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, Straz Tower Hall Minister Megan Heeder talks about what she likes the most about Marquette University and Milwaukee.
What was your undergraduate degree in? Why did you pursue that discipline?
My undergraduate degree was from Notre Dame’s Program of Liberal Studies, a Great Books program. I loved this — and chose to pursue it — because I discovered my passion for critically engaging primary texts. In this program, we began with the “Iliad” and “Odyssey” and read through contemporary classic texts. The program’s courses were conducted with the Socratic method, so our classes were heavily discussion-based and driven by the texts themselves and our own big questions, which are the best teachers!
Why did you want to be a hall minister?
I love helping college students explore big questions, like those of meaning, purpose and faith. When one lives in and is present to the daily life of a residence hall, one gets to accompany students who are encountering these questions in their day-to-day lives, beyond what is possible in a classroom. Hall ministry is a perfect way to do this. As an added bonus, I love to bake but can’t eat all of my creations myself, so I found a hall full of residents with whom I could share them!
What makes Marquette special to you?
My grandmother, whom I love, is a Marquette alumna and has always been deeply passionate about Marquette. She described her years in Milwaukee as the best of her life. I am honored to be following her legacy at Marquette. Marquette is also very special because of the mentors I have in the Theology Department. Professors are both exceptional scholars and authentically kind people and have really contributed positively to my scholarly and personal development.
What is your favorite Marquette memory?
One of my favorite memories was singing for the St. Joan of Arc Masses when the university shut down for the pandemic. As a hall minister, I was one of the only people left on campus as everything ground to a halt, but both Campus Ministry and Mission and Ministry wanted the Tuesday night Masses to continue. What started as a grassroots effort with a single computer and Facebook streaming became a multi-camera operation, as five of us socially distanced, masked and prayed together. Current students and alumni came “together” virtually to pray each night at 10 p.m. Personally, this Mass was the sole contact I had with people for weeks during the pandemic, and the fact that we got to pray together, sing together and receive the Eucharist brought an immense amount of joy in a bleak time.
What is one thing you’re looking forward to this academic year?
I have moved over to Straz Tower this year and am really excited to learn about the Straz community and welcome all our residents, especially with warm baked goods. I also will be teaching Introduction to Theology classes and working on my dissertation this semester, both of which are endeavors that I’m really eager to undertake.
Favorite book: “What the Eyes Don’t See,” by Mona Hanna-Attisha
Favorite location on campus: The St. Teresa of Calcutta Statue behind St. Joan of Arc Chapel
Favorite hobby: Horseback riding
Favorite restaurant in Milwaukee: Lakefront Brewery
Favorite dessert: German chocolate brownies