Costa Mesa, CA
Master of Arts, 2ndyear
Exploring the United Methodist Church

Research Interests: Biblical Studies – The Canonical Gospels, Ecotheology & Ecocriticism, Posthuman Animality Studies, Queer Criticism, Postcolonial Criticism, Feminist Criticism, Religion & Ecology, Critical Pedagogy.

My primary area of interest is posthuman animality studies, a subfield of Ecocriticism in which scholars explore and deconstruct the human/animal binary in literary texts. I have a particular interest in applying this theory to biblical texts in order to understand how creaturely relations affect Christian theologies. Some of my research questions are as follows: What Cartesian assumptions are read into a text when interpreting? Can we assume that the biblical authors and audiences understood a distinct binary opposition between humans and animals? What does it mean that biblical authors treat the animal as a “theme, trope, metaphor, analogy, representation, or social datum?” What does it mean that the sacrificial Jesus is represented as an animal, not a human? What happens when we read nonhuman creatures as agents and not as abstractions, thus resisting the philosophical and physical erasure of the animal? By asking these questions, I hope to be a part of the dismantling of normative assumptions surrounding the animal in biblical texts that produces the exploitative theologies which justify and rationalize human cruelty to all creatures.

Why Drew?
Drew Theological School offers a wide range of opportunities, both academically and personally. The faculty at Drew is one of the top in the nation. This is not only for each instructor’s publications and all that they bring to their respective fields, but it is also due to their active passing on of that ability through their emphasis on pedagogy and learning. Beyond the faculty, the Drew Theo community is warm and embracing, allowing the exploration of new and engaging ideas that push you to your intellectual limits. The diversity that exists both inside and outside the classroom forces each and every student to critically analyze their theology, their actions, and their intellectual and faith-based perspective. It is through this diversity that each student learns to grow and appreciate the wealth of opportunities that exist at Drew University.

For what vocation is Drew preparing you?
Drew is helping me shape my own strong foundation within biblical studies so that some day in the distant future, after completion of my doctoral work, I will be able to shape the minds of students much like myself and my colleagues. I am being shaped as an academic scholar, theologian, and teacher all at once. Drew Theo is preparing me for a future within the world of academia, specifically as a professor that will contribute through developed critical thought and strategic critical pedagogy.

What do you bring to Drew?
My hope is that I bring a voice of hope and change. Through this voice, I would like to bring a critical perspective that allows my colleagues to think beyond their borders, and through that I am forced to think beyond my own. I am currently part of both the Student Association and Theological Student Association, and have been working to create a space for Master of Arts students to fulfill academic goals by creating additional opportunities for non-ministry based students. Additionally, through my work as a research assistant I have helped support faculty in preparation for conferences, classes, and book proposals.

How will you have changed when you graduate from Drew?
When I graduate this spring, I will have grown as a student and as a person. I have learned how to push myself academically, and more importantly, how to enjoy pushing myself intellectually. It is not enough just to be able to perform, but to enjoy doing it as well. As an undergraduate I was a math major, and never enjoyed what school had to offer, I just saw money signs at the end of the tunnel. Now I see that there is more than just money involved in life, but rather radical change, radical hope, and radical happiness.

How has Drew impacted your family?
Two summers ago, on July 30th2009, I married my best friend in San Clemente, California. Three weeks later we drove across the US to Madison, NJ. The impact that Drew has had on my family is clear. We left the rest of our family when we moved to New Jersey; the community that we found here has allowed us to grow as our own family, and also within the family that is Drew Theo. Drew has enabled us to evolve together, allowing me to follow my dream of becoming a professor and allowing my spouse to pursue her goals of becoming an educator of the underprivileged youth of America.

What advice do you have for prospective Drewstudents? Come to Drew expecting a challenge and also immense support. Whether setting up yourself for academia or for ministry, Drew Theo will set you up for great success in any environment. You get what you put in, but whatever you put in will come back to you twofold. Come to Drew Theo to enjoy a challenge and success!