History Majors Featured on Bethel Website: Hilary Ritchie and Michael Bumann

If you’ve visited Bethel’s website recently, you’ve probably seen one of our students!

The homepage of our website is featuring the stories of a series of Bethel students and alumni. There are several such stories that take turns in the spotlight throughout the day. Two of the four in the current rotation are current or former Bethel History students:

Hilary Ritchie (’13)

Hilary Ritchie

Hilary is a double-major in History and Biblical and Theological Studies, a not-uncommon combination at Bethel (in a day or two we’ll be publishing an interview with an alum who had the same double-major) that Hilary finds very satisfying:

I love theology and I love history, and seeing the way the two interconnect. I think it’s important to understand that our theology doesn’t just come out of nowhere, that it was developed in a context. The reality is that we’re part of a tradition and part of this big story that God’s been working on for a long time.

In the rest of the story, Hilary talks about her desire to teach theology, her appreciation for the value of Christian community, and her role as a worship leader at Bethel. She’s currently completing a research project on the 4th century theologian Ephrem the Syrian in our capstone course, Senior Seminar. In a couple weeks that course will dedicate a discussion to Christian vocation, which is the final topic Hilary speaks to in the piece on the website:

God’s given everyone certain passions and gifts. When we live into those passions and live into those gifts, then we’re living full lives as we’re meant to. That’s what God creates us for. Do what you love.

Michael Bumann (’06)Michael Bumann

When he took Senior Sem in the spring of 2006, Michael Bumann chose to write his paper on Jesuit missions in East Asia. Little did he know that he would end up living in China, studying Chinese and teaching English as part of the organization English Language Institute/China. In his web story, Michael explains how studying history helped prepare him for this calling:

Bethel taught me how to pay attention to the world and find a way forward. I gained a lot of cultural research tools in my history major. I learned how to attach one idea to another. In college, that comes out as a paper. Now I’m living life and I can use those same tools to live and learn in a foreign country. It’s critical thinking. That’s been really helpful.

He also emphasizes his appreciation for Bethel professors, the way that they invested in him and how he’s invested in maintaining relationships with many of them over the years. At the beginning of the story, he discussed to the formative role played by one of the faculty members in our department:

I still remember one class I loved – Christianity in America taught by Ruben Rivera. We basically went from the beginning of Anglo settlement in America through the 19th century. The thing I loved the most about it was that we read a lot of original source material – letters, in your own words kind of things, specifically from industrialized America. I hadn’t experienced that in history classes up to that point.

I didn’t know that I wanted to be a teacher until I came to Bethel. That class was an 8 a.m. interim class. So students stumbled in, maybe half awake, maybe not, and by 8:15 we’d be in a full-blown discussion. It takes a pretty special teacher to be able to do that. Dr. Rivera always had people engaged. I remember thinking “I want to be that kind of teacher one day.”

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