Class of 2022
01. What did you study at SU and when did you graduate?
I graduated with a Master’s of Arts in Teaching from Spalding University in June 2022!
02. What is your professional role- how would you describe your work?
I am a John Robert Lewis Fellow with the Faith and Politics Institute! In my work with the organization, I build relationships with aspiring leaders from across the country who have devoted their talents to creating positive social change and who are inspired by the works of Congressman John Lewis and other civil rights leaders. In addition to this, I engage with my community by serving my neighbors while also learning about the history and state of various social issues through reading, research, and conversation. Paramount to my work is my commitment to The Six Principles of Nonviolence inspired by the writings of Dr. Martin Luther King.
Prior to having accepted my fellowship, I served the community of Eminence, KY as a high school social studies teacher and club sponsor. I have also worked for the Walt Disney Company, Target Corp., USPS’s Office of Inspector General, a few political campaigns, and various faith-based organizations.
03. What are the ways SU helped prepare you for what you are currently experiencing both at work and in your personal life?
Gosh, where do I start?! First and foremost, Spalding offered me a space to challenge myself academically and professionally while simultaneously having an incredible amount of support in all facets of life. The campus allowed me a place to learn in the classroom and get a breath of fresh air when walking outside. My professors offered a degree of academic rigor I had not experienced while doing so with great compassion and understanding. My classmates brought diverse perspectives to our work inside the classroom which benefitted me tremendously with being the best teacher I could be. My classmates also served as people I could trust and consider both colleagues and friends. The university additionally offered fantastic mental health and counseling resources, allowing me to ensure my well-being was fully accounted for. Because of the people I met, the physical space of the campus, the resources offered to me, and the key learnings I gained, Spalding University helped me to form the habits and live my values in a manner that has allowed me to be successful today. I have been present and felt at my best in my professional life and personal life more than ever before because of Spalding University.
04. What is your favorite memory from your time at SU?
I have a few: spending Saturday mornings in Dr. Hooper’s class with my classmates who were doing everything they could to be the best teachers they could be, walking out of my first counseling session on campus and knowing that I had done something significantly good to take care of my well-being, and walking out of graduation being fully aware of how much my experience at Spalding changed my life for the better.
05. What was your favorite spot on campus as a student?
The mansion complex as a whole is cool to me with how the building has been repurposed, and I especially loved to walk by the sign just outside of the mansion that read “May Peace Prevail On Earth.” The first time I saw the sign, I knew I was in a good place, and every time I walked by it I felt optimistic about the future.
The combination of these quotes has acted as one big, impactful message for me and has served me very well. I hope these serve you well too.
• “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
• “No matter what our particular job, especially in our world today, we all are called to be tikkun olam, repairers of creation. Thank you for whatever you do, wherever you are, to bring joy and life and hope and faith and pardon and love to your neighbor and to yourself.” – Rev. Fred Rogers (a.k.a. Mr. Rogers)
• “While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story […] Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America […] I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.” – Congressman John Lewis
Lastly, I have come across some key lessons that have really reframed my life’s work for me, and I hope they do the same for you too. Avoid internal violence of the spirit as well as external physical violence (from The Six Principles of Nonviolence). Tears are medicine. You are always able to recommit yourself to what you care about and the vision you have for who you are.
Contact Vay Bailey at [email protected] if you, or someone you know, would like to be featured in our monthly 8-5-1 Alumni Spotlight.