The School of Theology had a special surprise in store for Melissa Howell, T’20, during the 2018 William Porcher DuBose Lectures & Alumni Gathering banquet on Sept. 26. She was named the recipient of this year’s Freeman Award for Merit, an award honoring a rising middler student that has demonstrated outstanding academic performance and promise. The award was presented to Howell by the Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, dean of the School of Theology.
She barely made it back to her seat before the dean announced that she was also the recipient of the 2018 Woods Leadership Award, presented annually to a middler seminarian who has successfully assumed a leadership role in the class during their junior year.
“I am honored and deeply grateful to Dean Alexander and to the faculty of the School of Theology for selecting me to receive these awards,” stated Howell upon receiving the news. “I am thankful for the formation and love I have received in the faith communities of the Diocese of Massachusetts and of my sponsoring parish, Trinity Church in Boston. I would like to thank my seminary classmates for their friendship and encouragement in our life and work together. Lastly, I wish to thank the Freeman family and the Woods family for establishing these generous gifts in support of seminarians.”
Originally from Fairhaven, Massachusetts, Howell studied Hispanic language and literatures and foreign language education at Boston University. She taught Spanish in Barnstable and Cambridge public schools for five years, and then worked as a clinical researcher in emergency medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital for nine years. She served as a hospice volunteer in the greater Boston area and completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education as a chaplain intern at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. At Trinity Church, she served as a small group ministry leader, a lay liturgist, a lay Eucharistic minister and visitor, and a visitor with Sunday Night Living Bread, providing sandwiches, socks, prayer, presence, and Sacrament to Trinity’s neighbors who are living with homelessness.
At the School of Theology, Howell is a Community Engagement Fellow partnering with Good Samaritan Ministries in Decherd, Tennessee, a student co-director of the seminary’s Orientation program, a member of the Pastoral Care Committee, and a sacristan in the Chapel of the Apostles. She is passionate about healthcare chaplaincy and theology that explores the intersections of story, memory, and healing for individuals and communities.
Reed Freeman, T’96, T’05, and his wife, Nancy, established the Freeman Award for Merit in 1998. Freeman was a recipient of the Woods Leadership Award while he was attending seminary at the School of Theology.
The Woods Award defines leadership as the ability to bring people together into a cooperative community to accomplish assigned tasks and to identify and implement strategies, goals, and programs. Established by Granville Cecil Woods and James Albert Woods, the award recognizes students of the School of Theology who make a significant contribution to the quality of the community’s life.
The awards’ recipients are decided by the dean and faculty of the School of Theology. This is the first time in nine years that a seminarian has received both awards.