As a freshman at Meredith College, Judy Yates Siker, ’73, knew one thing for certain: she wanted to be a teacher. An elementary school teacher, to be exact. So, she was surprised to learn that as an aspiring teacher, she was required to select a major to pair with an elementary education teaching licensure through the education program at Meredith. Her search for a major didn’t last long. In fact, it ended the moment she entered her first religious studies course.
“I fell in love with religious studies,” said Siker. “As a woman of faith who is always searching and exploring, I found the permission and invitation to explore questions I had been pondering for years.”
Having completed the teacher education program, Siker went on to fulfill her dream of becoming an elementary school teacher. However, she wanted to bring her love of teaching and religion together, so she pursued an M.Div. from Southeastern Theological Seminary and an M.A. and Ph.D. at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Siker taught at multiple institutions, including Meredith, UNC-Chapel Hill, Loyola Marymount University (LMU), and at the Graduate Theological Union in California. She also taught at Loyola Chicago Rome Center in Italy. Her teaching included classes in the field of New Testament and Christian Origins and in Biblical Languages.
“For me there is no greater career than that of teaching,” said Siker. “It is a privilege and a responsibility to be present with people who are trying on, trying out, and discovering new ideas.”
Siker wanted to bring her scholarly knowledge to her fellow Christians, so she published Who Is Jesus? What a Difference a Lens Makes, which was written for the purpose of being the national 2016-17 Bible Study book for the Presbyterian Church. As an ordained minister, she teaches, preaches, and leads spiritual retreats across the country.
This past spring, after a long career in education and religion, Siker retired from her position at LMU and returned to Raleigh, N.C., where she plans to continue pursuing her passion in life within her local community.
“I hope to be teaching and preaching wherever I am able,” said Siker. “I would love to teach another course at Meredith, giving back to the place that encouraged [me] from day one to think for myself, to ask the hard questions, and to explore areas of study that I didn’t know existed before.”