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Westmont Alumnus Nick Andersen Joins Ranks of Lilly Fellows

Nick Andersen ’13 Click to view larger
Nick Andersen ’13 (Courtesy photo)

Westmont alumnus Nick Andersen ’13, who earned a Master of Divinity from Duke University this year, has received a prestigious Lilly Graduate Fellowship.

The Lilly Graduate Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts provides $3,000 a year while Andersen pursues a doctorate in religious studies at Brown University, focusing on political theory, American religious thought and Christian theology.

“As I look toward the future, the Lilly Graduate Fellowship represents a tremendous opportunity for further clarifying my career options,” Andersen said. “By immersing myself in this three-year program, I hope to learn more about the nature of church-related higher education and how I might fit into such a system. While I have a student’s knowledge of life in these institutions, I want to see what they are like from the other side of the classroom.”

Andersen said it was a Westmont professor who suggested he apply for the Lilly Program, two and a half years after he graduated.

“They were still looking out for me and seeking to create rich opportunities for my future,” he said. “This impulse, I think, is true of all of my professors across the board at Westmont, but especially those whom I got to know well as a religious studies major. Such generosity and care is inspiring.

“Westmont played such a significant role in shaping who I am as a citizen of the world that I can only respond with gratitude and seek to do something similar for others. The faculty and staff devoted countless hours to my individual formation, whether in their offices, classrooms or even their homes. They answered my questions, sat with me during moments of frustration and failure and expanded my horizons through abroad programs and directed study courses.

“I hope to become like them one day — generous, charitable, patient, kind — and the thought of providing similar services to future students as I concurrently pursue my own interests fills me with excitement,” Andersen said.

Andersen, who was selected with 9 other fellows from 56 applicants, will meet the other fellows at an Inaugural Conference Aug. 1-4, 2016, in Indianapolis with their mentors, Gretchen J. Van Dyke of the University of Scranton and Douglas Henry of Baylor University.

The fellows will embark on a long-distance colloquium, engage in one-on-one mentoring relationships and participate in three additional conferences.

Andersen spent three years closely involved with two Presbyterian congregations while attending Duke and remains an inquirer in the ordination process for the Presbyterian Church (USA).

“Rather than choose to go immediately from seminary into pastoral ministry, I have decided to spend the next five to six years finishing my education at Brown and further clarifying my sense of vocation,” he said. “At present, I am strongly considering teaching at the collegiate level. Nevertheless, ordination and some form of pastoral work are still of significant interest to me, and I happily remain in conversation with the Presbytery of New Hope.”

Andersen credits advice from Westmont’s religious studies faculty for his decision to attend Duke Divinity and Mediterranean Semester in 2011, where he began asking the questions that ultimately led him to choose Brown for his doctoral work.

“In many ways I credit Westmont with crafting me into the person that I am, and I can see its lasting impact upon the direction my life has taken,” he said.

Scott Craig is the manager of media relations at Westmont College.

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