All-conference, all-academic, all-region student-athlete Kiah Cheatham doesn’t just love to read—she loves to “study vigorously whatever I do read.” The undergraduate Communications major/Philosophy and Religious Studies minor at St. Andrews University draws energy from “meeting new people who come from different or similar backgrounds as mine.” And as a non-denominational Christian, Kiah believes in “church outside church walls.”
How did this scholarly volleyball player from North Carolina wind up as a Miller Summer Youth Institute Intern in Pittsburgh this summer? “One of my professors had visited PTS last fall and learned of the program. Upon returning, he noticed I was looking for vocation-forward internships that would challenge me while helping me discern my calling,” says Kiah. “During my application interview, I discovered just how broad the internship would be—and I accepted the offer to come!”
Now, reflecting on her internship experience, Kiah notes, “I came to Pittsburgh with doubts, questions, and an open heart and mind. I was met with love, kindness, and individuals who shared similar doubts. They taught me not to shy away from those hard conversations about race, gender, or God’s call on my life. They allowed me to think critically and progressively.” She adds, “The availability of the PTS staff and faculty was exceptional. Many of them shared coffee or a meal with me and wanted to hear about my vocational aspirations.”
During her internship, Kiah appreciated the opportunity to work with Open Hands ministry, which combats social injustice by helping low-income black families accumulate wealth via home ownership. In the future, she may want to do similar work. But she also senses that God may instead be calling her to a position of greater influence, perhaps in the public policy sector to promote “a harmonious nation for all people.” Toward the end, Kiah is considering PTS’s joint-degree program in public policy management with Carnegie Mellon University after she graduates from St. Andrews.
“SYI left me with some challenging questions but also with the desire and ability to find their answers on my own,” Kiah notes. She adds, “My internship gave me the tools to discover my strengths. I learned that I am a critical, progressive thinker, that I’ve been blessed as an activator, and that I love to learn and collect knowledge. I also love to serve, and I believe that is what I am meant to do on this earth.”—30—
(This was published in Pittsburgh Theological Seminary’s magazine Celebrations and written by Connie Tappy. Ms. Cheatham was selected as an intern for the Summer Youth Institute program and was responsible for non-profit and mission group leadership in addition to studies on their campus.)