By Natalie Atkins
is originally from Bentonville, Ark., and attended Hendrix, graduating in 1996 with
a B.A. in Spanish. After leaving Hendrix, she attended Boston University School
of Theology where she received a Master of Divinity degree. She began her professional
work at Hendrix in 2002. She currently serves as Associate Director of the Miller
Center for Vocation, Ethics, and Calling and as the Assistant Chaplain for the College.
When J.J. is not working, she enjoys Jazzercise and watching "Lost."
She also enjoys going on dates with her husband, Kaleb Barrett, to Mike’s Place
in Conway or Lily’s Dim Sum in Little Rock, and playing Star Wars with her 4-year-old
Life as a Student
As a student, J.J. participated in the choir and served as secretary
during her junior year. The Candlelight Carol service and spring choir tours are
some of her fondest memories. One moment that is frozen in her memory is being thrown
into the fountain on her 21st birthday — in January!
During the first two trimesters of her senior year, she studied
abroad in Madrid, Spain. In addition to building proficiency in the Spanish language,
J.J. believes that her experience abroad positively affected her life. She says
of the experience, "Living in another country taught me about my own culture, honed
self-discipline, self-reliance, and independence in traveling, and gave me insight
into what it means to be ‘different.’ Without my study abroad experience, I would
not have been prepared to take on the duties in my current vocation."
Life as an Employee
J.J. was originally hired by the college as the Program Coordinator
for the Hendrix-Lilly Vocations Initiative. Although she performed chaplaincy functions
in this job, it was not until 2004 that she was given the Assistant Chaplain title.
Then in 2008, with the generous gift of Bob & Nadine Miller, the Hendrix-Lilly program
became the Miller Center for Vocation, Ethics, and Calling and J.J. was named Associate
In addition to many other job duties, J.J preaches at chapel and
co-administers the sacrament of Holy Communion during weekly services. She also
leads other religious programs on campus, mentors students who are interested in
ministry, leads vocation workshops for interns in non-profit and religious organizations,
and leads at least one mission trip per year. Outside of the duties her job demands
of her, she has also taken on teaching the first-year Explorations seminar for the
past four years.
Although she is a fairly recent graduate, J.J. has seen many changes
at the college since her time as a student. The college is no longer on a trimester
system, and she has personally enjoyed watching the Odyssey program take shape.
"It has been exciting to see what ignites student passions and how they are given
the chance to ‘try out’ these passions in the world," she says.
J.J. says, "I think the Hendrix community truly wants to make a difference in
the world and I find that kind of energy contagious." Perhaps that is why she has
chosen to make her home at Hendrix.