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Life-long Learning

Sr Jean McDougall, a Sister of the Good Samaritan of the Order of Saint Benedict, is a true life-long learner, having graduated from three of BBI’s postgraduate theology programs since 2008, continuing the ‘ripple effect’ of many BBI graduates.

She has a Master of Arts degree conferred by the Sydney College of Divinity and two Master of Theology degrees conferred by The University of Newcastle. The first UON-BBI Master of Theology was a generic program and the second, which she graduated from in April 2015, had a specialisation in Spirituality.

Sr Jean said her interest in theology was initially sparked whilst she was teaching at Stella Maris College, a Catholic girls’ high school in Manly. She saw a need to have senior studies of religion teachers in schools and also sought out study for her own personal spiritual development, taking on board the Benedictine characteristic of a life-long love of learning.

“I chose to study with BBI because I liked the mode of learning on offer. Correspondence suited me better than going to lectures as I was working full-time at Stella Maris. The year after graduating from the Master of Arts degree, I moved to Bacolod City, the Philippines to teach spirituality in the local diocesan seminary, so I was able to use the background in scripture, theology and spirituality that I got in my first degree. I also liked the element of spiritual reflection in each unit.”

In her second year in the Philippines Sr Jean enrolled in her first Master of Theology program. “I felt I needed to do something a bit more solid for myself. Most of the subjects I did in the Philippines used my Filipino context - I based my assignments around my life experiences there. My spirituality lecturer, Dr Peter Mudge, encouraged me to look at the Indigenous religions in the Philippines in one assignment. It was the most challenging assignment of the course, but very interesting!”

While Sr Jean was in the Philippines, one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, Typhoon Haiyan (known in the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda) hit just 50 kilometres from where she was based. The super-typhoon wiped out an enormous amount of infrastructure and killed over 6,000 people.

Cheryl Martin, Student Services Manager at BBI said “I remember Sr Jean requesting an extension when the typhoon hit. She was very worried about her assignment – such diligence to think of study at a time like that!”

Sr Jean is now based in the trendy inner-city suburb of Glebe in Sydney where she plans to take a break from study. “Because of my experiences over there and my background in teaching I thought the next path to take would be teaching refugees and asylum seekers English.”

Prior to her Theology studies, Sr Jean studied a Primary Teaching Diploma, a Graduate Diploma in Religious Education and a Graduate Diploma in Special Education, using the latter qualification to help start the Special Education Department at Stella Marist College.

In her spare time, Sr Jean enjoys reading, watching movies and being out in creation.


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