Theology and mathematics graduate attends Baylor

Jul 25, 2019
Amanda Becker
Amanda Becker poses with a theology award at the 2018 Academic Awards Banquet

Amanda Becker, a December 2018 graduate with a degree in theology and mathematics, is headed to Baylor in the fall to pursue her dream of teaching theology.

Becker never planned on attending Newman University — her original plan was to attend Washburn University to study mathematics, something she knew she had a knack for.

After taking a few religion classes in high school through Butler Community College, Becker began to consider a degree in theology as well.

She spoke to her pastor, a Newman alumnus, and eventually decided to attend Newman, where she could pursue both her passions. What seems like an odd combination of degrees for some was a perfect fit for her.

Becker remembers meeting Professor of Theology Matthew Umbarger on her very first day.

“I remember walking up to the third floor of McNeil Hall,” she said. “Professor Umbarger saw me and he said, ‘Oh, you’re here,’ and he drags me to all of the other theology faculty and said, ‘Look at our new Baptist student — we’ve got a Baptist in the theology program!'”

As a Baptist, Becker said she brought a new perspective to the all-Catholic theology department.

Learning from professors with various religious backgrounds and attending classes with seminarians made for dynamic discussions throughout the program, she said.

Becker and friends pose before boarding a plane for Europe by Rail. (l to r) Hannah Russel, Angela de Souza, Professor Jill Fort, Courtney Klaus and Amanda Becker

“A lot of the theology faculty can speak the same language that I do in theological terms, so it’s not like they don’t understand what I’m trying to say and they can often return it. And then after the seminarians came in, it really heightened the experience because these guys are really dedicated to learning about theology.

“They just brought a whole new dimension to the program,” she added. “The professors have thanked me for being here as well because I can push them to experience things that they wouldn’t in an insulated Catholic community.”

As a recent graduate, Becker reflected on her time as a student at Newman.

“I’ve enjoyed my time here and compared to a lot of the other experiences I hear from my classmates in high school, I’ve had a lot better college experience than they have,” she said. “I’ve made a lot of business connections and I’ve also been able to experience a lot here. I’ve gotten to present papers at conferences and that sort of stuff.”

Though her time at Newman was filled with thought-provoking discussions, experiences and professional opportunities, Becker is excited to return to her theological roots as a Baptist at Baylor, she said.

Becker traveled to Europe with fellow Newman students and professors during the summer of 2019 and in August, will attend Baylor’s George Truett Theological Seminary in Waco, Texas.

After completion of her master’s degree, Becker hopes to someday achieve her Ph.D. in theology.