profit that provides housing, healthcare, and human connection to those facing poverty and homelessness. In my role I connect local congregations and community organizations to the work of The Night Ministry through preaching about homelessness as well as leading volunteer opportunities with the organization.” Megan is currently pursuing ordination in the United Church of Christ and has served as a young adult leader on numerous national committees within the denomination.
Megan notes that the religion department at Simpson “allowed me to realize my passion, and calling, for connecting faith and church with service. At Simpson I was able to develop critical thinking, reflecting, and writing skills that I put to use in both grad school and in my current job. Simpson is also where I began to develop confidence in my identity as a faith-based leader.” Megan’s younger brother matriculates at Simpson in fall 2016, so she plans to visit her alma mater often.
For profiles of other alums, keep reading below…
Simpson religion alums are currently engaged in a wide variety of roles, serving the community and the world.
Anne Alesch ’09 teaches regularly as an adjunct faculty member. A course she designed with support from the department, “Hope and Despair,” is proving a popular choice in our Continuing and Graduate program. Anne, a graduate of Vanderbilt Divinity School, is Bereavement Coordinator for Unity Point Hospice in Des Moines. In her words, “My position gives me the opportunity to be present with patients and families during some of the most emotionally significant times of their lives. Majoring in religion at Simpson prepared me for this experience because it encouraged me to reflect on difficult questions and be comfortable with a certain degree of ambiguity. This disposition allows me to journey with patients and their families as they discern meaning from their joys and sufferings.” Anne has worked with two Simpson interns.
Miranda Knake Kracke
Miranda (2010) switched her religion minor to a major toward the end of her junior year. After graduation, she earned a Master of Social Work degree from UNI (2012), and now works as a forensic interviewer for Allen Child Protection Center. Miranda writes, “My senior research project for my religion major about using the spiritual as part of the healing process for sexual abuse survivors translated into my graduate work and my job. The writing skills stressed in my religion courses as well as presenting my papers have helped me write reports and speak in front of others. Every day I work with people of all ages, backgrounds, and religions, and the discussions and assignments from my religion classes helped me as I entered the social work field.”
Miranda volunteered with Best Buddies during her time at Simpson and also worked at ChildServe in Johnston. “These experiences were instrumental in my desire to continue advocating for those who have special needs.”
Nate Nims, who graduated from Drew University Theological School in 2010, is pastor at First United Methodist Church in Waterloo, Iowa. “During my time at Simpson I was academically and spiritually prepared for both seminary and my career in the church. It was through the religion department and religious life community that I was able to discern my future while being challenged and supported to grow as a student, person of faith and global citizen.” Nate was a delegate to the 2016 Northcentral Jurisdictional Conference of the United Methodist Church, and has been active many ministries in the Iowa Conference and larger church.
Our alums often return to campus to visit with current students or attend lectures. Alums often join current students at the post-lecture reception with the speaker.
For information about the next Matthew Simpson Lecture, click here.