I last shared with you part one of Tori's story: the impact being a Secular Student Alliance intern had on her. Today, hear about how she brought a secular community to her small college. You can find part one of Tori’s time as an SSA intern here!
My summer internship with the SSA was a fantastic experience that ignited my passion for the the secular movement. Unfortunately, there was no existing secular group at Juniata College, the small liberal arts college I attend in central Pennsylvania. Returning to Juniata was a strange experience. After being away for so long, the quiet town of Huntingdon felt like an alien planet. I wanted to bring the sense of secular community and shared passion for science embodied at the national SSA to the Juniata campus.
Perhaps the most surprising part of starting a SSA chapter at Juniata was the wonderful assistance from Campus Ministry. Campus Ministry had attempted to form a secular club on campus a few years ago, after a visit from Chris Stedman, then of the Interfaith Youth Core. The effort had faltered because of the difficult process of forming a new club. Despite the lengthy procedure, I was motivated by my experience with my internship at the SSA and support of the excellent campus organizing team to overcome any difficulties.
To build interest for a new SSA, I formed a somewhat oddball team of supporters. The campus chaplain, key leadership members in Catholic Council and Brethren Student Fellowship, and, of course, a committed group of secular students all vouched for the importance of a secular group on campus. We attended everything from Campus Ministry picnics to other clubs’ meetings to rally support. Throughout the process, the national SSA stayed in touch and helped overcome any hurdles we faced.