My Life & Career as a Bookworm
I am a bookworm from way back! I got a library card as soon as I learned how to print my name. I carried a book everywhere like other children carried security blankets. At any moment, I would find a quiet corner and whip out a book–except in church.
We went to church every, every, every Sunday. Under the constant threat of a switch, we kids sat still on the hardwood pews with our backs straight, eyes forward and mouths shut. When I was in elementary school, we had one particular pastor who would repeat his four or five stock sermons every month. For me, these sermon reruns constituted an egregious offense tantamount to repeating the same bedtime story every night. I remember turning to my mother during one of his repeat sermons and whispering loudly, “I can preach better than he can.” As good AMEs, we were no where near broad-minded enough to have child preachers. I had to find something to do in church. So, I read the Bible.
After graduating with an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and a masters degree from Princeton University, I worked in health care policy for a few years, but it was not fulfilling work. Sensing a call to ministry, I enrolled in the Master of Divinity program at Pacific School of Religion. I found my passion in my first Old Testament class. Here were all of my favorite stories, but I was learning to read them in new ways. And in Hebrew and Greek! I went to the professor and told him that I wanted his job. I wanted to be a biblical studies professor. He became my advisor and started me the path to doctoral studies.
I completed my Ph.D. in Old Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary. I was an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Dayton, and now I am an Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament at the Howard University School of Divinity. I teach my students how to become more careful and critical readers of biblical texts, and I speak to people about reading the Bible with both their hearts and minds. I am still a bookworm, but I’m a professional bookworm now!