Cally Chisholm is a graduate student at East Tennessee State University, pursuing a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies. She served as an Ernest C. Hynds Jr. intern with Good Faith Media for the summer of 2021.

1. What story, verse or passage from your faith tradition’s sacred texts has significantly influenced / shaped your life?

I’ve always had an interest in learning about the women of the Bible.

That passion came from childhood when I would incessantly ask my dad, who is a pastor, to preach about Esther in worship again. I was obsessed with that story as a kid. Although, I was probably influenced more by the “VeggieTales” adaptation. Reading the book of Esther later in life, I was disappointed to learn that there was no “Island of Perpetual Tickling” involved.

That interest carried on into my young adulthood when I would prepare Bible studies for youth camp and Wednesday night service, and I would always pick a topic or story that centered on women. One of my favorite stories comes from John 4, where Jesus approaches the woman at the well. I wish we knew her name.

My curiosity has led me to learning about women who are not cited as much in sermons or talked about in Sunday school, like Shiphrah and Puah, Vashti, Priscilla, Dorcas and Deborah. My passion for sharing women’s stories has stayed with me to this day.

2. Who are three people (other than your family) who have shaped your life and worldview? And why?

Other than family, I have been most impacted by the teachers and mentors I’ve had in high school, college and church youth groups.

High school was an important time for me because I really found myself involved in extracurriculars and activities that introduced me to the world of journalism and communications. My first journalism teacher ever, Mrs. Eggleston, helped me develop better writing and design skills. But she also encouraged me to take on leadership positions within the school newsmagazine. That was a big deal to me at the time and gave me the confidence to pursue other leadership positions later on.

My professors from Missouri Southern State University helped me grow and played an important part in my life. Miles Sari was the faculty advisor for the campus newspaper when I was transitioning to the Editor-in-Chief position. At the time, I was nervous about taking on that role, but he walked me through it and has been a mentor to me since then. I am very grateful for his ongoing guidance and friendship. I am also immensely appreciative of my professor and advisor Shanna Slavings. Thank you for letting me sit in your office so I could rant and ramble about whatever was bothering me that week. You always gave good advice and helped me get through it.

I am also grateful to Trey and Abby Hathcock. Trey was the youth leader at University Heights Baptist Church in Springfield, Missouri. Abby also worked at the church as the children’s minister. They had a huge impact on me. Trey worked so hard to create a welcome youth environment and spent time putting together opportunities for fellowship and service. He believed in me and my abilities and trusted me to work in the sound booth to create and run worship slides. Trey and Abby both supported and encouraged me through my later teen years and young adulthood. They were great leaders because they demonstrated a desire to serve others and were always kind and genuine. I miss them a lot, but I will always cherish the fun times we had together.

3. List three of your “desert island” books, movies or TV shows.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

4. What is one of the most critical issues people are facing today?

There is a plethora of issues I could highlight here, but I truly think that there is a general lack of empathy going around right now. This is the cause of most of our problems.

We become so consumed with “being right” that we forget to listen and forge meaningful connections with people. Yes, this includes people we disagree with. This lack of empathy also shows itself in our attitudes of indifference and apathy towards important issues like structural racism, homophobia, transphobia, islamophobia, sexism, disenfranchisement, poverty and more.

When we practice empathy, we are capable of feeling other people’s feelings and can understand someone’s experiences despite differences. Not only does empathy enrich our interpersonal relationships, but it can lead to an even broader change in our systems.

We have to care about other people in order to address the social and economic issues that burden all of us.

5. What are a few of your hobbies?

I try to do some yoga every day if I have the time and energy for it. I don’t do anything fancy, and I wouldn’t call myself an expert. I bought the cheapest yoga mat Target had available and started doing basic routines at home with the help of YouTube.

I also enjoy reading fiction novels. Historical and contemporary fiction is what I gravitate towards most of the time. After reading long and dense journal articles and textbooks all week, it is fun to sit back and be taken to another world for a while. My current list of favorite authors are Madeline Miller, Kristin Hannah, Emily Henry and Donna Tartt.

6. If you could freeze your life into an already-lived 10 seconds, what would they be?

If I could freeze and condense my life into 10 seconds, I hope that it would be 10 seconds of laughter. It wouldn’t be a giggle or fake, insincere laugh, but the tearful, ugly, snort laughing that I do when I really lose control of myself.

7. Our tagline at Good Faith Media is, “There’s more to tell.” What’s your “more to tell”?

I will always believe that women have more stories to tell. Our life experiences, worries, triumphs and challenges have been left out of the conversation for centuries and it has only been recently in history that they are finally being uplifted, honored and sought out.

Women of all backgrounds, socio-economic statuses, geographic locations, ethnicities, races and sexual orientations need more opportunities to tell their story. Us women have the power to use our stories to break down harmful stereotypes and to help others that are going through similar struggles.

Listening to and believing women’s stories can also help us develop the empathy that has been missing in our day-to-day life.

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