The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Chaplain intern fulfills her ‘heart song’

Photo by Emma Sylvester for The Lafayette
Jessica Hess joins Chaplain Alex Hendrickson to provide greater support and comfort to students on campus.

The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life welcomed chaplain intern Jessica Hess at the beginning of the academic year. Hess will spend the next two semesters shadowing Chaplain Alex Hendrickson, the director of religious and spiritual life, in order to complete her Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) as a seminary student on the path to becoming an ordained inter-spiritual minister.

After working as a religious educator for children, Hess began to pursue chaplaincy. She has already finished two units of the four needed to complete her CPE at a long-term care facility for elderly people and will complete the last two on campus as an intern. She also works for Grandview Health Network in hospitals and at a hospice care center in Sellersville, Pennsylvania for additional experience in her training.

“Part of the process is to just get through the learning and have that experience, and then see [what jobs are] available and what really calls to my heart,” Hess said.

Hendrickson has never had an intern despite being the only full-time member in the office. She has overseen various student religious and spiritual life organizations, including Kaleidoscope and local refugee work, and believes these roles provide Hess with the necessary social and emotional work that goes into chaplaincy. 

“I think folks don’t realize how much religious and spiritual life does on our campus,” Hendrickson said. “I think having someone else on this campus highlights the importance of this.”

Hess’ role also allows an additional resource for religious and spiritual guidance and emotional support on campus. Hendrickson’s office is located in Farinon College Center while Hess works part-time in Pardee Hall and can schedule appointments. The pair can provide confidential counseling and are not mandated reporters, unless a student is a suspected danger to themselves or others. 

“Both Chaplain Alex and I are available for one-on-one conversations with students,” Hess said. “It’s really important because I don’t think students know we’re here to support you and help you with your whole self as far as your college experience goes.”

According to Hess, she is still learning every day in this environment.

“It’s great to really explore who you are on the inside,” Hess said. “I always talk about what your ‘heart song’ is: what your heart tells you you’re really passionate about … I did come to this internship later in my life, but it really felt like everything I did before was very integral to where I am now. As you’re going through college, all of the experiences that I reflect back on … were absolutely integral to the work that I’m doing now. No learning is bad learning.”

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About the Contributors
Emma Li
Emma Li, Staff News Writer
"theatre kid"
Emma Sylvester, Photo Editor

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