Profile: Beth Walden

Beth Walden, a third-year professor of Philosophy and Religion at WCU, is probably the coolest person you’ll ever meet. When I met her at the clocktower to ask her some questions for this article, she walked up wearing high heels, hugged me, and then showed me how those heels helped her Tyra Banks signature walk as she strutted across the bricks, striking poses whenever possible. “This is my America’s Next Top Model walk,” she said, admitting that she is addicted to that show. It was a great way to start off an interview, but that’s just Beth, a fun person to be around.Before she began work at Western, she was an associate pastor at the Second Church of Newton in Massachusetts for three years. Beth got her master’s degree in theology at Andover Newton Theological School, but her thesis was about youth/young adults and diverse family backgrounds and how that could be incorporated into their faith lives. “Like, a kid brought up by his grandmother instead of his mother, or a kid with two moms. We’re taught a patrilineal descent in religion and the family structure of patriarchy. Those who don’t follow that are outsiders of their religious community,” Walden says. She explains that the majority of families are no longer nuclear. And if they are nuclear, then they are nuclear in a different way, such as divorce and remarriage and half-siblings. She continues, “We need to take a critical look at the structure of patriarchy and reevaluate it and what we want our families to look like in our faith lives.” She is starting her PhD program in the fall of 2008, and hopes to see the Philosophy & Religion Department grow so she can teach full-time after receiving her PhD. On top of teaching classes here, she works full-time in the International Programs Office as the International Student Advisor. Although she loves what she does now, her dream job is to teach half-time and spend the other half working in interfaith ministries and be the campus chaplain for all religions. Walden says, “It would establish a meeting ground for all faiths to come together. There would be a sacred place that’s not just for people of one faith, because we sometimes forget that as people of faith, we need to have relationships with other faiths.”Beth is Super-Mom to her two-year-old son Gabe. “He rocks, he is awesome! I wanted to have a kid who was exactly like me and he is! He’s always on the go,” she says. When asked what she likes to do with her spare time, she said, “I like to go swimming, play my ukulele, go to dance class [jazz and hip-hop on Thursdays] – dance is my number one form of spiritual expression. It’s my grown-up time.” She also volunteers: she directed the Vagina Monologues last year and is the Vice President of the Board of REACH of Jackson County. She even has her own team, TEAM BETH, which she made for “people who believe in the inherent strength of all women to overcome adversity.” As the team grows bigger and bigger, so does her strength and everyone else’s to overcome hardships that we all may face. TEAM BETH even has T-shirts – go check them out at Simply T’s and join TEAM BETH on Facebook!Up next on Beth’s agenda is a three-week trip to Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan to meet with Western’s exchange partners, to recruit, and to meet with students who are from Western. By the time she gets back, it will be time for International Education Week (the last week of October) and the Glo-ball, a benefit dance (complete with glowing accessories and food from all over the world) in the Grandroom on November 2nd. “If anyone is ever questioning anything about themselves or anything, come talk to me. Because before I’m anything else, I’m a cheerleader. I’m the person who’s like, ‘do it!'” she says. Thanks for being so awesome, Beth!