Dr. Hannah Hunt, Author and Theologian, Addresses Women Students

Dr. Hunt and students at the Hatfield homeDr. Hunt and students at the Hatfield homeWhen Dr. Hannah Hunt studied theology as an undergraduate, she didn't know where it would lead. "I was newly pregnant as a student," she reminisced with the group of St. Vladimir's women students who gathered for tea in the home of Chancellor/CEO The Very Rev. Dr. Chad and Matushka Thekla Hatfield on Saturday afternoon, December 7, 2013. "My son was born during Easter break, and I started coursework for my masters degree while nursing a baby. Several years later while working on my doctorate I gave birth to our second son."

Hannah, a professor of Eastern Christian Studies, earned her PhD in Theology from the University of Leeds in West Yorkshire, England, with the thesis topic of "Spiritual Tears and Penthos (compunction) in the Early Christian Fathers." Since then, she has worn a number of hats as an author, mother, tutor, instructor, and adminstrator, as she has continued to focus on the spirituality of the early Eastern Christian Church.

As an author and professor, Dr. Hunt offered encouragement and suggestions to the women, who were listening with interest. "My husband unexpectedly left me with two children to care for, and I had to take any work that was offered me," she noted. "I never thought any job was beneath me, and I taught classes that weren't even in my subject. One year, I held eight different jobs with five different employers. I worked around the kids' schedules using all my skills, all my disciplines."

In other words, "it doesn't have to be binary," she summarized. "It's not that you are either on a tenure track or you aren't going anywhere. I like my life very much; it's interesting and diverse. Be flexible and learn new skills when that is required!"

Hannah is passionate about research and writing, and she emphasized the importance of networking and meeting publishers at conferences and events. "I'm never short of ideas for books to write; it's just a matter of how I can fit it in." Dr. Hunt's books, such as Clothed in the Body: Asceticism, the Body and the Spiritual in the Late Antique Era published by Ashgate, address a variety of topics related to Eastern Orthodox spirituality.

A lively discussion followed Dr. Hunt's presentation. "What's the balance between working and studying and having a family?" "How long did it take you to earn a PhD?" "How should I be looking ahead to the years after I have earned a Masters Degree?" "What can I do with a theology degree?"

Hannah encouraged each woman to decide on her priorities in light of her unique gifts and personality. "A humanities degrees gives you highly flexible skill set. You've learned to keep notes, records, do research, and teach. Whatever you decide to do, if you do it passionately and thoroughly, then it's good!"