April 22, 2010
Flagler College student Katherine Wrisley has received a full scholarship to Harvard Divinity School. In addition, she was also awarded a Presidential Scholarship for $10,000 to help cover her living expenses.
Last year, Wrisley received a Phi Beta Kappa Scholarship. The scholarship was worth $1,000, and Wrisley said she used the funds for her tuition and books.
Wrisley already has many other accomplishments under her belt. Not only does she maintain a 4.0 grade point average, but her paper, “Optimistically Embracing Creation,” was published in the January/March 2009 issue of The Cord, a Franciscan Spirituality Journal.
“The basis for my paper is that God’s intentions for the cosmos are good, and following the Franciscan tradition, Christians have a duty to embrace and love creation,” she said.
Wrisley said a class called The Gospel According to St. Francis, taught by Dr. Timothy Johnson, professor of religion and chair of liberal studies at Flagler College, changed the way she views theology.
“I really fell in love with the Franciscan idea that Francis embraces creation in just about everything he does,” she said. “The stigmata is a really powerful symbol of that.”
Wrisley has a double major of philosophy/religion and English. Originally, she said that she came into undergraduate studies to go into the seminary. The daughter of a Presbyterian minister, she felt a “calling” to study theology.
Wrisley will be working on her master’s in theological studies at Harvard.
“I would eventually like to apply for my Ph.D. or Th.D.,” she said. “My focus will be the History of Christianity; specifically, medieval Franciscan thought.”
Wrisley has been interning at the Mission of Nombre de Dios – the site where Father Lopez would celebrate the first parish mass and begin work at America’s first Mission.
She helps organize the paperwork for the mission in the hopes that it will someday be recognized as a national shrine. She has also been working on research for a grant for the shrine.
“It’s the oldest shrine in America, yet it does not have that status; it’s not recognized nationally,” she said.
Wrisley said she owes a lot to Johnson.
“I have to brag on Dr. Johnson,” she said. “He urged, supported and suggested to me that I should apply for these scholarships. He pointed me in all the right directions.”