Back to News

Sr. Anne’s Account as a Post-Doctoral Research Scholar at the Jesuit Institute of Boston College

Postdoctoral Research Scholar- at the Jesuit Institute-Boston College

From 13th September 2016 to 9th January 2017

Sr. Anne Celestine Achieng Oyier Ondigo FSJ


In early fall semester 2016, I was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship at Boston College. My significant thanks goes to Professor James Keenan SJ, the initiator of the CTEWC program for the training of African Women without whom, the postdoctoral scholarship would not have been possible. I also give special thanks to those who worked with him to ensure that the program is a reality. These include Linda Hogan of Trinity College Dublin, Orobator E. Agbonkhianmeghe, Elias Opongo, and Caro Mwangi all from Hekima University in Kenya.  My Boston experience would not have had a smooth success without Toni Ross who was instrumental in ensuring I had a great experience at the Jesuit Institute.

My postdoctoral research scholarship at Boston College was a unique opportunity that offered me four months of research and academic skill enforcement. It was both an exciting challenge and a pleasure being at Boston College. The College has a friendly academic environment with vast resources and facilities that enhanced and particularly reinforced my postdoc research. Most importantly, is that this postdoc did not require any teaching and as a result allowing me to devote solely to my research. Many thanks to Rose Mary Donohue for the convent house at Boston College. Residing at the main campus, the proximity of where I lived saw me get around the college for almost everything I needed within walking distances; the chapel at St. Mary’s, the libraries, the bookstore, the classes, and the offices. I therefore planned my research goals with specific timelines for the necessary output.

 In this context, I accomplished several tasks in academic endeavor. I had a brief discussory talk on the experience that led to the topic of my PhD research work and the plan I had for the postdoc period at Boston including the research topics I was to engage in.  After my first article paper was ready, I gave an expertise presentation on the work surrounded by professionals, PhD students and friends in the field. The question and answer approach on the papers widened my horizon of knowledge and also helped me to intentionally narrow my research focus.  The feedback was great.

With strict time management, I managed to write four papers in peer reviewed journals. I also got time to work on the possibility of the publication of my thesis. Towards this end, I whole heartedly appreciate the time taken and availability given by professor James Keenan from his very busy schedule to give top notch advanced mentored training on how to assert ideas and thoughts into an article paper, what to emphasis and why. In this sense, I acquired competencies for undertaking highly developed research work and was able to work independently and tailor my research articulating vividly the message. I moved from mainly a consumer of ideas to complexly consume and produce ideas as well. Keenan also introduced me into the writing system with peer reviewed article editors which saw me within a short time ensconced within their networks. This has widened my academic networks within the field and enhanced my professional skills deepening my scientific, technical, empirical research and independence in the field. These leadership skills obtained in research while at Boston, will be utilized me in assisting the next generation of scholars. I appreciate the time taken by Keenan to support my academic work and career development positioning me as a driver of innovative research.

Apart from writing, I attended an ethics class for doctoral and Masters students by James Keenan where I was an observer each Tuesday auditing the course on Theological Virtue Ethics. It was a very interactive class that I looked forward to each Tuesday.  The class advanced my postdoc mission on ethics as a lifestyle and life long focus. It was in deed a pleasure being at Boston College.

I also participated in college and departmental scholarly life by taking part in the doctoral students’ seminars where a variety of contemporary topics and works were discussed. In these seminars, there were feedbacks and encouragement given to students in progressing with their proposals.  The great experience here was how the academic community at Boston interacted between the professors and the students to bring out the best of each student.  Together we advanced the scholarly cause.

The Gasson lecture series “Engaging Islam” by Professor Gerhard Bowering SJ was one of the classes that I attended widening my knowledge on foundations, beliefs and characteristics of Islam, Muslims and their faith. I also had chance to identify and attend some other conferences, talks and workshops within the college that were of special interest to me.

The attendance of the Society of Christian Ethics (SCE) conference in New Orleans from 5th to 8Th January 2017 was the last function of the postdoctoral experience. I was impressed by the diverse areas covered during the conference. The address of the various social dimensions articulated issues the way they are calling a spade a spade without coloring with subtle wording.  Lastly, my special thanks to all the doctoral, masters and the professional academia in the department of Theology for the cordial relationship we formed within the short time at Boston. Thank you for taking your time to attend my presentations, for your support, advice and feedback.  Thank you all, it was an experience of a lifetime.