Distinguished Alumni and Outstanding Volunteer Award Recipients

Distinguished Alumni and Outstanding Volunteer Award Recipients

Curtis Childs

After receiving an AA from Bryn Athyn College with a focus in biology, Curtis transferred to Oakland University in Rochester, MI and graduated with a degree in communications. Beginning with short stints in everything from carpentry to working at a county juvenile detention facility, his career path led him to the fascinating and meaningful field of Swedenborgian outreach. Hired by the tech-focused startup NewChurch LIVE, Curtis worked on, and eventually became head of, KidsLive – a program that sought to distill the complex yet vital ideas in Swedenborg’s published theological works into something that kids could not only understand, but that would get them to joyfully embrace the principles of mutual love. He wrote scripts, acted, and yes, even dropped a kids’ album. He began working in online video in 2011 and after a period independent production, was hired by the Swedenborg Foundation to build digital community and get exposure for Swedenborg’s writings through the web. He now works there as digital media producer and his projects have amassed more that 400,000 Facebook page likes, 9 million YouTube views, and 74 million minutes of content watched. His work has been featured on the Dr. Oz show, and he spoke in August at the Conference for Consciousness and Human Evolution in London. To see so many people around the world embrace Swedenborg’s message is a constant source of wonder, inspiration, and gratitude for him. He lives in Bryn Athyn with his wife Brooke and their two year-old daughter Sydney, who gets cuter every day.

A Note from Curtis

I want to thank everyone so much for making me a part of the event [on October 20, 2017]. The conversations I had with other alumni were heartwarming and uplifting, and the food and ambiance were excellent. It was a treat to get to hear about the two others being honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award, and it was great to see them get recognition for the good work they’re doing. It was a great honor to receive the award myself as well, and it’s so encouraging and humbling for me to know that Bryn Athyn College and the alumni community see the work I’m a part of as important. Thank you!

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Lincoln Smith

Lincoln Smith is helping create a shift toward forest agriculture, a farming approach modeled on the forest ecosystem and designed to restore environmental health while producing an abundance of food and supplies for people. Lincoln founded and runs Forested (est. 2012), a forest garden company in Mitchellville, Maryland. He tests forest farming methods, trains aspiring forest farmers, and designs new forest farms and edible parks. Produce from his 10-acre forest garden goes to farm share customers and people attending chef dinners hosted in the garden. Lincoln is passionate about production ecosystems, and lectures on forest gardening at a wide range of venues such as the US Botanical Garden, University of Maryland, PASA, and Bryn Athyn College. Lincoln grew up in Mitchellville, MD in the Washington New Church congregation where he now lives and works. He earned a bachelor’s in English at Bryn Athyn College and has been using the critical thinking and communication skills he learned there ever since. He then earned a Master of Arts in landscape design from the Conway School of Landscape Design and worked in high-end landscape architecture for five years before founding Forested. Lincoln’s work has been featured on National Geographic and various other media. www.forested.us

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Becca Smith

Becca Smith recently graduated with a master’s in Arab Studies from Georgetown University. She worked for six years as a defense and national security analyst after obtaining her M.A. in international affairs from George Washington University. She spent four of those years with the Center for Strategic and International Studies and two years at the Pentagon, serving first in the Strategy Office and then in the Middle East Policy Office. She graduated from Bryn Athyn College in 2003 with a degree in French and English. Becca enjoys the challenge of raising three humans and is an active member of the Washington New Church. She runs the local Theta Alpha women’s volunteer organization and directs the Parent Service Program at the Washington New Church School. Her interests include U.S. history and foreign affairs, the Middle East, Islam and Muslim-Christian relations, Arabic, and sustainable agriculture.

A Note from Becca

Life is discovery. I graduated from Bryn Athyn College of the New Church in 2003 at the age of 22. Looking back, I feel incredibly grateful to have spent three years in those halls, classrooms, and green spaces. To paraphrase Rev. Stephen Cole, his experience at Bryn Athyn College helped him understand that New Church ideas weren’t just a known, finite package passed on from previous generations. That would have been way too easy. Knowing how much is NOT known got him hooked. At 37, this immediately rings true. It dawned on me that Nunc Licet is a call for papers, even quite literally. My continued education at other institutions has raised questions that invite academic study, whether on my own or at a place like Bryn Athyn College. To take a totally geeky and perilous example, what insights concerning correspondences and heavenly language might be gained from comparing Arabic and Biblical Hebrew phonemes? Wow. In terms of personal discovery, Nunc Licet suggests that I get to explore and choose what this “body of teaching” means for me in real, gritty ways. At Bryn Athyn College, I learned and practiced modes of inquiry that I have continued to use as an adult. As I interact with my family, community, colleagues, and other intersecting worlds, I come back to these modes of inquiry – not because I have found all the answers, but because I have found partial answers. Enough to act on, constructively, while I figure out the rest.

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Laurie Horan

After graduating from the Academy Girls’ School in 1974, Laurie earned an Associate in Arts in 1976 from ANCC (now Bryn Athyn College) and continued to take additional courses there before transferring to Tracey Warner School of Fashion Design in Philadelphia, graduating from there in 1980.

While at the College she had met Richard Horan, and they were married in 1981. They lived in Mitchellville, Maryland for 21 years where they were active in the Washington Society. They have five grown children and two grandchildren.

The family moved to Bryn Athyn in 2002 as their oldest was starting at the College. With children attending all levels of the schools in Bryn Athyn, Laurie has found many opportunities over the years to volunteer when parental help was needed, but always felt especially drawn to the College where she had had such a good experience as a student. The Bryn Athyn College of the New Church Alumni Association was in its infancy in the early 2000s, as a loosely-organized group of people who felt passionate about supporting the College. Laurie began attending their meetings in 2006, serving as secretary for many years, and has continued to serve on the board ever since.

A Note from Laurie

It is a privilege to serve on the Alumni board. There is a number in the Arcana that speaks of the general ideas of truth that we all acquire in the beginning as being weak, or unstable, and I believe it particularly describes the college age. Students entering college do arrive with some true ideas, but they are

“…feeble and shaky ideas, which … [can be] won over to every opinion,
[like a tender shoot that is easily uprooted]. But when those same general
ideas have been filled in with their particular details, they emerge as firm
and steadfast ideas…” (AC 3820)

This is what I see the College does for its students; it fills in the details of those general but shaky truths that students have initially acquired, helping them to become strong in what they see to be true. To me this is the essence of why this College is so important in the world, and it is why I have been glad to serve.