Beverley is an ordinand studying full-time at West Malling Abbey, St Augustine’s College of Theology. We asked her to tell us a bit about herself, and what being a student here means to her.
A bit about me
My primary training was in nursing, though I’d originally wanted to be a teacher. After qualifying, I did a couple of teaching certificates and worked as a nurse tutor, health visitor and also as a consultant for KCC Social Services in training and leadership development. I had a passion for training, and one day I realised that God had given me what I wanted, and I was teaching after all.
During maternity leave following the birth of my third daughter I decided to set up my own consultancy business, working mostly with public sector organisations, helping to shape organisational development and supporting personal development. I also set up a not-for-profit company to help people back into employment. This was really successful, and we worked with many vulnerable adults and young people who had never gained qualifications, to help set them on a new path.
Why St Augustine’s College of Theology
I grew up in Cardiff, and had always been committed to the Church. As I moved around I joined a non-denominational church, then an evangelical church. About 8 years ago I felt called to an Anglican church. I’ve always liked to give back, whether through my work or ministry, and my vicar there thought I should explore my calling within the Anglican setting.
By the time I knew I’d been accepted for ordination training it was too late to start that academic year, and I had a few months to wait. Having sold my business, I had some spare time, so thought I’d do a module of academic study, as it had been some time since I last studied.
Although there is an evangelical college in London which I thought sounded perfect, my Bishop suggested St Augustine’s, and I always feel that when your Bishop suggests something it’s a good idea to take notice! So I contacted them. The warm welcome was amazing, and I loved the place. It just felt right.
I’m in my 2nd and final year now, and I love it here. St Augustine’s perfectly combines academic rigour, humanity and support for the individual. The moment I walk on to the West Malling campus it’s like a little piece of heaven. The beauty and the peaceful ambiance; it’s steeped in prayer. Every moment I’m there I am so grateful to God.
How is your course helping to shape your leadership?
Through studying at St Augustine’s I’ve learned so much that has absolutely challenged me. In expanding my knowledge I’ve grown, matured and embraced the challenges with joy. It’s a family here. You can go to staff with issues, and they will consistently go the extra mile to offer personalised support. This care for individual students has had an unexpected outcome.
Early in my course, a tutor reviewing my written work picked up that I was dyslexic; which was confirmed through testing. I’d gone through my whole life without knowing. It was quite a shock, but also felt as though I’d been given a gift from God.
The discovery gave me tremendous insight into some of my past struggles and challenges. It wasn’t that I had felt hampered necessarily, but looking back I realised that when it came to writing essays, reports or large theoretical pieces I would naturally shy away. Despite my many achievements, there had always been hidden pockets of insecurity, and feeling somehow ‘less than’ others I compared myself with.
Understanding this has shone a light into so many areas of my life and enabled me to reflect, and put away. Very few experiences in life are wasted. I recognise that I’ve grown through the challenges in my life. I haven’t necessarily enjoyed them, but they’ve shaped me and helped me to work with people from a deeper level of empathy, care and compassion, which is vital for ministry. In my two-year curacy and beyond I hope to be able to use my background in leadership and organisational development to support people – perhaps younger people in ordination training.
The support I’ve had at St Augustine’s has enabled me to move forward with immense strength, and I have so much to be grateful to them for.
Interested in studying with us? See further info here.