Charity Humm - English
Charity Humm did not face a difficult college search. In fact, she may carry a specific gene that made her decision easy.
"I was always set to go there," says the 2001 Southeastern grad whose parents both graduated from Southeastern. "I never considered other options." Humm also followed her parents' example by meeting her husband Matt in the English program and marrying six months after graduation.
"Southeastern had a huge influence on our life. It installed core values in us and led our decisions to where we've ended up," she said.
The Humms enjoyed every aspect of their experience at Southeastern, and are still thirsty for knowledge. While living in Alexandria, Virginia, Matt Humm is studying to become an Episcopal priest, and Charity Humm is pursuing a master's degree in counseling at Regent University in Washington, D.C.
"We've found our niche," she says. "Our degrees have provided so much holistically to who we are today." Charity Humm says she and her husband developed a similar mindset from their experiences in and out of the classroom at Southeastern. "We have always wanted some of the same things - to see unity among the church and healing for all people. But with different backgrounds, we've learned to challenge each other in very good ways."
Charity Humm, an English and Intercultural Studies major, always had a passion for missions work. "I wanted to reach out to people, to those suffering or in need of help, just as the Gospel message says." Though both her family and church always supported her goals to pursue the field, it was initially difficult for her to choose one career path.
With guidance from professors, her professional goals became clearer. English Professor Dr. Rickey Cotton sparked her interest early on in an introductory English course.
"I really responded to his energy and approach," says Charity Humm, who, like many students studying English, dreaded the blank page. With so many required papers and written assignments, Charity Humm felt that Dr. Cotton opened up the fields of writing and reading to include more self-expression. In Advanced Expository Writing, for example, she admired Dr. Cotton's ability to transform formal, routine techniques into creative writing opportunities. "He challenged me to put a new part of myself into my work. I realized it wasn't just about getting the grades, but figuring out who I was and what that meant to the world around me."
Charity Humm says Dr. Cotton challenged students to evaluate their faith and become more socially minded. "He showed us how to be more aware and conscious of world issues, and how we could help others. We saw a broader scope of what was going on in the world, and it opened us up to our responsibility to help."
Aside from English, Charity Humm also enjoyed her mission classes with former Southeastern Professor Dr. Rodney White.
"He was such a refreshing personality who presented us with a good model of how missions could be done," she explains. "His heart was in Africa, and he opened our eyes to many different cultures." Charity Humm says his unique teaching methods not only entertained, but brought a new dimension to her notion of missions work by understanding others cultures. "He presented us with scenarios that really made us think, and challenged some of the Western ideas we were already familiar with."
Charity Humm says the lessons from White's classes have prepared her with skills to better understand and counsel others. She believes that Southeastern's professors are the university's strongest assets. "They challenged us to truly live out the principles that were presented to us in our Christian tradition," she says, "because too often they can seem broad: be a kind person, love others, and show dignity. (Southeastern professors) showed me tangible ways of fleshing those principles out." One example was Dr. Cotton's demand for students to arrive for class on time. "It was great for us to have that personal accountability, and I realized it was a part of being respectful to all people."
After graduating, Charity Humm searched for ways to combine her love of English and desire to help others. She worked as a substitute teacher and tutor but found it difficult to teach without formal certification. Now immersed in a three-year counseling program, Charity Humm feels her passions finally merged.
"It's a more introspective approach to what I've always wanted to do - listen to people's stories and help them," says Charity Humm, who believes her English degree prepared her well for her future work. "When I read literature, I become more aware and open to the world - something very transferable to my approach with clients. I love listening to people and hearing their experiences."