HTI/Lilly Dissertation Fellowship
Congratulations to the 2020-2021 HTI/Lily Dissertation Fellowship Recipients!
The HTI/Lilly Dissertation Fellowships are possible thanks to a grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc.
Diana E. Rodriguez Click
The need for greater critical studies of marginalized Christian theological perspectives deeply informs Diana’s passion for theology. In particular, Puerto Rican women’s rich, but underrepresented, theological contributions inspire her doctoral research. Engaging scholarship on Latinx popular Catholicism, Latina theology, and Puerto Rican popular religion, Diana’s dissertation examines the theological significance of Puerto Rican women’s Marian devotional practices. Through research and teaching in higher theological education, Diana aims to cultivate vital understandings of the complex histories embedded within theologies, and to foster liberative communal reflection upon the meaning of indigenous theologizing. Of Puerto Rican-Irish-German descent, Diana maintains a notable desire for her work to serve the cross-generational well-being of Puerto Rican, Latinx, and mixed-race communities and families.
Iriann Marie Irizarry
Iriann is a Systematic Theology and Adventist Studies doctoral candidate. Her current research focuses on contemporary theological interpretation and particularly examines the relationship between interpretive virtue in ecclesial contexts, the social location of interpreters, and theological methodology. While the experience of teaching in theological higher education confirmed and further stimulated her devotion to the academic life as a way to empower others, she especially seeks to inspire other Latina women to become thought leaders within her denomination and beyond. Iriann is interested in learning what it means to serve as a puertorriqueña theologian within her immediate Adventist communities and broader Latinx communities with en conjunto vision.
Alberto Alexander La Rosa Rojas
Alberto emigrated from Peru to the United States with his family in 2001. His experience as an immigrant informs and fuels his doctoral research which engages the ethical and theological dimensions of migration and the human longing for home. Alberto’s work explores how certain theological visions of home which helped to fuel and justify the conquest of the Americas in 1492, still function today in fueling anti-immigrant sentiment in the North American context. In view of this, his dissertation sets out an alternative vision of home in which migrants and citizens can together with the rest of creation receive the gift of home through participating in the story of God’s redemptive homecoming as witnessed in Scripture. He hopes his work will contribute to the flourishing of Latinx immigrants living in the United States. Alberto is a member of the Reformed Church in America.
Maria is interested in the important connection between academic perspectives in church music—past and present, local and global—and the musical life of present-day congregations. Originally from Brazil, she is a Ph.D. candidate in Church Music at Baylor University and music director at Primera Iglesia Bautista Mexicana (First Mexican Baptist Church), in San Antonio, Texas. Until May 2020, she served as an assistant professor and chair of the Music Department at Baptist University of the Américas, also in San Antonio. She has joined the Church Music faculty at Baylor as a lecturer for the 2020-2021 academic year. Maria prizes the challenges and rewards these roles entail and plans to continue working in higher education and in church music ministry after completing her doctoral studies.
Adam Adrian Perez
Adam Perez is a Cuban- and Dutch-American musician and worship leader from Miami, FL. Adam’s research attempts to provide a sympathetic account of the history of contemporary praise and worship that reaches beyond simple critique and condemnation. In particular, he seeks to highlight the historical flows of contemporary praise and worship theology as it informs the socio-musical worship practices of evangelical and charismatic Christians in North America, Latin America, and around the world. By studying the inception, growth, and dissemination of contemporary praise and worship through education and experiential encounters, practitioners will be able to uncover a usable past that strengthens and empowers practices in the present and in the future.
Alma Tinoco Ruiz
Alma was born in Sonora, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States in 2003. Since then, she has served in the United Methodist Church (UMC), primarily doing ministry with the Hispanic/Latinx community. Currently, Alma is a provisional elder in the UMC. Throughout her ministry, she has witnessed that most preachers are poorly equipped to respond to the traumatic injuries marginalized and oppressed communities experience. In contrast, she has been impressed and challenged by the effective way Saint Óscar Romero responded, through his sermons, to the traumatic injuries the marginalized and oppressed people of El Salvador were experiencing during the years he was the Archbishop of San Salvador, 1977-1980. Influenced by Saint Romero’s preaching, Alma is exploring how preachers can effectively respond to the trauma experienced by marginalized and oppressed communities, particularly the community of undocumented immigrants from Latin America in the United States.
Southern Methodist University
José aims to contribute to the need for historical scholarship on the interplay between Afro-diasporic religions and Christianity in Latin America, placing this within the context of the early modern Atlantic and history of the world Christian movement. His research centers around colonial thought and mission in the Christianization of enslaved Africans in the Caribbean, and the development and expression of African religiosity in Latin America. He intends for his work in the academy to highlight the often-overlooked diversity of religious practice in Latin America, with the desire to inform religious expression particularly amongst Catholics.
Eric Joseph Sias
Graduate Theological Union
When he is not busy working with his beehives or lavender plants, Eric is in active conversation with the letters of Paul and ancient biblical purity laws. As the son of a Mexican immigrant and an American copper miner of Mexican descent, he has come to use his life-long experience of cultural liminality to find a deeper understanding of the boundaries of the sacred and profane in the book of Leviticus, and how early Christians interpreted these spheres of existence when considering the death of Jesus. His academic goal is to provide the tools of biblical scholarship to future leaders of the Latinx church to help bridge the gap between the antiquated laws and norms of the ancient biblical world and modern society.