Typically to be accepted into the Master of Divinity program at the Atlantic School of Theology, you must have an undergraduate degree; Dawn-Lea Greer was accepted with an equivalency.
She worked with the AST faculty to submit a 300+ page portfolio of all of her work, courses she has taken and extensive volunteer experiences to be accepted into the program.
"I thought that I couldn't make this program happen without an undergrad. With the encouragement from Rev. Susan MacAlpine-Gillis and Rev. David MacLachlan working with me to develop the portfolio, and to argue that I have an equivalency, made all the difference," Dawn-Lea says. "Taking the time to comb through my achievements was validating, and when I was accepted, I rejoiced. Not all of us walk the same path, and that does not make one less or more of a candidate at AST. AST embraces students from all walks of life and many faiths."
Dawn-Lea is now in her first year of the three-year full-time program, where she is also required to complete three years of formation (denominational formation), chapel and placement time.
"When I questioned if I should be at the school, I was in chapel and God spoke to me saying: 'You are home.' I hope others will find home at AST, because it's never too late to follow your dreams, your hopes, your vocation," Dawn-Lea says.
Finding her place at AST has offered Dawn-Lea the requirements to answer her call to the Anglican Church of Canada.
Most of the work for Dawn-Lea has revolved around the feeling that she was "enough" and worthy to accept the call. She has embraced these hurdles one day at a time, and has fully welcomed all aspects of life on the AST campus.
"At AST, I was encouraged and supported in a way I hadn't felt before. You are not treated like a number here; you are treated and cared for like family," Dawn-Lea says.
She has recently taken on the position of student assistant at the school, filling a role in "sexual violence and prevention initiatives." Dawn-Lea is also proudly on the board of governors for the school and worship committee.
Her student placement is currently at St. Andrew's Anglican Church in Cole Harbour. The community has been welcoming of her, which makes this journey that much easier. Her supervisor, Archdeacon Katherine Boubinaire, has been able to take Dawn's current skill set, evaluate it and has encouraged and lead her to transfer her skills into practical pastoral or priestly leadership roles.
Overall, Dawn-Lea has been pushed to grow at AST—where her abilities are believed in and the faculty advocate for her whenever and wherever necessary.
"I see my career moving and being enhanced by the leadership and academic teachings at AST in a positive role towards pastoral care in a time where the world is growing in mental health awareness," Dawn-Lea explains.
She seeks to be able to create and hold space with God to help provide a spiritual approach in pastoral care for others, to be a part of a team who care for the church community, to shine God's work in an unchurched world, and to offer leadership and guidance.
Dawn-Lea's end goal is to become ordained as a priest in the Anglican Church, and after some parish experience, Dawn-Lea eventually sees herself moving into various chaplaincy roles.
"My advice for future students of AST is for them to not be afraid to reach their goals. Do not doubt that the education that comes from information experience, as it is valuable and respected. You are worthy."
Dawn-Lea is now on track to answer her calling—knowing that she is finally doing what she has been called on to do.