Jayleigh Lewis has bounced around the Northeast United States and most recently lived in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. She was born in New Jersey.
Jayleigh earned her Bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, where she studied religion and philosophy, and has a Master’s degree in Holistic Counseling from Salve Regina University in Newport, RI. The IPP Graduate Certificate will be her third as she also has certificates in Expressive and Creative Arts, and Holistic Leadership.
She has held jobs as a mental health counselor, group facilitator, and empowerment coach and continues to work in an adult education program in Rhode Island as a career counselor and job developer, serving a mainly immigrant population. Jayleigh has volunteered for the past six years as a student advisor with the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life at Mount Holyoke College and has participated in the interfaith community there, as well as coordinated some of the department’s social media and communications efforts. She is a skilled writer and continues to do some writing in her spare time.
Jayleigh was first exposed to interfaith dialogue as an undergraduate at Mount Holyoke and has believed in its value ever since. “I think I have a lot to learn from the ‘other,’ whether that other has a different color skin than I do, a different class background or level of education, or practices a different religious tradition. My life has taken me to places where I am asked to support in practical and emotional ways those whose life experiences have been very different from my own, and without solid dialogue skills it is difficult to be effective,” she remarked.
“The faith aspect of this program and of the Seminary as a whole appealed to me because being a person of faith is core to my identity,” she continued. “It is from that standpoint that I can best begin not only an exploration of how to relate to difference, but how to sensitively and effectively lead within my communities.”
Asked what conflicts she would like to address after this year of study, she replied, “I would like to be a bridge between privileged and marginalized societal groups, encouraging dialogue between those who would ordinarily never have meaningful interactions with each other. More than interfaith tensions (though those certainly exist), the most salient gaps I see are between those with different levels of class privilege. Even though people in these different groups may be facing similar challenges (such as needing to secure income), factors such as access to tools and resources, as well as levels of confidence, are generally vastly different. How can I, as a spiritual and religious person, take on leadership in a way that helps to lift up those who have struggled in this society, and at the same time help bring down to earth those who have not been aware of the struggle?”