I went and spoke to Bro. Fluhman today, and not only was he enormously helpful, but I enjoyed the conversation and I was very impressed by him. . . . He also talked to me about doing American Religious History for my master’s. The thought had honestly never occurred to me. But I will keep it in mind.
— Journal entry, Thursday, 20 February 2003
I did my undergraduate degree at Brigham Young University, a college that was (and probably still is) 98.6% Mormon. In my time at BYU, two things happened to bring me to where I am today:
- Some students from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School visited the university, and it was wonderful. I got to spend the week hanging out with them, going to church with them, taking them to classes with me, and engaging in dialogue and discussion with them. They made me realize how lonely BYU had been for me, and how much I longed to really grow roots in my own faith.
- I had a conversation with Spencer J. Fluhman, then a professor in the religion department at BYU who was finishing his PhD in history. It was him who put the idea in my head of switching from classics to America religious history.
It’s taken me a long time to get to this point, for reasons I have discussed elsewhere, but it finally happened. Last week, my thesis (“As God Is, Woman May Become?: Women and the Mormon Doctrine of Exaltation”) was accepted for ProQuest publication. Maxine Hanks, who edited the first feminist book I ever picked up, Women and Authority: Re-emerging Mormon Feminism, served as my external reader on my thesis committee and gave me invaluable guidance. Commencement took place on Friday. I am now the proud owner of an MA in “History of Christianity in America”  from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
It’s been a long road. The “me” who first met up with those TEDS students and chatted with Brother Fluhman in his office never dreamed of what the future would hold: marrying a Mormon, a disabled child, dropping out of the MA — American History program at the University of Utah, being abandoned while pregnant, divorce, and becoming a single parent to a disabled older child and a baby. I never would have started the degree at TEDS under those circumstances.
But with the help of God and a lot of loving, supportive people in my life, I finally finished it.
My next academic goal is to finish my Human Resources Management Certificate at Harper College, something that I started working on in September. I finish my second-to-last class this Tuesday and have one more class after that. I’m not entirely sure whether I’ll be finishing that class now or in the fall; hopefully it will be done by July.
After that, I plan to take a break from school. I have no idea whether I will ever do another degree or certificate. My advisor at TEDS was encouraging me to do a PhD to the very end, and says I would be good at it, but I would really need my life circumstances to change before I could consider going back to school. (“If God puts a rich man in my life,” I joked to him.) MDiv, MBA, or Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies are all programs that I could be interested in, but for now, I just want to focus on building up a career in human resources and being there for my children.
You can catch me at the Third Annual Mormon Theology Seminar at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley on June 15th. I hope to always be involved in Mormon studies in my spare time, even if that amounts to only occasionally.
Thanks again to everyone who supported me on this journey. May the Lord bless you and keep you, may the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you, may the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
Bridget Jack Jeffries
BA, Brigham Young University, 2005
MA, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 2016
 An interesting note on my program is that it was discontinued in 2009, just after I enrolled at TEDS. The administration initially told me that I would have switch to the “Church History” program, then changed their minds and said I was grandfathered in and could complete the HCA program. As such, I may be the only person to hold the HCA degree. However, if you compare the current “Church History” program to what it was when I entered, you can see it has become broader and can now encompass a focus on American church history.