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Philosophy graduate pursuing divinity degree at Yale

After being accepted into some of the most well-known and prestigious divinity schools in the country, Katie Kirk, a 2018 philosophy graduate, had a tough decision on her hands when it came time to take the next big step in her academic career.

Originally from Little Texas, Alabama, Kirk graduated from Auburn in the spring of 2018 with a major in philosophy and a double minor in English and German. While a student at Auburn, Kirk was a Rhodes finalist in 2018 and was awarded the President's Award for CLA in 2018 as well. Additionally, she was selected her junior year to be a part of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society, was a lead consultant at the Miller Writing Center, and served as the president of the Philosophy Club.

After receiving her undergraduate degree, Kirk was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Hanover, Germany, and put her German minor to use when she moved there to fulfill her position abroad. Luckily for Kirk, this was not her first time abroad, as her National Merit Finalist award allowed her to study abroad not once, but twice—once in Rome, and once in Vienna.

In 2019, after completing the Fulbright assistantship in Hanover, Kirk moved back to the United States and worked for a full year at Auburn Oil Co. Booksellers before deciding she wanted to attend divinity school in 2019. After going through the tedious application process, Kirk was accepted into four of the most prestigious divinity schools in the country.

When deciding where she wanted to go, Kirk said, “Deciding between placement and scholarship offers at Harvard, Yale, Emory, and Vanderbilt was difficult, but faculty have always been the most important part of my education, so the fact that Dr. Linn Tonstad and Dr. Willie Jennings are here [at Yale] was a critical part of my decision.”

Currently, Kirk is living in New Haven, Connecticut, and attending Berkeley Divinity School at Yale in order to receive a Master of Divinity.

Looking back, Kirk says majoring in philosophy was one of her best decisions at Auburn. When asked about her coursework at Auburn, she said she took several classes with professors Kelly Jolley and Michael Watkins that she really enjoyed. According to Kirk, majoring in philosophy “makes much of the [divinity] coursework so much easier.”

Inside the classroom, Kirk is learning about the contemporary theologies of creation, genitive constructions in Koine Greek, Gnosticism (a prominent movement of the Christian church), and the Gospel of Mark. Although she stays busy with coursework, outside of the classroom Kirk is working on founding a nonprofit organization that will “connect Fulbright grantees with other neurodivergent grantees and grantees with disabilities.”  

Kirk plans to graduate from Yale Divinity School in 2023, and although she says, “life takes us strange places,” her ultimate goal after graduation is to be a bi-vocational professor and priest one day.

When looking back on her time at Auburn, Kirk reminisces on the times she would “eat Chick-Fil-A on the sixth floor of the Haley Center in Melanie Brown's office” and says she is “still getting used to Prevail Union (coffee shop) not being there,” but two friends from the Auburn philosophy program who are also pursuing master's degrees at Yale have made New Haven feel a bit more like home, and that has made all the difference.

Tags: Alumni Philosophy English Foreign Languages and Literatures

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