Opening the door to religious life

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The Class of 2020 and transfer students are not the only newcomers to Rollins.

Reverend Katrina Jenkins has become the new Dean of Religious Life this semester. She earned her Master’s degree in Theology before beginning her spiritual career as a college chaplain. Rev. Jenkins has continued on this path for sixteen years now, and Rollins is the third college at which she has been employed. When asked why she chose Rollins as her newest home, she replied, “Rollins was offering an opportunity to do interfaith work and to me I saw there was a commitment to theology through word and deed… to show that commitment was really major for me.”

However, one does not have to be distinctly religious to have a relationship with Rev. Jenkins. Though she describes that her job is “to maintain religious or spiritual life on this campus, to be a presence… being where the students are, attending meetings… and representing Rollins in the community,” she also calls herself an ambassador to people. Expanding on this, she said, “you don’t necessarily have to be religious; I’ve lead atheist groups and agnostic groups. A lot of folks are searching for something… it could just be someone to talk to who can be objective.”

The Dean is also excited about introducing a few new programs to campus. A major program is “We Choose Love.”

Rev. Jenkins describes We Choose Love as “a program on how we are going to engage with each other on campus. Learning about each other, whether about faith or not.” She has been working with Quang Le to create a Buddhist meditation class beginning next week. While the Dean says there may be other new student groups in the future, she doesn’t “foresee a lot of new changes… my goal this year is to assess.” She is clearly working to evaluate preexisting programs and getting to know student groups, student leaders and faculty instead of teaching any classes this year.

Smiling, Rev. Jenkins remarked the thing which surprised her about Rollins was that “everyone has been so welcoming. Even before I stepped on this campus I’ve been receiving emails… when I arrived the first day I have had faculty and students stop by my office.” This is most likely due to her open-door policy, surprising both faculty and students. “People will come up to me and say, ‘That hasn’t happened in a long time,’ or ‘I’ve never seen it before.’”

The new Dean considers one of her best moments so far to be SPARC day, when she met students and faculty while working alongside them at the Ronald McDonald House. “I love service… I would like to [use service to] offer opportunities to connect with people on and off campus.”

Since this is her first year as well, advice she gives to new freshman and transfer students is to “keep an open mind” and travel if possible. “It opens a door for you, for new experiences.” Clearly, our new Dean of Religious Life will be a welcoming presence for everyone at Rollins.

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