GTU Celebrates Women's Voices

From the Spring 2018 issue of SKYLIGHT
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To celebrate Women’s History Month, we invited GTU alumnae to share stories, reflections, and highlights from their GTU experience. Below are just a few excerpts. Read many more at

“What stands out most for me from my time at the GTU was the community and support for learning. I had excellent ethics professors who mentored me and who continue to be close colleagues today. Even more important were my fellow student colleagues. We had study groups together, shared notes on the readings for comprehensive exams, and encouraged one another in our dissertation writing. There was a sense of cooperation and camaraderie, not competition (even when we were all applying for jobs). The GTU helped me to thrive academically while also supporting my physical and emotional health.”

Laura Stivers (PhD, ’00), Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Education and Professor of Ethics, Dominican University of California in San Rafael

“Studying at CDSP and then the GTU not only challenged me but prepared me for the challenge of being a Native American woman ordained in the Episcopal Church. I am specifically grateful for the diversity of voices and theologies I found through the GTU. Classes at the Franciscan and Jesuit school in particular affirmed my identity and helped me define my understandings, theology, and spirituality. The fact that I have been able to write and publish in theological journals, have written, reflected and published in several books on prayer, and my service to the church as Canon for Native American Ministry here in Arizona (after having served in Northern California and Los Angeles) could not have happened without these academic and spiritual experiences.”

The Rev. Canon Debbie Royals, Pascua Yaqui, (RN, MDiv CDSP; MA ’06) Canon for Native American Ministry, Episcopal Diocese of Arizona

“In addition to stellar academic preparation, one of the most impactful gifts I received from the GTU was the living examples of incredible female mentors whose teaching, service, and scholarship positively influenced and inspired me before, during, and after my doctoral program. From the gentle prodding of one faculty member whose question, “Have you ever thought about getting a PhD?” that inspired my application, to those who challenged me to present at academic conferences during my program and to serve in leadership in our guild afterwards, I owe a debt of gratitude to the women who told me and showed me what being a faculty member is all about.”

Debra J. Mumford (PhD, ’05), Frank H. Caldwell Professor of Homiletics and Director, Money Matters for Ministry (Lilly Grant Program), Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

“In the Fall of 2013, I embarked on two journeys: I started my academic career at GTU and I became a mother. Despite the challenges posed by learning to be a scholar while also learning to be a mother, I have found in GTU a home far away from my original home in Cairo, Egypt. From the first day I set out as an MA student in Islamic Studies at the Center for Islamic Studies to this moment as I begin my PhD journey, the continuous support by staff and faculty have indeed propelled me to think of my career in a different way. Before joining GTU, I never thought I would be interested in teaching, now my vision is geared towards that goal.”

May Kosba (MA, ’15), Presidential Scholar and a doctoral student in Historical and Cultural Studies of Religion, Center for Islamic Studies, GTU

“I began my studies at GTU in 1991--only 20 years after the first female rabbi was ordained.  This was a time when female rabbis and cantors were still very controversial in the Jewish world. My professors at GTU, both male and female, were never anything but extremely supportive – even my one professor who was an Orthodox rabbi! After my ordination in 2003, I returned to GTU in a doctoral program at SFTS, where I received the same support. In short, no one at GTU ever told me I couldn’t fulfill my calling; in fact, everyone, professors and staff alike, did all they could to encourage me!”

Rabbi Shula Stevens Calmann (MA, ’05) is rabbi at Congregation Beth Shalom, Marysville, CA

“My time at GTU was vital in my development as a queer feminist scholar, author, and artist. Serving as program coordinator for the Women’s Studies in Religion Program was a beautiful way to ground my theoretical research in lived, practical realities. Professors and colleagues alike embodied intersectional feminism inside and outside the classroom in ways that inspired and empowered me to do likewise.”

Rev. Dr. Angela Yarber (PhD, ’10), author, artist, and Executive Director of the Holy Women Icons Project on Hawai’i Island