Meet the Grads: Rebekah Stretch, BA, Ethics and Global Studies

01 June 2023


What led you to choose your current area of study, and why the U of A Augustana for your studies?

My initial reason for choosing Augustana was to conveniently avoid the then-terrifying prospect of a large university in Edmonton or Calgary. I tend to gravitate to small, tight-knit communities where people actually know each other’s names, and Augustana was an ideal fit. Other perks that drew me to Augustana were the Chaplaincy program and The Augustana Choir, both of which became a huge part of my Augustana experience from day one. 

Finding my way to my current area of study was a bit of an unconventional adventure. I actually began my degree as a biology major, and while I really enjoyed my first year and a half as a science student, the pandemic helped me come to terms with my priorities and passions, many of which fell into the category of the social sciences. Despite having no particular career path in mind when I made the decision to switch majors, ethics and global studies emerged as my obvious program choice. As someone who is interested in far too many different disciplines to settle on just one, an interdisciplinary degree allowed me to dig into my various academic interests — particularly history, religion and philosophy — and make important connections between them.


What is one of your favourite memories from your time at Augustana?

It’s honestly so hard to narrow it down to a single favourite memory from Augustana! There are far too many to choose from. Retreat weekends with The Augustana Choir (TAC) and Chaplaincy each year were always so much fun, and performing twice at the Winspear Centre with TAC was also pretty unforgettable. More recently, my two international experiences on the Classics 294 trip to Greece and TAC’s performance tour to Austria and Hungary in 2023 were the opportunities of a lifetime! It was so incredible to learn through travel and to experience new and beautiful places with some of my closest friends and professors.


Tell us about your favourite professor and/or class.

Honestly, the most impactful aspect of the Augustana advantage is the campus’s amazing instructors. So many different professors have poured into my learning: Andrea Korda, Craig Wentland, Janet Wesselius, Geoff Dipple, Patrick Hart and Mélanie Méthot are some who immediately come to mind. 

With regards to favourite classes, AUHIS 300 (History of the Reformation) with Geoff Dipple was an absolute blast, and my all-time favourite classes were always the ones taught by Janet Wesselius or Pastor Craig Wentland. Regardless of whether she was teaching epistemology, gender studies or feminist philosophy, Janet always pushed me to be my best and to think critically about how the world works. Pastor Craig has become my mentor, pastor and friend, and taught incredible classes like Jesus of Nazareth in Contemporary Theology, Spirituality and Globalization and my theology capstone on hope in the contemporary zeitgeist. Profs at Augustana are ridiculously supportive and pour so much into both the academic growth and personal well-being of their students.


Did you take on any leadership roles while you were a student, either on campus or in the Camrose community? If so, please share your experiences.

Student leadership was a key facet of my Augustana experience. I was a student chaplain for three years and I loved fostering meaningful connection through events like soup supper, open table communion and TGIF chapel. I was also the president of The Augustana Choir for three years, a role that helped make countless concerts, retreats and tours become a reality. Some of my other leadership roles included being an Augustana Outdoors Club exec., a First Year Seminar and Augustana Students’ Association student tutor, and a research assistant for multiple professors.


Did you face any significant obstacles or challenges during your program, and if so, how did you respond?

The most significant challenge I faced during my degree was dealing with the abrupt and painful transition to online learning in mid-March 2020 and the resulting isolation I experienced while living in residence dorms during the 2020/21 academic year. My trips to the dining hall for meals were my only opportunity to see other students, and as a blazing extrovert, I became incredibly lonely. Pouring myself wholeheartedly into my online classes helped mitigate my boredom, but it was admittedly such a relief when classes went back in person for 2021-2023. Even though the pandemic posed some significant challenges to my mental health, this time of isolation also taught me to enjoy my own company and to never take community for granted.


What advice do you have for current and future students?

As cliché as it sounds, the best advice I can give to current and future students is to take the leap and get involved around campus, even if that means getting out of your comfort zone. Some of the most incredible opportunities resulted from simply showing up to an event, and the various student groups and clubs on campus are also some of the best places to find lasting friendships. 

I also cannot emphasize this enough: for goodness sake, go to your instructor’s office hours! Augustana profs are always so willing to help, and they truly want to get to know their students. I guarantee they will become your biggest supporters if you let them!


How do you plan on celebrating convocation?

Convocation is going to be a whirlwind of family, friends and Augustana traditions. I can’t wait to light my convocation candle at Chaplaincy’s baccalaureate service and to take photos on the steps of Founders’ Hall with my parents and my fellow graduates!


What's next after graduation?

While my future plans aren’t set in stone, I am planning on taking a gap year in Camrose to finish up some research with Andrea Korda, and then I’ll be off to grad school. I am hoping to pursue a master of arts in church history with the goal of eventually becoming a professor, but for now I’ll be prioritizing some much-needed rest!


Help us celebrate Rebekah Stretch and our other graduating students on June 4 by watching the convocation ceremony live stream.