Alumni Success Story: Sara Parks

May 15, 2018

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Alumni Success Story: Sara Parks

Class of 2000
Bachelor of Arts (English, Biblical Studies)

Sara Parks

What have you been up to since leaving Crandall?

After leaving Crandall, I completed the Foundation in Fine Arts at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) in Halifax. For several years, I worked a variety of jobs, including teaching English as a second language in South Korea, along with several other ABU graduates.

Eventually, further education beckoned me. I had obtained two majors at Crandall (first, English Literature, back at the ABC old location, and then Biblical Studies here at ABU/Crandall), so I took a while to decide which route to take. I loved both fields.

In the end, I realized that there were not (at the time) many women in the Biblical Studies field. So I applied to the MA in New Testament and Christian Origins at McGill University, and stayed for the long haul, completing my PhD in Early Judaism and Historical Jesus in 2016.

While studying, I also worked as the director of McGill’s Office of Religious and Spiritual Life (their multi-faith chaplaincy), and taught part-time at Concordia University’s department of Theological Studies.

After graduating, I was delighted to be offered a position as assistant professor in New Testament Studies at the University of Nottingham, UK, where I currently work. I teach Greek, Intro to New Testament, Women and Gender in the New Testament, and Life of Jesus. I also supervise graduate students.

Nottingham has a great research culture: professors have a cap on teaching hours so they have time to publish. This is ideal, since I love to write! My latest piece on “J. K. Rowling and the Bible” came out in Oxford Biblical Studies Online a few weeks ago. My first book Spiritual Equals: Gender in the Rhetoric of Jesus will be published this year with Fortress Press.

I’ve also just signed a contract with Routledge for a textbook on Jewish and Christian Women in the Ancient Mediterranean, to be published in 2019. In 2020, I will be contributing a chapter to a volume on Margaret Atwood and the Bible with Gorgias Press. (That one is for Dr. Mantz!)

How has Crandall prepared you for the future?

People might assume that a small, local university is somehow less rigorous. They would be wrong! ABU prepared me well for graduate school and academia, not only because of its heavy workload and high-quality lectures, but also because of the fantastic level of attention I (we all) received from my professors. Only now that I am a university professor can I really comprehend how many extra hours my ABU profs (I’m thinking of Barry Smith, Doug Mantz, and Stephen Dempster.) worked, all for the love of their students.

I appreciated them at the time, but now I understand more tangibly what their “open door policy” and their written and verbal feedback on my every essay and exam meant. Nor did their support end with graduation. Their letters of reference were needed more than once throughout the years. Their comfort and prayers were freely given when I went through a period of deep sadness.

Dr. Dempster even coached me in Hebrew to help me pass my PhD translation exam, and Dr. Smith invigilated it for me! I will always be grateful to them for the quality and quantity of their care. No matter how hectic the schedule gets, I try to “pay it forward” to my own students, in gratitude of them.

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