By Alex Nemec, marketing communication specialist
The beginning of a new semester is an exciting time — but it can also be an anxious and stressful experience for some.
In addition to the many resident assistants, each residence hall has a hall minister to provide pastoral care to and be a spiritual presence for all residents and building staff.
In collaboration with the staff, hall ministers are charged with helping to form a residential community that expresses the university’s Catholic, Jesuit mission, while accompanying individuals dealing with stress, illness, loss, loneliness, relationships, spiritual and emotional health, and more.
In this Q&A, David Burnett, hall minister for Humphrey Hall, talks about what he likes the most about Marquette University and Milwaukee.
What was your undergraduate degree in? Why did you pursue that discipline?
My undergraduate degree was a Bachelor of Arts in biblical studies. I originally went to college to study scripture with the intent on becoming a protestant minister, but during my studies I fell in love with the historical, critical approach to studying the texts that make up our bibles within their original historical context in the ancient Mediterranean world.
Why did you want to be a hall minister?
I wanted to be a hall minister because I love college students! I have been in student ministry for years because I love the excitement, the vibrance, the inquisitive minds, and so much more of college students. It is such a crucial and formative part of a student’s life, so I see it as an honor to be able to walk alongside them and provide a listening ear, any wisdom I can, and be there throughout the struggles of their individual journeys. It is such a privilege to have the opportunity to play a small part in shaping students into people who are for and with others in this sometimes confusing but exciting stage of their lives!
What makes Marquette special to you?
Marquette is special to me, with respect to my role, because we are given the opportunity to live out a hallmark Jesuit value that is important to me, namely, cura personalis — care for the whole person. As students, we are more than our brains, our grades, our test-taking, paper-writing and problem-solving abilities. We are more than a number in a wide student population. We are not statistics. We are real human beings, with our own stories, experiences, perceptions, emotions, etc. So, for the mere fact that we have a residence hall “minister” role is a demonstration, in part, that we care about that reality here and want to take that seriously, to provide support for the whole person.
What is your favorite Marquette memory?
Wow, that’s tough. There are so many wonderful experiences with students over my five years here so far that it is hard to pick just one. Building relationships with students and hearing their stories and encouraging them along their way is so rewarding and has provided me with a host of memories that I will always cherish. One fun memory was with a student leader I had the privilege of investing in and mentoring a few years back. He had remembered a conversation we had regarding my Ph.D. work when I had called my desk at home my “dissertation station.” The following summer, he gave me a small desk plaque he had made for me that read, “Dissertation Station.” I was so touched by that — a great memory.
What is one thing you’re looking forward to this academic year?
I am looking forward to meeting and building relationships with the new students moving into Humphrey this year. It is so fun meeting so many new students and seeing new smiling faces during new student move in. I can’t wait to start a new Camino Faith sharing group in Humphrey and watch it develop into a growing, meaningful community right where our students live. It really is exciting to be a part of facilitating a small community where faith can be explored and real relationships can be fostered, built on trust, respect, and love for one another.
Favorite movie: “Lord of the Rings”trilogy
Favorite location on campus: My apartment nicknamed by students “The Humphrey Library”
Favorite hobby: Visiting a new coffee shop
Favorite restaurant in Milwaukee: Lakefront Brewery
Favorite dessert: Red Velvet Oreo custard from Kopp’s