In a world increasingly dominated by selfies and cell phone screens, Elizabeth Welliver '16 is known at Davidson and beyond for her ability to connect and reflect with others in the here and now.
The recent graduate, a religion major and Belk Scholar from Westminster, Maryland, spent her high school years at the international and peace-focused Pearson United World College in Canada, cultivating a strong awareness of the intercultural and interfaith dialogue that defined much of her Davidson experience. Once at Davidson, she continued this work as a leader of the Better Together Interfaith group, joining the group her very first week on campus.
Welliver's time at Davidson led her to a newfound passion, as well: Latin America.
"I came in knowing nothing about Latin America until I went to El Salvador with the Chaplain's Office on a spring break trip as a first-year," said Welliver. "It was an awakening experience, and I saw how Christianity played a unique role in the Global South."
Following that trip, Welliver decided to start Spanish courses at Davidson and has since visited Guatemala, spent a semester abroad on the Davidson in Peru program, and most recently, traveled to Colombia. She also made trips to Spain and France on an interfaith trip and a Chaplain's Office trip, respectively. Her passion for international experiences led to her selection as one of four Davidson Class of 2016 finalists for the prestigious Watson Fellowship.
Adding to her already extensive travels, Welliver spent last summer in Tucson, Arizona, at Southside Presbyterian Church, participating in a Ministry Fellowship with the Rev. Alison Harrington, a well-known leader in the sanctuary movement and immigration reform.
"From Rev. Harrington, I learned not only how to pray, preach and read the Word, but also how to lead people trying to fight the broken immigration system, working with them to maintain hope and faith," she said. "I didn't realize that la lucha was so embedded within the Church community."
With this same level of introspection and reflection, Welliver fostered a space for students and faculty alike to practice mindfulness, guiding members of the Mindfulness Club through poetry readings, meditation and conversation.
"We often forget how valuable it is to sit and breathe with each other," said Welliver, a poet herself.
Welliver envisions a future that includes continued work with interfaith ministry and helping others along their respective spiritual journeys. Reflective of her intention to pursue such a career, Welliver received the Charles Malone Richards Award at Spring Convocation in 2015, awarded to a rising senior preparing for the ministry.
This upcoming academic year, she will serve as a fellow in the Chaplain's Office, working to engage students, faculty, and staff with interfaith learning and religious literacy.
"I am excited to serve as a small part in Davidson's work to engage students of all secular and faith-based identities in preparing for lives of leadership and service," said Welliver.
After her year with the Chaplain's Office, Welliver intends to continue serving the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as a mission worker for social justice, hoping to work on the U.S./Mexico border and in Latin America. Additionally, she plans to attend seminary and eventually return to a college or university as a chaplain herself.
"Religion is tied to all social issues of our time, and can show us the way through crises," she said. "I have grown spiritually while at Davidson, and am grateful to the community here that has prepared me to seek a more peaceable and just world."