Georgia on Her Mind

School of Theology and Seminary student Rosy Kandathil pursuing Ph.D. studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

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May 9, 2018

From being a public defense lawyer in New York, to living with a Benedictine community of women in Madison, Wisconsin, then attending Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary, Rosy Kandathil’s educational journey takes many twists and turns. It’s not over yet.

Kandathil received acceptance to Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia to attain her Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.

After joining the monastery, Kandathil was not sure if she wanted to continue with more school, but her community thought otherwise. She attended Saint John’s as a Lilly Fellow.

“I really came to love the schoolwork, and found that the theology matched some of my legal training and my interests in a way that made me a good student. It wasn’t such a struggle to be working in theology. I was using the same sort of skills I learned in law school, but with one primary textbook: the Bible,” Kandathil said.

Her studies at Saint John’s inspired her to apply to Emory. While working on her master’s degree, she did her thesis on Miriam as a prophet in the Old Testament. Kandathil – and others – are looking to break barriers within graduate programs. Her program is small – only three people are accepted each year. This year, they are all women.

“A common critique of the Old Testament is that it is a patriarchal text, written by men for a primarily male audience, so to find women wanting to dedicate their scholarship toward illuminating parts that would be interesting to women, for women is super exciting. It says something about what the future of Old Testament scholarship might look like,” Kandathil said.

In her application and interviewing process, Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary staff and faculty were there to help Kandathil through every step.

“I’ve been really grateful for the support I’ve gotten here, from the faculty and the admissions team. I was not sure, leaving a religious community, whether I could afford to do this process of applying for doctorate work. If it wasn’t for the admissions staff stepping in and saying ‘If you get your application in, we will find you the scholarship money for you to be able to do this’. They were there for me and wanted to be a part of my journey,” Kandathil said.

The faculty was a big help too. Her professors were there to send off recommendations, provide support and answer whatever questions Kandathil might have had.

Despite her initial fears, Kandathil feels prepared for next year. When she visited Emory in the fall, she had the opportunity to sit in during a doctoral level Hebrew Bible class. Her experience in that classroom quelled many of her anxieties about her future studies.

“Sitting in a doctoral seminar, with doctoral students, I could follow along with their discussion; I could follow along in the Hebrew text. I thought I would be completely lost, but Professor Dale [Launderville] had prepared me. He does his class the same way they did theirs. We sit down, we prep the text, the professor spot-checks the translation and they discuss the verse, which is exactly what we do here. It made me feel like I could really do this,” Rosy said.

Many congratulations to Rosy and best of luck to her as she represents Saint John’s on a national scale next year.